By Hayley Sheen

Ok. Firstly I will start by saying that I was not a maternal woman through my earlier life. I was not the person that ran to a newborn baby begging for a cuddle. I was the person that waited until the baby could hold its head up before I volunteered to hold it. In fact, my dad told me after I had my first child that he didn’t think that I was going to have children.

My first son was born at North Gosford Private under Dr Farag by caesarean section due to him being breech. I was almost relieved when bub turned into breech position half way through my pregnancy and secretly hoped he would stay that way as I wasn’t fond of birthing him naturally. I’m not sure why, I just think i was scared of the unknown. I do like order in in my life and this was something I wouldn’t be able to control.

I remember the actual caesarean section being pretty quick and not overly frightening. I didn’t like the way I felt in recovery though. I remember shivering with coldness and feeling so tired that I couldn’t keep my eyes open. I was fighting it though as I wanted to be with my son. I was not offered skin to skin contact and wasn’t even aware that it was important or necessary. I was very uneducated in that regard. When I was returned to my room, I felt nauseous for most of the night. The pain of the operation was really only bad when I was made to get up the next day, other than that I found I recovered quite quickly and felt almost normal after two weeks.

When I fell pregnant with my second son I discussed an elective caesarean section with Dr Farag who didn’t object to this. I liked this about him. He didn’t judge me or try to change my mind but supported my decision. It wasn’t until later in the pregnancy that I began reading some books again and some article on the net when I started thinking about a vaginal birth. I mentioned it to my hubby who wasn’t particularly fond of the idea and thought if he dismissed it that I would forget about it. I didn’t.

I spoke to a friend who is training to be a doula and she encouraged me to read more and talk more to my hubby so I booked us in for a one day active birthing class and told him I really need him to be into it or it could be a disaster. When I spoke to my doctor about changing my mind, he said that I was a great candidate for a successful VBAC, this was enough for my hubby to support the idea.

The reason I chose to give the VBAC a go is not your run of the mill reason. It wasn’t because I was desperate to birth my baby naturally or have him choose his own birthday. I was for more logical reasons. I wanted to be able to deal with my very active toddler after I had the baby. I also didn’t want regret as I knew this could very well be my last pregnancy so I wanted to say that I gave it a go.

I started having mild contractions the day before my due date. It was 2am on a Saturday morning. I wasn’t even sure if it was contractions to start with but it was something that was keeping me awake. Being awake, I thought I’d go to the toilet and after having a show I knew it was go time. In the back of my head I didn’t actually think my body would go into spontaneous labour so I got a bit excited and nervous so there was no way I was going back to sleep.

I sat on a fit ball to hopefully get things moving. We left my toddler asleep while we discussed when and if we should go to hospital. The books say to stay Home as long as you can yet the obstetric view on VBAC is go in as soon as you can for monitoring. We ended up going in at about 6am after my mother-in-law turned up to mind our toddler. We should have stayed home as when I was examined by the midwife, she told me I was not in active labour and I should go home until lunch time.

My contractions intensified at home, I tried my tens machine which I felt made them worse. As they got worse I knew I was in for the long haul and wanted it to be over.

When we returned to hospital I was examined by the same midwife and she told me I was 4cm which made me think of 2 things. 1. Wahoo, my body can birth this baby. 2. I don’t think I can do is for another 6cms. She asked me if i was happy for her to break my waters if my doctor okayed it, I asked her if that would speed things up and she said it usually does. I agreed for this.

My contractions then went crazy painful, I was examined again and I was 6cm. This was when I suggested the epidural. I knew this was going against the idea of active birthing but I found it just so hard to keep moving when the pain was so intense and I just wanted it to stop hurting. I was given the epidural and it took a bit longer to work as the anaesthetist said it might have been a bit lopsided as I was still feeling pain in my left hip. He rolled me slightly on my side which evened it out a bit…

I was examined a short time later to be told I was 9cm. Yay. The midwife said she would call my doctor. She then prepared the suite for a baby to arrive and we started to push.

This part I felt I was hopeless at and it only felt like I was pushing my eyeballs out rather than my baby. After pushing for what felt like 20-30 minutes (hubby said it was more like an hour), my doctor said I’ve pushed bub down as far as I could and I was going to need some assistance.

The doctor said I was not going to be able to do this on my own with the epidural given. They first tried the vacuum which wasn’t working so the doctor asked for the forceps and suggested an episiotomy could be necessary. This frightened me, it was pretty much the only thing on my birth plan that I was against. The doctor reassured me that if this was done correctly there shouldn’t be any dramas. He said that getting cut has a bad reputation due to them not always being done correctly or even by the correct person… WTF

After I was cut, my boy was born. I held him on my chest and was so happy and relieved. After the nurse did her routine checks, she mentioned that he had a large head. The doctor also mentioned this later.

My recovery was obviously different this time round but because I had the episiotomy I was uncomfortable for 2 weeks at least. I was surprised most of my post birth pain was in my bottom and my vagina was not that sore at all. However, 4 months on, I find intercourse and bowel movements painful.

So to sum it up, I’m stoked I gave it a go and was successful but think I would be feeling better down stairs if I went with the caesarean section.

Another thing I will say, becoming a mother for the second time was definitely different for me and it has inspired me to go back to school and study midwifery. I felt so much gratitude and thanks for a couple of the women that looked after me during my pregnancy, labour and delivery and I want to be able to be that person for other women.