Healing Repeat Cesarean and VBA2C Birth Stories

First pregnancy and birth

Victoria’s first pregnancy with her honeymoon baby went smoothly. She watched “The Business of Being Born,” and decided that an intervention free birth was what she wanted. She chose a hospital with certified nurse midwives and the lowest cesarean rate in town. She believed she was all set, and decided not to hire a doula or pursue comfort measure classes. Labor started at 40 weeks and 3 days. 

After seventeen hours of labor, most of it with an epidural, she consented to a cesarean and met the newest love of her life under a large blue drape. The meeting was shortened when she started feeling pain during suturing. Her son was whisked away to be measured while her husband and the nurse anesthetist tended to her. Once the suturing was completed, and the cocktail of drugs took effect, she was back in bright spirits and was able to breastfeed during the golden hour, before introducing her son to his extended family. 

OR for birth

Second pregnancy and birth

Despite an emotional first labor and birth, and a Graves’ Disease diagnosis four months postpartum, Victoria and her husband were eager to add another baby to their family. They found out about baby number two on Black Friday, when their oldest son was nine months old. 

This time they hired a doula, saw a pelvic floor therapist, and was involved with their local ICAN (International Cesarean Awareness Network) chapter. She decided to continue prenatal care at the same hospital as her oldest son’s birth, hoping for a redemptive birth. Around 24 weeks, she received a letter from her medical insurance saying that this hospital was no longer in network and she needed to find care elsewhere. 

Shortly after receiving that letter, Victoria and Jeff met a well-known, VBAC supportive doctor at an ICAN Q&A meeting. They decided that night to switch to his care.

At her 40 week and 5 day prenatal appointment, Victoria and her doctor had “the talk” about options. She expressed her recent feelings that she was supposed to have a cesarean, and he advised her to call her husband and to pray about it. After a short phone call in office, they decided to go ahead with a repeat cesarean, and scheduled it for that evening. Their family centered cesarean was the healing birth she hoped for. At a day old, her son was diagnosed with sagittal synostosis, a birth defect where the suture lines of the skull fuse prematurely. To further complicate things, Baton Rouge and surrounding areas experienced a 1000 year flood only two days after his birth.

Third pregnancy and Birth

Two years after their second son was born, Jeff and Victoria felt the time was right to add to their family, and got pregnant on the first try-again! Sadly, their pregnancy ended in a miscarriage two and a half weeks later. Eleven months and one more early miscarriage later, they were finally pregnant again. This time, they saw the very first heartbeats of their baby girl at five weeks and five days, and found out that she shared a due date with her oldest brother.

They wrestled with the decision to hire a doula and ultimately decided to take a comfort measures class at 38 weeks instead and to keep their labor as a bonding moment between the two of them. Labor started at midnight at 40 weeks and 4 days. Fifteen hours later they were holding their sweet VBA2C baby!

Victoria Lero Bio

Victoria is a stay at home mom from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Her husband, Jeff, is a firefighter and they’ve been married since 2014. Their three incredible kids bring so much joy and laughter to their lives! Victoria is a self-proclaimed birth nerd and hopes to one day support families through pregnancy, birth, and postpartum in some capacity (be it through doula support, midwifery, or a podcast).

 She loves to connect with others, and you can reach her through Instagram @LoveLero or Gmail victorialynnlero@gmail.com

Babylist

Today’s episode is sponsored by Babylist. The people at Babylist believe that you should be able to get exactly what you need for your unique and growing family. That’s why their baby registry easily lets you add any item from any store. Plus, Babylist helps you each step of the way with their customized checklist, product guides and reviews, and personal registry consultants. They’ve even got group gifting! Start your registry today to be eligible for a free Hello Baby Box of goodies for baby worth over $100 while boxes last.

VBAC with Twins & Baby Born with Hearing Loss

Shortly after getting married Kalen and her husband were lucky to become pregnant quickly with their son and had a healthy, uneventful pregnancy. She was induced at 41 weeks and 1 day but after 24 hours of labor and a cascade of interventions, her son Maverick was born via emergency c section. Determined to try for a VBAC, Kalen found a supportive provider 50 miles away. During her first ultrasound, she and her husband were shocked to find out they were expecting identical twin girls. She was induced a day shy of 37 weeks and after 30 hours of labor she was able to push out Baby A and had a breech extraction of Baby B. She talks about being readmitted to the hospital a few days after birth for the girls’ low temps and birth weights and triple feeding for 6 weeks until being able to exclusively nurse for 17 months. Kalen also talks about the processing of the news that her son was born with hearing loss and how he’s doing now. 

hearing loss baby

Kalen Andelin Bio

Kalen, 33 and her husband Ian live in Kenosha, Wisconsin with their 3 children: Maverick, 3.5 and their identical twin daughters Indy and Bowie, almost 2. They enjoy spending time in their newly renovated home and taking advantage of the four seasons the midwest has to offer.  In what little free time three toddlers during COVID have to offer, she enjoys listening to audiobooks for her book club and podcasts about pregnancy and birth while doing some therapeutic cleaning and organizing. Scrolling social media while enjoying a glass or two of wine is her favorite way to unwind, as well as couch surfing or playing some board games with her husband. There’s always a DIY project going on in their house and cute kid videos that can be found on her instagram, @kalenamy. 

Resources

Cord Blood Registry

We are so excited to introduce our new partnership with @CordBloodRegistry, also known as CBR. CBR has helped millions of parents bank their children’s newborn stem cells. Newborn stem cells have amazing potential for treatments in the future and cord blood stem cells have already been used for thirty years in stem cell transplants. It’s kind of like investing in your baby’s future health.

For a limited time, CBR is offering The Birth Hour listeners some pretty big discounts. Go to cordblood.com and use code: HOUR to get 60% off the Newborn Stem Cell Bundle which includes both cord blood and tissue banking. Visit their website to learn more about how newborn stem cell preservation could protect your whole family and why CBR is the #1 most recommended cord blood bank by families and OB/GYNs.

Two VBACs (One During Wildfire Evacuation) after Cesarean Birth

Tayla shares her three birth story summaries in her own words below:

My first birth was six years ago. I was very uneducated and unknowingly unprepared for the birthing process. My water broke on April Fool’s Day and I was induced after 12 hours. There was no informed consent practiced during my induction, no support, verbal abuse from my OB and ultimately an emergency C-section (due to fetal distress) where I was put out under general anesthesia and my poor husband was left waiting in the dust. It left me shocked and traumatized. My postpartum period was also Traumatic. I did not have any breast-feeding support and I struggled immensely!

My second labor was two years later. In the town I live in we do not have midwives as an option so I was forced to have an OB again. He was not supportive of my VBAC and always mocked me when I reminded him that was my plan. Two weeks before my due date our entire city was evacuated due to a wildfire that destroyed 1/3 of the city. It was extremely stressful as the closest city was five hours away and I had no family in the province I live in.

My husband and I are both firefighter EMTs with the city department and I was actually at work when I was sent home and told to get out of the city. My husband was torn whether he should stay and fight the fire or drive with me for five hours to the closest city. I made him come with me because I was scared that I would go into labor on the side of the road by myself. He drove me to the closest city dropped me and my toddler off at a friend’s house and left to come back up to fight the fire.

The very next morning a midwife contacted me and said she would be honored to take me on as her patient. It was a silver lining because she was so supportive of my VBAC goals! The next two weeks were very stressful as I had nowhere to live and I couldn’t stay in my friends guest room with a toddler and expecting a new baby. I finally found a rental house and as I was nesting trying to make it as comfortable as possible I went into labor naturally. My husband was actually on his way to leave to go back up to Fort McMurray to fight the fire and I told him he would need to stay because labor was starting!

I ended up having back labor because baby was posterior and I labored alone in my rental house for many hours. My husband had to drive across a strange city to drop off my son at a friend’s house during rush hour. Not being from the city we didn’t realize that huge mistake we made. So I was alone entering active labor! I called a friend who had also been evacuated and she drove me to the hospital where the midwife met us. I was not prepared to cope with the pain of labor because I think in my mind I wasn’t really convinced I was going to have a VBAC. I ended up getting an epidural and had a successful vaginal birth! My postpartum period this time was a lot less stressful and I had great support from my midwives. Breastfeeding went better and recovery was like night and day compared to my c section recovery.

firefighter paramedic pregnant

In 2018, I got pregnant again with my 3rd! I was determined to have a different birthing experience this time around. The crazy part of my story is that I didn’t slow down my doula business while I was pregnant. I even delivered a baby during a precipitous birth while I was eight months pregnant! I attended my last Doula birth two days before I went into labor.

My water broke on a stormy night 10 days before my due date. I had lined up midwifery care in the closest city which is five hours away. My plan was to have a water birth in the birthing center and I was scheduled to leave in two days when the baby had other plans. My husband was working nights when my water broke and when he got home he was shocked to see that I had my kids packed in the van and all of our stuff packed and ready to go to Edmonton five hours away. He thought I was crazy and perhaps I was! There was just no way that I was going to have my baby in our local hospital. I was invested and I was determined to have my water birth.

Contractions hadn’t started so I figured if we left right away we might make it. I labored at my Doula’s house and got to the birthing center only 45 minutes before my baby was born. If I could do it again tomorrow I would! It was the most empowering day of my life and I’m so glad that I got to experience an unmedicated birth. My postpartum recover was amazing as well aside from being in a city far away from my own home. I came home that night after having the baby to sleep on an air mattress in my doula’s living room!

You would think that being an IBCLC, breastfeeding would go swimmingly, but again I struggled with low milk supply. A lot of people are shocked by this because of my profession, but it just goes to show that sometimes even with the best support women can still struggle! I feel like women are told or made to feel that the only real goal of birth is to walk out of it alive and with a healthy baby. What women need to understand is that there is so much more to the process than that goal. It’s a journey and a life altering event. I feel this is the biggest moment in a women’s life and it deserves respect and support. How a woman views her birth will stay with her forever.

wildfire evacuation birth story

Tayla Malott Bio

Tayla is a 34 year old paramedic firefighter full-time and I have my own business called mamasaurus. I am a certified birth Doula, childbirth educator, IBCLC, one of Canada’s only spinning babies parent educators and a few other things! I live in Fort McMurray Alberta with my husband who is also a firefighter/paramedic and our 3 crazy and beautiful boys. Hoping to have one more!

Resources

Ergobaby

Today’s episode is sponsored by Ergobaby. Founded in 2003, Ergobaby has pioneered the gold standard for comfortable, ergonomic soft structured carriers. Ergobaby is dedicated to helping families bond, grow, and thrive by creating premium baby products where function and quality are not compromised. Ergobaby has created a broad range of award-winning baby carriers, strollers, swaddlers, nursing pillows, and related products that fit into families’ daily lives seamlessly, comfortably and safely. In 2020, they launched Everlove by Ergobaby, a first of its kind baby carrier buy back and resale program, a sustainability effort to support families and the planet.

Disempowering Cesarean Followed by Twins VBAC

After a disempowering birth with her first son that nearly ended in tragedy, Erica vowed to have a different experience when she got pregnant again and planned to have an unmedicated VBAC with her twins. With the help of the Birth Hour, doulas, and a supportive practice after a switch of providers at 28 weeks, Erica successfully had the VBAC she worked so hard to get. As a black woman navigating the healthcare system, Erica is excited to share her story in the hopes that it may help some other mom or mommy-to-be.

Erica Beal Bio

Erica is an educational consultant located in Greenbelt, Maryland. She lives with her husband and three wonderful children, including an inquisitive (perhaps maniacally so) three-year-old and her 9-month-old twins that are starting to get into everything. Erica enjoys Rose, Netflix, reading, and cuddles on the couch with her hubby. You can find her on Facebook and Instagram.

erica beal pregnancy

Resources

DC Birth Doulas (my doula group)
GW Obstetrics
La Vie Breast Massagers

8 Sheep Organics

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Over 40,000 moms have used this lotion and rated it 4.8 stars!It comes with a 60-day money back guarantee too! If you’re not 100% satisfied, you can return the jar for a full refund! Go to 8Sheep.com and use the code BIRTHHOUR for 10% off your purchase!

Second Unmedicated VBAC

Listener favorite, Caitlin Shrum, is back to share her second VBAC birth story. You can hear this as well as her first two birth stories (episodes 185 & 244) in our archives. Archives are accessible to listener supporters via Patreon!

Caitlin’s First Birth – Unwanted Cesarean

Cooper’s pregnancy was textbook, and like most eager first time parents, once labor started, Caitlin went to the hospital too quickly. Instead of being sent home, the doctor on-call told Caitlin she was too comfortable, and started unnecessarily intervening with her birth. After breaking her water and starting her on pitocin at 3 cm, it was clear her body and baby weren’t handling things well. After 24 hours of labor, Caitlin and her husband found themselves in the operating room having an unplanned cesarean birth and welcomed their first baby, Cooper Andrew, on August 10, 2015. He was 8 lbs 2 oz. Caitlin was over the moon in her new role as a mother, and knew that she wanted something different for her future birth(s).

Caitlin’s Second Birth – Unmedicated VBAC

vbac birth story

Before getting pregnant with her second baby, Caitlin had immersed herself in all things birth in order to prepare and educate herself for a different outcome. After about 4 months of trying, Caitlin and her husband, Andrew were expecting their second son. On New Year’s Day 2018, Caitlin was officially in labor. Having labored at home for 12 hours, Caitlin, her husband, and mother headed to the hospital. With the support of her family and doula, Caitlin managed through about 5 more hours of labor. After an hour and a half of pushing, Charlie Maxwell made his entrance on January 2, 2018! He weighed 9 lbs 3 oz and allowed Caitlin to have the healing experience she was hoping for.

Caitlin’s Third Birth – Second Unmedicated VBAC

While 10 months postpartum with her second, Charlie, Caitlin and her husband found themselves with a surprise pregnancy. It was a lot for Caitlin to wrap her head around as they were still adjusting to life as a family of four. All that said, Caitlin was thrilled and knew the kind of birth she wanted and hired the same doula. Thankfully she had an easy pregnancy, minus the aches and pains and after 2 weeks of prodromal labor, Caitlin finally went into labor on her own at exactly 41 weeks. She knew things would be relatively quick given how dilated she was at her previous doctor appointment. While in labor, Caitlin wrestled with the idea of pain medication after anxious thoughts about the pain of birth made her doubt herself. Thanks to a quick transitional phase and the support of her husband and doula, Caitlin and Andrew welcomed their third son, Liam Connor, in just two pushes weighing in at a whopping 10 lbs 3 oz.

vbac the birth hour

Caitlin Shrum Bio

Caitlin lives in the Bay Area, California with her husband Andrew and their three boys, Cooper (4), Charlie (2), and Liam (3 months). She has worked for Netflix for close to 9 years in their Talent organization, starting in recruiting and now human resources. Caitlin loves spending her time with her family, going to playgrounds, frequenting their local farmers market, and walking to get coffee for the adults and croissants for the boys (their favorite). You can connect with her on Instagram @caitshrum. 

Motif Medical

This episode was sponsored by Motif Medical. Motif designs insurance-eligible products for busy moms. With a focus on innovation and empowerment, Motif’s line of breast pumps and maternity compression garments are sophisticated, yet discreet, and made to support mothers as they navigate new motherhood. Discover why moms are reporting more milk in less time with the Luna breast pump, and see how you can get it covered through insurance at motifmedical.com/birthhour

Cesarean Birth and Accepting a 2nd Cesarean after planning for a VBAC

To listen to this episode, and hundreds more birth stories in The Birth Hour archives, join our listener supporter Patreon here!

After a cesarean section with her first child, Danielle couldn’t shake the desire for a vaginal birth experience. When she became pregnant with her second child she sought out a provider who was supportive of her wish to VBAC. She incorporated every “trick” and potion in the book to help her odds of success, especially as she neared the end of her pregnancy. But she never dilated or effaced. Once her due date came she had made no progress and she scheduled her second cesarean.

She slept well the night before and checked into the hospital that morning with very little fear. But as if her body had muscle memory, when it came time to walk into the operating room, she was shaking uncontrollably with fear. At the beginning of the surgery, her OBGYN found Danielle had a large uterine window. This condition would have made a VBAC very dangerous. The first words out of her OBGYN’s mouth when she got inside were, “Your body was looking out for you.” Danielle believes this to be true. She didn’t get the experience she had hoped for, but with her OBGYN’s guidance, she got to have a “Gentle c-section” which included many things she didn’t know were options her first time around. She rejects the term “failed VBAC” and believes her birth experience is better described as a “Successful c-section”.

Danielle Estrada Bio

Danielle is an LA native and recent Austin, Texas transplant. She is the mother to two girls, Olivia and Elle, a wife, and successful tech executive who moonlights as a swimwear designer. Her uniquely inclusive swimwear brand, Olivia + Ocean, is on a mission is to empower and support every Mom who has struggled getting in a swimsuit post-baby. Born out of her own challenges resonating with the swimwear brands on the market after becoming a mother for the first time. She designs specifically for the needs of the postpartum mother who wants something functional that doesn’t sacrifice fashion. Her swimwear collection embraces the mother in search of her new sense of self that often accompanies the transition into motherhood. Connect with her on Instagram @oliviaandocean.

Motif Medical

This episode was sponsored by Motif Medical. Motif designs insurance-eligible products for busy moms. With a focus on innovation and empowerment, Motif’s line of breast pumps and maternity compression garments are sophisticated, yet discreet, and made to support mothers as they navigate new motherhood. Discover why moms are reporting more milk in less time with the Luna breast pump, and see how you can get it covered through insurance at motifmedical.com/birthhour