In Their Own Words: Annika's Story
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Sweet Peas, Pods & Papas: All About Birth, B@@bs & Babies

In Their Own Words: Annika's Story

April is Cesarean Awareness Month.  As such, the blog topics this month will focus around cesarean birth journeys, and options that cesarean birth warriors have for subsequent pregnancies.  

If you would like to submit your story for our In Their Own Words series, please send your submission to krystyna{at}sweetpeabirths{dot}com.

Here is Annika's story of her primary cesarean, and her VBAC journey with her second child:

When you are pregnant with your first child you have all these wonderful naive concepts about birth…well, at least I did. Not to say I had a traumatic birth with my first child, but I would say it definitely was a sobering lesson for my husband and I.
Our plan was to have Landan in a birthing center with minimal intervention and in a birthing tub. The entire idea of a water birth and a welcoming atmosphere to me was literally heaven and I would dream about it almost daily. At our 39 week check up our midwife seemed a bit puzzled when she was examining my belly and feeling around for Landan's position and promptly concluded after a ultrasound that he was in fact breech and very comfortably nesting in my right rib cage. So with a referral in hand and a last minute appointment with Dr. Medchill we made our way to his office for another ultrasound to determine if I was a good candidate for an external cephalic eversion (aka, external flipping or rotating of the baby).
Much to our delight, Dr Medchill concluded that there was sufficient fluid surrounding Landan and the umbilical cord was not wrapped around his neck. So off we were to the OB Triage at St Joe's to attempt flipping Landan with our bags packed "just in case." While the idea of externally having my baby flipped was not appealing, I really didn't have a whole lot of time to really understand the gravity of what I was about to experience, nor do I think I would have cared to be honest.
I had my mind made up that this was going to work and I was going to get my beautiful peaceful water birth I had been dreaming about for 9 months. With my husband sitting at my head, Dr Medchill on my right side pushing Landan's head and upper body, and a head resident pushing Landan's legs and butt, they attempted 4 times to flip Landan with no avail. My son was perfectly comfortable where he was at, and no one was going to convince him to move otherwise. At this point, my husband and I had been dealing with this ordeal all day and both of us were so incredibly burned out. I was shaking thanks to the muscle relaxers they gave me so they could perform the procedure and I didn't even want to dare to think about how sore my belly was going to be once the pain medication wore off. So, seeing our exhaustion, Dr Medchill offered to perform a cesarean birth within the hour.
Looking back on it now, I am actually very grateful for his willingness to help us in the midst of our exhaustion. Let me be clear, he was not pushy by any means and if you have ever encountered Dr. Medchill he is the most kind, but honest, human being on this planet. In his professional opinion especially since I had showed no sign of labor, my cervix was completely shut, minimal effacement, and Landan was definitely not going anywhere from his comfy spot, the chances of my body kicking into natural labor and Landan flipping and descending through the birth canal was really minimal.
Since I had never had a vaginal birth to begin with, I also had what the medical community deems as an "untried pelvis," which essentially means no baby has ever passed through. Which can diminish your chances of having a successful natural breech birth even farther.
So, my husband and I decided to go for the compromise and I was prepped for surgery before the ink was dry on the consent papers. Looking back on it now, I'm actually incredibly grateful for how quickly they moved as my husband and I weren't really given the chance to think too much about what was going on. The cesarean birth, from what I remember, was rather uneventful. I remember being extraordinarily cold, and feeling very alienated being so exposed on the table, but the staff was really pleasant and made me feel comfortable.
Once Landan was born he was quickly cleaned, weighed, and swaddled, and brought over to me where we snuggled our heads together for a fleeting moment. My husband was allowed to take him from there to the OB Triage area to have skin-to-skin contact while I was being put back together. Granted, I would have loved to have that contact with Landan myself, but stepping back from that, it really was a special time for Danial and Landan. They definitely formed an unbreakable bond and for that I am absolutely thankful for. That was such a special gift that Danial was able to have with Landan and I wouldn't take that away from him ever.
Fast forward 5 months and we were a busy family with a new(Ish) baby still taking over our house. Since having Landan I hadn't really thought much about his delivery or the ordeal much as I was happy to have my son earthside safely. It was when I found out I was pregnant with our second child that month that my feelings and emotions about Landan's delivery and my upcoming delivery would soon start to bring to the surface all sorts of emotions.
Luckily for us, we decided to stay with Dr. Medchill and continue care through him as he was most familiar with us, and our previous experience with him was really outstanding. He didn't hesitate when I asked if I had the option of attempting a normal VBAC and said that I was a really good candidate and that he actually would encourage me to at least try.
Let me tell you, that was music to my ears! But at the same time, the question in my head was "what exactly am I going to expect?" I couldn't have the water birth that I had fantasized about during Landan's pregnancy, and I was definitely not going to get a very birth center like atmosphere in the hospital, so what exactly COULD I expect?
That's where getting involved with the ICAN chapter in Phoenix really helped me wrap my head around my options but also internally deal with some unresolved feelings from Landan's delivery that I didn't even know I had. Also, getting involved with ICAN really gave me confidence to ask questions that I didn't even know were subjects I could ask!
For example, I had no idea that I could ask to have intermittent monitoring which would allow me to get in and out of the shower along with walking freely without being attached to a machine all the time. So armed with information, my husband and I navigated the months leading up to Adaline's birth with optimism and trust in our care provider that we could have a fair trial of labor.
I'm not going to lie, while we had an amazing support group around us from our care provider, to our doula, to our family, there was some SERIOUS fear in me of the entire process. No matter how you look at it, the incision is always going to be there. It doesn't go away and that doubt of whether or not that area will be able to withstand labor and birth is constantly lingering no matter how many statistics you look at of the success of VBACs.
I can say with confidence that there were MANY times where I just wanted to schedule a cesarean birth and go with what I knew and could expect. That is so much less scary then embarking on the marathon of labor and delivery where you have no idea what to expect. But, there was a really large part of me that just really wanted to experience the beauty of labor and be able to say that I could do it on my own.
So, I stuck to my guns and kept drawing from my support group of my husband, my doula, and my care provider. Much to my delight, on October 1, 2014 my water broke (which is definitely not a glamorous experience like Hollywood claims it is!!) and labor started with gusto about an hour later. My husband, doula and I made our quick exit to the hospital as my contractions were coming on with force and relatively quickly.
After a marathon of 17 1/2 hours of hard, active labor, my daughter was born on October 2, 2014 and was the most beautiful VBAC baby I could ever ask for. She absolutely made me work for my VBAC and I truly couldn't have done it without my doula and my husband, who stayed up with me the entire night going between the shower, birthing ball, holding the puke bin between contractions, making sure I drank water, and listening to me when I was so tired that I could feel my body giving in after 15 hours and asking for an epidural simply so I could take a 30 min power nap.
I have clients that ask me all the time how I was able to get through that VBAC and it’s really plain and simple to me. There is no part of me that hesitates when I say that I absolutely drew from the strength of my husband and my doula the entire time. Having my support group really helped me get through the toughest parts of that labor and then also being at peace with getting an epidural and taking a nap. When it boils down to it, that's what my body needed and having my support group there allowed me to listen to my body.
There is nothing I regret from Adaline's birth and in a way it was so healing for me and resolved so much self doubt from Landan's birth that I didn't even know existed in me until I was faced with the option of having a normal VBAC.

Now we are weeks away from meeting #3 and my husband and I feel so comfortable and armed with such confidence that we do know our options and are going into this second vaginal birth. I know, and for the first time, feel absolutely confident in my body; that it knows what to do and I also know how to listen to it as well. We have moved to a different state so having to switch providers was nerve racking until my husband and I really sat down and realized that we were completely confident with the criteria that we wanted and were setting for ourselves and also that we would find a care provider who was just as amazing as Dr Medchill was.
Luckily for us, we did find an amazing care provider and he is definitely on the same page as we are with this delivery. My hope and prayer for every single mother going through her VBAC whether it be after one or multiple cesarean births is that you really find your voice and find your support. I know that's what helped me navigate this incredible journey that I've been on the past 3 1/2 years and I only can hope that every single mother finds that strength as well.

Photographer Name: Allie Hannah Photography

Henna: Pheobe Sinclair 

The material included in this video is for informational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The viewer should always consult her or his healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation.  Krystyna and Bruss Bowman and Bowman House, LLC accept no liability for the content of this site, or for the consequences of any actions taken on the basis of the information provided.  This blog and video contain information about our classes available in Chandler, AZ and Payson, AZ and is not the official website of The Bradley Method®. The views contained in this video and on our blog do not necessarily reflect those of The Bradley Method® or the American Academy of Husband-Coached Childbirth®.
 Bradley Method® natural childbirth classes offered in Arizona: convenient to Chandler, Tempe, Ahwatukee, Gilbert, Mesa, Scottsdale, Payson


2 Comments to In Their Own Words: Annika's Story:

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Jaime Murphy-Estrada on Friday, April 15, 2016 9:49 AM
Annika, first off...I miss you!!!! And secondly...what an inspiration you are, Esteban and I are soon going to start tryin again for baby #1 and after our miscarriage and reading this story I forgot all you have been through. I love you girl and thank you for sharing your journey 😘
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Ann Videan on Friday, April 15, 2016 10:07 AM
Annika, what an inspiration you are! And, what a blessing this story will be to others who will walk your path. You look SO gorgeous in this photo. Hugs to your dear family.
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