My Journey to (potentially) VBAC’ing

The Why’s

Okay, so, that last pregnancy related post of mine?

Yea, not one of my proudest moments.

Actually, that’s not entirely true. While I don’t want to complain about my pregnancy (or anything, for that matter) every chance I get, at the same time, it was all the truth. I’m Abraham Lincoln when it comes to pregnancy discomfort – I cannot tell a lie.

Thankfully, some of those less than great days have passed for moment. I could also be feeling better because I took two Tylenol PM’s the other night, and got about seven hours of uninterrupted sleep. It’s amazing how getting some sleep can affect your outlook.

This is my third pregnancy. My oldest child is five, my middle is three. Both of them were born via cesarean. This time around, though, I’m exploring the option of delivering via VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean.)

Here are the why’s.

With my son, it was necessary to deliver via a section. I was induced for preeclampsia, and after about 17 hours of labor, nearly three of them spent pushing, he wasn’t coming out. Turns out he had a watermelon for a head. Goodie. I was given general anesthesia and had a c-section. Stat!

My daughter was also born via c-section. We live on the Eastern Shore of Maryland and our local hospital’s policy is that once you have delivered via c-section, all subsequent deliveries there are by cesarean.  This is because they do not have an anesthesiologist on the premises at all times, so should a woman rupture during a VBAC attempt and need an emergency cesarean there would be no anesthesiologist readily available for her. Makes sense to me.

Initially, a repeat c-section is what I thought I wanted. It was actually rather terrifying and unpleasant to make it entirely through labor the first only for my son to be “stuck.” I thought a planned delivery was the way to go the second time around. I was wrong.

Recovering from cesarean number two was…a task. Recovering from having baby number two, regardless of how you deliver, is harder the second go around. Less rest, less down time, more stuff to do. Making this process even more fun was the fact that my nursing care was less than great.


IMG_0899 While they got me out of bed once, about 24 hours after delivery, they pretty much left me to my own devices after that. No re-checks to make sure I was up (or able!) and walking, nobody eager to help me stand and shower if I so chose. While I understand that their hope is that a patient would be able to get up and be able to move a bit more freely by that point, this just wasn’t the case for me.

My IV pain medication was also not working for me. I spent the first 24 post-op hours having a minor reaction to my morphine. Lots of itching, lots of drowsiness, next to no pain relief. And no desire to get out of bed unless I absolutely had to.

It also turns out that I was hooked up to a bag of pitocin after my delivery, which no one told me would happen. When trying to describe my level of pain to my nurses and all that I could equate the feeling to was like I was having continuous, medium-level contractions they stared at me, puzzled. Go figure.

Throughout all of this I felt as though I was a complete inconvenience to the staff. You would have thought that I was there to get a cavity filled, not for major abdominal surgery. They didn’t see the big deal in much of anything that I was dealing with.

The cherry on top of all this is that my precious daughter was not a good breastfeeder. I asked every nurse that walked through my door their opinion on the matter, and every one of them reassured me that it was “normal” for her to be a less than enthusiastic eater.

As a mom who had previously breastfed and knew some of the ropes, I didn’t feel as though I was being overly cautious, but I also know the stigma that can sometimes come with asking too many questions: they think that you’re being overly paranoid while they think that they know best.

Calling for help!

Calling for help!

There is a happy medium between making a woman feel like she isn’t crazy, especially when she has enough hormones pumping through her body to power a small city and has a six-inch cut across her abdomen, while also doing your job and making sure that it really is normal for a baby to be eating hardly anything. I just wanted to know my options before heading home.

Apparently they felt like I was asking them to make me a unicorn or to catch me a leprechaun. Because it seemed the answer they wanted me to be satisfied with was “it’s normal for newborns to not take to nursing immediately. So stop paging us, already.”

I had a compete meltdown on the last day of my hospital stay. I just felt utterly and completely incapable of being able to take care of myself. At all. Which is something I knew that I needed to be able to do when we were back at home and Rob returned to work.

I had a baby who wouldn’t eat, I had no extra hands to help since Rob needed to go home at night to be with Jerry, and nurses who didn’t seem to want to answer my questions or who didn’t even seem to want to put my baby in the nursery for me so that I could get a break.

When they did relent, they returned with her within the hour to tell me that the baby was hungry (duh! she wasn’t eating!) I wanted to tell them that it was “normal” and that it would work itself out (see what I did there?) but I just didn’t have the energy for sarcasm, which tells you how I was feeling. I was basically holed up in my room like the unibomber – by myself and on my own.

I could barely make it from the bed to the bathroom I was in so much pain. I made it to a rocking chair in the corner of my room to pump and after barely even making it there, I sat down….and cried. And cried. Well, there was one thing I was at least capable of doing at that point.

The nurses finally took notice that maybe something was off. Plus, by this point, my husband was also going out of his mind at the sight of my misery and was being very vocal about it. 100_0158

The head nurse pulled up a chair and sat with me, listened to me pour my heart and soul out about my worries (a baby who wouldn’t eat, my inability to even get out of bed, how I thought I would be further along by now, the state of the economy, the ending of Old Yeller…) and she sat and stared while I vented.

After I finished, she looked at my blankly and said (and I quote.)” “Okay……….so what do we need to do to get you go to home today?”

If you think that she meant,” okay, Ashley, let’s get your pain meds comfortable, address Clara’s breastfeeding habits and get you both prepared and feeling ready to going home…” then you are mistaken.

This was basically, “okay, well your stay is up at midnight tonight. So, what can I do to placate to you for the next 9 hours until you are mandated to leave because your insurance will stop covering your visit?”

Making it home (FINALLY)

Once home, once back in my house, tensions eased up some. Also, we switched my medication (something that could have been done SOONER) and within the first few days, I was much more comfortable and at ease with moving around and being at home.

Clara lost about 12 ounces during her hospital stay. My milk came in like the Euphrates River, but she remained a picky eater for the first six months of her life. First no left breast, then no breasts at all, then only breasts and nothing else. That’s a saga for another time. Don’t worry – it really was as terrible as it sounds.

Needless to say, cesareans haven’t necessarily been my friend. While I know that a lot of my anguish from last time can be attributed to some of the nursing staff, who I must state were not all bad, I truly did struggle to get over that initial hump in the beginning.

Don’t mistake me, c-sections save lives. My son would not be here, I might not be here, if cesareans didn’t exist. And I really have had fabulous doctors both times. Of them I couldn’t complain about. But, if it isn’t necessary, why put yourself through one? Why go through the ordeal of being cut if you feel like it may be something you don’t need?

I can appreciate differing points of view on the matter. There are some women who had a situation like I had with my first delivery and they are comfortable having another c-section simply because of memories of the stress of having a labor go slightly awry. I can understand that. But after my second delivery, I realized that next time, if it was an option, I needed to ask questions and see what was possible for me. I simply had to know if there was something better.

This time I was ready to venture into the territory of VBAC deliveries. This means venturing across “The Bridge” to find a practice that allows for VBAC’s. Initially, I had no luck. With two prior cesareans, I was either directly turned down or my messages not returned.

I plan on steering clear of midwives, if only because in a dire situation, such as a case of my uterus rupturing, I would want an OB with me, ready to spring into action. Make no mistake, I have heard wonderful things about midwives, and statistically, women tend to be as happy, if not happier, when delivering with a midwife.

My OB office actually put me in touch with doctors who deliver out of Johns Hopkins in Baltimore. Thus far, it seems like this could  be a promising relationship. It sounds like my first appointment with them will be toward the end of August. Somehow, this summer, and this pregnancy, are flying by. I’m already looking at the cusp of autumn and my mind is blown.

My only concern is finding a doctor who won’t feel the need to induce my labor either drastically earlier than my due date, or for any reason other than it being absolutely necessary. I do believe that one intervention can lead to multiple interventions. This time, I don’t want pitocin, I don’t want IV medication. My husband and I are still discussing epidurals and whether or not we will go that route this time. IMG_0994

No matter the outcome, I am determined to have peace about what happens. If I need another cesarean, if God closes these doors fully, then me and Rob pray to be content with it. We don’t feel like we will be done after having baby number three, and my skin is already crawling at the thought of not just this c-section, but also another c-section down the road.

But, when we started this journey of potentially VBAC’ing, we always said that we wanted what was safest and best for our baby. And we meant it. If that means mommy needs to be cut up again like a shish-kabob, then that is what we will do. Because that’s ultimately anyone’s goal.

The pains of any delivery, vaginal or cesarean, it’s something that becomes null when you have them safe in your arms. You know it was all worth it. You know that is all that you ultimately wanted anyway.

Thanks for reading! I’ll be  posting up a follow-up post or two to let you know how things are progressing!


21 thoughts on “My Journey to (potentially) VBAC’ing

  1. pennypinchingpeach says:

    I had an emergency induction with my first. My second was an emergency C-section. I’m hoping for a VBAC without induction next (and probably last) time, since the cause of my complications has finally been remedied. Hope yours works out!


    • ashleylecompte says:

      I hope that for you as well! Now that we may actually be on this path…I’m slightly nervous! But I will never be sad that I explored every option available for my child and I.

      Thank you for commenting!! xoxo


    • ashleylecompte says:

      Wow, your birth stories sound crazy! I hope that when the time comes, you can find out what is best for you and get the birth that you want. I am hoping that mine works out well. So far, so good. 🙂


  2. Katie Chiavarone says:

    Wow what a story! I haven’t had any c-sections but I can tell you that after having two unmedicated vaginal births they were the best (yet painful) experiences. So if it’s something you want to persue I definitely encourage you to do so! It’s an amazing thing to go through. However, no matter which way things end up at the end of the day you will have a beautiful new baby and that’s what matters 🙂


    • ashleylecompte says:

      Thank you for commenting, Katie. I am looking forward to hopefully experiencing it. And to welcoming my little one into the world.

      What made you choose to go unmedicated? I’m just asking because we are weighing our options. 🙂

      thanks for commenting!


  3. The Vanilla Housewife says:

    So sorry to hear you had a rough time at the hospital! They cant afford to comfort a woman with raging hormones who just gave birth? Tsk.
    I also gave birth via cs to my 2 kids. The first one was because the amniotic fluid was so low that they had to perform emergency CS and the second one was due to placenta previa totalis. So I really had no choice. :/
    I hope everything goes smoothly!


    • ashleylecompte says:

      No, I guess comfort was waaaay too much to ask. They did bring me chocolate milk though, which did quell my anxieties for about 10 minutes.

      Sounds like you have a few crazy birth stories of your own!

      Thanks for commenting!


  4. Kristen Kelly says:

    My son also had a “watermelon for a head”, so I ended up having an unplanned c-section with him. I would like to have a VBAC as an option when we have our next child, but I also feel the same way you do. If in the end a c-section is the safest way, then that is what we will do. I hope your next hospital stay, no matter the outcome, is better!


  5. Lifeblooming says:

    Your post natal care was absolutely disgusting. I think for people who work in those sorts of environments the type of scenario you described becomes normalised. They forget it’s not freaking normalised for the people who are going through it. No excuses though – negligent, ‘care-less’ behaviour like that puts women and babies at risk. Grrrr.

    Anyhoo, you’ll meet beautiful caring people this time round I’m sure! And if you don’t at least you can prepare yourselves to be strong advocates for the care you deserve.

    All the best!


    • ashleylecompte says:

      Thank you so much for your comment! If anything, I am looking forward to perhaps a very, very different experience this go around. And I think my husband is more prepared to be an advocate for me. He was the first two times, but the second go around he just couldn’t be there as much because of our son. We have to be afraid not to speak up.

      Thanks for your comment! Can’t wait to share what will hopefully be a positive VBAC story!! 🙂


  6. Homemade Experience says:

    “Okay……….so what do we need to do to get you go to home today?” made my blood boil. I can’t say I would’ve handled being in the situation as nicely. I might’ve pulled a page from my mother’s book, when she’d just had surgery during her breast cancer battle, and demanded to stay another night (and she did)! Their job should’ve been to help you and make you well, not dismiss your concerns and push you out of the hospital as fast as possible. So sorry you had that experience.

    As far as VBAC, I personally have had vaginal deliveries both times but am in a birth group where many of the mothers had c-sections and after researching and learning more about birth wanted to have vaginal deliveries with their others as well. After finding an OB or midwife that was supportive, every one of them said they were happy with their decision and that their overall post baby experience was much better. So, I’d so go for it–that would definitely be my decision in your situation as well. Good luck! Hope the hospital you’re looking into now will offer a much better experience for you!


    • ashleylecompte says:

      This is really such a comfort to read. Thank you so much. I can Google VBAC experiences and find a ton…but I don’t know those women, nor do I know anybody else who knows those women – if that makes sense? And I feel like sometimes we get very down on the medical community, when there really are doctors and nurses who want what is the absolute best for their patients.

      I am so glad that I was able to write and share this post, because so many of the ladies who have responded either themselves pursued a VBAC, or intend to, or they know people personally who have and don’t regret a thing. What a great, great comfort that is, knowing that it isn’t out of the ordinary to not want another cesarean, and also, to know that there are people relatively close to me who have pursued this route as well.

      And your mom sounds like one tough cookie. Good for her!


  7. Leslie Kendall Dye says:

    My sister had FOUR v-bacs after two c-sections! She found a supportive doctor who said “Of course it can be done, you just have to know how and be careful.” That said, I cried and cried over a c-section myself. My baby went transverse after my water broke so there was truly nothing to be done. I thought it was the end of everything, as so many people had been so passionate about vaginal birth and it made me feel marginalized and not like a real “mother.” This is of course, ridiculous. Then the nurses told me I might not be able to nurse because milk comes in very slowly after c-section. Also poppycock. I have since learned that the c-section was a scary start to a just as lovely path as the other mothers have, be they adoptive mothers, c section mothers, vaginal birth mothers, etc… We are all mothers, so NO MATTER WHAT HAPPENS, remember how much joy lies ahead once that new family member comes to join the rest of you, regardless of how she gets there!


    • ashleylecompte says:

      Thank you so much for this comment!! Your sister sounds incredible!! And good for her. I feel exactly how you did. There are times, on occasion, that I beat myself up over it. But, I am so glad that my son is here and safe. And there truly was nothing to be done. I’m just grateful that the first time I had such great medical care, watching over me and who made that call on behalf of me and my baby to bring him out safely.

      I am curious – was your sister induced when she had her V-BAC’s? Did she do natural child birth? I’d love to hear more.

      Thanks for your comment!!


  8. Adele Brown says:

    I love reading about other women’s birth experiences. I was diagnosed with toxemia a month before my baby was due and I was taken in for an emergency c-section. I am so sorry your nursing staff was awful, I am grateful that I did have a great nursing staff. When they would highly “encourage” me take a shower that really helped loosen up my muscles.
    I didn’t even know they would give the pain medication trough an iv sometimes. I was given Loratab and that worked great for me. I hope to do a VBAC whenever we are blessed with another baby. I want at least four kids so I am hoping the rest can be all natural.
    But, like you said God knows the best way to being our children into the world safe and sound!


    • ashleylecompte says:

      You poor thing! Sounds like you had quite the experience delivering your first child as well. The first time around, I had great nurses who were very helpful and supportive, save for perhaps one or two small, bad experiences. I think that having gone all the way through labor and pushing and then a cesarean and then having some complications from my epidural afterward, they were especially attentive, since I had just been through the wringer. They knew I was gonna need that push to walk, that push to get up and shower. And they were great.

      I hope that you can VBAC as well. Don’t be afraid to ask. I was worried that I would offend my doctor, who is fabulous. But her hands are tied here, she can’t do VBAC’s because of our hospital’s policy. If she could, I would stay right here with her. But she has been so helpful and professional.

      God does know what is best, that is for sure. And I’ glad that He does and that I’m not supposed to. 🙂


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