Monday, January 21, 2013

My Birth Story - Part 1

     Having a Natural Unmedicated Childbirth After a Cesarean is Possible 
 My Personal Journey

       Hi Everyone! I just wanted to share my wonderful and incredible birth experience with my second baby. I had a natural childbirth without anesthesia after having a C-section with my firstborn - and in just a span of two years and a month. I would like to encourage other mothers and expectant moms out there (and even those planning to be a mom in the future) to consider the possibility and benefits of having a normal delivery and especially one after a Cesarean. This is quite a long and detailed story so I've decided to break it into a couple of sections. Let me start with my first pregnancy and birth experience, and how it has led me to seek other options the second time around.

Audrey: My First Birth Experience

My First Pregnancy: Audrey at 8 months in the tummy
        More than two years ago, I gave birth to my beautiful baby girl Audrey. She was just an adorable bundle of joy and everything that I had prayed for and more. However, my birth experience was just the opposite. I was hoping to give birth naturally and looked forward to an easy recovery but things didn't turn out the way I'd hoped. I ended up having a C-section after 33 and a half hours of labor and an asthma attack in the operating room. I endured four hours of vomiting every fifteen minutes while in recovery, and was nauseated and dizzy after waking up from my sleep. And of course to top it all off, I had to deal with the very uncomfortable and painful C-section wound afterwards. 
       Giving birth via C-section not just made recovery difficult and inconvenient for me, it also made me feel like I was cheated out of the real birth experience. And this feeling was valid, especially after discovering so many things that convinced me that I really had a chance to do a normal birth.
        First, my labor was induced with no apparent reason but that I was in my 38th week of gestation, I was almost 3 cms dilated and that baby was already 6 lbs and 3 ounces. According to my doctor, if we induced labor I can already give birth before my baby gets any bigger, thus increasing my chance of having a normal delivery. This was brought to my attention during a routine checkup at my doctor's clinic and she recommended that I already check in the next day for induction. With my desire to see Audrey already and get rid of the very uncomfortable backache I was experiencing, I agreed. I thought that the induction had a good chance of working anyway. Had I known better then, I would have said no and waited till baby was really ready to come out. I practically signed myself up for a date in the operating room by agreeing to my doctor's suggestion. I later discovered after reading and researching that first time mothers whose labors were induced had an increased possibility of ending up in a C-section delivery. I will share more of what I found out in the next part of my birth story.
       So here is a blow by blow account of what happened then... I checked into the labor room at about 1pm on Sunday and was given oxytocin intravenously by 2pm. My husband and I waited in anticipation at what would take place and when baby would come. After a couple of hours and a pretty consistent show of contractions, I had an internal exam and was at 4 cms. By that evening I was at 5 cms and thought that my body was showing so much promise. Contractions were consistent and strong, and my cervix was dilating as expected. Baby would come soon. The nurses have even started offering me epidural anesthesia since the contractions were already pretty strong but I kept saying no. As far as I was concerned, the contractions weren't that painful and I've had worse pain with dysmennorhea. I also didn't want to ask for any drugs unless I absolutely needed it. 
       Later that evening when my doctor came in to check on me, I was still at 4-5 cms. She thought I would give birth a few hours after, even telling the resident doctors to expect delivering soon. But it didn't happen. Everytime they would do an internal exam, I would still be at 4-5 cms. Baby's head was not even engaged (meaning settled at the pelvis). And so my doctor told them that if I didn't show any progress until the next morning, to allow me to have a light meal so as to sustain me through labor and the next day. 

      So I slept through the night and had my breakfast. During another internal exam that morning, the situation remained the same. Cervix was at 4-5 cms and baby's head was at Station -2, even bouncing back up. (Station 0 is the middle of the pelvic inlet and a negative number means that the head of the baby is still above it or floating. Each number represents a centimeter so in this case, the head is still 2 cms away). Audrey just wouldn't go down no matter how many times my husband and I pleaded for her to come out already. 
        I decided to walk and walk and walk around the delivery room, hoping to help speed things up and bring baby down. My doctor had already given orders to pop the bag of waters in an hour to help strengthen the contractions and open up the cervix more. But it wasn't necessary as I felt a slight gush of water leaking already. By the 24th hour my water had broken and it gave me more hope that perhaps I would finally dilate fully. But everything remained the same. Contractions were strong and consistent and my cervix was still at 5 cms, with Audrey's head still at Station -2. 
       Nothing changed after about 33 hours of laboring so my doctor finally said the dreaded words - "If there's still no progress within an hour, we will need to do a C-section." I looked at my husband and felt sooo disappointed in myself. I was so sad and on the verge of tears because this was not what I had wanted at all - and I couldn't do anything about it anymore. Even though Audrey was doing ok with no sign of stress at all, I didn't want to take any chances. I had been laboring for too long and it would eventually be bad for her so I had to consent to this decision. 
       I was prepped and after about an hour, Audrey was out. I did not even get to see the birth because I had to be knocked out. And when I was woken up, I could hardly breathe - like I was having a nightmare of some sort. I only actually stopped feeling that way when my husband placed Audrey in my arms and we attempted to latch her onto me. We even took photos and those few minutes were wonderful. When she was taken away from me and I was wheeled into the recovery room, I remember going back to catching my breath. I was back to feeling awful again. I just kept vomiting and was so dizzy. Only the presence of my baby calmed me down and I looked forward to the time when they would bring her to me for a feeding... And I thought to myself, I am never having a C-section ever again. Not if I can help it.
        If it were solely up to me (and all conditions were good physically), I would definitely not opt for a C-section, and a repeat Cesarean at that. My experience clearly showed that there was an unnecessary medical intervention before the baby was ready, resulting in an unplanned (and unwanted) C-section. This was a mistake that could have been avoided. 
      And although my baby and I were safe despite everything that had happened, the inconveniences and pain that I had to go through related to the C-section were enough to push me into trying for a different birth experience the next time around. 

Enduring all the pain was difficult but worth it.
I'm still thankful because
I was blessed with a beautiful and healthy baby girl.

My newborn Audrey
                                                 Photo courtesy of Jamie Marcelo

Fresh flowers for the new mommy (who's stuck in bed)
from the new daddy :)
Five day old Audrey
      My next post is about my quest for a VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean). I was definitely on a mission to pursue a better option rather than an elective repeat C-section. My discoveries proved to be very interesting and even educational. How I wish I knew then what I know now.

References used to explain some terminologies: The Pregnancy Book and The Birth Book by William Sears, M.D. and Martha Sears, R.N.


  1. Love this post Cecil! Cant wait for the next one!

  2. Hi Cecil! New visitor here. :) I'm a soon-to-be mommy to a girl due this March, and her name is also Audrey! :) Like most pregnant women, I pray for a natural delivery, but it's comforting to know that in case I deliver via CS, I can still have a chance at a natural birth next time. Anyway, I'll keep your experience in mind and just say no to induction before the baby's ready. Looking forward to the next part of your birth story!

  3. Thanks Dea! Glad my story was able to encourage you. Even though a CS may be necessary at times, it's good to know that having one doesn't prevent you from trying for a natural birth for your next pregnancy... And we named our daughter Audrey too because it wasn't just a lovely name, its meaning was noble strength :)

  4. I never really heard the full details until I read your story. I must say you are truly amazing and very inspirational. My first pregnancy was a natural birth because a good friend of mine told me to watch the documentary"The business of being born." There is so many benefits in delivering your baby the way God intended it to be. I applaud you for not giving up and also for sharing your story to others. I am on my first trimester for my second child and I am looking forward to another natural delivery. God bless you and your journey through this blog!