Time to get really vulnerable here and talk about my attempted VBAC birth story with my second (rainbow) baby. Even though this was 2 years and 1 week ago in August 2015, I can remember it like it was yesterday. That’s the thing with birth’s, they leave truly unforgettable memories whether traumatic or happy.
The pregnancy with Asiyah was Alhamdullilah (thanks to God) pretty smooth other than lots of nausea, severe back and rib pain I was pretty ok considering I had an 18-month-old toddler. I did have a scare of light placenta previa around 16 weeks but it went away within a few weeks.
I had my first (emergency) c-section in Nov 2013 after 21 hours of labor due to my son moving from head-down to “transverse” positioning. Yes, I will remind him of this for the rest of his life haha.
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My due date with Asiyah was July 25th, 2015. My pregnancy like my last was normal with no major issues or bad morning sickness except for severe nausea between 6-15 weeks and awful lower and mid back pain which I tried to manage by going to a Chiropractor for the last 5 months of this pregnancy. I went twice a week and my Chiropractor used the Webster technique. While it helped my overall body aches, I still had mid back pain. I also hired a Doula and took Red Raspberry Leaf Tea from 28 weeks and Primrose Oil from about 37 weeks. I didn’t walk as much as I would have liked due to the heat and where we lived, however, I did a few spinning babies exercises. With a toddler, I was super overwhelmed and with all the drives to the Chiropractor, which were 35 mins each way with no traffic it really exhausted me.
Towards my 36th week, my doctor who I thought was pro VBAC, started to mention checking my cervix to see if I was dilated. I won’t name her for privacy reasons but I will say this was at Mission Hospital in Orange County California. I would be happy to answer any specific questions directly through my email.
So, my doc checked me around 37 weeks and I was completely closed (this was my issue with my first, I didn’t dilate without intervention). She called my cervix incompetent and started to talk to me about scheduling my induction despite us talking about how against it I was. She would keep checking me every week and it REALLY stressed me, discouraged me. I think it took away any peace I was trying to make with my previous in case as she kept making me think that I was going to have a big baby who I couldn’t push out. She forced an induction date upon me and scheduled it for 4th August. All I could do was pray pray pray prior to that.
The Labor & Birth
On Friday, July 31st, I was 40 weeks, 7 days, I went to get acupuncture done, and bought some clary sage oil to sniff, and also got some fenugreek pills which I have heard help speed up labor.
My water broke on Saturday, Aug 1st, at 7:30 pm while we were at the beach with my cousin and her family who were visiting from Toronto. I was at the beach with cousins most of the day and we were walking up and down stairs and also hilly roads. I was exactly at 41 weeks and got excited. Now it wasn’t the typical thing you see in the movies where it’s a huge gush and you’re soaking wet, however, I did feel a gush and I basically wet myself and rushed to the nearest bathroom.
I didn’t really know what was going on but I was sure it was my water leaking as it happened 2-3 times after that until we got home 2 hours later. By then I knew this was it and I called my Doula who said we could wait a little bit before rushing to the hospital as they already wanted to induce me so I didn’t want to put myself in that position unless something was wrong.
I got home, took a shower, and got some rest, but kept waking up with every leak. Eventually, around 3 am, since I couldn’t sleep and wasn’t feeling any contractions (9 hours later), I decided to do some walking around the house and squatting. The squats were making me leak and I noticed the liquid was now tinted yellow. So since it was about 10 hours since my water broke, I called the hospital. Of course, they said, “you NEED to come in so we can induce you!”. I contacted my Doula and we agreed to meet at the hospital in a few hours as I was still not contracting painfully.
By the time I got admitted to the hospital it had been 12 hours since my water broke. I had a really sarcastic, young and unsupportive nurse. She said I was only dilated to 1 cm and was not effaced and my cervix was high up and baby’s head was down but more to the side. So they started me on Pitocin at 8 am (13hrs after water broke), and I still wasn’t in pain but was contracting far apart. It continued like this and they kept increasing the dose every 1-2 hours. I started to get contractions but they were still manageable especially with all positions my Doula kept suggesting.
I wasn’t allowed food or drink so I was starting to get exhausted. By 8 pm (25 hours after my water broke) I was only 2 cms. By 1 am my contractions were progressing even though they were far apart they were starting to become more painful. By 3 or 4 am I was dilated to about 5 cm and 70% effaced so I was happy things were progressing. The nurse also noticed that I had another bag of water that seemed to be blocking the baby’s head in her opinion. So she suggested upping the Pitocin again and waiting for my doctor who was due to come in around 8 am. We agreed to do that and waited for my doctor.
In the meantime, I was getting more and more exhausted, agitated, emotional and stressed and demotivated as it had been almost 24 hours on Pitocin and no proper food or drink and I had heard the word c-section a few times. I managed to get some rest however and waited for my doctor. At around 8 or 9 am, she broke my other bag of waters and said I was still about 5 cms and 80% effaced and my cervix and baby’s head was still too high up. She wanted to see what would happen now that the water was broken. We waited and while we did this I took a sponge bath and applied make up on thinking ok this might be the last few hours till I meet my baby. Little did I know I had almost another 15 hours to go!
They started upping the Pitocin (I was at 14mu by 10 am on Monday morning). Around 12 my doc came in to check my progress and she said I was still at 6 cms and she wanted to get a lot more aggressive with the Pitocin and she inserted a catheter which was supposed to monitor my contractions internally which would help better gauge where I am at. They wanted me to have contractions 2-3 mins apart before stopping Pitocin. By now the contractions were super painful.
They upped the Pitocin to 16 then 18 and I spent the next 4-5 hours in excruciating pain I couldn’t breathe through them and was just sobbing and unable to manage the pain. I was choking, and screaming by then and if anyone knows me I don’t show my pain and I handle pain pretty well. But by this time I wanted to give up and told my husband and doula I need an epidural. My husband cracked a joke and reminded me that I made him promise to remind me that I didn’t want the epidural no matter what! I just gave him a look (my famous “Afra Look”) n laughed. So they gave me the epidural and within 20-30 mins my body clearly relaxed and I dilated further to 7 cms and baby’s head dropped further Alhamdullilah (Thank God) which was great but still at -2 station. This was around 7 pm on Monday night.
I got some rest while they continued to up the Pitocin and we got to 20mu and I was checked at 10:30 pm on Monday night and I was 8.5 cms and baby had dropped down to 0 station and I was 100% effaced. The doctor decided to do an amino infusion after breaking the water again (yes for the 3rd time!) because there were decals and there was some meconium was in the fluid.
I was made to wear an oxygen mask because of the decals and they were getting worried. My doctor said she was worried the cord might be around baby’s neck and she said she would give me a little time and wanted to try upping the Pitocin to 22 which is higher than their normal max level they use. We agreed to try as this was the last stretch, and the nurse was literally walking in and out every minute and changing my position trying so hard to get me into a position that would stabilize baby’s heart rate. They even stopped the Pitocin and tried it that way but that only helped stabilize the heart rate and then my contractions would stop. They had even inserted the second catheter to pump water into my uterus to help cushion the baby incase I had run out of fluids.
Around 11:45 pm, which was 52 hours after my water broke and about 39 hours of induced labor, I had gone down to 8cms, and my cervix was swollen. My doctor was worried about the baby’s heart rate fluctuating so much with each contraction and thought it was possibly due to the cord being wrapped around her neck. This was probably making it hard for her to descend further.
I asked if there was absolutely NOTHING we could do and both my husband, Doula agreed a c-section was probably the best way. They said I did more than everything I could have done to have this baby naturally. I heard for days after the nurses were talking about me, as they had never seen anyone so determined to keep trying for so long.
So they prepped me and did the surgery and around 1:41 am. Baby Asiyah was born. They had to suction out meconium and indeed like the doc said she had the cord wrapped around her neck twice SubhanAllah (God is perfect). She was born at 8lbs 12 oz and 21.5 inches tall (smaller than my son after all).
Recovery went well. I have written about my c-section recovery in separate post. I was super swollen all over due to being on IV for almost 4 days. The hardest part of this birth other than the labor and my c-section was being away from my son for 6 days, and then not being able to carry him for weeks until I recovered. He was only 21 months so it was hard to communicate it with him. I fought so hard to have a VBAC and invested a lot of money into Chiropractic Care, a Doula, and took RRLT, Primrose Oil, Fenugreek, Clary Sage Oil, Pineapple, Walked, Squatted, Acupuncture and Acupressure. Clearly, Allah’s (God’s) plan was different for me. And I know I tried my best. Every time I look at Asiyah I say Alhamdullilah (Thank God) for the blessing of having her even though it wasn’t the birth I wanted. I also was grateful for my husband’s support during the labor and birth, and my Doula too. Without them, I don’t think I could have lasted those 52 hours. I had my family on what’s app cheering me on as well my friends and the birth groups I was on Facebook.
With that said, I want to say that I am excited at the prospect of a VBA2C (VBAC after 2 C-sections), with my next…..
Yes, we are expecting our third child very soon! We are going to be a family of 5 InshAllah (God Willing). I am super nervous about this birth and have been very nervous about announcing it.
We hope that you can say a little prayer our family that everything goes smoothly. I will be posting more about my pregnancy and preparing for the baby, so keep a lookout or sign up to get updates!
Full disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means that I may get a commission if you use it to make a purchase. However, it costs you nothing and enables me to keep bringing you great content. I only ever recommend products I use and love myself.