#82 | Birth Story Mini: Stefanie's Home Birth After C-Section (HBAC)

February 22, 2021

“I would give birth like that ten more times!”  In today’s mini-sode Stefanie tells her story of choosing a homebirth VBAC (HBAC) for her second birth after knowing she would absolutely not return to the hospital to have her next baby. Despite going into to labor just before 37 weeks, Stefanie was fully committed to her HBAC birth and beautifully supported by her midwives, doulas, and partner through the entire experience. 

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If you enjoyed this episode of the Down To Birth Show, please subscribe and share with your pregnant and postpartum friends.

Between episodes, connect with us on Instagram @DownToBirthShow to see behind-the-scenes production clips and join the conversation by responding to our questions and polls related to pregnancy, childbirth and early motherhood. You can reach us at Contact@DownToBirthShow.com or call (802) 438-3696 (802-GET-DOWN). We are always happy to hear from our listeners and appreciate questions for our monthly Q&A episodes. To join our monthly newsletter, text "downtobirth" to 22828.

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Please remember we don’t provide medical advice, and to speak with your licensed medical provider related to all your healthcare matters. Thanks so much for joining in the conversation, and see you next week!

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View Episode Transcript

Hi, my name is Stefanie and I am delighted to be able to share my birth story I knew I wanted to VBAC about as early as a person probably could. My first son I had prepared and planned for a natural birth using midwives at a birth center, which the labor progressing nicely for quite some time, but it ended in a very surprising and emotional c section for me. And I remember very vividly being wheeled to the or kind of looking at the fluorescent lights passing overhead in the hallway. As I'm lying on my back and the phrase VBAC floated into my mind, so it was then that I knew that this was going to be in response to but not determined by any subsequent parts. So anyway, you know, years past got pregnant again and began thinking how to make that happen. And so as I began my research, I kind of quickly found that being in the VBAC category, kind of close the door of birth centers. To me, I reached out of a lot of birth center protocols. And you know, a hospital with an OBGYN hadn't felt right to me the first time certainly didn't now. And so I kind of began looking at home birth, but I knew I wanted to not go to the home birth route, feeling like well, you know, door number one is closed, door number two, close. So now I'm forced through door number three, I wanted to you know, walk through that door, just feeling empowered, strong, and and willingly. So I did some research and kind of began shifting my mindset towards it. And it was the probably second set of midwives I talked to were just during that phone call, I was recounting the story from my first birth. And it all kind of clicked, I realized that from my first birth, there was so much of it, which I'm so grateful for. So much of it, that I was guiding myself, using my HypnoBirthing techniques, that really helped me really work for me. So, so much of that was peaceful, and feeling strong, and able to follow my own instincts and insight. And I realized that all all the beautiful parts of my first birth were when I was at home, and at least able to maintain that peace and guiding myself being self guided. So it all kind of clicked to me. And from there, I began to just be all about home birth, and it was it was a clear path for me. So my pregnancy went on. And I was very mindful my first birth, it was really the fetal and maternal positioning that I that I thought led to the departure from what I had planned. So that became kind of a focus of this pregnancy, I was all over the spinning babies website doing the techniques. And that was lovely, because it became a family thing. So we got a rebozo. And my doula taught my husband and I the techniques, and so he would do rebozo techniques with me. And then I did a lot of forward leaning inversions. And so my, my son over three, at that point, we would be kind of half hanging off the couch, resting on our forearms together. And that was really fun to do together. My pregnancy progressed, and I was feeling pretty good. And I just was loving the care. Under my midwives, everything was consensual and fully explained, each appointment was at least an hour. And we just talked through kind of some emotional processing from my first birth and worked on that with my doula as well. And with my midwives, they just were there for me and heard where I was at and answered any questions I had and worries I had. And then COVID came and so we adjusted to some telehealth. And it was just, I felt very supported even with kind of a lot of craziness going on in the world. And my husband and I were also buying a house, we needed a little more space with the second baby. And so we were buying a house with all this as well. And there were a lot of ups and downs, we did a short sale. And so there were a lot of ups and downs with that. And they were just there for me and I really felt supported all the way through, we had one difference of opinion. And that was the dating of my pregnancy. So they pull their dating from the typical the date of my last menstrual period. But I knew that I'd had an irregular cycle. And it put my my understanding of my date of battle almost a full week ahead of where they documented that I was, and they heard me and they were open to it. But you know, their official documentation was one thing in mind with another. So at about 36 and a half weeks, feeling good but uncomfortable. But very excited because we got our house and so it was a Friday morning that my husband and I went to sign papers for the house. And our older son  was at my parents' place because we didn't feel like he needed to be there for that. And then we plan on the Saturday following to do a lot of packing. So Friday morning, we signed the papers that evening and got the keys and decided to make a date night out of it. So we got takeout and brought a car table to our empty family room and sat and had dinner and music and little dancing in this empty room and it was really lovely. And it was then that I big And to feel a little more uncomfortable and some sensations starting not really knowing what they were. So we finished our evening and went back home and I kind of began tracking them and they were pretty consistently about eight or nine minutes apart not too intense but but they're contacting my doula she suggested I just rest and relax that evening and, and reach out to her in the morning. So I rested that night as much as I could. And the sensation just kept pretty consistently didn't increase in intensity or frequency. Then Saturday morning came, they were still very present, maybe slightly more intense Saturday morning. So I reached out to my doula, and my midwife and they encouraged dressed, hydrate, rest, hydrate. And so of course, our big packing day, it turned into me, with my feet up on the couch, doing what I was told, and my husband, packing up the kitchen with me, you know, pointing and directing and telling what to do next. And it's here where I begin to get pretty emotional. And remember that, that that one thing that my midwives and I didn't see quite eye to eye on was the dating. Realizing that they the guy literally went back to look at the contract that they would support a home birth from 37 weeks to 42 weeks. And so I began to get quite emotional. And I was on the phone to my doula. And she said the story isn't written yet. Could Talk to your midwife. So I called my midwife and reminded her that our dating was different. And I was, you know, just a few days shy of that 37 week mark from my calculations, and she paused. And she's so great, because she says only what's necessary. So she paused, and she said, if you're comfortable to stick with our plan, and do the homework, I'm comfortable. So I said, I'm very comfortable. And it was just a huge, huge relief. It definitely cleared up that emotional space for me to continue paying attention to what was happening in my body. And following my instincts. The search has continued all day and did increase in intensity a little bit. And by probably early afternoon, I knew that this was not just Braxton Hicks, that the hydrating hadn't changed anything, the different positions hadn't changed anything, and that this was really something going on. So I sent my husband out to get the last couple of items on our home birth supply list, which included a flashlight we weren't sure what it was for, but turned out to be very necessary. So he got the flashlight and some plastic sheeting to keep it clean, and came back. And the search has continued. And I was using my HypnoBirthing techniques. And I was more uncomfortable than I remembered in my first birth but but I stuck with it and was able to remain calm and focused. So then around probably nine o'clock, we decided that my doula should come over. And so she arrived around, I think around 9pm downstairs in the living room on the couch, and she suggested trying different positions, hands and knees and using the birth ball. And I was I was things were things were good. She came and kind of just fit right into the vibe and it was calm. And then at one point, I was just uncomfortable. And she said, Well, why don't you go upstairs and rest a little bit. And my midwife came probably around 10pm. And by that time, I was already upstairs with my husband and I was lying on my side. And he kind of curled around my husband lying there. And he ended up falling asleep. And we were holding hands. And I just stayed on my side, breathing with the surges. And she stood behind me and it was wonderful. Everything was every touch was with consent, even to the point I was like, yeah, just you know, thinking like, yeah, just go ahead and do it. But every touch was with consent, everything she did was with consent, and I certainly would rather err on the side of consent than not. And so I just sort of chuckled to myself about it. I'm happy that she respected me. And then my midwife arrived probably about 10 10:30pm. And again, she fit right into the vibe and every touch was with consent. We turned on Frankincense in my Essential Oil Diffuser and put on some meditation music and I just stuck with it.

At this point, the Time Warp of Labor set in and I probably would have told you what was 45 minutes was actually probably three or four hours. So every so often, she came and checked me. I went to the bathroom at some point I began losing some bits of mucus plug when I went to the bathroom and so I let them know that and then just would get right back on the bed onto my side and stick with those breaths. So I was almost silent throughout all of this. Eventually I began feeling that pressure in my bottom. My doula had been standing behind me this whole time just kind of applying pressure stroking my back reminding me to breathe when an intense surge came along. And honestly the thought in my mind was I don't want to poop on my doula. So I went to the bathroom once more. And I had the sense of I'm not leaving the bathroom. This is it. So I sat down business took some time and just stay there. And so eventually my doula came in and said Can we open the door to keep an eye on me so she opened the door and was standing outside and my husband came in and sat on My son's stepstool sat on the step stool and held my hand. And I just began groaning and grunting and I had, I had been silent up to that point, almost silent, began groaning and grunting. And so she called up and midwife let her know about this change. And so she came in and gave me some space, eventually made her way into the bathroom. And one point I just began pushing, my body began pushing and it was really hard work, my whole body was, was directed towards this pushing energy. And I'm so glad I remembered to make low sounds groaning, grunting with it. It's probably about three in the morning at this point. And I'll pause and say that, that we're still in, you know, our apartment I had expected to be in our new house, by then that was like this whole kind of question mark throughout the whole thing with this home buying process, and it's a duplex. And the shared wall is the bathroom wall. So I'm right there. And there's a brief moment of being aware like, okay, it's three in the morning, like, what must they think. But you know, that didn't faze me. And I kept on with it. I had one moment of kind of doubt coming from my first birth, when I was really in earnest beginning to push. And that was kind of where things went really differently in my first birth. So beginning to push and, and said something that my husband realized, I was pulled out of the moment, and thinking back to my first birth, and he said something supportive, and I wish I remember what it was. But he said something reported, supportive and my eyes had been closed this whole time. Because I was so inwardly turned and focused on on my body. And I just could not open my eyes. And so I said to him, in my mind, my eyes are open. So then probably soon after that, my wife thought it was a good moment to I think it probably helped me along, things were getting really intense. And so that was a one time she did a check. And so she put probably her index finger in and pulled it out. And she showed me and she pointed to the first knuckle and, and so about an inch, inch and a half. And she said that's where his head is, it's only that much left to go. So that was just perfectly timed. And I think that was more you know, for me then then for her, so things were really intense, I was pushing them pushing in there about three pushes, where I was thinking like, okay, you know, baby, you are very welcome to come into this world now, like, let's just wrap this up, about three pushes, really, really intense. And then suddenly, he was there. And she asked if I wanted to reach down and receive him, but I had been my whole body like pushing down on the sink counter and the doorknob and my legs. And I just couldn't it was that feeling of when you release that you kind of like are very jiggly, and I didn't feel like I could even hold him in or stand on my legs at that point. So anyway, she received him and then just gave him right to me, and they helped me hold him. And I said, just in disbelief like you you were in and now you're out. And it was just utter, it was amazing. And I was fine. Hi, I just think that is incredible. Just absorbed fully in him. And so that was about a half hour of pushing. And he was born at 345 in the morning, and sat with him for a couple of minutes. And my husband and I were just you know, taking it all in and it was just incredible. So after a couple of minutes, they helped me lean, I'm still sitting on the toilet. They like lean me forward to help me stand up while holding him. And I lean forward and my placenta just splashed out, like splashed out. And I said, Oh my placenta so my midwife caught that as well. And they they got it a whole lot of us to my bed in the other room. So they got to set up on the bed. And it's just amazing. And you know, put into my chest and had to monitor he had a couple of he was making some grunting sounds and turn blue for a minute and of course with the earlier gestation you know the the concern his lungs and so they were monitoring him for a few minutes. I think I was flying so high that I didn't have like true worry.

And, and, and ended up -- so we're very grateful about that. He ended up being fine, a couple of minutes, kind of just like, brought him out of it and he was okay. And he began nursing and she said, you know, he's nursing like that is all good. So he nursed and it was just beautiful, calm lights were just dim the entire time. That was what that flashlight was for. The lights were dimmed the whole time. And we got to be a part of everything. So she showed us the placenta and she showed us the sack and she showed us the my husband cut the umbilical cord and it was it was just everything. It was the most empowering and beautiful experience of my life. And I've said I would give birth like that 10 more times. I just don't know what I would do with those children.

It was it was amazing. I'll say at this point I'm so grateful for I'm very aware that privilege allowed me to have this experience, you know, it's not covered by insurance, we basically had to pay with our plan, we have a, we basically had to pay out of pocket. And so I know and I'm so grateful for my privilege that allowed me to have this experience and it was incredible. And to have this transform, transformative experience into motherhood a second time, feeling that way, compared to how I felt before. It just made a huge difference. And my postpartum experience was hugely different because of it. And it remains an experience I look back on and use as a source of strength and empowerment. So if I'm going through something tough physically or mentally, I draw on that to give me back that strength. And, and so with that, I'm so happy and grateful to be able to have had that experience and share it with you about how I welcomed our baby into the world.

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Between episodes, connect with us on Instagram @DownToBirthShow to see behind-the-scenes production clips and join the conversation by responding to our questions and polls related to pregnancy, childbirth and early motherhood.

You can reach us at Contact@DownToBirthShow.com or call (802) 438-3696 (802-GET-DOWN). 

To join our monthly newsletter, text “downtobirth” to 22828.

About Cynthia Overgard

Cynthia is a published writer, advocate, childbirth educator and postpartum support specialist in prenatal/postpartum healthcare and has served thousands of clients since 2007. 

About Trisha Ludwig

Trisha is a Yale-educated Certified Nurse Midwife and International Board Certified Lactation Counselor. She has worked in women's health for more than 15 years.

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