When Tara and Poorya embarked on their VBAC journey back in 2017 they sought education, knowledge and preparation to achieve their dream birth. Tara shares their story…
41 weeks pregnant; as the days wore on I was getting edgy and losing my confidence. I had felt empowered and ready but the last couple of weeks of pregnancy are hard and even harder when you go over the 40 week mark. The pressure came not from myself but from those around me, the well meaning texts, messages and phone calls from excited family and friends although lovely, made me want to hide away completely.
On Tuesday morning 28/11 I had some powerful acupuncture and felt Soren respond to this immediately. He was kicking hard and punching me as if to ask “What’s going on Mum?!” Although this definitely got a response from baby, he still just wasn’t quite ready. In the evening, I had a beautiful induction massage with Doula Gabbi Targett (Author of A Labour of Love). I was wrapped in deliciously warm towels of clary sage and massaged from head to toe as Gabbi talked me through a guided meditation and some positive affirmations. I visualised Soren in his optimum position, descending down the birth canal and being birthed naturally. I visualised my support team and the energy in the birth space. I told Soren that we could do this together, to work as a team, and that it was safe for him to meet us now. I told him how important it was for me to experience natural birth and that I trusted him completely.
On Wednesday morning 29/11 I woke up an emotional wreck. A hot mess of hormones. I took my son to school and then went for an ocean swim. The sky was dark and grey but the air was humid.
I cried, sobbed, as I lay on my back in the cold water and held my massive belly… unsure as to why I was feeling so crappy and so over being pregnant. I spent the rest of the day crying on the couch and watching Offspring on Netflix.
My mum picked my son up from school thank goodness and gave me a big hug as she left. I told her to keep her phone close in case I needed her to have Jett that night. By the time my husband came home and I had done the homework and dinner routine, I was in a bad, yucky mood. I kicked both the boys out of the house, they went to play soccer, and I felt relieved that I had some space to just be. I had a long hot shower, diffused some oils and settled back on the couch. This labour had to start soon!
I noticed the windows needed a clean (nesting will do that to you! ) and so went to get some lemon juice and newspaper… I stood on a stool to clean the highest window when POP! Water started running down my legs… had I strained myself and wee’d? Or was this it? I jumped down and more water came out, and then some more. I wasn’t sure if it was my waters breaking because with my first son, they had burst and gushed like a tidal wave over the bedroom floor.
This was more gentle. At 8pm I text my midwife “I’m pretty sure my waters just broke… I’ll be in touch” and called my Doula.
Then the adrenaline kicked in. I excitedly called my husband, three of my best friends and my mum. I had a shower, washed my hair, shaved my legs and put a bit of makeup on (ridiculous I know but I had a birth photographer). I wasn’t having contractions yet but I put on my beautiful labour beadsfrom my blessingway and set up a comfortable birth space by the alter I had created full of affirmations, crystals and beads that had been gifted to me and inspiring pictures and images. I wasn’t birthing at home but planned to labour at home as long as possible before heading to the hospital. My husband arrived home from soccer and both him and my son went to bed. I told them to rest and relax as baby was sure to arrive if not tonight then tomorrow.
By 10pm my surges had started rolling in, steady but gentle. I started using the breathing techniques I had learn at yoga & Hypnobirthing and those that I have done before with clients straight away. I wanted to get into a rhythm and zone from the get go. I did some yoga and lay down on the mat with a bolster and rested half awake and half asleep, not quite able to completely switch off. By about 12.30am I was really having to focus on my breathing and couldn’t ignore the surges, they required all of my attention. I was repeating in my mind “breathe through it and then let it go. Breathe through it and then let it go” this really helped me to focus on each surge as an individual hurdle rather than labour as a huge long marathon.
I started timing the surges and realised they were coming in strong and consistently. I called the Doula, birth photographer and my midwife who listened to me have one surge over the phone and decided that we should all meet at King Edward hospital instead of at home. I was well and truly in active labour. I woke my husband and called my mum over to watch my son.
My the time mum arrived it was about 2.30am and I was in labour land. Unable to talk and desperate to get to hospital to set up space. Throughout my pregnancy my greatest anxiety had been about the transition from home to hospital. My husband drove calmly and quickly through the eerie stillness of night as I was vocalising loudly in the back seat. Breathing in for 4 and “om-ing” out for 6 on every out breath. The surges were getting intense. My beautiful Doula Kelly met us at the car and escorted us inside where we met Cat our photographer. We checked in and were ushered to a birth suite once Mel our midwife had arrived. As I focused on each surge, my birth squad worked quickly and quietly around me, setting up and holding space as we all settled into a steady rhythm; taking each surge one by one. To me, the energy was calm and controlled. Everyone held space so beautifully. I was aware of my husband, quietly observing in the corner but also there for quiet and strong reassurance every so often. My doula, whispering words of support and providing physical support by way of massage and hip squeezes, the photographer snapping away -I barely noticed her as she moved so seamlessly around the room she knew how to be present in a birth space without intruding. And my midwife, a pillar of strength. Sitting, observing and offering words of support. She held space and kept the hospital staff away.
We moved between the bathroom, sitting on the toilet, hip swaying and eventually ended up on all fours on the bed. We carried on for a couple of hours in a cycle of surge, breathe, peak, let it go, relax, rest. I remember being so proud of myself that I was doing it! I was labouring! Naturally! No drugs! And so in control. A vast difference from my first birth experience.
Until I was having two surges in a row and my vocalisation became intense and primal, uncontrollable roars from deep within. I could feel Soren moving down the birth canal and the pressure felt so intense I remember asking everyone “is this normal?!” And “this is fucked!” And they all just smiled and told me yep, it’s normal and I’m birthing my baby beautifully.
After a while I was urged by the hospital to have some monitoring as Mel was having trouble picking up a heart beat with the Doppler and with the straps. Not surprising considering I was moving around and finding it hard to keep still. I eventually consented to electronic fetal monitoring as I knew the risks of having a vaginal birth after a csection and could understand that it was important to monitor Soren to avoid uterine rupture.
Meanwhile, the pressure was becoming more and more intense! And I was making noises that I had no control over. I was birthing my baby!
The next 20 minutes or so were a blur as the hospital weren’t happy with Soren’s heart rate and started to prep for Caesarean. This was disheartening because it was sudden and disempowering after I had felt that both Soren and I were doing so well. I knew he was about to be born so was pissed off that the hospital staff had forced their way in to my birth space to burst my bubble. Upon reflection, this just highlights for me the importance of having continuity of care and trust in your care providers. Without this, women have little hope of no intervention. I have no doubt my pregnancy and birth experience would have been vastly difference if not for the amazing support of my midwife who was with us throughout our entire pregnancy. The doctor requested a VE first to which I consented even though I found it incredibly hard to move onto my back for it. I eventually did between surges and the Dr was surprised to feel Soren’s head!
He was nearly here!
That gave me all the inspiration I needed! I had laboured so well, with such loving support! I was NOT going to have a repeat caesarean. With my birth squad surrounding me, and the words of my midwife “You’re doing it!!”
I birthed my beautiful boy in 4 minutes. The sting of his head emerging felt incredible! A baby was coming out of my vagina!! In 3 almighty pushes. With not a tear.
Soren was placed on my chest in a flurry of camera snaps and tears and elation and emotion.
I did it! I got my VBAC!
Soren Ray Ravaei arrived at 6.04am Thursday 30/1/17. The same birth date as his cousin Noa (who also had the same midwife).
The first hour of his arrival earthside was beautiful and peaceful as we delayed his cord clamping, had a feed and had skin to skin with mummy and daddy while I waited to birth the placenta (those surges though! Were just as intense as labour). We were in a bubble of love. My mum and big boy, Jett came to meet Soren and we had beautiful photos as a family.
Mel worked hard to clean the space and I had a shower while my husband held Soren and we got ready to leave. Soren was eventually checked over and weighed and measured. 9.11 pounds of pure health and perfection.
I felt so incredible on a natural oxytocin high and so happy that I had fulfilled my dream that I had worked so hard for over the previous 9 months. By 10.00am we were back at home, all cuddled up in bed and snuggling as a family. I was so elated that I was able to birth my baby and leave straight away. Again, this was with the support of my incredible midwife. We were so happy and couldn’t have dreamed of a better birth experience. In my opinion, a VBAC is something that you have to work for. It takes education, empowerment, the right care providers and preparation.
I am forever grateful to my awesome birth squad who knew how important it was to me to have this experience, to my husband who trusted the process and to Soren… my beautiful VBAC baby.
Tara and Poorya x
My name is Fiona Rogerson and I am an ACA accredited counsellor, and Hypnobirthing (Mongan Method) Practitioner. I work with women and men to overcome emotional and psychological hurdles surrounding conception, pregnancy, postpartum, parenting and identity. I am also available to provide professional development training and workshops to various organisations. I am based south of the river in Perth and can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 0402 017 425 or via my contact page. Find me on Facebook and Instagram.