Year 2007 (a little bit of history): I had my first born. – Eionah Justine Aquino, she was diagnosed with mild Autism.
Our birth story was not what we wanted and expected, but still blessed, we are safe.
This year, I had my first ever surgery; It was scary!! I can still remember the fear and trauma the moment they announced I need to undergo C-section. It was also the day, I promised myself she will be my only child. I don’t want to experience whatever happened to me that day, but then again it was also one of those days to be thankful-GOD gave me a wonderful blessing which I will treasure forever.
After 4 years the promised was broken, I am pregnant. My mind and body were unattached. I am emotional, physically and psychologically unstable. Probably the reason I had a miscarriage. Then more FEAR consumed me. I came to a point where I avoided an intimate relationship with my husband, and let the rest of the story be a history.
A positive pregnancy test confirmed my greatest fear. I cried so much. I could not imagine what will happen to me and my baby. I was so scared and helpless, after the C-section and Miscarriage, I don’t know what to expect. Scared my baby might die If I pursue my pregnancy or worst we might die together if I undergo another surgery.
The fear, trauma, and pain I had experienced made me a little wiser, So I thought;
“ I’m not CRAZY to take away the blessing GOD entrusted me. I just need to find a WAY… . I WANT TO SEE and HOLD MY BABY”
(And BTW; it’s not an overnight easy realization)
Our VBAC journey:
The term VBAC was not familiar; I never thought there is such a process “Vaginal birth after Caesarean”? Who had not heard; “Once a Cesarean always a cesarean’?! It seems like the term will remain forever in our minds.
SO, the search began.. ( Yay! the power of Internet)
I searched .., searched …and searched and became frustrated because so little I have information about successful VBAC in the Philippines and so little of our Doctors who support the process.
“I’ll have A NATURAL BIRTH!!”
No time to waste;
I started planning, (which I was not able to do with my first pregnancy) and of course, part of the plan is to have a pro-VBAC OB, which I thought I had…
The first appointment with my OB was really smooth and awesome. I liked her (I really do!).
I discussed my VBAC decision. She said; I’ll have 75% chance of success since it’s been 7 years but she requires me to undergo further laboratory test to see how thick my Uterine lining since possible rapture might arise. Other procedure shall be discussed further once I am already at my 34 and up weeks. But for now, we will continue to monitor my baby’s development.
Every monthly prenatal check-up, I never failed to discuss my VBAC plan to her until I noticed my OB is being more and more negative about my choice of birth. (I had the feeling this would happen.) She insists I need to weight the risk of my baby’s health and mine if I pursue. She added at 39weeks if my baby won’t come out, then a repeat cesarean!!!.
I was so angry and frustrated about the situation, it seems like I wasted my time on thinking she will support me. I thought “How come the person you entrusted your birth gives you the negativity of something you know for yourself you are capable of doing?”
So Moms not to worry; I know the feeling of every people around you being “NEGATIVE” about your VBAC. I was at a point where I don’t talk about my pregnancy at all, and if people asked where will I have my surgery?!, I just smiled! (besides, why would they conclude it is another surgery? ).
A piece of advice: Make them your inspiration. When people argue about your decision, just say…
Since my OB is a pain. I cannot waste time and energy for her negativity, I had to do a REROUTE.
- I printed out VBAC Manuals; facts, myths, risk and every bit of information I can gather online… you named it!
I have to be educated to win the battle. (Oh and to mention Davao is my escape route if ever my plan here in Manila failed).
- I added myself in every forum I could find via the internet.
- I also joined VBAC community on Facebook, I asked every question I can think and received immediate answers from the members.
As what successful VBAC moms says “ VBAC has a risk, so does Repeat Cesarean” choose wisely and be informed. The well-informed you are, the more the PLAN is to be into place and the less negative people will be able to persuade you.
On the Facebook group, I learned about “DOULA”.
The word Doula (doo-la), an old Greek word which means one who serves. Doulas are also called Labor Coach, Labor Support Professionals, Birth Companions or Childbirth Assistants.
I checked if we have Doula in my country (Philippines). Then I found her; For me, she is an Angel sent from Heaven.
OUR FIRST ENCOUNTER: My Email to Her and to Deborah.
Note: Deborah is part of the missionary midwife I stumbled upon my online search. As I am 100% sure to give birth at home. I know for a fact when I give birth at the hospital I’ll not be able to experience VBAC not even TOLAC (Trial of labor after cesarean).
Ms. Betty called me first and asked questions about my PLAN. She listened. I told her I want a Home birth as I am scared I will fail my VBAC if I push through Hospital Delivery. She encouraged me to find another OB and have the second or even a third opinion. She also recommended, “SHIPHRAH BIRTHING HOME” for my home birth plan. She made an arrangement for us to visit the place and meet Deborah.
FYI: Remember Deborah which I emailed along with Ms. Betty? She’s from “SHIPHRAH BIRTHING HOME”. I never could imagine they know each other. It seems like GOD has given me a sign to pursue my Natural Birth. From that moment, I know something amazing will happen.
- Home Birth (Negative) FYI: In Quezon city, there is an ordinance; “NO HOME BIRTH.”
- Alternative BIRTHING PLACE (Check): “SHIPHRAH BIRTHING HOME”
- Supportive team (Check): Apart from GOD, he gave me wonderful people; My Husband, Shiphra’s Midwives and Ms. Betty.
- Preparation (Check): These are your friends: KNOWLEDGE, PROPER FOOD, EXERCISES (Walking, YOGA and Swimming)
My 37 weeks to Birth:
I was immediately accommodated by Ate Dina (One of Shiphra’s midwife) for a prenatal check-up.
Photo courtesy of http://marliphilippines.blogspot.hk/2010/03/midwives-of-shiphrah-bahay-paanakan.html
I’m thankful they accepted me even though I am almost at my due date. The good part, I never missed my OB’s appointments and undergone all laboratory test requested ( the reason behind the acceptance.)
Part of Shiphrah’s requirements is to still undergo prenatal check-ups with an OB-gyne, If an emergency arises during birth delivery they will immediately transfer Mothers to their respective hospital/OB-gyne. They ‘re not a Lying-in (you will agree, once you visit the place). They are Professional Midwives who advocate natural unmedicated birth. They also accommodate expectant moms who choose water birth.
After the check up, I met few other expectant moms that include one doctor (it amused me for a doctor to visit a midwife, reason why I added this part) and Anna who chooses to have VBAC birth. My pregnancy is a little advanced than her and we had limited time to talk about our personal experiences but as I speak today. She also had a successful VBAC at SHIPHRAH. (I hope she will also write their VBAC story soon)
Deborah gave us a one on one discussion:
(not the actual photo while with us )
- Different birth options,
- Essential foods which are good for pregnancy
- Alternative natural medicines
- Inspiring stories about the wonderful mothers who gave birth at SHIPHRAH
- And the support they provide to expectant moms, not only prenatal check-ups but also prenatal classes.
- She also listened to what we want and give expert advice.
As I mention, Shiphrah doesn’t just give prenatal check-ups and wait for the pregnancy to happen, they also REQUIRE mothers to attend their birth class which will help them be well-informed about the process of giving birth, the do and don’t.
Photos courtesy from http://photogsforacause.blogspot.hk/2014/08/shiphrah-birthing-home-antipolo-rizal.html
However, there is no way can I attend the classes because it is held every weekday (I am still working!). Good thing I am already scheduled to attend Ms. Betty’s Class and up until now I NEVER REGRET I ATTENDED.
It was a lifetime change not only for me but also for my Husband. I highly recommend all expectant Mommies and Daddies to attend. You will never regret giving your entire day with the workshop.
Here are the topics included:
- Celebrating the Gift of Motherhood
- Physiology of Labor and Birth
- Stages of Labor
- Prenatal Exercises, Breathing, and Relaxation
- Bonding with your Baby in the Womb
- The Father/Partner as Guardian of the Birthing Place
- Comfort Measures in Labor
- Your Birth of Choice—Natural, Medicated, C-Section, Water Birth
- Overview of Hospital Procedures
- Caring Tips for the Newborn
We are so much empowered after the class as if a new me was born, a new perspective about giving birth.
My favorite part is the activity where we are asked to write a letter to our little one and read it to her as if we are just talking with each other. It was a heartfelt experience -while I read my letter, there is a part where she needs to answer ( such as, I love you and the right baby? question), she kicks back really hard which made us cry, she seems to understand everything. She knows very well that we have a battle that we cannot afford to lose.
As Ms. Betty says; “It is not only my birth it is “OUR” birth (Me, my Husband and My BABY) we are a TEAM with the journey”.
A heartwarming event, indeed. We will treasure the experience forever. The class made my Family bond much stronger than it was before.
As the days pass… I continued my weekly check up with my first OB-gyne (I visited 2 more doctors which is much more negative than my first OB) and at Shiphra. I underwent lab test and still had my prenatal vitamins and YOGA exercises.
I informed my OB, I’ll stick with my VBAC decision and I’ll give birth at SHIPHRAH. I, by the way, signed a waiver stated; My OB discussed the risk of VBAC and it was my own decision to try TOLAC/VBAC. I also kept her on the loop if an emergency arises, she will be the one to be contacted. I still trust her with her expertise in terms of emergency situations.
I took my Maternity leave early than expected as I am having a hard time traveling from Quezon City to Makati. While at home I gathered all my delivery essentials. Packed and ready to grab.
41 weeks and I am freaked out! To wait longer than expected is too much, but they said; the hardest part is when you are past due and still waiting. Totally agreed with it, this is the moment where all the back pains are so intense and all parts of your body ache specifically the lower abdomen. Oh! and the Braxton hicks contractions seems like a real labor pain. I couldn’t imagine what the pain feels like if real labor strikes.
Until April 17, 2014; My 41 + 5 weeks
Around 3 pm, I just finished my daily YOGA routine.
I decided to lie down and rest for a minute when I heard something snap inside me (It was somewhere in my lower left abdomen). I immediately rose to my feet and then a sudden gush of yellowish substance from my V to the floor. It felt strange, I taught I’ll freak out but I remain calm and composed. Now I realized it is because I know what to do and I know what‘s happening. – “The first stage of labor.”
I started counting my contractions. The interval and its intensity.
I called my Husband which is currently at work, I told him to go straight home as we might see our fighter pretty soon. At home, I took a shower, ate a few snacks and recheck my supplies/delivery essentials.
I then called Ms. Betty who is currently on vacation and update her about my progress. She is happy to hear the news and gave encouraging messages. She told me,” it is time to go to Shiphrah as it’ll be a long ride”. This is true. It took us 3 hours as its Holy Thursday in the Philippines and the “ALAY LAKAD” to Antipolo is being observed.
Upon arrival at our Birthing Place.
Midwives do their daily stitches when they heard the sound of the gate opened. The first word I heard was “YES” from my wonderful support “Tesa” a Midwife Intern of Shiphrah during the time. Mind you the simple “YES” gives me an assurance that everything will fall into place as planned.
They took my vitals and I was 2cm dilated and 40% effaced. (They checked my V with care as they don’t want to broke my water bag unnaturally). My BP is around 140/90 (as I can remember) it was high. They told me to calm down and rest (which I tried but failed to do so).
After an hour or two, they check again my baby’s heart rate and mine, all normal except for my BP! My mind is a little worried, Pre-eclampsia is all over my head which makes calming down a bit impossible.
They did not give up on me and continued to monitor my vitals. As the night progress my BP is still high, so they did a test where I need to pee on a piece of paper and said if the result is high or “something I could not understand”, I’ll immediately be escorted to the hospital. “This is the moment I prayed so hard, hoping the result will be okay. Not perfect but Okay!
Then the results show, I only need water and food. “Thank Goodness”
They let me eat and drink water as much as I would like to. I ate a bite size of Chicken, Apple, Avocado, and Banana. They said my tummy will be upset but I don’t mind. I need energy!!.
Tesa was the one who helps me with all my needs (Food, water, etc) while I was in labor, she gave me an assurance, I was doing great and I don’t need to worry. My Main Midwife Ate Lyds gives me the strength to hold on, she said I can give birth and need to trust my body! Everything is going to be okay.
Around 11pm, I was progressing quickly; I was already at 8cm and 80 to 90% effaced. I am in pain YES, but it was all manageable as I am with my husband all throughout my labor. He gave me care; kiss, hug, massage and whatever support he could provide, which makes pain a little bit easier to bear.
Almost Midnight when I told my midwife something is coming out in my vagina and I know it was not the baby, when they check it was my water bag. It took a couple of minutes or probably an hour before it broke naturally.
The best part of my labor is they let me sit, stand, lie down or whichever position I am comfortable. They even let me do exercises to ease my pain. They told me to listen to my body and just let them know if I’ll fell like pooping (seems like an indication of baby about to come out).
When I had the feeling of pooping they immediately took the birthing stool and gave me instructions on how to push.
Oh Did I mention the birthing stool Shiphrah is using during birth? I sooooo love the stool. I was on a sitting position which is perfect for pushing and makes it easier to focus.
Similar to this.
April 18, 2014;
Around 2 to 3AM I started pushing, my husband at my back giving me support strength, he whispers every now and then that I am doing great, he massage my nipples for contraction purposes. It helps.. It really do!!!. 4 midwifes are all over the room to support me, giving me instruction on how to properly push others are checking my vitals and the heart rate of my baby and keeping it on records.
“Sige te, kita na namin yung buhok”
“Sige te, kita na naming yung ulo”
“Ayan te, isa pa..ire pa.. kaya mo yan”
And the next 30 minutes??? We saw our wonderful VBAC BABY, my Husband whispered to my ear “THANK YOU” which made my VBAC journey complete (to be appreciated with what you fought and believed for 9 months is the simplest yet incredibly uplifting things you can ever hear ).
The best part??? The SKIN TO SKIN moment. The feeling no words can be used to describe.
I hope our story will inspire you that VBAC is possible, there is a WAY and there are people who is willing to help you with your choice. YOU ARE NOT ALONE!
Remember; Woman’s body is designed to give birth, trust your Instinct, you will know what to do when you get there. This is a matter of how much you want your natural birth, how determine you are.. and please at least try the process of labor, you and your baby will benefit out of it. The outcome might not be PERFECT but It’ll be OKAY!!!.
I learned through my journey;
There is no such thing as failed BIRTH.. every birth is a Blessing!! “Keep the faith and Trust GOD! “
I’ll continue to write the journey of Eianne Zandrey Aquino 7 hours after birth.