Thursday, July 8, 2010

What I loved about my VBAC.

I've been pondering on my last post quite a bit over the past few days. I received a lot of comments -- I think more than I've ever had on any post. It obviously resonated with many of you. I am glad I have so much support in my recovery.

I worry I may have come off as ungrateful and whiny, though. I do know things could have been much worse. But also, I realize I was able to have an uncommon, sought-after delivery: a VBAC. And it was a wonderful experience.

So, I've compiled a list of reasons I did love my VBAC (the birth, not the recovery). Here it goes:

1. No restriction. I was able to sit up and move around during the pushing phase. With my C-section, I was strapped to a table and "the action" was happening behind a tent (I'm glad about that, don't worry). I didn't look during my VBAC, as I'm sure I would have fainted. But it was nice to be able to sit up, adjust, move my legs and all that. I was an active participant in my baby's birth, whereas during my C-section, I felt like I had no idea what was going on and was just waiting for the procedure to be finished. I did have an epidural this time, so I couldn't exactly do cartwheels or anything. But I am claustrophobic, so being strapped down is no bueno in my book. Plus, I could smell, hear and feel things that made me really sick. (Yes, I said "smell." One word: cauterization.)

2. I felt my baby move through me as he made his entrance into the world. As I said before, the anesthesiologist who gave me my epidural was THE BEST. Seriously, if there was an Emmy or Oscar for epidural placement, she'd be the winner. I could feel everything, except for the pain. I could move my legs and wiggle my toes. I felt the immense pressure as Smush descended through the birth canal. It was surreal. One of those things you can't really imagine until you've done it.

3. I got to hold my baby right away. After Bubby was extracted from the womb, the anesthesiologist lifted my head slightly and the doctor dropped the tent for a split second so I could see her, fresh out of the oven. You've all seen the picture. It was amazing, but it was fleeting. Immediately, she was whisked away to a warmer room (they keep the OR cold) to be cleaned, measured, weighed, etc. Dill went with her. I remained on the table while the doctors stitched me up. My nurses and anesthesiologist were awesome, keeping me calm with easy conversation about the baby. But, I wanted to hold her, not talk about her. My mind raced with thoughts about that precious being I'd only gotten a glimpse of. It was an hour or so before I actually got to hold her.

With Smush, it was truly a "grand entrance." It felt just like a movie. The doctor pulled him out, and I could see that the cord was still attached to me. That crazy image has been burned into my memory forever -- he had been born but he was still part of me. Then, the doctor clamped the cord and Dill got to cut it. Immediately, they stuck Smush on my chest. He was making this tiny, helpless cry. They put a blanket on top of him and a hat on his head. I rubbed him to warm him up and I talked to him. I remember vividly how he calmed down at the sound of my voice. It was a magical, special moment.

4. I was present when they determined his stats. Time, weight, length, Apgars. They just passed the word on to me when Bubby was born. That might not seem like much, but you know, since you carried that thing around for 9 months, letting you hear it first is the least they can do.

4. I got to nurse Smush right away. It was probably only 15 minutes after he'd been born and they brought him to me so I could nurse him. I was like, What? When Bubby was born, I wanted to nurse her right away as well, but the nurses told me I should wait until later; she probably wasn't hungry. So, I thought that was the norm. But Smush was hungry! He literally came out of the womb opening his mouth, looking for food (like father, like son). He then ate for an hour. It was neat to be there with my sweetheart in the quiet, calm hospital room, admiring our little porker while he chowed down.

5. Shorter hospital stay. Only two nights instead of four! Don't get me wrong; the hospital where I had Smush was a dream come true. But, after a while, the magic of the event wears off and you start to feel like an unwelcome house guest. And there's nothing quite like your own bed. So, I was really happy to be going home when I did. Although, I did miss the food. Oh, that hospital had the best food and room service. I'm salivating at the very thought of the salmon I had.

6. Well, I guess this reason has something to do with the recovery: I shrunk down a LOT faster. I felt like a whale for a good 4 months after I had Bubby, and I have the pictures to prove it. After Smush, I was back in my pre-pregnancy jeans in just 2 weeks! Big difference. I did gain less weight with Smush, but not by much. My uterus just knew what to do this time because it pushed the baby out.

P.S.~ Don't hate me for being skinny again so quick. I've been on both sides of that fence. Trust me; I'm really grateful.

7. My abs were back to normal pretty much right away. C-sections leave your abdominal muscles entirely useless for a few months, and that's frustrating. It also makes breastfeeding difficult, since you don't want a baby laying right on top of your incision. So yeah, my downstairs was a total wreck, but at least I could sit up without assistance!

Well, the Smush is crying to eat, so this post has to come to an end. But, I just wanted to put this list out there in case anyone thought I was ungrateful for my VBAC. It was a magnificent experience and I'm glad I got to have it. I realize not many people do, and that someday (hopefully) I'll be fully healed and can just remember the good things about it.

Thanks again for all your kind, supportive words. Just remember -- Childbirth is a piece of cake. Sometimes, it's red velvet; sometimes, it's 30-year-old family heirloom fruitcake.


  1. I love you Jenna, you are my hero! Way to look at the glass half-full and have an *attitude of gratitude*! I know its hard when you feel like crud, but it sure does help to count your blessings. I need to make a list like that of my own regarding infertility that I can look at on those days when I'm wallowing in pity-party land! ;)

  2. I think as women we naturally worry about what we said and how others perceived it. If it makes you feel any better I never thought you had any regrets having a VBAC after reading your Potpourri post. I didn't even take it as you complaining about the after effects from it, just you sharing your story with us. :)

  3. I am a bad blogging friend too! Congrats on your babies birth! I must admit this post made me really jealous. I would have loved to try a VBAC with Alex, but I pushed for so long with Lucas that it wasn't even an option, as there was tearing by the tint they did the c-section.

    I truly am happy it worked out for you. I need to go get caught up on your posts now :)

  4. I'm glad you posted this. I pretty much knew you weren't really complaining in your original post, but some others might not have (like people who have never had a baby).

    Having worked in the L&D/Postpartum world I appreciate when women are open to all the possibilites.

    Thanks for sharing both sides of your story and encouraging girls to be informed as they make decisions about their own birthing experiences. You're Awesome :)

  5. i'll say after having 2 c/s's (the 2nd one after attempted vbac), my recovery with #2 was a lot easier just because i had gone through labor first. my body was ready to recover and i got smaller faster too. i didn't lose all my weight right away, but that's me. i left the hospital after 2 nights as well, and didn't feel sore with the incision as long either. you know the story with #1 (induced for 3 days before finally having the c/s at 38 wks) i think that if i have #3, i'll wait to go into labor (as long as my dr lets me) and hope for the easier recovery.

  6. I had 3 vbacs the greatest ever. My last one was a bit scary when I started to bleed but it turned out to be the cord that tore. I wish everyone that has had a c section could then have a vbac


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