It was 11:53pm the night before my birthday. And the next day would become the most unforgettable birthday of my life. I didn’t receive a single gift that day, didn’t eat any cake or blow out candles, and almost entirely forgot that it was “my” day because all I was focused on was bringing a baby into this world after nine months of an exhausting and frustrating pregnancy. I was focused on having a home birth and a successful VBAC.
(Since this story I’ve had another home birth! Read I am birthing hear me roar for more. )
I started having contractions like small waves, coming and going. 8 minutes, 7 minutes, 7 minutes, 8 minutes, 14 minutes… I held my breath for a second hoping I had just missed timing one… 8 minutes, 8 minutes, 8 minutes… I finally went to sleep. An hour and a half later, the waves hit me harder and stronger and the only thing I could think about was cleaning my house.
It was 2:30am and I was scrubbing counters, putting away toys, and folding laundry. And that’s when I realized I was truly in labor.
Please be aware I am sharing my birth story and birth photos. Some photos, while not extremely graphic, may be something that could make one feel uncomfortable. So please be forewarned. All the beautiful birth photography was taken by Photos by Dorothea based in Tulsa, OK and is being used with permission.
My contractions were all over the place from 14 minutes to 4. I had eaten a protein bar, munched on some hazelnut butter, and sipped on chlorophyll water. A couple hours later, I put on my birth affirmation shirt, ate some eggs and toast, rested while timing contractions, and sent a text to my midwives, Faith and Sarah. Between the intense contraction that came every 5th or 6th time, the fetal shaking I had experiences, and my lack of sleep, I woke up my husband and asked him to pray with me because I was just not feeling very confident.
9:30am rolled around and my mother-in-law drive me to an “emergency” chiropractic appointment where I paced the lobby waiting my turn. The receptionist brought us a tennis ball to use as counter pressure and in my misery of unending tail-bone pressure, I squatted, holding on to anything that would support me.
My chiropractor finally called me back where she adjusted my hips, did a tailbone release, got my pubic bone aligned and in place, did a diaphragm release, and showed my MIL different ways to teach my husband how to apply pressure for when I might need it during labor. And I felt amazing. So much pressure relieved, but now my contractions were even more erratic spanning from 21 minutes apart to less than 40 seconds.
We left and went to the Walgreen’s across the street to pick up some last minute things (you know, like a thermometer battery that should have been purchased months ago…). In this very easy trip into the store, I started feeling a really tight and heavy spot in the middle of the left side of my back. It was like someone stabbed my through the back and into the gut. I felt so sick and could hardly walk.
This awful feeling continued even when we got home and I remember texting the midwives telling them I felt better and worse all at the same time. I ate, I tried to nap, and I tried to focus on anything I possibly could that wasn’t the pain in my back. It felt like I was going to be sick about 80% of the time and that was something I wasn’t prepared for in the slightest and I was so uncomfortable that I couldn’t focus. (Which is probably good because even though I wasn’t focusing on the positive, I also was not thinking about the fact that I was attempting a VBAC or that I might fail).
It was 2pm and I was sitting backwards on the toilet.
It’s the only thing that made my tailbone fall into a better place and be able to rest my head. And my contraction pattern improved like this. But I sat there for 3 hours. Alone. It was mentally the hardest part of my labor and I was doing it by myself. I wrote a sign that is still hanging behind the toilet that declares “You are my strength when I am weak”. I sat there trying to sing to myself and was fighting back tears. In a moment of desperation and loneliness, I posted in my blogger network what was happening. And in an instant I was flooded with support, encouragement, and virtual hugs from around the world. And suddenly I felt motivated and so uplifted.
My husband got home and I tried going for a walk with him (more like a shuffle) and I could hardly move. It was excruciating. And my contractions fell back into a sporadic pattern. Labor was not supposed to be like this. It wasn’t with my first and beyond that I knew I shouldn’t be in so much pain. I knew I shouldn’t feel sick. Not yet anyway.
Somewhere around 7-8pm, Faith and Sarah showed up to check on me ( they are about an hour to an hour and a half away) and I was laying on the couch just praying not to die… because I really felt like death. They asked to check me so they did.
And my cervix was pointed to the left.
What?! I didn’t even know that was possible. I was hating my body right about then and cursing the discomfort that came along with my midwife center-aligning my cervix. I think I almost passed out when she said that I was only 2cm dilated. I had been in labor for over 18 hours and was at 2 cm. It was a cruel joke; it had to be.
When they were done though it felt like the load of bricks I had been hauling in the left side of my back was gone and that the fog had lifted from my eyes. Who knew that I was having pain in my back from my cervix and who knew just how draining that was?! They told me to stay on my hands and knees or at the very least, on my right side to help keep my cervix in place. And they told me to rest. That I could now do.
The midwives packed up because they had another birth that had picked up pace and it was back the other direction and would take them at least an hour and a half to get there. So I prepped myself to rest. Knowing I needed to eat and that my toddler needed daddy instead of nana time, he took her to get us some food. I drank more chlorophyll water, took some vitamin C, used the bathroom, turned on my diffuser, and fell asleep.
5 minutes after falling asleep and while I was still in the foggy, in-between stage, it felt like my pubic bone exploded and split into two pieces. There was an ominous pop and I tried to scream and nothing came out. I tried again and it sounded like a whisper. My MIL finally heard me and helped me to the bathroom where I checked my pH.
My water had broken.
And now my contractions were back after having been gone for over an hour. We sent texts and called the midwife because now not only were they back, but my contractions were so intense. They had just made it to the other birth so one stayed and the other came right back.
In the meantime, I made it out of the bathroom and had to stop in the dining room floor where I was on my hands and knees. Somehow I was coherent enough to continue to time my contractions and answer midwife texts, but I really don’t remember it much at all. I do remember my husband getting home and that I screamed at him for being too loud walking across the floor with shoes on. I should have known then that I was in transition, but thought there was no way since I was only 2 cm about 2 hours before.
In some strange moment of listening to my body and my instincts, around 11:25pm I got up after the end of a contraction and moved across the house into the bedroom. Apparently my MIL and husband had been texting the midwife during this time and she was rushing down the turnpike and said she was 25 minutes away. We have contractions timed until my midwives arrived, so 11:57pm Faith walked in the door. I remember begging/demanding the birth tub once I heard her voice.
I was in such a haze that I remember hearing the hustle and bustle of my birth team and photographer, chatter with my husband, and Faith’s soft voice encouraging me as I labored. I vaguely remember hearing Rebecca and Faith discussing that they didn’t have time to inflate and fill up the pool, but I guess at the time I didn’t think that meant I was so close to delivering.
With my first, I remember getting yelled at in the hospital to not push when I told them I had the urge to do so. Therefore, I remember feeling this overwhelming urge to push and I was kind of afraid to even say it so I told her it felt like I needed to poop. (I mean really, how is that any different at this point in the game or any better? I don’t know. But laboring Kara thought it was.) I thought there was no way I was even close to delivering and that I would just be disappointed and deflated if I said it. But when I announced that and said I did need to push Faith said “Then go for it!” She told me there was a small lip of my cervix left but she could hold it back.
Want to know how I prepped for labor? See me online childbirth class here.
Upon pushing she discovered that my sweet girl had her hand and arm up by her head. So oddly enough, the supine position and pulling my own legs back was the only effective way for me during the initial push phase. I remember Faith telling me that I could feel her head if I wanted. While I was still pretty hazy I do remember that being an almost magical moment for me. My husband said that I beamed, gushed, and melted in that moment.
After the head came out, everyone helped me flip to my hands and knees and my husband caught her and handed her up underneath me.
Not once did I think about my previous cesarean or the scar it left me or the possibility or uterine rupture. Not once did I ask to go to the hospital. Not once did I say or think I couldn’t do it. I knew I could have a VBAC and I did.
12:29am December 19th my VBAC baby was born.
We don’t share a birthday. My Home Birth did not go as planned. And yet it was the most beautiful moment of my life.
Find more on Pregnancy, Childbirth, VBAC, and Baby Here, or read Why I decided on a Home Birth and Midwife.
Kara is an author and advocate for positive, grace-filled parenting. She is homeschooler to her 5 children living on a farm in New England. She believes in creative educational approaches to help kids dive deeper into a rich learning experience and has her degree in Secondary Education & Adolescent Childhood Development. She is passionate about connecting with and helping other parents on their journey to raise awesome kids!
Shannon @ GrowingSlower
Ohhh how I love a happy natural birth story, and the extra special determination and redemption that goes into VBACs are so so amazing! Thank you thank you for sharing this intimate moment with us. Beautiful!
I am so glad to share it! I definitely want to spread more awareness for the beauty, but also the reality of natural birth 🙂
Oh, wow! What a great story! You did well, you can be such a proud mama!
Thank you! I really am so thankful and proud of the experience and that I get to tell it to my daughter her whole life.
Oh, thank you SO MUCH for sharing this inspiring birth story. I laughed. I cried. And I just feel so incredibly proud of you. You inspire me and I know you are going to inspire and encourage so many moms. You show what is possible. You are incredibly brave and strong. Beautiful pictures. There are so many birth stories that I read and hear about of moms who are in denial about how far their labor has progressed (me included!). I think many moms will relate to that. And it not going as planned….that is something I hear all the time too. That was the hardest part for me…especially as a type a person. The lack of control about how the birth and labor will go even when you planned and prepared as best you could. Anyways…such a great story. You are awesome for sharing!
Oh Lauren, thank you for your comment! I think as women we get it in our heads that something isn’t possible just because we fear it. We doubt ourselves and give up so easily and so often. I am Type A too and OCD so the not going as planned kind of killed me and I hate prime numbers so the fact that her birthday is the 19th kind of bugs me haha. But of course that gets trumped by everything else.
thank you so much for sharing your story. It sounds like you had a tough time but I’m so glad you were able to have the home birth you wanted.
It was definitely not easy, but turned out to be so worth it!
what an amazing story! I am so impressed by these, as “normal” medical advice would be to never try this!
Thank you! In regards to your comment, that is so sad to me! I wish that we could all look at each side objectively and just do what is best for each woman in each circumstance and not fear women into making decisions that go against what they would otherwise do.
Such a amazing story !
You may love the idea of giving birth at home and having that first cuddle with your baby in a familiar environment. It’s not for all women, you are certainly a brave mom.
Thanks, I am so glad that I read this.
Wow! You are so brave, Kara! Wonderful!
Maybe just stubborn 😉
What an amazing story Kara and thank you for sharing. I’m sure many of us from KBN were waiting to hear the details after standing at attention on fb for hours awaiting your little princess. The ending brought tears to my eyes. I love that you had a photographer to capture your experience. Rest up and enjoy your new addition
I am happy to share and SO thankful for KBN. It was so heartwarming feeling everyone gather around me as they sent thoughts and prayers during that time! We are resting and enjoying this new normal.
Theres Just One Mommy
I am literally reading through tears. What an amazing story for your little one when she’s older! It was exciting to read the posts on FB that day, and now to see the story behind all that — enjoy your little girl!
I am still trying to figure out how to save that fb thread easily! I am so excited to be able to tell it to her. I hope she finds it something to be proud of too.
I am so glad that you shared this. I am 18 weeks with #2 and had an emergency c-section due to pre-e with #1. Having a VBAC is my goal and as long as I don’t get pre-e again I should be able to get that to happen without any problems. It is very encouraging to see that you did not think about your past experience or the negative things that come along with a trail of labor after cesarean. I am hoping that a VBAC would be a healing experience for me since the birth of #1 was such a traumatic one. I am so happy for you!
Oh, good luck Amanda! I spent a lot of time focusing on the good and telling myself it would go as planned. I made my birth affirmation shirt and one for mys husband so I could focus on something positive leading up to it and in the moment. My VBAC was definitely healing, just not the pregnancy! If you haven’t looked into the brewer diet, it’s supposed to help prevent pre-e; though I have no experience with Pre-e. I wrote about the brewer diet and why each item is included if it helps. Regardless, best of luck and lots of prayers to you!
You’re so brave in sharing your story and the way you handles all of this! I’m in awe! And you made me cry. 🙂 Hugs to you and your little girl!
Thank you Mihaela! I hope it’s a story that can help and inspire others over time. 🙂
This is inspiring! Im due in august and i AM DETERMINED to VBA3C at home. Found an amazing midwife to help me accomplish this. She said she will stay from beginning to end with me.
That is AWESOME you found a provider. I wish you the best of luck. You will do amazing and it will be such a blessing to experience.
Ah, finally got a moment to sit down and read the whole thing! I’m SO happy for you! I know what it’s like to desperately want a different birth story than your first! He’s our strength and He’s so gracious to let us see that strength in action through letting US give birth. It’s just magic! Congrats again!
Thank you Julie! Having a different birth experience was such a blessing and I think the message I probably needed the most in my life was that He is my strength and I will have many days that I am weak, but He will carry me through. It’s a painful way to learn it, but I am glad it finally sunk in 😉
I’m so glad you had your VBAC at home. Birth is so amazing. Thank you for sharing your story!
Thank you Darcy. Birth is truly incredible and beautiful… and such a roller coaster.
So much of this sounds familiar! I had a vbac about 19 months ago in a birth center. Mine took less than six hours from start to finish, but because of that constant intensity, I never had time to worry or question myself. I never thought, “I can’t do this,” but I did remember not wanting to do it! Ha. While I was still at my house, I remember thinking, “Why did I want to do this?? I just want to go to the hospital and get an epidural.” I told that story later at my birth class reunion, and at that point I had the realization that that was transition. They were like, “Uhh yup!”
Anyway, when people asked how it was, I said intense! But worth it.
Oh, and in comparison to the hospital experience…it’s so amazingly better!
DEFINITELY intense, but oh so worth it. I also love being able to share and tell my story. The reality of the story both the hard and the wonderful together are what so many don’t share. It’s usually one or the other, but that’s just not realistic!
Isn’t it funny that in hindsight we can see we were in transition through our grumpy “done” selves?
Congrats on your own VBAC, it’s a really liberating accomplishment.
What an amazing story!! I had my first home birth in 2013 and am planning another one in June of this year. It’s such an amazing experience.
Thank you Farrah! I am excited to hear how your next one goes. It was truly incredible and I know that will be my path from here on out.
Helen Gatenby Holt
Beautiful, honest, heart wrenching, brave home birth. Well done to you. You never once thought about the cesarean or going to hospital because you knew you could do it and you did! That is just the best hope. Congratulations.
Thank you! <3
What a beautiful story – I love it! We need more positive birth stories like yours and I *adore* the confidence you maintained throughout your experience.
I have had homebirths with both of my children. My first birth was long, extremely difficult (one of the hardest my midwife had ever witnessed), and most importantly – totally not how I planned it. I would do it all over again to have my daughter (of course) but wow! Not what I pictured. My most recent water home water birth was amazing. Pretty much exactly like I dreamed. Although he also played superman with a nuchal hand like your little one. 🙂 Every birth is so different.
You are a brave mama! Not because you had a VBAC, or an HB – but because you believed in yourself and trusted your team. Having heard many stories, I can say it takes someone with true steel to go through what you did and not waiver in their faith. Thank you for sharing – you rocked it!