Birth stories are just one of the things women, most especially those who have given birth love to talk about. When mothers gather and the topic of birth comes up, every one wants to share. This is especially true for those who felt really good about their birthing.
Today, let’s hear from Kristell Acorda, a mom who already dreamed of having a VBAC, or vaginal birth after cesarean, when she wasn’t even pregnant yet with her second child.
Kristell’s Brave Journey to a VBAC
By: Kristell Acorda
Even before I got pregnant with our second one, I had my mind set on a vaginal birth after cesarean or VBAC. Sinabi ko na yun kay hubby, but I felt hindi nagsi-sink in sa kanya kasi di pa nga ako buntis.
July 2016. When we got a positive result on the pregnancy test, sabi ko let’s wait a few weeks before we go to the OB para sure na may heartbeat na. On my 9th week, we went to see a doctor and confirmed the pregnancy. We also told the OB that we are planning to give birth in the Philippines (we are based in Singapore) but we are going to see her for the monthly check-ups. During these check-ups, lagi nya sinasabi, since I gave birth via CS sa una, most likely I’ll give birth via CS again.
Oct 2016. Umuwi kami sa Pilipinas. I went to see the OB who attended my birth with my first born. Sinabi ko sa kanya, I wanted to do VBAC, that I have all my medical records with me and if she can check if I’m a candidate. He took my med records, kept it in his drawer without looking at them then told me, “Hindi ka pwede mag vaginal birth. Kailangan may experience ka ng normal birth before you can do a VBAC. Kelan balik mo ng Pinas? Text/call me pagbalik mo then tsaka tayo mag usap.”
Sobra akong disappointed. Sinabi ko kay hubby maghahanap ako ibang OB. Akala ni hubby nagbibiro lang ako. Sabi pa niya, bakit ko daw ba pinipilit na mag vaginal birth ako, eh dalawang OB na nagsabi na CS na nga ako.
During that trip, may staycation kami ni hubby. During that time, masama loob ko, kaya nagreresearch ako about VBAC and OB who can/will perform VBAC. I inquired in the Newlyweds at Work group, and they highly recommended si Dra. Menefrida “Menie” Reyes from St. Luke’s. When I had the courage and info I needed, kinausap ko na si hubby. I told him, may OB sa St. Luke’s who can help me. Ayaw nya. But I stood my ground. Sabi ko, if ayaw nya, e di wag niya ako samahan. It is my body, ako yung manganganak, nagbasa ako, nagresearch and I wouldn’t put myself or the baby at risk just because I was being stubborn. I know din naman na worried siya, kasi when you read nga naman about VBAC, ang risk na nakalagay dun is uterine rupture. And I told him, very very very little chance naman yun, especially if good candidate naman. Also, if during the labor and delivery and I need to undergo emergency CS, di naman ako magpupumilit. Willing naman ako mag CS if medically necessary. After that talk (and my drama, thanks to hormones), pumayag na siya.
After our 2-week trip, bumalik kami Singapore, went to see the OB there as scheduled, pero every time sinasabi nya na ma-CS ako ulit, pasok sa isang tenga, labas sa kabila. Ang tinatanong ko na lang, how is the baby growing, and if ok lang din ang progress ko and if my sugar and BP are normal. So far, so good. During this time, nagschedule na rin ako ng birthing class and appointment with Dra. Menie para sa pagbalik namin ng Pilipinas.
Jan 2017. Umuwi kami on my 36th week. Sakto yung Binhi Chilbirth class ng Pinay Doulas Collective. Sinama ko si hubby, and it was really an eye-opener. Maski yung asawa ko na-appreciate yung class. During the class, siya din bigla nakaisip na we get a doula. Nagulat ako, and asked him if sigurado siya. Sabi nya oo, for his peace of mind na rin daw. Kasi babalik siya ng Singapore, and pauuwiin ko nalang siya pag nagstart na ako mag labor. If he can’t make it daw, at least may doula akong kasama to support me. So we got Velvet and Ros. Best decision ever! Thank you sa apprehensive-turned-supportive hubby.
Meeting with Doc Menie. I was on my 37th week na when we met. We love her instantly. Hindi niya dinismiss yung gusto ko, but at the same time, she said her concerns din and had me take necessary tests na hindi ko nagawa sa Singapore. Dahil photo-finish narin ang first meeting namin, we just emailed her the lab results and sinabi niya nalang when kami babalik sa kanya. We went back to her clinic ng Feb 13 (Monday), but nasa meeting sya kaya ang resident nya ang tumingin sa akin. Na-IE ako and said na I am 1cm dilated and soft na yung cervix.
Hubby was with me (umuwi siya over the weekend para samahan ako sa check-up, ganon na siya ka-supportive). Tinanong niya if babalik pa raw siya ng Singapore or i-request niya na daw sa boss niya na mag work remotely siya sa Pilipinas. Told him bumalik muna siya, matagal pa ako manganganak, 1 cm palang yun. So Feb 14 bumalik siya ng Singapore.
Feb 16, 5pm. Velvet sent a message to our birth team chat group, nangamusta. Sabi ko ok pa ako, and it seems the baby is taking his sweet time before he comes out.
Feb 16, 11pm. May bloody show sa undies ko, medyo madami. Nag mall kami that day and ko baka napagod ako kakalakad. Tinanong ni hubby if mag-book na daw siya pauwi. Told him no, wala pa naman ako nafefeel na pain. Matutulog muna ako, in case manganak nga ako, ayokong mapuyat. Katext ko din some of my friends and they’ve been telling me baka manganak na ako soon. Medyo dini-dismiss ko kasi nga wala ako nafefeel na kakaiba (at ayoko pa manganak, haha). Basta ni-remind nila ako to take a bath before pumunta hospital.
Feb 17, 2am. Nagising ako to pee. When I checked the toilet, andaming blood. I took a photo then sent to Velvet and Ros and my mom and sis. Tinanong ko muna if pupunta na ba ako hospital. Haha! When they said yes, sinabi ko na sa asawa ko na maliligo na ako, magbook na sya ng ticket pauwi kasi punta na kami hospital. He was able to secure a flight, pero yung 10 am na.
Feb 17, 3am. Woke up my in-laws and told them na punta na kami hospital. Wala pa ako nafi-feel na contractions as described sa birthing class and by Doc Menie. But I do feel na tumitigas tyan ko, just not that painful. I used yung contractions app to time it. When I checked the history after mga 10 minute start-stop time, dun ko nakita na may pattern siya.
Feb 17, 4am. Arrived at St. Luke’s. Sabi ko pa sa mother in law ko, mag hagdan kami papunta sa labor room (2nd floor), just in case lang need ko pa maglakad. When they did IE, 4cm na daw. Maglakad daw ako ng mga 2-4hrs within the area. Di ako naglakad. I was prolonging my labor para abutan ni hubby.
Feb 17, 6am. Lumipat kami HRPU. I was asked if I wanted sa labor room or HRPU. I chose HRPU para may TV at malibang yung makakasama ko pag matagal ako mag labor. I was with my mother in law, wala pa sister ko na susunod sa hospital. But she left me there muna kasi nag-ayos ng admission papers. Natulog ako instead na naglakad. Every time I feel contractions, gigising ako to breath, then tulog ulit. Palakas and pasakit na kasi every time mag contract.
Feb 17, 7am. My water bag broke. A few minutes later dumating na si Ros. They did IE, 7cm na. Sabi ko gusto ko tumayo kasi nangangalay na likod ko. Naku, the nurses ayaw ako patayuin! Baka daw mahulog baby ko. Isip isip ko, madami naman sasalo (kasi andami na nila sa room) and para mabilis ako manganak pag tumayo ako. Sinubukan ni Ros magrequest pa na tumayo, pero wala, di kami nanalo. Masakit na contractions, pero kaya pa. Nagtetext pa ako sa asawa at friends ko para may live update.
Feb 17, di ko na alam oras. Felt the urge to push na. Pag IE, 10cm na daw. They wheeled me out of HRPU and into the delivery room. MIL was not allowed inside the DR in lieu of hubby, so I have Ros with me the whole time. Buti nalang talaga! Every contraction, every time I feel the urge to push, Ros was whispering na kaya ko ‘to. Pinaalala nya na nagawa ko nang mag-labor until 10cm without meds, kakayanin ko na ilabas si baby. Iniisip ko that time yung breathing they taught sa birthing class. When Ros saw na medyo nagpipigil ako, she said verbalize ko na. So every time I push, sigaw to the max na ako! And pag nagche-cheer na si Ros, dahil malapit na akong umayaw, I tell myself, ginusto ko ‘to! So push! And baby finally came out at 8:42 am.
Unang yakap. Ang saya saya ko! Paglabas ni baby, diretso sa dibdib. Dun narin sya sa dibdib ko naunang nag-poop. Nakita ko yung breast crawl, Dra Menie delayed cutting the cord, made sure tapos na mag-pulsate, pinakita pa kay Ros, before niya i-cut. And the best part of it all, I was awake the whole time! Andaming happy hormones pumping through me. I was wheeled into the recovery room with baby, I was able to have him latch to me na naka side-lying position and I was able to sneak in a few minutes of rest before I was wheeled into our room at 12nn.
Things I learned while preparing for this VBAC:
- Make up your mind. First and foremost, dapat gusto mo and willing ka. Mind setting ito. I remember someone asking sa Gentle Birth in the Philippines group how to convince your partner/hubby/parents to undergo VBAC. I answered something like, you have to convince yourself first that this is what you want, else, di mo macoconvince ibang tao to support you.
- Surround yourself with supportive people. Nung di ko pa na-convince si hubby, I was talking to my friends, Escie & Geminese, and yung mga kwento nila are what motivated me to go through with it. Big big thanks especiallyecially kay Escie kasi pati reading materials on gentle birth pinahiram ako, which was very helpful. And she somehow ‘pushed’ my hubby to support me, too. Hehe! My family (especially my mom) were also hesitant, ano daw ba gusto ko mangyari. I told them, if they won’t support me, I won’t update them nalang of my pregnancy, antayin nalang nila ako manganak. Hesitant pa rin sila, pero di na sila vocal about it, haha! Trying hard nalang sila to support the best way they can/know how, which I appreciate. Yung di supportive, di ko na kinukwentuhan. 😛
- Attend a birthing class. Very very very helpful! I cannot emphasize enough how helpful it was to attend Pinay Doulas Collective’s Binhi Childbirth Class. Ang main reason ko for attending was to learn breathing techniques during labor and how to know na naglalabor na (because I never experienced labor with my first), but I learned so much more than that. Even si hubby ayaw nya pa umattend nung una. Sabi ko suportahan nya nalang ako. After the class, siya pa ngayon nage-encourage sa mga expectant friends namin to attend a class as much as possible.
- Get a doula. I presented this option to hubby when I was 30weeks palang ata. He gave it a thought, but we booked last minute (as in during the birthing class na) kasi dun niya lang narealize ang “need” namin for one. You need a support person lalo na during labor and delivery. I was with my MIL during labor. Though she was supportive, it was not the support I needed during that time. Hinihimas himas yung ulo ko, when I wanted someone to massage my back. She was saying ok lang, ganyan talaga, when I needed someone to remind me to breath properly. Mga ganyang bagay.
- Exercise and rest smart. Kailangan ito during delivery! Exercise, especially your legs! The spinning babies exercises are helpful. Rest when you can while in labor. True na ang contractions will last for only a few minutes, and won’t be back until some time. Pag hindi nagcocontract, rest, you need all the energy you have during push time. Kaya I chose to sleep din instead of walking, kasi I slept at 11pm, woke up at 2am and haven’t slept since. I was reserving energy for delivery, which was very very good advice I got.
There you have it! We know that to be able to convince others, we first must be convinced. And Kristell did just that and with a little nudge, by attending a childbirth preparation class, her husband who was skeptical and hesistant turned to be very supportive of her decision.