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The Melanie Rose Birth Blog

My Positive, Unplanned VBAC Story

Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional and nothing in this birth blog should be taken as medical advice. This blog is for informational and entertainment purposes only.

doula Melanie Velez holding her newborn baby immediately after birth

Welcome back to the Birth Blog! As promised, today is the story of how I inadvertently used my B.R.A.I.N.S. to navigate the birth of my second son, which was a surprise VBAC (!!).

If you read the story of why I became a doula, you'll know about my traumatizing emergency c-section under general anesthesia. Here's the story of my surprising second birth - like my earlier blog post about my first birth, this will be the unabridged version of the story I shared on my Instagram.

My first birth took place in 2017, and I was pregnant again in 2018, due to give birth in April of 2019 . I was told by my OBGYN that due to the nature of my previous birth and the short amount of time between pregnancies, there was absolutely no way that I could have a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean). Not in the cards, not on the table, not gonna happen. Okay, fine. I agreed, and mentally planned for another c-section (and hopefully a better one, all things considered, since it would be planned and not an emergent situation).

My c-section was scheduled (somewhat late in the game) for March 25th, and I waited patiently, did the pre-surgical appointments that were necessary, and...

...went into labor on March 24th.

"You had one more day, kid!" I scolded my belly, and called my family to let them know I'd need them to help with my first son just a wee bit earlier than planned. Now, I fully expected to arrive at the hospital, say, "Hey, it's me, I'm early," and be slapped down onto the table in the OR. But, instead, I arrived at the hospital, was examined in triage, and was given the option of a VBAC.

I'm sorry, what?

I told the nurse in triage that my OBGYN had been saying my entire pregnancy that under no circumstances was I to have a VBAC. Heck, I wasn't even supposed to go into labor, but here I was. The nurse looked at my chart, groaned after reading the name of the OBGYN practice, looked me in the eyes and said, "Well, your doctor isn't here." As in, your doctor doesn't have to be involved from here on.

The choice was mine. Mind-blowing!

Now, I didn't immediately consent to a TOLAC (trial of labor after cesarean) - that's (not-so-obviously but-also-obviously) what essentially has to happen. You must endure labor, and the labor will either result in a successful vaginal birth, or another cesarean. Because I hadn't mentally or physically planned for a VBAC, I wasn't so sure that that was what I wanted. So, I asked questions, a series of questions for the on-call doctor and myself, which essentially were the B.R.A.I.N.S of obtaining informed consent.

What are the benefits? (Better chance of future successful VBACs, no traumatic surgery or recovery from surgery)

What are the risks? (Uterine rupture, hemmorage)

What are the alternatives? (Simply go straight into a c-section)

What is my intuition telling me? (Attempt the VBAC)

What if I do nothing? (Not really applicable here; the baby is coming one way or another)

Do I have space and time to think about it? (Fortunately, I did have some time to think)

The on-call doctor talked me through all of my concerns, patiently answering my questions and assuring me that he believed I was a good candidate for TOLAC. He truly treated me like a human being, and left me to think about it, believing in my ability to give birth AND in making the right choice either way (I felt like I was in safe hands should something go wrong or should I decide to go through with a repeat cesarean).

In the end, I tried for the VBAC, and succeeded with the help of a team of awesome, supportive nurses. It was an incredibly healing experience, and I think it would have been even if it had ended in a repeat c-section. It opened my eyes to the concept of actually having some say and control in your birth experience.

I was also furious that I didn't prepare for a possible VBAC. I didn't prepare because I was told up and down that it was absolutely not going to happen. I could have prepared myself with information ahead of time, and physically prepared (and potentially avoided the third-degree tear that I ultimately suffered). Furious, but also incredibly proud of myself.

One birth can end in an entire operating room ignoring your insistence that your epidural wore off, and one birth can end in a team that believes in you and your ability to make big decisions for yourself. You never know!

Additional disclaimer: I am in no way pushing for you or anyone to go through TOLAC and VBAC. Each pregnancy and birth is different, and there are very real, life-threatening risks associated with VBAC that may or may not apply to you and your situation. Please work with your healthcare providers and obtain as much information as possible.

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