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My VBAC attempt- unsuccessful but still worth it

17 replies

pendulum · 11/10/2007 13:22

Hi all
My beautiful little girl was born 11 days ago by EMCS after my attempt at VBAC failed. I thought it would be worth my describing my experience, which I am genuinely glad to have gone thruogh even though I didn't get the result I wanted.

I had never laboured before since my previous CS was elective for breech. I was really determined to get the perfect VBAC and to this end I hired a doula, practised optimum positioning from 35 weeks and read a whole mountain of stuff. I was so excited about the prospect of going into labour spontaneously!

I started having on/ off contractions and a show just before my due date and, to cut a long story short, by the time I reached 41 weeks they were quite intense but never established a pattern. I was exhausted from being kept awake by them and by the adrenalin. On the Friday night I finally realised they had gone up several notches and called the doula over. We spent several great hours as things got increasingly stronger. I was positively enjoying the contractions although they were quite painful. By about midnight my doula thought I was probably around 5 cm so we drove to hospital, where I was absolutely gutted to be told I was fully effaced but not even 1 cm dilated! My doula's face showed how surprised she was given the performance I had been putting on. We were given the option of staying over at the hosital and took it, more or less deciding that we would request a c-section in the morning because my energy was totally spent. DH fell fast asleep instantly but I lay in the dark feeling miserable and trying to ignore the contractions.

In the morning my consultant came to see me and suggested a VE before proceeding to the section. To my amazement I had dilated 4cm while lying quietly with no pain relief. I couldn't believe the effacement had been so much more painful than dilation! She also confirmed that baby was OA. Of course this was a massive spur to go for it but after another night without sleep I didn't think I could last the distance so when the consultant and the doula both suggested an epidural I reluctantly agreed. I also agreed to the cannula which obstetricians like to put in during a VBAC in case of an emergency (this was something I had previously planned to resist, but in hindsight it was a good decision to accept it).

After having the epidural I lay on my left side (faithful to the OFP principles!) and by 6pm I was fully dilated. I was thrilled when told I could push as soon as the epidural began to wear off, and could even feel the baby's head with my hand when my doula suggested I have a rummage about. My DH put on a CD, the midwife got out the delivery kit and I thought I was about to achieve my VBAC after all. However, when I started to push I had an excruciating pain in my left hip and the baby's heart rate dropped to 80 bpm with each push. Within seconds I was signing consent forms and being pushed in to theatre where I hd an EMCS. I also had to have an emergency general anaesthetic as soon as the baby was out because of operative complications (thank god for the cannula.)

Afterwards I was told that DD had rotated to the side with her spine lined up with my hip and her head was acynclitic i.e. pressing down at an angle on the cervix so only one side is presenting properly. This is also probably the reason for my 10 days of pre-labour- she wasn't putting enough pressure on the cervix. I am choosing not to beat myself up about certain sub-optimal choices I made (e.g. to have the epidural) since it doesn't sound as though she ever had much intention of coming out the main entrance (just like her breech sister!)

Anyway I wanted to end on a positive note, that although I am sad not to have achieved my VBAC I am so glad to have laboured and tried so hard to get it. If I had taken the offered ELCS at 39 weeks I could have avoided lots of stress and waiting, but I would always have wondered "what if..?". I would also like to say how valuable my doula was, I would recommend one to anyone, especially those trying a VBAC.

Good luck to all with imminent births,

P xx

OP posts:
ruty · 11/10/2007 13:27

well done for trying and congratulations on the birth! I had a emergency C section last time and really don't want to go thru it again so have asked for an elective. But congratulations anyway!

TheQueenOfQuotes · 11/10/2007 13:28

Congratulations on your new DD.

Sorry to here that you didn't quite make the VBAC but that you gave it a good shot (interestingly - DS1 - who was an EMCS - but without the emergency - ie it wasn't planned before the day but ended up happening with no labour at all - was apparently had his pressing down the "wrong" way on my cervix - so there wasn't much chance of him coming out the main entrance either).

MamaG · 11/10/2007 13:28

Congratulations on your new DD

Well done.

RGPargy · 11/10/2007 13:29

Congratulations on your new DD!

franke · 11/10/2007 13:34

My goodness, you couldn't have tried any harder to get the birth you wanted - well done! All that labour will have done your lo no end of good. You're right - it sounds like she had no intention of coming out the main entrance. Congratulations!

largeginandbloodpunch · 11/10/2007 13:34

Congratulations to you!!! Well done and what an inredibly positive story, im sure it will help others in similar situations.

Enjoy your little girl

merryberry · 11/10/2007 14:30

congratulations! i hope you are all adjusting to your new family size happily xxxx

Lulumama · 11/10/2007 14:33

oh pendulum, congratulations on the birth of your daughter! thanks so much for sharing your story... am so gald that you feel positive and you don;t have the what if feeling, you did everything you could ! well done x and really good to hear what a benefit your doula was to you. x

Sexonlegs · 11/10/2007 18:10

Hi Pendulum, have been looking out for you for days!!

Many congrats on the birth of your dd. I am sorr you didn't get the VBAC as hoped, but you sound v positive about it all.


Boogalooblue · 11/10/2007 18:26


Congrats on the birth of your daughter, I have just celebrated the 5th birthday of my failed vbac attempt baby, so the day had mixed emotions.

I went on to have two successful vba2cs.

Keep positive and well done for getting so far with so little sleep. How lovely that your dd chose her own birthday

Enjoy your new baby and look after yourself.


pendulum · 12/10/2007 09:20

Thanks everyone
It's funny, but I do feel positive this time despite my "failure" and everything that happened (including bladder damage following the c-section that has seen me sporting two catheters at the same time for the last week).

Whereas last time, after my ELCS, I was already sliding towards PND at this point.

Can't begin to figure that one out but it feels good.


PS HiSexonlegs! How are you getting on?

PPS Boogaloo, you are amazing to have gone on to a VBA2C after that. Personally I never intend to go near a maternity unit again But it's great that it didn't put you off.

OP posts:
Millarkie · 12/10/2007 09:35

Well done Pendulum and congratulations!

I had 2 labours and both times my babies had incorrect head position so the pre-labour lasted days. I know just how awful it is to go for days without proper sleep but not actually feel that you are progressing. My first one ended in a c-section, the second one (after many many hours), they managed to coax the head round..but then the shoulders ended up in an operating theatre anyway. Healthy baby and knowing you did your best is the most important thing.

glasjam · 21/10/2007 01:16

Hi Pendulum - we've never "spoken" but I just originated a post in the childbirth section about "sensations in labour" I too was a VBAC-er with no real experience of labour before hand and I too had a long pre-labour that felt like the real thang in all it's glory! I never got past 5-6cms - you can read my thread for more detail - I was trying for a home waterbirth - my doula suggested that when I was throwing in the towel maybe I could go into hospital and get an epidural just to try and get some rest - so don't beat yourself up about that cos I know that feeling. Remember how you felt at the time and that's when you made the decision, when you were actually feeling that pain and that exhaustion. It's all too easy to look back and question your decisions in the cold light of day when you can't even remember what the pain felt like.

Unfortunately or fortunately my midwives said that if I went into hospital and requested an epidural then they would have tried to insist on syntocinon (even though it's contraindicated in a VBAC). And to be honest, my baby was posterior by this stage and deflexed and I don't think this would have helped me and I simply couldn't carry on to see if mobilising would have helped (and I'd been doing that for days to no avail anyway!) And I desperately wanted to meet my baby and be free from the "sensations"!!

You do what you do at the time. My baby is now 15 weeks old - my CS was great in the first instance (although the aftermath was not so great in hospital but hey ho) - I will never forget the relief of the spinal or the first glimpse of my little girl over the curtain. When you go for a VBAC you dare to dream - you have this vision of how it could be - and that's good - it's the only way to go unless you decide to go for an ELCS. But when it doesn't happen I found I was just so happy to see my baby - and I know I tried my hardest to get there. Someone else can come along and read all the facts in black and white and say "maybe you should have tried this, or this is where it went wrong" but it is all so academic. Of course as the weeks have gone by I have questioned certain decisions and that is why I ended up posting on the childbirth board even though I have sworn to myself to get away from these damn boards and just get on with life! It's just that when you invest so much time in planning these things you can't just brush it off. I am fine and well now and have a lovely baby girl - I would rather have had a VBAC but who knows what might have happened if I had pressed on regardless - sometimes the baby just aint coming out that way. I will probably always wonder what it would have felt like doing it the other way (this baby is my last) but hey - that's life. Anyway, I hope this post has come across OK - I just wanted to share this with you as someone who has been through a similar journey. Good luck and enjoy your new addition - you made that baby!!

pendulum · 21/10/2007 19:39

Hi Glasjam
Thanks so much for posting. I have read your thread and kept meaning to reply to you but have not got around to it. It is so wonderful to hear from someone with such a similar experience to mine. You put into words exactly how I have been feeling. In fact I was banging on to DH this morning about how I should not have had the epidural and he said just the same as you- i.e. how quickly you forget how much pain anhd exhaustion you were feeling at the time, we took the only possible route in the circumstances. I know so many women (not just VBACers!) who wonder if they were somehow responsible for the "failure" of their labours, I am determined not to walk under that kind of cloud if I can avoid it.

I'm glad you are also feeling positive about your birth and that you have heard so many interesting tales in support on your thread. Hope you are enjoying your precious DD.

p xx

OP posts:
CHOCOLATEPEANUT · 21/10/2007 19:46

Congratulations and thanks for sharing your story

I am due in 6 weeks and would love a vbac

my only 'natural' birth experience was when I had my second dd who was stillborn

I am booked in first appt after due date and if cervix is ready they have agreed to induce if not i will have another section

pendulum · 21/10/2007 19:59

I am so sorry to hear about your DD. I wish you all the luck in the world for the delivery of your baby, in whatever incarnation the birth takes.

If you are hoping for a VBAC, have you looked at the "Support for imminent VBAcers" thread in Childbirth? (apologies if you are alredy a regular- I haven't been on there for a little while)

p xx

OP posts:
Klaw · 23/10/2007 20:14

Congratulations on the birth of your precious little girl, Pendulum!

I am sorry that you didn't achieve VBAC but very pleased that you laboured and made your own choices.

Look after yourself and enjoy your babymoon.

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