After a year of trying to conceive her first son James, Grapeviner mum Wandah from our Winter 2023 Baby Group and her husband Andrew decided to forgo birth control so they could have a second child ‘whenever’ it happened. And as luck would have it Wandah and James fell pregnant when she was seven months postpartum.
Many women who have had an emergency c-section dream of having a vaginal birth after c-section (VBAC). While VBACs come with some risks, they can be a very healing experience for women who didn’t have the chance to experience a vaginal delivery.
Wandah’s story is one of hope and determination. She overcame the challenges of a previous emergency C-section to achieve a successful VBAC. Her story is an inspiration to other women who are considering a VBAC.
Wandah attended a stretch and sweep appointment on Monday, August 14th, and learned she was 1 centimetre dilated. Feeling hopeful that the sweep would start labour, she headed home to rest.
“On Tuesday 15 August, I was putting James down for a nap and said to Andrew I’m going to go and have a rest my back is so sore. For four whole weeks, I’d been having Braxton hicks contractions on and off but they would simply disappear which I assumed was what was happening again. It was so frustrating.
“However by 12pm my backache had turned into some light tightening pains. By 1pm I thought alright this is actually beginning to hurt a little, I wonder if I’m actually going to go into labour tonight.”
Time to head to the hospital
As time rolled by, Wandah felt the contractions coming closer together. She called her midwife at 2pm to let her know she had four contractions in 10 minutes and they lasted around 30 seconds.
“She said to monitor and time them since I was able to have a nice breezy conversation with her on the phone. I also messaged my student midwife and let her know this might just be the day she delivers her first (fingers crossed) VBAC baby and the very last baby as a student.
“By 3:30pm I had called my midwife back and let her know this was it and I think it might be time to head in since I was breathing heavily to her through the phone now. We called my parents and they came to take James for a sleepover, kissed and cuddled and had our last moments being a family of three.”
‘I felt a POP’
While stopping to get Andrew some dinner on the way to the hospital, Wandah experienced four contractions in the car and four more during the walk from the hospital car park to the maternity ward.
“We got into maternity at 4:30pm, a midwife got us to wait in the little tea bay while they set up my room for us.
“Suddenly at 4:35pm another contraction came but halfway through it I felt a POP and said to Andrew “shit my waters just broke” he looked down wide-eyed and said “oh yep looks about right” and popped off to get a midwife. They rushed out and said oh yep better come on through then.”
‘Everything was out of my control’
“The second I was inside that delivery room things went next level. I was pushing with each contraction and absolutely panicked. There was simply no way I was 10cm and pushing felt like the worst situation ever. After an exam, I was told I’m only 3cm so it’ll be a while before I’m ready to push.
“I basically shouted ‘too bad’ and continued to push with each contraction, I started screaming for the epidural. I actually yelled a lot. Too many people touching me and talking, we couldn’t get any drips in me. I was in pain, I was pushing when I wasn’t meant to. Everything was out of my control and all I could think of was how much I did not want to push a baby out and how much I wanted to just cuddle James. In fact, I demanded for him multiple times!”
Time for an epidural
“The midwife offered me gas, which I forgot was even an option with James. I sucked so hard the first time I passed out. I continued to pass out each time. I think that’s when I was banned from that level of gas.
“By the time the epidural was ready and the man was there I just shouted to put it in. He didn’t have a chance to even speak to me regarding risks or anything, I just screamed to get it in. That poor guy. Once that epidural was in I was in my favourite dreamland. Whoever the inventor of the epidural is I could bloody kiss them! What a legend.
“Another check after I’d had some rest and I was 5cm! Success! My body was contracting and labouring all on its own. It was like magic.”
‘Trying everything for a successful VBAC’
Feeling more relaxed after the epidural had taken effect, and now 6cm dilated, Wandah urged Andrew to get some rest and her student midwife headed home as it was approaching the middle of the night.
“During all this, my midwife was applying pressure to acupuncture points with oils and trying everything we could to make sure I could have my VBAC. Andrew was tasked for a good chunk of the night doing acupuncture points and rubbing my back. Which he graciously did like a champ.
“My next check I’d lost track of time. I think around 1am. I was still at 6cm. It was deflating. But the baby was happy, I was contracting on my own still but there were some concerns they’d slowed down to only three in 10 minutes only lasting 30 seconds. This was not ideal. It seemed like labour might stall.
“The incredible OB on overnight said he’d come back in four hours and check me again and we might consider our options. He came back around 4am and did another check. Still at 6cm. I was stalled. He said his boss did not want to give drugs to push contractions since the baby was so happy in there, but he needed to check again. I was given two hours or four hours my choice before we might have to call it another emergency c-section.
“By this stage, I’d also developed a temp and it wasn’t looking great in terms of me. Baby still happily dancing around. I had given up. I cried and cried knowing with the temp and stalling my hopes for a VBAC were slipping away from me and doubt and anxiety about my birth with James all flooded back. I tried desperately to get a grip so I could keep those good hormones flowing but I knew the birth I wanted was just not going to happen.”
The baby was ready to arrive
Wandah’s obstetrician came back to check on her around 6am. He asked her if she was still only 6cm would she be choosing to wait the further two hours or would she want to go for a C-section? Wandah still wanted to wait the next two hours so they decided against examining her as each examination was a further risk of infection.
“At 8am he came back. Miracles happen because I’d made it to 8cm! I literally cried. The sheer relief that I’m going to deliver my baby soon was unreal.
“They sent in another OB who is well known for being able to turn babies and that he did. He said to me I have got baby’s head can you give me a big push and see if we can spin baby the right way to make this easier for you to deliver. He says I’ve gotten her to 9cm but she can easily stretch to 10cm!
“He basically slapped his hands together and said we’re all good here ladies you can take over and he let my midwives know that shortly I’d be pushing my baby out.”
‘The more the merrier’
The room turned into a hive of activity, Wandah and Andrew were about to meet their second baby.
“The room filled with midwives, my student Lexie, pediatrician doctors and an OB. Someone even came by and said there’s a student doctor here do you mind if he is present, he doesn’t do anything he just watches. “Bring him in, the more the merrier” I said. He was actually incredibly helpful, ran for warm towels, super encouraging and positive. He was a great presence in my birth space. He then told us “This is only my second birth” what a champ.
“It was showtime! Lexie was on! She was ready to catch her first VBAC and very last baby as a student midwife following a mum. We were all beyond excited at this point.”
‘I got my VBAC’
“I don’t remember pushing for long. It didn’t feel like long. Andrew was by my side the whole time, holding my hand, and patting my head. Telling me words of encouragement. I’d never felt more empowered. I remember asking the time because someone said “I bet you’ll push her out soon Wandah she is RIGHT there, just have to get over the lip”, someone said it was 11:30am. I said I’ll get her out at 11:38! My midwife said I bet 11:48!
“Wednesday 16 August, 11:44am I did it. I had my VBAC! They put her straight to my chest and someone said Wandah open your eyes she’s here. I opened my eyes and that tiny baby girl was on my chest screaming her lungs out. I couldn’t believe it. I did it. I delivered our baby, against all odds of another c section.
“The room felt crazy. I couldn’t hear anyone, all I could hear was her screaming bloody murder. But it meant she was breathing. No special care. No assistance. No suction. Just me, Andrew and our sweet sweet baby girl. I got my VBAC and a beautiful healthy baby. Olivia Elizabeth Maxwell. My healing birth”
We are so happy that Wandah was able to experience the VBAC that she wanted and her daughter arrived happy and healthy. We wish this family of four all the best for the future.
Got your own birth story you’re itching to tell? We’re always on the lookout for new stories to feature. Submit your birth story.
More birth stories from the Grapeviners…
- Birth Story: ‘My beautiful twins were born on my birthday’
- Birth Story: ‘My baby was born unexpectedly at home’
- Birth Story: ‘I helped deliver my baby in my elective c-section’
About to (or just had) a baby?
We know that the wait to meet your baby can be nerve-wracking, but we’re here to remind you that you’re not alone. Our private Pregnancy & Baby Groups are a great way to connect with other Aussie mums who are due or had their babies around the same time as you.