Jessi's VBAC Dreams: Cervical Dilation & Spontaneous Labor

Many thanks to Jessi Joachim, author of The Coffee Mom blog, for sharing her inspiring VBAC birth story with us. After her first baby was born via cesarean delivery, she educated herself about VBACs and planned, wished, & hoped to go into labor spontaneously with her second. However, when her cervix hadn't dilated at all by 40 weeks, her OBGYN started to doubt whether a VBAC would be possible and scheduled a repeat cesarean "just in case." Physicians and midwives often use cervical dilation to help predict when a woman might go into spontaneous labor. Read on to find out if Jessi's lack of cervical dilation got in the way of her VBAC dreams. And, for a wealth of practical #momlife tips and tricks that you'll find as useful as that morning cup'o'joe, check out The Coffee Mom blog!

By Jessi Joachim of The Coffee Mom

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In 2013 I was a young woman, pregnant for the first time with a little girl. I was scared to death of everything from labor to how to even raise this tiny little person who would be entering my life soon. The fear became even worse when I was told my little girl was frank breech and that I would require a C-section in order to safely deliver her.  Everything went according to plan and I finally had my perfect little girl in my arms. The only thing that could cast a dark cloud over my otherwise perfect day, was the fact that I was being told that for all of my subsequent children, I would have no choice but to repeat the C-section process.

Fast forward three years, I was ready to start the process over once again. My husband and I had known we wanted more children, but I was not ready to have a repeat C-section.  I started doing my own research, and the topic of VBAC came up (vaginal birth after C-section). I was intrigued and delved into the wealth of knowledge held within the pages of Google. I read about the risks and benefits, and I decided that this was something that I could do.

I decided that this was something that I could do.
— Jessi

My doctor I had used before did not perform VBACs, and neither did the hospital in the town where I live. We decided that I would drive to a larger nearby city and see a doctor there who would be willing to work with me and use a hospital that was known for their success rate in VBAC.

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My pregnancy was easy, almost by the books, so I thought I would have no trouble going into labor all on my own, after all my body was made to do this. Near the end of my pregnancy with my little boy, the doctor began to voice her concern that while the little man was head down, my body was showing no signs of labor readiness. My cervix was not dilated even a little. Every week I made the drive to my appointment, and every week I was told there was no signs of progression. We had decided to schedule the repeat C-section for 42 weeks, just in case.

I was crushed! How could this be happening to me when I had had such an easy pregnancy thus far? I felt like a failure after my 40 week appointment when there was still no signs of dilation or effacement.  After crying the entire way home, I decided to do everything I could in order to naturally put myself into labor.

I felt like a failure after my 40 week appointment when there was still no signs of dilation or effacement.
— Jessi

I searched old wives’ tales and began to try them. I started off with walking. I purchased a yoga ball. When I was not walking, I was bouncing. I began to drown myself in red raspberry leaf tea. Then there was my daily dose of evening primrose oil to help soften my cervix. The icing on the top of the cake was the mass amount of sex I insisted my husband partake in with me (not that I think he complained in any way about this one). So you can see when I say I tried it all, I meant it. I was determined to have this baby without surgical intervention.

I have never been so excited to feel pain before in my life.
— Jessi

I had finally started feeling some pain and pressure. I have never been so excited to feel pain before in my life. It meant something was working! The day of September 16th, my back felt like it was on fire most of the day. I started being able to time what I believed to be contractions. It was bearable, but steadily getting worse as the day progressed. By the time my husband got home from work, I was on all fours rocking back and forth on a yoga ball. We decided to wait a bit longer to go to the hospital, as it was still bearable. While we waited for my mom to come pick up our daughter, I labored in a bath of Epson salts and hot water, and man did it feel amazing!

The time finally came, my daughter was in my mom’s capable care and I could no longer bear the pain of the contractions in my back, which were coming strong and steady every four minutes. On our drive to the hospital I couldn’t help but notice the moon. It was full and beautiful. I laughed to myself and thought maybe the full moon had something to do with my quickly progressing labor.

Upon arrival to the hospital, I was taken immediately into triage where they began to check and monitor me to see if I truly needed to be admitted.  They had said I was two centimeters dilated upon arrival, and within an hour I had progressed to four centimeters dilated. So they went ahead and admitted me. I had it in my mind that I would have a completely natural birth. No pain medication for me, that was until I experienced back labor. When the contractions hit, I couldn’t walk, couldn’t talk, and could barely breathe through them. I was still determined to do this unmedicated, but by five centimeters, I was begging for an epidural. Once I received my sanity saving drugs, I was able to comfortably rest for a little while.

After a short nap, I was awakened by my contractions. It seemed as though the epidural was starting to fade. I could once again feel the fiery pain in my back. When the nurses checked my cervical dilation, they informed me that there was no time for more medicine, this baby was coming. With my husband and sister-in-law coaching me through, I was able to push out my beautiful baby boy in less than 20 minutes!

He was perfect! Ten tiny fingers, ten tiny toes, screaming his way into this new world!
— Jessi

He was perfect! Ten tiny fingers, ten tiny toes, screaming his way into this new world! 8lbs 11oz and 21 inches of perfection; my heart had never felt so full. When it was time to cut the cord, my squeamish husband graciously declined. Thankfully my wonderful sister-in-law was there to take on the task and help welcome her nephew into the world! Baby boy was placed directly onto me, skin to skin, breastfeeding right away. It was a magical and wonderful experience. I could not have asked for anything better!

Since my experience, I have gotten many questions about VBACs and if they are worth it, and to that I say, without a doubt! It was the most amazing experience of my life. Despite the horrendous back labor and tearing, I would do it all over again in a heartbeat!


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