Family Nature

HBAC, VBAC and Ending Up With a CBAC


I have four children.  They were all born by cesarean section.

I’ve been blogging for a little over two months now.  I have a ‘to do’ list on the side of my computer screen.  On it are a handful of blog ideas, most of them half written posts in my head.  They will all end up here eventually.  One thing on that list is a blog post about the births of my children.  I’ve tried to write this post a few times now, but it never seems to come out quite right.  As April wraps up I keep reminding myself that April is Cesarean Awareness Month.  If I’m ever going to write something, now would be an appropriate time.  I sat down bound and determined to get this off my chest.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to go into all the gory details of my births.  For now, suffice to say that it was not the way I wanted to bring my children into the world.  My first birth was a planned homebirth with a midwife.  My second was a planned HBAC with a midwife.  My third was originally a planned HBA2C, but in the end we went to the hospital for a plain ol’ VBA2C, again with a midwife.  My fourth and last pregnancy was a planned CBAC with an OB but also with my midwife providing supportive care and after birth care.  Although all of them were cesareans, all of them were difficult in different ways.

I feel like I need to say this: yes, I tried everything.  And I mean EVERYTHING.  I read all the books and visited all the websites.  I had a “dream team” as we called it: a midwife and doula who were both totally committed to VBAC and who had both had c-sections and VBACs themselves; a Chiropractor trained in the Webster technique who was at my house for more than 12 hours during one of my labours; a Naturopathic Doctor who was completely on-board and also attended my birth giving me homeopathic remedies and acupuncture; and last but certainly not least, my husband, who was totally committed, willing to advocate on my behalf if/when I was not able and who was my rock – by my side every single step of the way.  I did everything right.  I wanted it so badly.  It still didn’t happen.

I have done my best to accept that this is the way things had to be.  I honestly and truly believe that now.  But as I visited ICAN’s homepage today and read about the meaning of The Cesarean Awareness Ribbon I had to fight back tears.  It makes me wonder if I will every really get over this.

Sometimes I think about a time during my third pregnancy when I was sitting in the OB’s office.  My husband always came to my appointments with me but for some reason that I can’t remember now, he had not been able to come that day.  Although my midwife was my main care provider during the pregnancy I consulted with an OB.  I had wanted to establish a relationship with an OB so that if I did end up going to the hospital, I’d have a better chance of having my wishes respected (in the end this really did turn out to be very helpful).  It was very close to the end of my pregnancy and the OB wanted me to schedule a c-section for my due date.   Both of my previous labours had been early so the OB and I both knew that I’d never make it to my due date, but it was easier for her to answer to her superiors if I had a c-section booked.  I finally agreed to it.  I knew that I would never have showed up for that appointment.  Still I sat there, alone with the OB, and I was crying; shaking and sobbing so uncontrollably that I couldn’t speak.  I felt completely defeated and broken.  I can only think of one other time in my life that I cried like that.  That memory of that day in the OB’s office comes to me from time to time and I remember it as a very difficult day.

I want SO badly to be the kind of person who doesn’t care.  I wish that a VBAC hadn’t mattered to me so much.  But it did.  I wish it still didn’t bother me.  It does.  I accept how my children were born, but I don’t like it.

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16 thoughts on “HBAC, VBAC and Ending Up With a CBAC

  1. phdinparenting

    ((hug)) I know how it feels. Not because I went through the same thing. But I went through something similar when my first child wouldn’t latch on. He eventually did (after 3 months of work at it) and I know if he hadn’t, I’d still be stewing about, thinking about, rehashing every detail again in my head.

    Every time I tried to latch him and couldn’t, I cried inwardly or outwardly. Every time I had to get that pump out, I resented it. Every time I put a bottle to his mouth instead of my breast, I despaired. Every time I thought of possibly just giving up and giving him formula instead my stomach turned.

    It is so hard when we do everything we possibly can to have the best outcome and still can’t have it.

  2. Julie R

    Thank you for writing this, and for sharing your experience. I think I know how you feel, although my VBAC outcome was positive, I know the road you travelled, and you were on it more times than me! There is so much to navigate out there, so many stories to hear, so many different experiences. Even though you don’t like the way your children were born, I hope you can recognize how hard you tried to make it the best experience for them all. You are going to be an AMAZING resource for your daughter and daughters-in-law when the time comes. Hang on to that knowledge. Huge hugs to you on this rainy day.

  3. Steph

    Good morning my warrior mama friend. Thank you for writing this, in this most important month. Your knowledge, wisdom and trust in your body inspired me in my journey to VBAC with Meaghan. Thank you for telling women birth matters, making choices matter, listening to your body matters and that although our outcomes make be wonderful, or may suck, allowing our babies to choose their birthday matters too.
    I’ll never know why my Abby had to be born as she was, why I had to walk that path. I will never like it. I will also be sad, be angry, be indifferent, be exhausted. I will, however, always be grateful that I have sisters like yourself who GET IT, who I can reach out to and to whom I can offer an ear where they too need it.
    Have a wonderful day and keep blogging! I’m loving every minute of it!

    Your BC friend

  4. TheFeministBreeder

    These feelings are 100% valid. It is 100% normal to feel the way you do. Frankly, I’m stunned by anyone who thinks their c-section was no big deal. I can’t wrap my head around that at all. I felt violated/robbed/raped. To me, it is a loss of a whole different caliber, and I suppose I can’t understand how anyone wouldn’t mourn a loss like that.

    I’ve had a VBAC, and I’m not sure I’ll ever get over the c/s I had. Getting the VBAC did heal me in many ways, but there are ways that I will never, ever be the same after having been cut into. My trust and faith in physicians is completely ruined. I’ve developed a severe phobia of them.

    However, one of the things that has really helped me is finding other moms like me who are struggling with this. It helps identify and validate the feelings. It helps you realize that everything you’re feeling is the similar to the way other moms feel, so it’s normal and healthy.

    There are some really great sites that I visit when I need to feel understood. is one of them (that mom just had an HBAC last week.) Also the Solace for Mothers forum can be really helpful.
    Have you considered talking to a therapist trained in Birth Trauma? They can be kind of hard to find, but they do exist, especially with the new understanding out there about how PPD can often really be birth related PTSD.

    Hang in there. I’m definitely not a religious person, but that old saying “God doesn’t give us more than we can handle” seems like a good explanation for helping to make sense of things that don’t make sense at the time. If you tried everything in your power to have a vaginal birth, and you know you did what you could, then maybe this one was in the hands of the universe, and the universe has its own reasons. That doesn’t negate your feelings, but hopefully you can find a way to make sense out of it for yourself.

    And, I’m sorry. That sux.

  5. Sam @babyREADY

    Thank you, on behalf of all moms and moms-to-be, for taking the time to put your experiences into words for us to read. You asked if you would ever “really get over this.” I wonder why you have to? I think we, as a society, work very hard to bury the bad instead of acknowledging the role it plays in our lives and placing a value on the way it shapes us. As long as you don’t let it poison you, let it give you strength.
    Take care

  6. mamaseoul

    I just had a VBAC in March:

    My first c-section was for breech (all natural things failed and the doctors talked me out of trying ECV) and this baby was breech as well. I came to the US all the way from Korea to improve my chances of VBAC and the baby was breech again! I had to change my homebirth plans and drive to a midwife and hospital two hours away. Half way around the world was not enough. I couldn’t believe it. I was doing everything to get the baby to turn but she wouldn’t. Finally, I had a successful ECV at the hospital 2 hours away and went onto to have a very easy Hypnobabies birth, but I had to do so much work and travel to find a supportive team. Most women do not have the luxury.

    It is so unfair that you did all that preparation, all the right people to support you, did everything right and still had a surgical outcome. That was the way they had to be born and it is not your fault. I hope you believe that. I had several natural childbirth people tell me that breech babies are because the mom is afraid or not ready. That I just needed to “talk to the baby” and viualize. I didn’t feel afraid, but I did feel horrible like they were breech because it was my fault (and then I thought the stress from thinking it was my fault might be keeping her breech). Finally, I decided that I was not going to accept it was my fault and I had the ECV done. It was very easy and it worked, but it was probably my last shot. There were some doctors that the midwife was going to talk to about a breech VBAC, but he said there was only a very small chance that they would do it. The homebirth midwives in the area weren’t comfortable with breech deliveries. I had some in the natural childbirth community telling me to go to The Farm, but with my husband overseas and a 2.5 year old and The Farm being really far away, I could not go there. The ECV was really my last practical hope.

    Thank you for sharing and being a resource for those of us who want to have a natural birth, especially, after cesarean. Everything you learned will help and inspire others.

  7. CarolynFell

    I feel like I might be the only person in the house, but I am finding this hard to follow with all the acronyms. Can you provide a little glossary? Also, I have an interesting story about this kind of thing. Next time I see you I’ll tell you about it.

  8. familynature

    VBAC = Vaginal Birth After Cesarean
    HBAC = Home Birth After Cesarean (also a vaginal birth, if that’s not obvious)
    VBA2C = Vaginal Birth After 2 Cesareans
    CBAC = Cesarean Birth After Cesarean
    ECV = External Cephalic Version: a process by which a doctor or midwife tries to turn a breech or otherwise malpositioned baby into the head down position by external manipulation.
    c/s = cesarean section

    I hope that helps to make more sense of this!

  9. familynature

    Wow. Thank you all for your comments. I was moved.

    @Steph: You, my friend, were one of the *only* people outside my “dream team” that belived in me. For that I am forever grateful. And that you supported me through it all, despite the outcome, is something that I hold close to my heart. Though we don’t see each other often I feel a unique connection with you.

    @TheFeministBreeder: Thanks for sharing those links. I wish I’d known about them 5 years ago, during my darkest hour….It’s good to have them now though.

    @Sam: Why do I have to get over this? Good question, and something to think about as I continue processing. I guess I just thought that it would get better with time, and it has, but just not as much as I’d hoped. My first c/s was more than 7 years ago, my last 18 months ago. I keep wondering when I’m going to stop crying about this!!

    Thank you all for sharing.


  10. Sarah Jo

    Thank you for sharing your grief. I planned all that I knew how (months of reading book after book, watching real natural births on TV, talking to mothers who had drug-free labors, asked and re-asked my doctors for their support, asked them the tough questions, or so I thought). None of this worked in the end as I was coerced into a c/s. What I did not do was hire a doula, make my husband take a natural childbirth class and grill my doctor even more and then switch to a midwife or OBGYN who I knew had a low c/s rate and would truly allow me to birth my way.

    I play out the scenario in my head month after month — for more than 20 months now. What could I have done differently? Why didn’t my husband stand up for me? Why did my doctor do this to me? I want to blame someone for what I experienced. Somehow that might make me feel better. But it doesn’t. I only end up resenting that person.

    You are amazing for even trying to avoid a c/s so many times. I have seen too many friends take the easy way out and just schedule that surgery. I don’t understand how they can accept it so easily. And then I talk to women who were able to birth vaginally and I find myself having to stuff my jealous thoughts into some secret hiding place.

    It was a huge decision for me to have any children at all. Now I find myself yearning to be pregnant again with the hope that I would be able to re-do the experience the way I first sought. Is that wrong?

    P.S. Thanks, TheFeministBreeder for the supportive links. I’m yearning to talk to mothers who’ve shared my experience.

  11. Sam @babyREADY

    I appreciate your direct response to my question. I didn’t mean that you shouldn’t stop crying. I hope in time that will happen. I mean perhaps that you use it to propel you forward and I guess I interpreted “getting over it” as meaning forgetting it. I think remembering it, in some way, helps shape the person you are today and the way you work with, empathize with and celebrate with the moms you meet and help!

  12. familynature

    Yes indeed, my experiences have helped shaped who I am today! Thanks, I really appreciate your comments.

  13. familynature

    I don’t cry very often about this anymore. After my second was born it was a very long time before I could think or speak of his birth without crying. But that eventually got better. Every once in a while it just gets to me again. Maybe this is normal, I don’t know.

    My third c-section was very healing. I will post about that sometime.

  14. Chris

    Hey, sis. I am so sorry that your births didn’t turn out as planned, and that you still hurt. Sometimes I feel guilty that I had relatively easy vaginal deliveries, and that I could probably have birthed at home (but chose not to).

    I know that we live in a time when far too many unnecessary c-sections are performed. But here is what I also think. Perhaps one or more of those c-sections saved your life, or the lives of your precious babes… and for that I am grateful! Because this world would not be the same without each and every one of you!!

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