What It’s Like to Have an Unexpected VBAC

“I think it’s time to meet your baby.”

After over 2 hours of pushing with no descent, these were the magic words from my obstetrician that set my c-section into motion. On one hand, I felt a huge wave of relief. Finally, the pushing was over! I was going to be wheeled into the OR for a non-emergency c-section. On the other hand, I was incredibly sad. This unexpected surgery would mean that I would not have the opportunity for the vaginal birth I had hoped to have.

During my first pregnancy, I gained an incredible amount of weight and my baby was growing very well. In fact, too well. My OB told me throughout my pregnancy that I was having a “big baby” and that I should be open to the option of a c-section when it was time to give birth. To some, this advice may have sounded harsh, but it helped me accept the reality that I ended up facing. Her advice prompted me to talk with my friends who had experienced c-sections. I was able to get tips on recovery and about the procedure in general.

Regardless of how much I had prepared, I was still incredibly sad when the time came for me to move into the operating room. As much as I loved my c-section or as much as anyone can love an incredibly invasive surgery, I still felt sad that I didn’t get to experience the feelings, emotions, and accomplishment of vaginal birth. There was a small part of me who felt like a failure. If only I would have insisted to my doctor I could have pushed for a little longer, my son would have come out the way babies have been coming out for centuries.

Fast-forward 2 years and I am pregnant with my second child. A second pregnancy is different from the first in almost every way possible, except for the fact that you are growing a human. I was so much more laid-back and didn’t fret about each passing week as I did with my first. I still watched what I ate, but for the most part, I was so consumed in my older child’s life that the second pregnancy flew by.

Obviously, my OB and I had spoken at length about my birth plan. She asked in the beginning if I wanted to try for a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) and I said no. I didn’t want to try and possibly come up short a second time. My decision was also largely based on the fact that I was due on Christmas Day. (Pro tip: Don’t get pregnant in March!) I really didn’t want to miss Christmas at home with my oldest child. As a practical person, I decided to schedule my C-Section as soon as I could, which was the week before Christmas.

As with any pregnancy, no matter if it’s your first or fifth, you have different symptoms and feelings and mine was no different. A week and a half before my scheduled c-section, I started experiencing Braxton-Hicks contractions. Because I did not have them with my first, I had no idea what I was feeling. I talked to a girlfriend who helped me understand them. The following day, I was still experiencing contractions, but they were sporadic and far apart, so I didn’t think much of them. Until they started to become closer together.

I called my mom and asked her to drive me to the hospital since my husband was at work. He works next to our hospital so he met me in the Triage unit. This is when I started having severe contractions. When the nurse checked me, after listening to my contraction screams for 20 minutes, she discovered that my cervix was 9 cm dilated. I was rushed to Labor and Delivery where I met my OB.

I was incredibly scared because I thought this whole time I would be having a c-section. I am a practical and prepared person, so the thought of not being mentally prepared to give birth, even though I was 37 weeks pregnant, took a hold of me. I didn’t have time to pack a hospital bag, how was I going to be able to give birth without a plan in place?

In the end, my amazing OB and the team of superhuman Labor and Delivery nurses helped me successfully deliver my son vaginally. (Note: I mean vaginally and not naturally, as in without drugs. Give me all of the drugs, please.)

Although I don’t have too much advice on how to have a successful VBAC, I do think my strict workout routine during my second pregnancy had a huge part to play in a successful VBAC. Here is some general advice in regards to what I wish I would have known going in since this turn of events was so unexpected. 

Pack your bag early

I cannot stress this enough. If you aren’t an early packer then start a list of things you will pack. It’s always good to be prepared for a c-section so be mindful of pants you may pack that would hit your incision. Also, remember that your uterus will take it’s sweet ass time to go back to pre-baby size so be sure not to pack those pre-pregnancy pants. You will still look around 6 months pregnant when you leave the hospital, so be mindful of that when picking out clothes. Don’t forget toiletries. With both births, I couldn’t wait to take a shower to rinse off all of the yuck that you get with either a c-section or a vaginal delivery. 

Don’t put off things on your to-do list.

While you may think you have plenty of time before the baby comes, the baby may have other plans. Although my second came only 10 days earlier than planned, we still had a list of things we were planning to do. 

Install the car seat at home.

There is nothing worse than having your spouse install the car seat in the hospital parking lot. Installing it at home will allow you to take your time and make sure it’s done properly. You can also practice driving around with it in the car for a few weeks. You will begin to notice how members of the San Antonio community really push the limits with parking close to the lines. 

At the end of the day, please know that your birth may not go according to plan and it is perfectly okay that way! Both my babies came out the way they were supposed to and I am fortunate that I was able to experience both types of births because the end result was the same.

Julianne is not originally from San Antonio. She grew up in Midland, Texas where the air smells like oil and everyone fights for the shady parking spot. She moved to San Antonio as a newlywed in Fall of 2012 and has been in love with the city ever since. She is married to the love of her life, Dave, and has two wonderful boys, Luke (March 2016) and Miller (December 2018). She is the CEO of the Reeves household and is a proud Aggie from the class of 2008. She spends her free time in the kitchen or at her sewing machine.