Vaginal birth after Caesarean
"How I got my birth wish the second time around." This is Joeleen Hermelin’s story.
VBAC- Joeleen Hermelin and her baby Erryn
It was the day before Due Day and I was concerned because baby Rachel’s movements had decreased, so we swung by the hospital on the way to dinner with family.

The nurse did a foetal heart-rate monitor and then called my doctor. He told me that Rachel was in distress and that Hubby should go downstairs to book me in for an emergency Caesar.

Everything happened so quickly – I didn’t really have time to think or feel much. I was quickly dry-shaved and wheeled into theatre. There I was, naked from the boobs down, legs splayed like a spatchcock chicken, flashing my fanny to all these strangers while they went about tuning machines and polishing instruments! It was so impersonal and scary. I was also quite heavily drugged so I felt totally disconnected from my body and the experience.

What freaked me out the most was the anaesthetist telling me, “Don’t worry, everything is perfectly normal.” I remember thinking there is absolutely nothing normal about this!

My first view of my daughter was over the top of an oxygen mask as she was whisked off to be weighed and washed.

I lay in the recovery room feeling alone and sad. I understood that we had done what was best for our baby, but somehow I felt cheated out of my birthright. I wanted so badly to experience natural birth, to end the magical journey of pregnancy with the same level of bodily connection I’d shared with my daughter for nine months.

When we found out I was pregnant again less than two years later, I told my gynae, “I’m not having another Caesar. Are you prepared to do a natural birth?” We agreed that, as long as there were no complications or risks to the baby, we would go ahead with a natural birth.

From that moment on I was so motivated and positive. At each checkup I reminded my gynae, “we’re gonna have natural!” There was no other option.

Around midnight on my due date, I woke up with contractions. On my way to the bathroom I felt a trickle down my leg. I thought I’d wet myself, so I cleaned it up and went back to bed! Around 2am I felt stronger contractions and a whole lot of water gushing down my leg. We decided we’d better get to the hospital.

The contractions were coming fast and hard now; I started shaking and vomiting. I’ve never experienced anything as painful in my life, but between contractions I was overwhelmed with gratitude that my body was doing what it was created to do. I wanted to experience it all – the good and the bad.

I had an epidural and a few hours later my doctor came to check on me: “Sister, get the stirrups. This baby’s coming!” I was so excited!

I pushed like hell. I don’t know where the strength came from. I felt so alive! After so many months of hoping and praying I couldn’t believe it was finally happening.

When Erryn was born she was handed straight to me. It was a totally different experience – a lot more personal and involved for both Hubby and I.

I felt exhausted, elated, excited and proud of myself. I’d worked so hard – emotionally, mentally and physically – and I’d made it happen.

Natural birth after a Caesar is totally possible. You just need to be firm, be positive, and have the right gynae on board.

Did you have a vaginal birth after having had a Caesarian?

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