Monday, December 27, 2010

2010 in a nutshell

i hope everyone had a Merry Christmas! i have not been a very good blogger this year, and i hope to work on that! this year has been one of great blessing for our family. we are very content.
i took 6 births so far from the months of July till November, and already have 5 on the calendar for 2011. and looking ahead, i will probably only doula for about another year, since i'll be starting midwifery training soon and be hopefully starting an apprenticeship in spring of 2012. i can tell this coming year will go by so fast being as busy as i will be.
if you have a good topic to blog about, or just want to share the story of your triumphant birth, please email me at and let me know.
again, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
warm blessings,

Thursday, October 21, 2010

my vba3c after inverted T

i am so thankful to my Lord Jesus, my incredible husband, my amazing doula and dear friend, another absolutely dear friend, and the wonderful doctor who said yes.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

What Does It Take-- My Personal List

What does it take to have a successful VBAC, or a successful NCB for that matter? There are a lot of things I did to prepare for my last shot at natural birth, all of which I think have great value. I realize you can't control every detail of birth, and I concede there are times when factors out of our control dictate an undesirable outcome. We can only stack the cards in our favor so high, but I'm a firm believer in doing the possible, and leaving the rest in God's hands.
When preparing for my VBAC, I knew there was a huge road with lots of obstacles and mountains ahead. I began with research, reading everything I could, wanting to know what people did who had successful VBACs. This leads to my personal list of recommendations.

#1. Choose a *truly* supportive provider. There is a nifty guide under my links (bottom right) to help you gauge if your provider is really supportive, or maybe not as much as you thought. It’s such a shame when you think your doctor is on your side, and you get to the end of your pregnancy and are harassed and coerced into something you said for months you wouldn't do, because you might have a "big baby" or you are "overdue".
Or even worse, showing up in labor and being badgered by unreasonable hospital protocols like constant monitoring, restrictions on food and fluids, or mandated epidurals. No mama wants to or should have to fight during labor! It’s so much better to switch earlier than later.
I'm a huge advocate of out-of-hospital births, I believe low-risk moms should seriously consider birthing at home or in free standing birth centers, but whatever type of provider you choose, make sure it's a good fit, and someone who truly supports you!

#2. Take a childbirth education class. Labor is such a mental thing and being prepared makes such a huge difference. Couples who take childbirth education classes learn valuable tools to cope during labor, know the in's and out's of natural labor, can make informed choices on suggested interventions and know how to smell out and avoid the unnecessary ones.

#3. Hire a doula! I should have made this one my #1, haha! I could not have made it without my fantastic doula. Study after study affirms that having a doula reduces the chances the birth ends in cesarean, the need for drugs during labor, increases the involvement of dads during labor, and increases the chances of breastfeeding success, just to name a few! The support is invaluable, and if finances are tight, find one still in the certification process who offers a discounted rate. You won't regret it!

#4. Get chiropractic care. During my research and reading I kept coming across stories of malpositioned babies being the culprit of cesareans. A misaligned pelvis *greatly* increases the chance of a malpositioned baby. Baby just can't seem to get into that ideal birthing position!
I read so many stories of this sabotaging VBAC and NCB attempts. There was no way I was going to do all this work to prepare for my VBAC and have it blown because baby was malpositioned and labor took so long I exhausted myself, or baby got stuck, or the pain from back labor was so bad I caved and got the epidural which started the cycle of interventions that lead to repeat cesarean, etc.
Its amazing how much easier and faster labor can be if baby is aligned correctly in the pelvis! The labor for my first vaginal birth was only 5 hours and 25 minutes. I attribute this to the chiropractic care I received my last trimester! I love my chiropractors!

#5. Diet and exercise. This is not to be downplayed! Keeping yourself as low-risk as possible does so much for getting you to that finish line! I personally followed the Brewer pregnancy diet. I'm a huge believer in high protein for pregnant mamas, at least 80-100 grams a day, and a LOT of water! My doctor had me drinking a gallon of water a day, and it helped my irritable uterus SO much! These 2 things I greatly credit for getting me my first full-term baby (along with chiropractic). And our babies are made up of what? protein and water. So get your protein, drink up that water, and eat a healthy diet of lots of organic fresh veggies, fruits, and whole grains, grass fed and free range meats, healthy dairy, with as little processed foods as possible.
And for the exercise. Keep moving! A walk, a swim, a little time in the gym, do something active every day that raises your heart rate and gets your blood circulating! It will keep you feeling good, help with energy, and has so many other benefits. My VBAC baby was due in early September and we live in Texas. It was crazy hot and the pool was oh so wonderful, so I swam a few laps a few times a week. The extra cardio helped a ton on birth day too!

#6. Deal with emotional and psychological barriers. Especially if you had a traumatic experience the first time around, felt like a failure from your cesarean, or were told you "couldn't" for whatever reason birth naturally. This is unfortunately so many of us. We need to cast off these lies, face these fears, and conquer these mountains! Our bodies were created to grow and birth babies! Sure, things can go wrong in the process, but that doesn't mean it’s going to happen that way again! WE AREN'T BROKEN.
For me this meant joining ICAN and the Special Scars support groups. Hearing the stories of other women who had been through what I had, who understood where I was and what I was facing, brought so much comfort. And hearing success stories gave such a boost of strength and encouragement that I could do the same!
The road to healing was a long one for me, and most of the hard work took place during the pregnancy of my VBAC baby, because I never properly processed the hurt I experienced the 7-10 years earlier with my other births. As a strong Christian, I wrote out scriptures and read them to myself almost daily for a long time, to renew my mind, cast out the fear I was feeling, and afraid of feeling during my labor, to throw off the lies I had been told that I would "certainly rupture, bleed out, and die" if I ever attempted a VBAC (like other doctors had told me), and really addressed the anger I had at my prior providers for the way my care was handled (honestly I'm still working on this part.) On birth day I had one fast-fleeting thought of rupture when I first started pushing, but dismissed it easily, and it was all peace and joy and wonder and awe.

#7. Read Read Read. I don't put this last because it's least important. The more knowledge you have, the more ammunition you carry into the battle. Join forums and read others' stories. Read blogs. Read research and the latest studies. Read books, there are a ton of good ones out there, email me if you want some suggestions!

All these things really help to set us up for the greatest chance of success in our quest for a triumphant birth. Yes, they sometimes do challenge our commitment and our determination. I did them all because I did not want to have any regrets. If my VBAC attempt ended in another cesarean, I wanted to be sure it was not because I should have done so-and-so or such-and-such. I wanted to be able to rest in the fact that I had done what I could, so it just wasn't meant to be. I'm glad it was successful and I don't have to deal with any other outcome, but I try to convince myself that even if my VBAC attempt was unsuccessful, I would not have felt defeat, but empowered that I had given my baby and my body the very best shot at a vaginal birth, and I think there is peace to be found in that. Blessings to all the mamas out there!

Sunday, October 10, 2010


a client of mine who delivered last week went for a vba3c with a breech baby. she rocks, that's all i can say. she is brave, strong, determined, feisty, and this mama kicked a**. she got to 10cm, but little footling breech baby girl was laying diagonal across mom's abdomen and wasn't budging. the amazing doctor was willing to do a breech extraction, but when he reached up there to asses the situation decided baby's legs were a little bit too "chubby" for his comfort and he was afraid she'd be too big to avoid injury. so after a hard-fought fight, it was off to the OR for another c-section.
seriously, i'm bummed for this mom. she did everything right. she stacked her deck of cards as much in her favor as she could. but it apparently just wasn't meant to be.
and then i came across an incredible term that fits her birth to the T.
EBAC- Empowered Birth After Cesarean.
i LOVE this! and even though the outcome wasn't what we were hoping for, mom's labor was great, and baby got great benefits from all those labor hormones, all that time getting good squeezes from big, powerful contractions, dilating to a full 10cm and showing mom her body does work after all-- all that effort was not in vain, it was productive, and it was good. and mom should feel so empowered for that. i think she does, and i believe she should. she is a rock star in my book!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Amazing VBA2C in Saudi Arabia

Over the summer I got to be "internet doula" to an American mama I met on a VBAC forum who was living in Saudi Arabia. The medical system is very different there, and she was told since she had 2 prior cesareans that she must have a third for this delivery. I cringed when she told me that her doctor informed her that earlier that week she had done a *sixth* c-section on a mama there and there was no problem doing so many!
She really wanted her VBAC, educated herself, read any information she could get her hands on, and continued to insist on getting a shot to VBAC. Her husband was an amazing support, and went to her doctor repeatedly to insist that she get to try. She was prepared to refuse the cesarean if necessary, labor at home till she was pushing if necessary, but ideally would have loved to get the support of her medical team. She also knew that she would be facing this alone, because in Saudi Arabia, husbands are not allowed in the labor and delivery ward! Her bravery and courage are such an inspiration!
About 3-4 weeks before her due date, ACOG released their new guidelines for VBAC and I emailed her the info. She and her husband brought the information to her doctor and she finally got the official OK! I could tell she was so relieved and excited from her email and so was I!! Here is an excerpt from her very triumphant birth story:

"On August 14th I woke up at 1pm with mild contractions, oh by the way, it is the month of Ramadan where all Muslims fast for the entire month during the day, which means no food, water and only pure thoughts. I get out of bed and time a few contractions just to see where I'm at. They are every 10-15 mins. apart. I text my husband and tell him I think today is the day. He called and asked me if I wanted him to come home. I said no cause everything is fine. About an hour later I went to the bathroom and I lost my mucas plug. I never thought I'd be so happy to see blood and yucky glob! haha Hubby came home and we had dinner around 6:30pm. At 9pm we went to my NST. (different working hours due to Ramadan) They do the test for 30 minutes then the doctor comes in to check me because I've been contracting. She checks to see if I'm leaking any fluid. She said that I am and continues to check for dilation. When she checks me my water breaks. The doctor tells me that I will be admitted now. How nice, cause I was told that I would have to be monitored the whole time I'm in labor which means that I have to stay in bed. Not my plan at all. I wanted to labor at home where I could use my birth ball, the shower and be with my hubby. (husbands are not allowed in the room during the delivery of the baby) By this time it's 10pm and I'm getting hungry again. lol My contractions are still coming about the same 10-15 minutes apart and are still mild but I have to stop moving when I get one.

"Around 4am the doctor checked me and I was at 4 cm in active labor. Now the contractions are hard and fast. I started asking for releif but they didn't have anything. I started begging for a c-section about 6 am because the pain was so bad. They put the catheter in, shaved the lower belly, checked my vitals and brought the bed in for the OR. At shift change, 7am, is when my supportive doctor which I never met before came in and seen me. She checked me and said Shari you've come so far just wait a little longer. She waited and checked me again and said get that bed out of here she's at 9cm and will not have a RCS. If it wasn't for this new doctor I would have chickened out again and had a RCS. They don't let you push in any position. You have to have you knees under stir-ups while pushing. I started to push I think around 8am. I couldn't really keep track of the time cause it was really intense. My hubby came to the hospital and was in the hallway trying to talk to me. I had texted him saying I was going for c-section. The doctor got the vacuum and showed it to me cause I wasn't pushing good and was stopping in the middle of contractions. My hubby asked the doctor to give me a few more minutes to try before she did the vacuum. She agreed and I started to push harder and longer. Everyone in the room was saying push Shari push. Good girl. Don't stop now. They were a great team. I could feel the baby's head starting to come and I felt a burst of energy. I felt his head come out and the doctor said 1 more push don't stop. So I pushed and my baby boy was placed on my belly at 8:43 am born naturally. He weighed 9 pounds 3 ounces and was 20.5 inches long. They took him to NICU for 24 hours because he was so big. (Saudi babies are smaller) I was able to see him after a few hours and try to nurse him about 6:30 pm. He did great and was able to room in with me after 24 hour observation. He started to nurse like a pro and is gaining weight.

"Without God, my husband this group and the new staff that came on duty I wouldn't have been able to do this. I was the first person to try VBA2C in the hospital and I hope it will help other women to at least try labor. Thank you all for the support and information. God bless you. "

I got a call from her husband at about 5:55am (central time) that her VBA2C was successful. It was the best wake-up call I could have received! What an incredible triumphant birth in the face of such odds! Congratulations Shari, you rock, and thank you so much for letting me be a part, even from the other side of the world!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

one year ago today...

Has it already been a year? Really?!? That went by wayyyyy too fast!
I have been so emotional this weekend, and as I go into today, I feel just this swirl of excitement, nostalgia, gratitude, and sheer thrill. Will I get any sleep tonight? I just can't stop remembering...

Here's the timeline of my birth, which I am so thankful that my doula recorded for me!

5:45ish, at sunrise I woke up to the pop of my water breaking. I rushed to the bathroom and sat on the toilet just in the nick of time for the full gush. I was actually quite perturbed at first. I did not want to labor without my water! I woke Marco and told him we need to clean the house.
6am I call my doula and tell her, but contractions really haven't started yet.
6:40 I text her back saying contractions have started, if she could start to get ready to head out to my house.
7am my dear friend Andrea shows up and I'm taking a quick shower.
7:05 my husband calls my doula Tonya to come, things are picking up and he's nervous. :)
7:25am Tonya arrives, Marco is timing my contractions which are about 4 minutes apart and 40 seconds long.
7:45 Marco's family arrives to watch the older 3 and I retreat to the bedroom to avoid too much of an audience.
By 8am all the kids have woken up and we are getting ready to head up to Denton. I didn't want to go to the hospital, but didn't want to labor with so many people in the house, so we decided to head to the park close to the hospital to walk.
About 9ish am we stop by the hospital just to use the bathroom. I walk in happily and smiling so the security guard won't know I'm in labor, lol. I am not ready to be there yet...
Something I remember quite vividly walking out of that hospital was the absolute awe of what my body was doing. It was incredible and I remember feeling so grateful to get to labor. And the presence of God was so thick. I teared up a few times, but had to force myself to focus on the task at hand. I tell myself there would be plenty of time in the future to shed those tears of joy and thank God for his faithfulness to me!
We get to the park and I start to feel really nauseous. Yay, transition! This sucks. So thankful, but it's getting harder to stay relaxed. We hardly get any walking in and I start throwing up (I swear I got an extra centimeter dilated right there, lol!)
We arrive at the hospital at about 10am, get to my room, try to potty but couldn't because I could feel he was sooooo low.
Shortly after I get checked and I'm thrilled to hear I'm already 10cm, completely effaced, and 0 to +1 station. YAY!!!
Pushing was HARD. Nothing could prepare me for that. I wasted about an hour or so pushing in a position that just would not work because I just could not make myself move. My doula told me later she thought subconsciously I just needed everything to slow down a little, to let me brain wrap around the idea that I WAS doing this! I think she was right, it was all happening so fast!
11:05am my doula, and doctor finally convince me I can move so I turn around over the back of the bed. I immediately feel him descending.
11:34am Sergio Emanuel Perez is born! I DID IT! He weighed in at 6lbs 7oz and 18.5 inches long.

My triumphant birth forever changed me. Next to my salvation in Christ it is the most redemptive, healing experience I have ever been blessed to have. I am forever grateful to my God, my healer and strength, to my amazing husband, who was so incredibly supportive and endured my not-so-fun pregnancy with me, to my doula and now treasured friend Tonya, I could not have done this without you, and to my other dearly treasured friend Andrea, whose presence there gave me so much support and strength.

Happy birthday sweet baby boy. And happy VBAC day to me!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

VBAC after Inverted T!

Another mama in from the special scars special women support group had a VBAC after inverted T incision!!
This is an incredible birth story in so many different ways. I am amazed at the human body, it's power, it's capacity, it's endurance. We certainly are "fearfully and wonderfully made!!"
After being dilated fully for 20 hours, this mama brought forth her baby with incredible tenacity. While I don't know her, and she lives all the way on the other side of the world, I am so blessed to have been able to "witness" this on facebook and participate with my prayers, well-wishes, and positive energy. She is such an inspiration and I hope you read her complete birth story here!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

ACOG revises its VBAC policies

While I am uber excited to see this released, and think it's LONG overdue, it's just a start at the work we have to do!
I'm hoping doctors everywhere are paying attention and planning to give their patients the very best shot at VBAC!
Here are some great links to check out and get the scoop!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Special Scars, Special Women

I just wanted to make sure to highlight this fantastic yahoo-based support group (that I just so happen to have been asked tonight to help moderate, yay!).
I joined this group for women with atypical cesarean incisions like mine when I was planning my VBAC and got so much information and support here. The members are awesome, the leader is a fabulous source of facts and statistics, and I am so blessed to be a part of this.
I have become quite passionate about VBACing in general since my own, but especially for women who either have been given a non-transverse scar, or have be sectioned so many times that no one wants to touch them other than to slice them open again. I just think it's so amazing our bodies' incredible resilience to heal, and believe that women should get to chose how to birth their babies.
More attention needs to be given to the issue of VBACing after special scars, more studies and statistics need to be compiled, and more OBs and midwives need to make themselves available to give mothers a shot at VBACing.
I still feel blessed to have crossed paths with the right people who led me ultimately to the supportive OB who gave me my VBAC. If I can be a part of spreading the message that *IT CAN BE DONE*, I feel I pay forward the blessing that I received.
So, if you or anyone you know has had an inverted T, classical, low vertical, J, or upright T incision, please pass along the following link! (It's also under my VBAC resources to the right)

Baby M's birth

I became a traveling doula to help my dear sis have her baby and turned it into a mini vacation to spend some time with family in my home town.
I have to say, my sis is so awesome, and one of the strongest women I know! She delivered baby M at 41 weeks, and had a great Hypnobabies birth. Other than a touch of pitocin just to get her labor going, it was completely drug free! Dad was a great support too, very involved and attentive, doing anything he could to help! They worked together as a great team!
Induction started with my sis already at 5cm, so the tiniest bit of pitocin was used. After she got to 6cm, the drip was stopped and her body did the rest on it's own. Baby had some slight positioning issues and a nuchal hand, but nothing that caused too much of an issue. Baby M was born at 3:11am on July 8th weighing in at 7lbs 14.9oz, and 18 3/4 inches long.
His birth is not the first birth I have attended, but this was the first that actually counted toward my certification. It was great to put into practice all the new tricks I've learned from my training and get to see the benefits!
It was such a blessing to get to be a part of this birth! Pics soon to come!

Monday, June 21, 2010

My Inspiration

See that picture up there? *big smile* That is my inspiration. I fought so hard to have my dream birth, I climbed a huge mountain, and I conquered it!!
That picture was taken right after the delivery of my VBAC baby. To be exact, my VBA3C after inverted T. Want to know what all that means? Read my birth story under the May 2010 archives!
I did not gain that victory alone. I surrounded myself with an incredible support team. A *truly* supportive provider, an amazing husband, a wonderful friend, and an incredible doula. I should also credit my Bradley class instructor for equipping me with the great information I would need to make this birth a reality, and my amazing chiropractors who made sure I was in my best "shape" to deliver. I could not have done it without any of them.
Which leads me to my inspiration. I know what it's like to walk away from a birth feeling scarred and broken. And I believe that every momma deserves a birth she can remember and treasure for the rest of her life. Her birth memories should make her heart smile. That's my goal as a doula. To help mommas achieve their very best birth experience so they can fondly look back on it and smile!
Every baby only gets *one* birth. Both of you deserve that birth to be the best it can be!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

My VBA3C after inverted T birth story

My VBA3C after inverted T birth story
After 3 very traumatic c-sections, we were quite surprised that I was pregnant again! Since I had been told that my only option was to deliver by cesarean, we did not plan to get pregnant again. After the initial shock passed, and desperate for a better delivery, I began to seek out options. I was referred to an OB by a group of midwives who told me "if anyone will give you a chance to VBAC, this doctor will". You see, my first c-section was an Inverted T, literally an upside down T incision I was given when my breech baby was stuck in the birth canal. This increased my risk of uterine rupture, which is why so many doctors had told me "NO" to VBAC. But wow, I finally had some real hope!!
Long story short, after a great consult with my new OB, we went forward with plans to VBAC. We knew that the risk of uterine rupture was higher, but carefully weighed that risk with the risks of another section, the potential complications given my history, and the recovery time it would require, and decided to go for it!
I gave it my all to prepare for this birth. I took childbirth classes, hired a doula, and got chiropractic treatment to help with positioning for birth. I joined support groups including a local ICAN, read and researched everything I could get my hands on, and wrote an excellent birthplan. I wanted to do everything in my power to set myself up for the very best chances of success. That way, if for some reason another c-section was required, I could be at peace with that, and I would know that I had done everything in my power, so it apparently was just not meant to be.
Labor started at dawn on Sunday morning, August 16th, when my water broke at about 5:45. Contractions started about 30 minutes after. Labor was great. I was amazed at the incredible work my body was doing to birth my baby. I teared up a couple of times during my labor while reflecting on the fact that I really was doing it!!
At 10:30 am, we arrived at the hospital, fully dilated!! Sergio Emanuel was born at 11:34 am, weighing in at 6lbs 7oz, 19 inches long. He was beautiful, and healthy, and I DID IT!! I BIRTHED this baby! I held my beautiful, vernix-covered, VBA3C after inverted T precious baby boy! Thinking about it today still makes my heart smile!