During my first pregnancy, I was under the care of an OB/GYN who had been recommended to me by my primary care physician. My appointments with her were perfunctory; my pregnancy was “uneventful.” My husband and I attended birthing classes at a local hospital, and felt I was as prepared as I could be for labor.
I checked into the hospital the evening and by the next afternoon was having a c-section. My daughter was posterior (forehead first), and my doctor did not present us with any options other than a c-section for getting her out safely. My hospital stay was long, recovery was slow and painful, nursing was difficult, and I was struggling mentally and emotionally with feelings of failure.
When I became pregnant with my second baby, I resolved to properly educate myself about my care choices and their implications. I began reading, with a focus on books that addressed VBACs. I kept books stashed all around the house, poring over them whenever I had a spare moment.
I threw open the doors to all of my options - home birth, a birthing center, and a hospital birth with midwives - researching, meeting with people, and fully exploring each path. In the end, I concluded that, although risk of uterine rupture is slight, it was enough of a psychological block that birthing in a hospital was the right choice for me. Having met with the midwives at OHSU and feeling very confident with their approach, I began my care with them.
Appointments with the OHSU midwives were nothing like the appointments I’d experienced during my first pregnancy. I brought my concerns, my fears, and my hopes to our meetings, and received warm, nurturing, thoughtful, and respectful responses.
On December 18, 2008, in the middle of Portland’s snow and ice storm, I delivered my son vaginally, without any medication, with the extraordinary support of my midwife, my doula and my husband. It was an exhilarating experience. And while my second birth experience does not blot out the pain and regret I have around my first, my son's birth has provided me with a beautiful balance. It has also made me a vocal and passionate advocate for VBACs, and for the many, many benefits of midwifery care.