The story of Stella’s journey into the world really begins with her big sister’s.
I gave birth to Florence two and a half years ago via emergency caesarean after a classic cascade of interventions following a postdates induction at 41+6 at a private hospital and under the care of a private obstetrician. I’d chosen that model of care, despite knowing that midwifery led care aligned much more with my personal beliefs about pregnancy and birth, after much deliberation and the deciding factor had been more time in hospital after birth where I could have on-demand breastfeeding support. The irony of that decision - as anyone who has given birth in a hospital would know - is that the breastfeeding support you receive in hospital is pretty miserable, and with every shift changeover, you’re given different advice and different methods to try and it becomes more confusing than ever. Despite the birth and despite the less-than-ideal breastfeeding ‘support’, I went on to breastfeed Florence until after I was pregnant with Stella.
(You can read Florence's full birth story here)
I started researching VBAC before I’d even left the hospital. I didn’t actually know anything about it, or whether it was at all possible. I’d only known two women who had given birth via caesarean (or so I thought, I’ve since learned of many others), one who gave birth in the 70s and had two children with classical caesarean scars, and one who didn’t have any more children after her caesarean. I had only ever heard the old saying “once a caesarean, always a caesarean”. I learned very quickly that this didn’t have to be the case.
The more I researched and learned about VBAC and physiological birth, the more I came to accept that my best chance of a VBAC was to choose a private midwife and to give birth at home. I learned a lot about homebirth; I read the books, read the articles, listened to the podcasts, watched the interviews, the documentaries, read the forums. Before long, I not only knew that homebirth was my best option for a VBAC, but the idea of going to hospital as a healthy woman with a healthy baby to give birth began to feel nonsensical. The more committed to the idea of homebirth I was, the less giving birth anywhere else made any sense for me.
On our journey to having Stella, we had a couple of false starts with two early miscarriages back to back and a break for a while before we were blessed with a sticky bean. I knew who I wanted to hire as a private midwife, and I booked in straight away. I had a scare with some spotting at about five weeks that made me anxious enough to decide to do a dating scan so I could be reassured with a heart beat. I’d also decided to have the 12 week NT scan and the 20 week morphology scan. At 14 weeks I had my first midwife appointment, which I loved. I managed to get one more appointment in person before the 2021 Covid-19 wave hit Sydney mid-year and we went into lockdown, with PPMs being advised to limit in person appointments as much as possible. I continued to see my midwife over Facetime for a few more appointments before I made it to the third trimester, when we picked up in person again.
It was a great pregnancy. I’d had similar morning sickness to my first, no vomiting but unrelenting nausea and unfathomable fatigue and exhaustion, but (like my first) it settled as I did into the second trimester. I was seeing a chiro regularly to keep on top of my pelvic alignment after having serious sciatica pain when I was pregnant with Florence, and it was working perfectly to keep me comfortable. My iron stores had been a bit low, and I was happily supplementing that. I’d made an informed decision to decline gestational diabetes and group b strep testing. At 36 weeks, my midwife dropped off the birth pool at our appointment and we were gathering all the supplies we needed, getting excited for our homebirth. I had absolutely no anxiety about labour or birth, or being at home for either. I’d hired a doula to support me (and my husband and daughter, who would also be present), and I felt I’d assembled a dream birth team. I knew I could do it. I considered packing a ‘just-in-case’ hospital bag a couple of times, but I never bothered to do so, not out of any real superstition, but honestly out of laziness.
I’d had Braxton Hicks from about 20 weeks that got gradually stronger into the third trimester. Prodromal labour started early at just shy of 37 weeks but after experiencing it in my first pregnancy, I was ready for it to continue for weeks - lucky, because it did. I fully expected to go over 40 weeks, and I’d kept saying I felt it was going to be somewhere within the 41-42 week range. At 40+5, my prodromal labour contractions fell into a consistent pattern of 6 minutes apart from about noon and remained that way for the next few days. They weren’t really painful, and I was grateful to still be able to sleep around them.
At 41 weeks on the dot, following a lovely acupuncture session that morning and massage that afternoon, I was having a shower before heading to bed and as I stepped out onto the bath mat, I had my first painful contraction. Another followed within about five minutes, and I thought I’d better get to bed and rest while I could in case things were picking up. As soon as I’d gotten into position with my big pregnant belly, I had another contraction and I knew I wasn’t going to be able to stay lying down. I got up and bounced on the ball for a while, wondering whether I should set up my birth space, second-guessing myself at the end of each contraction doing the classic ‘it’s probably not labour’ internal narrative.
My husband was pretty unwell with a bad cold, so I wanted to avoid waking him up as long as possible, and so I rang my doula once I noticed I was having to really focus and breathe through contractions. By the time she arrived an hour later, I was vocalising through contractions and had woken my husband up moving furniture around to set up the birth space. He tagged teamed with my doula and headed back to bed while I, now set up with my TENS machine and my lovely doula, settled into the labour.
I’d been going for about six hours when I started to hit a bit of a wall. My daughter had woken up and hung out with us for a bit, but was too exhausted and getting upset at my inability to comfort her during contractions, so I had my husband wake up and put her back to bed. My contractions had been feeling really productive and effective, but at this point they started to feel more painful and uncomfortable in a way that I instinctively felt was not quite right. My doula asked if she wanted me to call my photographer. I agreed, despite feeling like it was probably still too early. I felt a real need for a shift in energy, and, being the extrovert I am, I hoped that a new person in my space might bring me that.
I was in the birth pool when my photographer arrived after feeling like I couldn’t do any more contractions outside of the water. Labouring at home, in the dark and quiet, with people I loved and trusted, gave me the ability to be very aware of my body, and again, I felt like my contractions had lost their effectiveness. They didn’t feel like pain with a purpose as much, it felt like pain signalling something wasn’t right. However, it wasn’t extreme and it was only during contractions, so I knew deep within me that it wasn’t a serious issue and it wasn’t an emergency - it was just a signal that labour wasn’t progressing as well as it could or should.
I spent a couple of hours in the pool before we all agreed I should get out as the contractions were spacing out. I spent some time on the toilet, continuing to have bits of bloody show, and then various positions in the lounge room. On my knees leaning into pillows on the couch, standing upright swaying while leaning on the pool, or with my hands on my hips and vocalising strongly. My TENS machine became a security blanket. The contractions were long and hard, and I was starting to fade. I’d been contracting every 3-4 mins for several hours by this stage, and I was running out of steam. My labour had started so strongly and had felt, although intense, so good and productive, that I’d felt sure I’d be having a baby before sunrise, so as I noticed the sky lightening through the curtains, my own internal flame was faltering. My doula asked if I wanted to get my midwife to head over. I felt like it wasn’t time, but I was also feeling desperate for answers, and so I said yes.
My midwife arrived around 7am, and the sound of her keys jangling in her hand as she walked up to the front door made my heart swell with relief. She was here now, she would have the answers for me, she would fix this. She’d figure this out. She sat quietly next to me, spoke to me gently and watched me for a little while. She asked if it would be okay to do a vaginal exam and see what the body was doing. I consented - I wasn’t so concerned about how dilated my cervix was, but I wondered if a vaginal exam would give us any information about why I was stagnating.
The first thing she said was that I was a good 7cms dilated, but that she had no idea how I’d managed that as baby’s head was nowhere near the cervix. She could only just touch the head and not even enough to tell position (although was palpating baby at ROA). She’d kept her hand still while I had a contraction and informed me that I had a huge bag of waters that was going rock solid when I contracted, and it was possibly why baby wasn’t able to descend. She also noticed that bub was sitting quite anterior and pushing against the top of my pelvic bone during a contraction, which explained the tight band of pain I’d been experiencing that I had instinctively felt was not a productive part of the contraction.
We talked about our options from this point. Baby’s head was too high to even consider breaking waters at home. I was sleep deprived and exhausted, and my doula and photographer were reaching that point too. We opted to try some spinning babies manoeuvres to try and shift bub into a better position and hopefully get those waters to break on their own. We all felt those membranes releasing would be all it would take for this baby to drop into my pelvis and me to hit transition. My doula led me through a forward leaning inversion during a contraction while she sifted my hips, and I felt a completely bizarre sensation of my baby disengaging - like a suction cup being released. The tight band of pain was immediately resolved from the next contraction onward, so I knew baby had moved off the top of my pelvis. Then we headed to the bedroom and got into Walcher’s position where I stayed for three contractions. It was intense, but I had the relief of no longer experiencing that tight band at my pelvic bone, and so I powered through them, gripping my doula’s hand and bellowing.
After we’d finished those, my team had me eat and drink, got me into bed in an exaggerated side-lying release position stocked with heat packs and my TENS machine ready at hand, and left me to rest a while. My photographer went home, my doula lay down on my couch to rest, and my midwife ducked out to do a postnatal appointment with a mum who had just delivered the previous day. My husband had taken my daughter out to the park and for some morning tea after she’d woken up for the day with the arrival of my midwife, and had been playing quietly with her Dad at the other end of the house. I slept as best I could between contractions for a couple of hours, getting up to pee a few times before I just became impatient with the whole set up. The contractions were only coming every 6-8 minutes, but even the tiniest bit of fluid in my bladder aggravated that tight band of pain which was returning. My doula and I got set up to head outside for a walk and change of scenery, as suggested by my midwife who planned to return soon. I treated my neighbours to quite the show as I trudged the hill down our street in a short house dress, TENS machine wires poking out from behind my bum, adult nappy on to catch the show that was still seeping out of me with each contraction, carton of coconut water in my hand, stepping one foot up on the curb and the other on the road, and rebozo wrapped around me to pull my belly up and in as the surges came, moo-ing my way through each one.
My legs turned to jelly after the second lap up the hill, and the hot sun was getting too much as it beamed down on us - the first sunny day we’d had after over a week of rain and cool temperatures. We headed back into the dark, air conditioned lounge room, but I soon found I wanted to be outside moving again, as I mentally felt like I was doing more. Rather than provide a second act to my original performance, I opted for my backyard and just used the steps at my back door to climb up and down as I moaned, with an essential-oil treated cold towel on my forehead. It wasn’t long before I heard the familiar jingle of keys from the street, and my midwife’s voice following them. We gave her a brief run down of what we’d been up to and decided to do another exam. It’d been about 7 hours since the first one, and I still seemed to be in the same place with long, strong contractions that just didn’t want to get any closer together than about 4-5 minutes.
It was not great news. My cervix had started to swell to the point that I’d only be considered about 5cms dilated, baby was back in the ROA position, very anterior and against my pelvic bone again (which I’d suspected, with the return of the tight band) and still too high to do much about. It was time to start discussing options and considering a different pathway. We all still felt like if we could just let that bag of waters release, we’d be well on our way, but agreed that it was not safe enough to do at home with the risk of cord prolapse - although still unlikely, a real and serious risk. I had one last hail mary to try before surrendering to a hospital transfer. I called my chiro and asked if she could squeeze me in for an urgent session. The best she could do was two hours’ time, which I gratefully accepted. After trying one more forward leaning inversion,, we sent my doula home to rest. If the chiro worked, and my contractions picked up, we would call her back, but otherwise we knew we planned to head to hospital and unfortunately, she wouldn’t be able to come with us anyway. Frustratingly, I didn’t manage the forward leaning inversion effectively as I started to slip and my contractions were becoming so strong and intense, I could barely keep my head straight through them as it was.
My midwife tried to encourage me to rest until my chiro appointment, and I did the best I could but I was really beginning to struggle through my contractions and lying down wasn’t helping. I was sweating my TENS pads off, so that was starting to fail me too. I was starting to lose my fight and thinking almost longingly about that hospital transfer and the promise of an epidural it provided. I was physically tired in a way I’d never experienced before, but it was still so empowering to meet each contraction and equal it in a way I never had a chance to during my induced labour with Florence, through which I genuinely thought I would die. As hard as I was working in this labour, the worst I would think was “I’m not sure how many more of these I can handle”, but it never felt beyond my capacity in the way that induced labour did. It wasn’t torturous - it was just really hard work.
My midwife drove me to my chiro appointment, and my gorgeous chiro worked around my contractions and made some gentle adjustments, advising me that there was some tightness in a few spots through my pelvis. She put my TENS pads back in position after working her magic and wished me all the best. I headed back home, our plan to eat some proper dinner, and give my body an hour to show us some change. I should add - at every stage of my labour, I had the power to choose the plan. I was never told that anything needed to happen, or that I had to do anything. I was talked through the situation we were facing and given a range of options and recommendations, and then was fully supported when I made my own informed choices.
While we sat down to dinner at home, I only had three contractions over 45mins and I knew it was time to make the move to hospital. My midwife called ahead and gave them the rundown while I contacted my mum to come and get my daughter, who had continued to ask me all afternoon when I was getting in the birth pool. She was almost as excited when my mum turned up to take her for a “sleepover” as she was about the prospect of me getting into the birth pool, but I was devastated to be disappointing her by robbing her of the experience she was so prepared for. We’d read the books countless times, watched homebirth videos multiple times a day in the lead up and she was so ready to be a part of her baby sibling’s birth. I tried really hard not to focus on the heartache I had over taking that from her, as I kissed her goodbye and we all got into our cars and left for our various destinations. Naturally, despite my contractions only coming every 10-15 minutes at this point, I managed to have one during the 5 minute car trip to the hospital and never in my life have I been more aware of how bumpy that drive is.
We were unbelievably fortunate, and I will be forever grateful for this, that we ended up in labour right in the middle of eased hospital restrictions in Sydney before the Omicron wave hit and women were restricted to one support person again. If I’d had to transfer without my midwife, I’m really not sure how I would have managed. There’s a real chance I would have taken her with me instead of my husband. I was concerned about, among a myriad of other things, dealing with bullshit attitudes from health professionals about their opinions on the safety of homebirth as a VBAC. I didn’t want to have to argue or defend my decisions to anyone, or have their opinions of me influence the care I received from them. Having my midwife there was like having a shield of protection against the system and its employees. We were lucky to be treated with nothing but respect and kindness, and even in the postnatal ward, I had many a midwife tell me how they knew of my midwife because they, or their daughter, or their friend had birthed at home with her.
When we got to the birth suite we’d been allocated, I was gratified that the hospital midwife only took an initial trace with the monitors and didn’t insist on me wearing them until after my waters had been broken, which I agreed to. My baby had been super happy all day, and her trace reflected that. I consented to having a cannula placed, as I know my veins can be tricky and I thought I was probably dehydrated which would create added difficulty, and I also knew that there was a reasonable chance we would need it at this point. The midwife offered me the gas, which I tried briefly but hated (as I had in my first labour) and so I just kept labouring as I had been for almost 24 hours at this point, leaning over the bed, while we waited for an OB to come and break my waters. At about 9pm, the midwife gave up waiting for the OB and said if I was okay to do so, she’d do an exam and assess if she felt comfortable breaking the waters herself, depending on how high the head was. I agreed, tired of waiting and knowing I’d have to have someone feeling around up there at some point to break the waters.
The exam was awful. It goes without saying that vaginal exams are never fun, but I do seem to particularly struggle with them, particularly when they are conducted by people I either don't know or don't trust (or both). I managed okay when my midwife was doing them at home because I trusted her entirely. This was a bit different, and as lovely as the midwife was, she was a stranger to me and so I didn't know her to be able to trust her. I think too that the emotional exhaustion was definitely creeping up and I was having to face the reality of the hospital transfer and what they meant. As much as I wasn't facing pressure to do anything I didn't want, I was facing some of the things I desperately wanted to avoid by not going through the hospital system in the first place. I sobbed my way through the VE, tears running down my face as my darling midwife gripped my hand and held her other hand to my cheek and my husband stroked my hair. The hospital midwife felt confident breaking my waters and informed me the head was still high, however it did drop down as the waters released, and I was 6cm dilated. She probably thought that would seem like good news, but knowing I’d been 7cm over 12 hours prior, it didn’t feel like information worth celebrating. She also informed me that there was moderate meconium in the waters - nothing to worry about, but something to be aware of.
After my waters had been ruptured, I continued to labour for another couple of hours: sitting on the bed, standing and leaning on the bed, even in the shower which the new midwife we had in the shift changeover graciously allowed me and came in to check baby with the doppler every 15 minutes. I reached a wall where I was so exhausted that my legs were barely holding me up anymore, but my contractions were so strong and intense that I couldn’t sit down through them. I was under the water in the shower, dozing on the chair between contractions that were still a good ten minutes apart, heaving myself up onto my shaky legs when I felt the next one building, gripping the hand rails and bellowing with all my might. I couldn’t believe how the rest of my body could feel so physically depleted but my uterus could still contract so intensely - it was working so incredibly hard to get my baby into the right position. I wanted to tap into that secret reserve of power that seemed to be hiding away and for exclusive use by my womb. I’d been going for 26 hours by this stage, and was into the second night of labouring. Vocalising was the only thing keeping me grounded through contractions, and I was quickly running out of puff to do even that anymore. I had really hoped that the only thing holding us back was my bag of apparently steel waters, and thought that with them broken, my baby would immediately drop into my pelvis, push against my cervix, my contractions increase in intensity and frequency and it would be a matter of a couple of hours at most before I was pushing out a baby. That was clearly not the path my labour was taking and I was feeling completely at a loss. Now that I was back to the prospect of still labouring for many more hours, my desperation was mounting.
I decided it was time to get an epidural. I was at a point in my labour where I couldn’t physically keep going and I was at a fork in the road. I knew there was a very real chance of a repeat caesarean at this point, and I just hoped that having an epidural placed would relax my body and allow me the rest I needed so that I could still give birth to my baby vaginally, but I was also terrified of birthing vaginally under an epidural for fear of an assisted delivery and episiotomy. I cried as I told my midwife and my husband that I couldn’t keep going. I was sad, disappointed, scared and confused. Why wasn’t my baby descending? What was I doing wrong? I’d worked so hard for so long with all the confidence that my body and baby knew what they were doing and I just needed to work with them and power through it. Now, I was unravelling alongside my plan for a natural, peaceful water birth at home.
The anaesthetist arrived and worked quickly. I was informed of the risks and gave my consent for the procedure. I also consented to another vaginal exam once the epidural was in place. Baby’s head was exactly as high as it was when the waters had been broken two hours prior, but was now in perfect OA position, and I was not really any further dilated. I knew I was on a hospital clock and not travelling well. We knew a doctor would be coming around soon, and my midwife prepared me for the fact that they would be recommending a repeat caesarean.
Within the hour of having the epidural placed, the doctor came by and as expected, recommended a repeat caesarean. She was very lovely, and very respectful. I asked her what other options we had, and specifically asked whether we could try a teeny bit of syntocinon to see if that would help the contractions (which had slowed down further since getting the epidural) speed up and get the ball rolling. I could tell immediately by the look on her face that she was terrified by just the idea of it, but she was polite and professional and said although it wouldn’t be something they would recommend trying and didn’t think anyone would be confident to do it, she would talk to the obstetric team and see what they thought. My midwife piped up at this point and suggested we take ten and discuss, the doctor could go and chat to the obstetric team while she gave us some time to talk. My wonderful midwife then explained the situation to me as she was seeing it: we’d had, although inconsistent, good and strong contractions all day, the waters had been broken, the baby was in OA position - essentially, the baby had everything it needed to move down but still wasn’t. That we had just started to see some small decels in bub’s heart rate with my contractions, indicating she was finally starting to get tired. That my uterus had been working hard for so long, and adding syntocinon to that mix would put me at a higher than usual risk of rupture because the muscle was tired and would be forced to overwork. That by forcing stronger contractions, with everything we could see, along with the knowledge of the mec in the waters, we would potentially have a recipe for foetal distress and she would just hate to see us end up with a baby in NICU as well as a repeat caesarean. We had to wonder what the body and baby knew that we didn't, which was keeping her from descending and labour from progressing.
I knew immediately that she was right, and I was again so grateful that she was there to help me see things as they were and not just through my stubborn anti-hospital-birth lens. She and my husband comforted me as I cried in frustration with my body and grief for the birth I really believed I was going to have. Then, she pulled me back to reality and helped me get my list together of what I wanted in a caesarean birth and what was important. When the doctor returned, the first thing I said to her was “Can you drop the drape? I want to see the baby being born” and she was clearly so relieved to see I wasn’t going to fight the syntocinon battle, that she agreed on the spot. We went through the consent forms, getting all the risks of the procedure, and talked through our birth preferences with the midwife who would go to theatre with us. She told us they were understaffed and super busy that night, but she would give us as much time together as possible after the birth, but that she couldn’t keep us together through recovery. I was not thrilled, but I also understood that she couldn’t do much to change that, so I accepted the situation as it was.
We said our goodbyes to my wonderful midwife who was heading home once we were rolled away. We made it to the operating theatre, and the staff were absolutely lovely and put me completely at ease. I felt quite at peace with my situation by this stage - it was a totally different set of circumstances to my first birth. This time I’d been supported, encouraged and empowered the whole way to call the shots and make the decisions. It was only once the evidence was mounting against us that anyone had any doubt in my ability to give birth to this baby vaginally.
My husband sat down next to me, and the doctors began the surgery. Before too long, they asked for the drape to be lowered, and then I saw my delicious, gooey, chunky baby pulled out of my body and flopped straight over onto my chest. Her cord was super thick and twisted, and I had to move it out of the way to joyfully confirm my suspicions that she was a girl. I knew immediately that she was much bigger than her sister (3.9kg at birth), I estimated about 4.2kg which the midwife agreed with. I looked at her beautiful, slimy, snuffly face and was filled with relief that she was here safely earthside.
My one gripe about the surgery (apart from having to be separated immediately after) was that I didn't realise that my definition of delayed cord clamping and the surgical team's definition of delayed cord clamping were not the same - I’d barely come to terms with the baby on my chest when they said "Okay, that's been a minute, we're going to clamp the cord now" and in all the chaos I didn't have my wits about me to try and stop them or slow them down. A minute is still far preferable to nothing, but I really would've preferred to wait for white.
After a few minutes, the midwife helped us get her on the breast to see if she wanted to feed, and she did. About 15 or 20 minutes later, the midwife said to us "I was really supposed to take her by now, but I can't possibly interrupt her feeding, so they'll just have to wait!" with a shadow of a wink in her smile. She was really a great advocate for us after our lovely midwife had left. After she eventually had to roll her away with her Dad, she returned to me while I was in recovery with a syringe and cup in hand - my gorgeous baby girl had weighed in at 4.55kg, which meant she had sugars tested automatically and (unsurprisingly) tested low. My husband had begrudgingly consented to the glucogel after a particularly pushy midwife was insisting she was ‘jittery’ and needed the sugars. However, this midwife was then pushing to give her formula, which we desperately didn’t want to do, and the fabulous midwife who had been with us had run down to collect some colostrum from me that could be given to her while they waited for me to arrive on the ward and would get the pushy midwife to back off. It wasn’t long after she had raced the colostrum back to my daughter that I was wheeled up to the ward myself and reunited with my baby, who was happily straight back on the breast.
We named her Stella Jo, her middle name after my midwife, as a testament of her journey into the world: supported by some truly special women who provided encouragement and empowerment to us both. My doula missed out on being the namesake purely on bad luck that her name is two syllables and with a three syllable surname like ours, I preferred my kids to have shorter first and second names, but she is no less honoured in Stella’s name. I felt (and still feel) completely overwhelmed with gratitude for these incredible women and for the circumstances surrounding Stella’s birth, particularly when compared with my first birth experience. Despite having ended in a surgical birth, I wouldn’t have taken any other path to get there because I have the benefit of knowing that I had a necessary caesarean. I truly believe that I did everything in my power and was a case of genuinely needing intervention and then the caesarean, and we just opted for that path before it became a true emergency situation.
I originally wrote this when Stella was 11 weeks old, and this was what I had to report: We're doing brilliantly. We’ve been lucky to have another straightforward breastfeeding journey, apart from a couple of hiccups with possible food intolerances. My doula, our local homebirth community and my family and friends provided us with plenty of nourishing meals and snacks and helped us keep on top of things at home as we settled into life as a family of four with an unexpected surgical recovery. My midwife and my doula looked after me emotionally as well, listening to me lament, helping me fill the gaps of the labour, and guiding me through processing it all. I’m still doing a surprising amount of “What if?” when reflecting back on my labour and birth. I’ve started counselling with Athena at The Birth Counsel to work through all my birth baggage, particularly Flo’s birth which I have struggled with more in the wake of Stella’s, as I’ve also decided to start my training as a doula and I want to be sure not to impose my issues on other women.
I know I’m not alone in reconciling the complexity that is a homebirth transfer and caesarean, and to all of us out there, know this: giving birth to a baby at home is not what makes you a homebirther. Our belief in the rite of passage that is birth and the ability of our bodies to grow and birth a baby, and the respect for every woman's individual right to bodily autonomy and right to make her own informed decisions, alongside our knowledge and belief that home is the safest place for us to birth in the overwhelming majority of cases, is what makes us homebirthers. I believed so completely in my ability to have my baby at home, that it has been a challenge to try to process the fact that I didn’t. The sense of injustice might always bother me. One of the hardest parts I have to accept of Stella’s birth is that I will never have a precise answer for why she didn’t descend - I can speculate until the cows come home, but I’ll never know for certain what it was.
I don’t know if I will have another child. I think I will always want another, but I do need to wrestle with the question of whether I want another baby or another shot at a home and vaginal birth. I remember thinking, as they pushed my bed through the hallways to get to the operating theatre, this would have to be my last baby because I couldn’t go through this heartache again. And then I thought, or I could have another, but I’d have to have an elective caesarean - I couldn’t go through all the work and promise of labouring to end up with another baby cut out of me anyway. Within a couple of days of the birth, though, I’d already reneged on those thoughts. If I do have another baby, I know I’ll be planning a HBA2C. It’s such a personal thing, but it goes against everything I believe about the female body to walk into a hospital as a healthy woman with a healthy baby to have major abdominal surgery purely because I have a couple of scars on my uterus. And after going through this experience, I could never go through the hospital for pregnancy care again. It’s a sad reality that I feel I would have to have private care outside of the hospital system just to be respected and allowed my bodily autonomy. I think back over my pregnancy with such fondness for the relationships I developed with my birth team and the care that they took with me, my baby and the rest of my family. My eldest daughter still talks about “her friends” and plays midwife with her doctor’s kit often, palpating and measuring my belly and listening for a heart beat. These women have left a long-lasting impression on my family, and I will be forever grateful to them for empowering my journey to becoming a parent for the second time.
My name is Katelyn Commerford and I am a doula and next birth after caesarean guide who has completed comprehensive doula education. If you want to know more about what I do and how I can help you, please visit my website where you can get your free cheat sheet of my favourite VBAC resources, or find me on instagram @thenbacguide where I answer commonly asked questions about planning the next birth after caesarean and share loads pregnancy, birth, postpartum and parenting content.
Business Name: Katelyn Commerford - Doula and NBAC Guide
Phone: 0431 369 352