In That Moment, My World Fell Apart: Part Four of My VBAC Journey

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Image via Samantha Chase

Up until the moment I needed her — like really needed her — I felt sort of uncomfortable with having a doula. But in that moment of desperation, Chrystin became the best decision I had ever made. My panic was once again replaced with hope, and the fear that had nearly consumed me turned to strength. I was ready to fight again, and the first battle was getting labor started. 

We tried everything: walking, squatting, massaging. We even tried using a breast pump. Apparently, nipple stimulation is a big help for some people. 

But for me, nothing happened. Literally nothing. Not a single contraction, twinge, or tightening of the stomach. And when everything failed and we'd been at it for a while, we would rest a bit and then start again. We kept this up for hours. When we were tired of one strategy, we would simply switch to the next. My husband and Chrystin were my own personal cheerleaders. Negativity wasn't an option for them. They tirelessly encouraged me, making me believe I could do anything. 

And they were right.

I started to feel contractions nearly 12 hours after we had begun. It was the middle of the night. They were mild in intensity, but it felt like a win. It was clear something was happening, and by dinner the next day, I was 4 cm and 80% effaced.

We were making progress, but it was still too slow. It had been two days since my water broke, and I was just now entering early labor with no sign that things were speeding up. 

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When the Pitocin was first offered, I refused it, believing it would ultimately lead to a repeat c-section. But after a lengthy conversation with the doctor, I was convinced otherwise.

I was given the Pitocin in very small doses that were slowly increased over 12 hours. The contractions I already had grew from mild to moderate and then intense. The hours ticked happily by. We were all glad to have made it that far. 

But as the contractions got longer and more painful, I started to do less smiling and more moaning. I called out for my husband's hand as soon as I felt them coming on. I began to fear their arrival. It had been eight hours since we started the induction, and I was losing focus of the big picture. It took all of my might to make it through each contraction. The pain was intense, and it was wearing me down. 

Chrystin noticed the change in me and encouraged me to hang on, reminding me that the most painful contractions brought about the most progress. The OB came in to check me soon after. Her facial expression told me the news wasn't good.

Nine hours of painful contractions, and I was still 4 cm. 

{ MORE: Life Didn’t Change at Birth, It Changed When We Left the Hospital }

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They wanted me to get an epidural, arguing that the pain of the contractions was keeping my body from relaxing and opening up. But I refused. I labored for two more hours, and when I was checked again, I found I had made no progress at all.

No one offered the epidural a second time, but after 14 hours on Pitocin, I begged for one. I was in so much pain that it took every ounce of self-control I had to keep myself from leaping off the hospital bed while the needle and tube were being inserted into my back. 

Relief came quickly, however, and four hours later, the OB returned to check my progress. 

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The midwife threw her fist in the air, “You are going to have this baby before midnight! You are 10 cm!” 

Tears streamed down my face, and when I looked around the room, I saw that my joy was shared by everyone. We had done what seemed impossible. The underdogs were victorious. 

At 11 p.m. on the 28th of March, I started pushing, with my husband and Chrystin by my side. But after nearly four hours, I still hadn't given birth. No one seemed to understand what was going on or why we weren't making any progress. The midwife wanted a second opinion and left to get the attending OB, Dr. Connery. 

After the exam, I got some crippling news. 

“The baby's station is -1. I would expect a woman in early labor to be at -1 — it is like you never started pushing. We may have to … consider other options.”

I had come way too far to give up now.

With the help of my doula and husband, I got on all fours and pulled myself up to a squatting position. There was no way in hell this was going to slip through my fingers. I pushed for another hour in as many positions as I could manage without the full use of my legs. I pushed the limits of my body and mind. I gave it everything I had. 

Everyone humored me, but I could tell that they no longer believed it would do any good. 

I collapsed on the bed, exhausted. “What do you guys think I should do?”

Crickets.

No one wanted to see me fail, much less be the one to tell me I had. Finally, Dr. Connery spoke up.

“Hear me when I tell you that you did everything anyone could have asked of you and more. You gave this your everything. You should be proud.”

She hesitated

“But my concern is that if we continue pushing, your baby is going to get stuck.”

I shot my husband a look, ready to fight again. To do something, anything, to keep the surgery from happening. I wanted to push longer and disconnect the epidural. 

My husband, who had been my #1 champion over the past three days, never doubting me, took my hands and looked me straight in the eyes. There were tears running down his cheeks. 

“Samantha, sometimes the bravest thing you can do is give up.” 

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And so I did.

But it didn't feel brave. It felt like failing. In that moment, my world fell apart. They prepared me for surgery while I just lay there, motionless, silent. Tears soaked my pillow. I shut everyone out — it was the only way I knew how to cope. 

An hour later, I felt them pull my son out of me. My entire body was shaking, bouncing off the operating table. A wave of nausea came over me. I heard him cry for the first time. I felt the nurse hold him against my cheek. He was perfect, beautiful. They took him to be weighed.

I threw up on myself. I began to get confused. I could sense something was very wrong. I called out for help. I felt a strange hand brush against my forehead, telling me I was going to be all right. I started panicking. I wanted my son.

A doctor yelled. “Get everyone out!”

And then it went dark, and the peace came.

A warmth worked it's way up from toes and washed over me. My body was no longer shaking. I thought I might be dying. The pain and fear that were consuming me moments earlier were gone. It was quiet. I was at peace with everything that had happened. I felt happy. 

I woke up to my son on my chest, my doula helping him to nurse. I was disoriented, still heavily drugged. Every word took effort to form; every movement was a feat. 

Our nurses came to visit us. One of them had stayed past her shift to make sure that the baby and I were OK. She said that people like the ones in my family were the reason she did this job. I told her I loved her before passing out again. 

When I woke up, we were in our recovery room. My husband was sitting on the bed to my left, sobbing.  He looked over at me, “You don't know what happened, do you?”

I shook my head. 

His eyes were bloodshot; he'd been crying a while. “You nearly died.” He had to be exaggerating. Surely, I would remember almost dying. But Dr. Connery confirmed his story a couple of hours later, saying only that “it was close. Very close.”

Apparently, nine units of blood and three surgeons saved my life. My uterus had ruptured twice while they were trying to deliver my son, who had in fact been stuck. I later learned that Chrystin had stayed by my husband's side through the whole ordeal and that it had made all the difference in the world for him, not having to be alone.

I also learned that two ER doctors were brought in to assist and that they wanted to remove my uterus to stop the bleeding. But my OB refused, and they were able to save it. 

{ MORE: C-Sections May Be Changing The Future Of Humans }

When Dr. Connery came to check on me, she told me that the anesthesiologist had ordered blood preemptively — before there was any need. She explained that she had questioned his decision, arguing that she hadn't needed blood during a caesarean in over six years. He felt strong about it and ordered the blood anyway. She told me it likely saved my life. 

In the days following the surgery, everyone who had been a part of Oliver's birth either came to visit or called. I found out that Dr. Palmer had even followed my story, calling every few hours to see how I was doing. I was told 1,000 times how strong I was, how hard I tried. I didn't believe a word of it, I but hoped in time I would. 

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Image via Samantha Chase

Oliver was born a healthy 9 pounds and 3 ounces. He was 21 inches long and absolutely beautiful. Giving birth to him changed me forever. It was the best experience of my life. 

Hear me when I say that if I could go back in time and make different decisions, I wouldn't. I have never felt so incredibly strong, so unconditionally supported or so full of love in all my life. So, yeah, I wouldn't change a thing. 

Missed the beginning of this story? Start here. 

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In That Moment, My World Fell Apart: Part Four of My VBAC Journey

Samantha Chase is math major turned elementary school teacher turned stay at home mom extraordinaire. She spent three years studying mathematics at the University of Southern Florida before deciding it was time to make a change. She switched her major to Elementary Education and became a teacher. After graduation, Samantha spent 6 years (and a lot of sleepless nights) working in a high poverty school in the heart of St.Petersburg, Florida. She taught the first, fourth and fifth grades and lear ... More

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26 comments

  1. ANNA says:

    For me what you did was so stupid and risky…you almost died you put your baby’s life and health at risk and what you expect-applause for it???ypu had your vaginal delivery that almost ended tragically and for what…im mother too i had c section because of breech baby and i would never ever put my child’s life at risk for stupid pride..you should be glad that you have healthy baby it doesnt matter how you deliver most important is safe..you pushed so hard that your uterus ruptured because you wanted to prove something to everyone ..well done…by the way the hospital stuff doesnt care for your doubtful “accomplishment’ you think you were there like a hero..hell no!!!whats wrong with women like you?i have seen this in hospital -woman was insisting on natural delivery regerdless the fact that baby was stuck and in hypoxia and than dissapointed that they had to do c section because she didint feel complete and proud of herself…?so is vagina the source of your pride???do you have any carrier or education?for my my brain and doctor degree is my pride not the fact that i pushed baby through my vagina…you just risk baby’s life for selfish reason the labour was long and difficult but you didnt care of the risk..feeling like less of the woman…????sorry but you see that you have mentality of women from medieval times…i come from the country that decade ago situation was so bad that hospitals were called cripple factories…do you know why?because they didnt want to do c-section just waiting till was too late..brain damaged babies ,broken clavicles ,serious damage to the mother that was normal.Women were begging for c-section to no avail and here you unhappy and disapointed that can not have vaginal delivery and risking everything for selfish “accomplishment”.great job really

  2. Mindy says:

    I know exactly how you felt. Reading your story made me cry because I am right there in the trenches with all the women who never wanted a c-section but was forced into it by circumstances out of my control. With my first daughter, she was presenting breech and my OB even scheduled me to come in and get her manually turned which I was told would be a very painful procedure. Exactly one day before that procedure was scheduled, my water broke in a gush…at only 37 weeks along. I never even felt any contractions. To this day, I still don’t know what a contraction feels like! I went to the hospital and they checked her…sure enough, she was still breech AND her butt was firmly planted (engaged) in my pelvis so there was no hope of turning her anymore. So I cried my way through a very traumatic c-section feeling like less of a woman. That experience made me hate c-sections with more of a passion than I can even explain. Now, in 2016, I am finally pregnant with my 2nd daughter who is due this coming December. There were many fertility problems that weren’t solely my fault. Needless to say, I am now 35 and of “advanced maternal age” according to the doctors…thank goodness I am living in a different state than where I had my first daughter. I am already considered high-risk due to my OB having to put me on medication for high blood pressure. However, the hospital I found is known for successful VBAC’s and have an excellent reputation for happy deliveries. I have watched the documentary named “The Business of Being Born” and cried my way through parts of it because it really highlighted why I felt so empty after having had a c-section. The surgery process prevented the natural bonding hormone from being released…which led to postpartum depression and not feeling a bond with my first daughter until she was almost 3 months old. Yes, I took care of her excellently but I never felt connected to her thanks to that awful c-section. My doctors now have looked at all those c-section records and tell me I have a 80-90% chance of having a successful VBAC which makes me feel good but I am still scared. What if this baby stays breech? What if my supposed-to-be-so-midwifey doctor isn’t there when I need her and one of the team who isn’t pro-VBAC is? One thing I did notice about your story is that they waited until well after your due date to induce. Your baby was huge! My doctors have already prepped me by saying they like to keep VBAC babies on the small side and will most likely want to induce early so as to prevent the kind of rupturing you went through. I am actually okay with that. If an induction and epidural is needed to prevent a c-section, then I am all for it. Anything to avoid another c-section. I wasn’t even able to breastfeed successfully the first time because the c-section messed me up so bad. Now THAT was a big dream of mine…to be able to breastfeed exclusively and my child never even knowing what a bottle was. So much for that. I had to even stop trying to breastfeed when she was only 6 weeks old due to all the complications of her not gaining enough weight, my breasts being numb from the surgery and not letting down supply, etc. All that trouble contributed to my not being able to bond with her and my current hatred for c-sections. I am told I should see a therapist for my hatred for c-sections “just in case” there is an emergency and I need another one. I am not stupid…I know I will definitely have another c-section if this baby is breech or if there are other emergency problems. I won’t stand in the way of that…but it also won’t stop me from once again feeling like less of a woman for not being to do what my body should naturally do without intervention. I am praying hard and hoping this baby will be a successful VBAC and I so hope every other woman who is very much wanting a VBAC can do have their dream. I guess time will tell. For this go-round, I have 18 weeks to go!

  3. Dana says:

    I’m just happy for your first child that your second wasn’t a vaginal birth. Based on what you’ve written and the importance you put on a vaginal birth after a c-section, it appears you would have had a stronger bond with the second child and where would that have left the first?

  4. Smurfette says:

    Wow, I’m in tears over your strength & determination. I had a natural vaginal birth 13yrs ago with my son. I’m now pregnant with my second son and I want a cesarean section. I’m 41 and honestly just don’t want to go natural again. Not that I had any complications it was text book. I’m just mentally at that age where I want to relax with this pregnancy and birth. You’ve inspired me to really push having a cesarean. Your courage and strength is awesome. Thanks for sharing your story.

    • ANNA says:

      strength and determination?that she pushed so hard and didint listen to everyone that her uterus ruptured..the labour was long and complicated but she didint care that she is putting the baby at risk for sort of selfish “pride”.She almost died for stupid cause the baby could be brain damaged thats is your inspiration??serioulsy??

    • sonya says:

      I just had a c section. I would give the world for a vaginal birth. It’s major surgery. You can not bend over or pick anything heavy for weeks and months. And it’s soo hard to take care of a baby with a c section. Then there is the chance of seromas. They have to be lances or let them drain themselves. Also harder to breastfeed feed takes a little bit longer unless you prep a lot before the baby comes. Have a vaginal birth and get an epidural and don’t worry about feeling anything but c section isn’t as fancy and awesome as people make it out to be .

  5. Megan says:

    I can understand you wanting a natural birth I did when I got pregnant with my son doctor told me straight out I needed a c-section and the cons outweighed the pros so when I got pregnant with my now 8 month old daughter I knew I was having a c-section and I kind of don’t understand why you refer to c sections as failure when it comes to the safety of you and your child and a c-section is your best bet you shouldn’t frown upon it just like you didn’t want your husband, family ect to frown upon you for wanting a vbac and after your doctors had told you it wasn’t safe you persisted on and that was your choice and your birth plan but to knock down people who have had c sections and had successful births and healthy babies and I happen to be one of them both of my births were just as special and wonderful sure almost all women want to experience natural childbirth but that doesn’t give you a right to refer to it as a failure or disappointment you admitted in your blog here that you almost died cause you pushed your body to the max and ignored doctors concerns and the baby got stuck and you ended up having a c-section anyway honestly you shouldn’t feel like a failure you should feel blessed you and your baby made it out alive sorry if this offends you but your blog is sort of offensive

    • I would like to defend myself. I didn’t ignore doctors, in fact, when they told me it was time to quit, I did. I also do have the right to feel I failed in my desire to VBAC. I don’t think any other woman’s c-section is a failure and never meant to insinuate that.

      • Julie says:

        I had an emergency c-section, my daughter flipped and we couldn’t get her to come down. I felt every cut they made, and repeatedly blacked out, I don’t remember the first time I held her, I didn’t get to experience her first cry, bath, stats, or anything. I hated my c-section and it breaks my heart to this day. I don’t feel like a failure exactly, it was best for her, but I do feel like a part of me is missing and I don’t feel I gave birth to her, she was ripped from me. I aim to do a vbac with my next child. Thank you for sharing, I hope I can fight as hard as you did.

  6. BRANDY says:

    I completely understand the personal disappointment of a C-section. On top of that, I have women who have vaginally had many children without pain medication downplay how serious C-section is. Like it is the easy way out. For me, being in labor all day long and then having a C-section was grueling. My 2nd c-section, however, was a piece of cake! I had already “been there, done that,” and my body had not been worn out from a day of labor.

    I too wanted a vbac so very badly. My mother had and sister-in-law have both had successful vbacs. Ultimately, it is not worth the risk of losing my life or the life of my child. Every birth story is different, and women endure so much for their babies. I will never take devalue anyone’s birth experience.

    Thank you for sharing your story of determination. I greatly empathize with you. Your story confirms that C-section is the best choice for me.

  7. jandy says:

    Hi Sam. As i read you story was really moved and it reminded me of what i too had hoped for. My 1st pregnancy was twins and i had to have them via c section because of pregnancy complications. After being in pregnancy blogs and reading up on the benefits of natural birth i too wanted a vbac and discussed it with my doctor. My chances were probably slimmer than yours as i had an emergency c sec and scar was quite extensive on my uterus. While i understood the benefits of vaginal birth, trust me i do as a nurse. I also understand how important it is for me to be around and healthy for my healthy children. I heard all kinds of things and probably more from other women about how if its not natural (vaginal) one has cheated delivery. I used to really feel bad about this. But after losing a close friend in childbirth i have to say: we carried a life endured the positive and negative (pregnancy sxs) of it, suffered through those months and we delivered a life of any means is a win. Regardless of the path this life has taken he/she is here and that is something as a mom to be proud of.

    • I am so sorry about your friend. To be honest, it never occurred to me that I would be in that much danger. I was always weighing the risk of danger to my child. I am so glad that you have your healthy babies (and your health!). I am grateful for that as well!

  8. Jessica says:

    While pregnant with my first child, I had not even thought about the possibility of having a csection and therefore was surprised by the disappointment I felt after delivering via csection. However, when I was pregnant with my second child, I accepted that I should have a repeat csection. Now, I do hate when people post ridiculously negative comments and I hate to be negative relative to your “inspirational” story, but didn’t anyone say ‘I told you so’? I’m not a doctor and don’t try to be. I agree, we should all do our own research and question anything we’re uncomfortable with and get second opinions when needed, but there was a reason so many people didn’t want you to try it. Doctors study for several years and then have several years of practice, that’s why we go to them rather than treat ourselves. I know they’re not always right, but in this case there wasn’t any mystery, they could all tell you exactly why they made their recommendations. You did put yourself and the baby at risk. I never valued my life so much until I had a child and knew I had to make sure I was around as long as I could be to make sure my son had a mom, the person that will love him and care for him more than anyone else ever could. The thought of leaving my toddler son without a mom scared me. My son had also gotten stuck and was not going to fit through the birth canal. I was glad I didn’t put him through lots more stress by having him continue to be stuck in there with his head getting crushed. He needed out. I completely agreed with a repeat csection for my daughter because if my son didn’t fit, she wouldn’t either. I was not going to cause stress to her, so I planned a csection to avoid it. I’m sorry I don’t agree with you, but whatever compelled you to go through that hell, almost leave your children without a mother, and cause undue stress to your baby does not seem worth it.

    • Jessica says:

      You know, the more I think about this, the more it bothers me. You had equated csection to failure. First of all, I don’t see a csection as a failure. Sure, it’s not ideal and wasn’t my plan, and yeah I was disappointed, but my goal was to get my kids here the best way I could. I’m willing to sacrifice the experience of having a vaginal birth to make sure my babies are safe and I can stick around to care for them. I’m a little offended that you see that as a failure. I feel proud to have made choices that were best for my children. By having blacked out for some time, you missed some precious moments getting to happily breastfeed your baby. Turning a joyous, momentous event into a torturous tragedy for your husband. Secondly, this seemed to have been a personal goal for you. This experience made you feel good about yourself because you were so strong. But I would’ve suggested challenging yourself to a marathon or something that would not involve putting others (your baby) at risk and not have the risk of leaving your family without a mother and wife.

      • Austin says:

        I have to agree that I just cannot and will never understand how a c-section is felt like a failure. A disappointment, sure, but a healthy mother and baby isn’t a failure. Putting yourself (and your poor husband) needlessly through that much physical and emotional distress is just reckless. Your baby won’t love you any more or less regardless of method of birth.

      • Cody says:

        I have to agree with you Jessica in many ways. I thought this was going to be some great story but it really does bother me too you consider csec a failure. I know many women find it a failure but my son got stuck and I too lost a great deal of blood. As women we put way too much pressure on ourselves to do everything “perfect” as much as I would like a vbac with #2 I know the chances are low. I there is always an exception to the rule but I can’t believe you didn’t seriously consider how this would affect you, your husband and your first child. Ladies we have got to stop putting so much damn pressure on ourselves to be perfect and have everything go our way. My son wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for csec as well as many other babies. At some point the bravest thing you can do is “give in” and do what is best for your baby not just for yourself because you so badly needed to give vaginal birth.

        • You know, I don’t consider it a failure for other people. It was for me in that it wasn’t what I was hoping for. I cant describe the feeling as rational, but it is how I felt. I am sorry that it offends you. Im sure you read I did give in eventually (and that was the first time *anyone* told me I or my child was in danger).

  9. Dalia says:

    Thank you soooooo much for sharing your story!!!!! I can relate completely!!! I recently had my beautiful daughter. I was induced but was adamant that I wanted to have a natural birth. I went 12 hours without an epidural and after fighting with my husband my mom and sister I finally took it and labored for 10 more hours. I didn’t want an epidural out of fear of not being able to deliver vaginally and needing a c-section. After 22 hrs I was still at 8 cm and uterine rupture became a concern so my OB informed me that I needed to have C-section. I was so hurt, furious and speechless. Like you said perfectly I felt like I failed and was robbed of the experience. I love having my daughter in my arms safe and sound but I felt like I failed at something that my body should be able to do as a woman. I still felt that way until I read your story. I can’t thank you enough for sharing!

    • I am so glad I was able to share my experience with you and that it helped you in some way! <3 I am sorry for the loss of the birth experience you were aiming for. I know how painful that can be!!

  10. Jessica says:

    Tears in my eyes too. Sorry you went through all that, but yet you turned it into a beautiful story. It’s very special. Thank you for sharing. You give me hope. Even if I “fail” my birth plan a second time, I am not a failure. Thank you so much.

  11. Jennifer says:

    Thank you for sharing your story, it brought tears to my eyes. You are so brave and so strong. I wanted a vaginal birth so bad with both children and it never happened. No one really gives you a chance. The doctor and hospital you found sound great.

  12. I love you Sam! Thanks for sharing your story with our members. I know how determined you were throughout this process, and you came out even stronger than I thought possible from a very scary situation. You are a rock star!

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