On this blog we deal a lot in the ‘sad truth’ about traumatic birth…but we are pleased to say that there are some ‘happy’ truths out there as well. One of these happy truths is that women who have had a traumatic birth CAN go on to have wonderful, empowering births. We have seen many women move through their traumatic birth experience to a place of healing, and then birth again, this time with much better emotional outcomes.
By the authors of the book “How to Heal a Bad Birth: making sense, making peace & moving on”
We want to make it clear that it is NOT necessary to have another baby to heal previous births. Many women who have finished their families come to our “Healing From Birth” sessions, and undertake the healing process, with the goal of moving back to their families more present and complete.
However, other women attend Birthtalk because they DO want more children…and desperately need to hear that they never have to go through something like their previous birth again. And we are happy to say that it IS possible to have a positive subsequent birth after a traumatic birth. We know this from our own personal experiences, & we see it month after month, via our work with the women of Birthtalk…which brings us to Emmy’s story.
Four years ago we met Emmy – a woman wanting to work through her birth experiences and perhaps, just perhaps, have another baby. Recently, we posted a photo of her beautiful vaginal birth after two caesareans (VBA2C) on our Facebook page, and received some lovely comments of congratulations, excitement, and women sharing how she gives them hope for their own upcoming births. We wanted to share more of Emmy’s photos and story, but did not want to ask Emmy for her birth story yet, as she has a 5 week old baby as well as 3 young children!
We began to look back through our records, and in doing so, we realised that the series of communications between Birthtalk and Emmy over the past four years tell a beautiful story in themselves. Each email reveals more of Emmy’s personal journey as she faced her previous births, and wrestled with the urge to have another baby.
With Emmy’s permission, we have put together a very personal ‘paperchase’, dating from her first contact with Birthtalk in 2007, through to her triumphant email sharing her news of her amazing VBA2C last month (complete with some gorgeous pics!)…
Emails From Emmy
Date: Wed, 1 Aug 2007
To : Birthtalk
Hi Melissa & Deb
Just letting you know that I will be attending your ‘Healing from Birth’ meeting Tuesday 14th. This will be my first meeting.
I have two & half year old (boy/girl) twins & also a 6 month old daughter. I had a caesarean for both pregnancies (first being told -at my first ever appointment- by my dr that he didn’t deliver twins vaginally & didn’t know anyone else that did either – unfortunately for me as I would have loved to trial labour, I believed him) then my second pregnancy I changed Dr & was very happy with him (was trying for a vbac) then found my baby had turned breech at 39wks, he turned her back but again unfortunately at my 40wk check, she had turned back again & he was unable to turn her again. Therefore this resulted in another caesar which was really scary for me & the last thing that I wanted as I had haemorrhaged after having the twins & had a blood transfusion & had my ridiculous dr announce in front of me that if the bleeding didn’t stop that they would have to take me in for a hysterectomy! I find myself thinking, ‘well maybe labour wasn’t meant for me’.
I am constantly wondering what labour feels like, & I suppose feel as though I have missed out on something. My husband & I had decided that this would have been our last baby but now I just feel like I am not ready to make that decision. Not knowing whether I actually want another child or I want another ‘go’ at birth, makes me feel really confused. To top it off my 6 mth old daughter developed reflux at 3 wks & refused to feed from me, although I did manage to persevere until 2mths, I also feel like I didn’t do enough or get enough help to continue to breastfeed, as I would love to still be feeding her now.
Sorry to go on & on, I know this is what the meetings are about, but it felt pretty good to just get that all out, as no-one understands. My husband tries to but he can’t help it if he is male, & they just don’t know. I have a close family but one of my sisters is of the opinion that if mum & bub are healthy, that’s all that matters. My mum tries to understand but I’m not sure to what extent she actually does, then that gets me onto my other sister. She is the one who told me about you & your meetings & actually has attended.
When I did hear about you & reading your explanation about the healing from birth meetings, I thought it was exactly what I needed. I think it is a wonderful thing that you are doing & should be really praised to want to help people the way you do.
I am really looking forward to the meeting,
Unfortunately, Emmy came down sick, as well as her three children, so was unable to make it to the August session. It was another seven months before she made it to her first “Healing From Birth” meeting. In the meantime, she began to explore her options for birthing after two previous caesareans at our other meetings. She RSVP’d for our event to honour National Caesarean Awareness Day 2007, where we shared VBAC Birth Stories, a Positive Caesarean Birth Story, and gathered to acknowledge how a caesarean birth can touch a woman’s life.
Date: Sun, 26 Aug 2007
Subject: Birthing after Caesarean Seminar
I am interested in this Caesarean Awareness Night, just wondering if you can give me some info about it?
I think I need to concentrate at the moment on healing from my 2 births (both caesars) anyway, but am really curious to find out where & who would trial a vbac for me (if my husband & I decide to have a 4th baby).
Emmy attended the Caesarean Awareness Night with her sister, and listened to speakers that included Kelly talking about her journey from traumatic caesarean to homebirth VBAC, as well as Cas sharing her positive caesarean story, and Andrea sharing her triumphant and empowering VBAC after two traumatic caesareans.
Date: Wed, 10 Oct 2007
To: Birthtalk Subject: Thank You
Thanks so much for the Caesarean Awareness Night last night. It was so wonderful & inspiring to hear Kelly, Cas & Andrea’s stories. Both my sister & I came away unable to stop chatting about it all (I got home at midnight & think I chewed my husbands ear off for about an hour!).
I would love to come to next weeks ‘Healing from BIrth’ meeting. Could you please email me the details.
Date: Tue, 12 Feb 2008
To: Birthtalk Subject: VBAC Course
Hi Melissa & Deb
Just wondering if there is any spaces left for my husband & I to attend the whole VBAC/Antenatal Course starting 21st Feb??? If you could let me know asap would be great so I can arrange Grandma to look after the kids!!
Have emailed back & forth quite a bit with Melissa, & have been trying to attend a ‘Healing from Birth’ Meeting, but haven’t been able to get there yet.
I came along to your caesarean awareness night last year (thanks again). I have 3 year old twins & a 1 year old also, all born by caesarean. We are trying to decide when would be the ‘right’ time to try for our 4th, & I just want to be as prepared as possible coming into it all in order to achieve our goal. So would absolutely love to attend this VBAC course!!
Many thanks, Emmy
Emmy and Richard began attending Birthalk’s VBAC Course, and at the second meeting heard a woman named Lisa speak about her experiences. Lisa had birthed twin boys via caesarean at 25 weeks, and sadly only one twin survived. After attending Birthtalk, Lisa went on to birth her daughter in an empowering hospital VBAC, and had come to share her story to the Course Attendees.
Date: Fri, 29 Feb 2008
To: Birthtalk Subject: Tonight’s Meeting
Hi Melissa & Deb ,
Just gotten home from tonight’s meeting & I feel so excited! So emotional & just on a real high. I feel like I got so much out of the meeting tonight. I really felt a connection with Lisa, which is probably why I feel so great. Everything she was saying felt just like what runs through my mind. Her stories (as everyone felt also) were just so wonderful & inspiring & as I said tonight, EXCITING. I am just so in awe of her & how she has come to the place she has, in herself, after hearing her stories, she just looks so happy. In hearing her speak has given me a real confidence & clarity with other aspects that have been circling in my mind, not just with birth. So thank you so much for introducing Lisa, I think she would have made everyone feel as I do.
I am so new to all this, opening up & getting out there doing this for myself (for my family). I have been so wanting to come to one of your Healing from Birth meetings since I found out about you, but have let something always conveniently get in the way of allowing me to come. Which is really just hiding behind the fact that I am scared & lack the confidence to step out on my own to experience this. It seems easy when I came to the caesarean awareness night with my Sister & now to the vbac course with Richard.
You both should be so proud of yourselves & the absolute wonderful job you are doing by trying to help all these people. I just can’t get over how helpful you are & that it isn’t a job, but a passion. To hear you both speak so passionately about pregnancy/labour, birth & beyond is inspiring. You always make me feel that you understand me & what I am saying & that you are genuinely interested. You are really achieving what you have set out to do & that is something to be very proud of.
Sorry I am really rambling on, still on a high after the meeting.
I once thought that I’d never be able to find out what I needed in order to try to achieve what I want, but am thinking that now it could be me there telling my story down the track just like Lisa.
Thanks for giving me this high, I feel like I just want to go & wake up all my kids just to cuddle them & tell them I love them – but I won’t, can probably wait 6 hrs until they wake.
At the VBAC Course, we presented a video montage showing photos of Birthtalk mums who have birthed again after a previous caesarean – many VBAC, but not all – and had a positive, empowering experience. We asked those attending to review the video clip, and here is Emmy’s response :
Watching that DVD makes me so emotional but in such a good way. It makes my mind wander in a dream-like way & I start to picture that its me, & that I could experience that also, WOW, so exciting to be starting that journey. As I journey to another birth, it puts my dream into perspective & makes it feel achievable. The insight it has given me in healing from my previous births is that it is possible to heal, it is very evident looking at their faces.
Emmy March 2008
Finally, Emmy was able to make it to a Healing From Birth meeting. Her insights from the VBAC Course were coming into play as she was learning more about birth, and how her own births had affected her emotionally, and she was beginning the process of healing.
Date: Tue, 11 Mar 2008
Still feel very clouded about it all but I am really glad that I made the ‘giant leap’ (which is what it feels like to me) into coming to a healing from birth meeting.
Just wanted to let you know that one thing that stood out the most to me is that when you suggested to write the ‘WHY I DON’T WANT ANOTHER CAESAREAN’ list. It just made sense to do that & driving home all I could think about was writing this list, which I have done already. I did think that it would be longer but it seems the most important things came out without really thinking about them. It makes me wonder whether the order that they came into my mind is actually the order of how much I feel about these things. Does that make sense? Anyway I can see how, with time to heal how some of these things on the list may or may not take new meaning, or not actually be there at all. Which is, I suppose, what you & Deb are actually trying to show me, that regardless of my future birth outcome that I won’t feel these things again. I just want to bring my baby into the world the way nature intended, & at this stage I just don’t see how I will ever get past this if I wasn’t able to have it. URRRRRGGGGHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Anyway, thank you & Deb again for tonight, always great to listen to you both.
At the next session in our VBAC Course that Emmy and her husband were attending, we noticed Emmy seemed to be struggling with her emotions. As they left immediately after the meeting we did not get a chance to chat with her, so we emailed her :
Sent: Sunday, March 30
Subject: Hi Emmy
Hey, Emmy – just wanted to touch base with you after Thursday’s meeting…I got the feeling you were struggling towards the end of the meeting, and I did not get a chance to chat with you afterwards. I just wanted to let you know that both Deb and I can completely understand your feelings of frustration and being overwhelmed at the lengths we sometimes have to go to, to have a good birth, in our culture. It is completely understandable that you feel this way, considering your previous experiences and the insights you have been having lately.
Anyway – just wanted to see how you are going 🙂
Date: Sun, 30 Mar 2008
To: Birthtalk Subject: Re: Hi Emmy
Thanks so much for thinking of me, it really means a lot.
Yes, I was quite negative during & after Thursdays meeting. I actually felt quite horrible about how negatively I might have come across to the other people there. I said to Richard on the way home that I felt like the ‘prickle’ amongst the group. Coming to the vbac/antenatel course has been a real eye opener for us & so wonderfully inspiring & informative, & coming to it has made me see how much healing that I really need to do. I didn’t really realise what I was going through until now. Since we first started thinking about possibly having a 4th baby, I have kinda been in a hurry about it all. Wanting it to happen asap (was aiming to be pregnant towards the end of the year) & all I could think about was having another baby & birth etc. Now I know that I have already started healing because I don’t feel that way anymore, that I am not needing to ‘fix’ my other births. I have looked back at life since Matilda was born & realised what she & I have missed & although I can’t change that, I can make our relationship different now. So my thoughts now are that when Wil & Olivia start kindy/pre-prep next year, thats a chance for some real special Mummy & Tilly time, which I am really looking forward to. If we decided to try for a baby this year then I would never have that chance again.
Although pregnancy & birth is still in my mind, it isn’t consuming me anymore. I am trying my best to focus on my beautiful 3 children that I have now & trying to bring out the best in myself to be the sort of Mother that I am proud of being. So as much as I am loving the v-bac course, I am ‘hanging’ for your healing from birth meetings even more now. So put me down as a regular!!!
Thanks again. I am ok, thanks to you & Deb. I know all the different feelings that I am having are helping me to heal & that even though sometimes I am left feeling angry, frustrated, negative & upset, these feelings are just as important as the ‘good’ ones, even though the good ones feel so much better!
Honestly, even if you & Deb didn’t say anything to me when I spoke, just by looking at you both makes me feel totally understood & valued.
A month later, after another session in the VBAC Course, Emmy emailed with some more insights she was having into her healing journey…
Date: Fri, 25 Apr 2008
Thanks for the meeting tonight. When its time to go around the circle, you always thank everyone for coming & I always say to myself ‘Gee, we should be thanking her & Deb, here they are giving their time to help us, educate us & support us & receive emails at midnight!!’
The meeting seemed back to where it started, smaller & more intimate in a way. Its nice to see the familiar faces & hear their stories again. Sometimes I just don’t feel like delving into my story too much. I suppose it feels like I am re-visiting it again & again & not really getting anywhere in regards to ‘getting over it’. Do you think that you ever really get over it?
Which brings me to the reason I suppose for this email. I just feel really lost again. My mind is constantly changing about what I want regarding another baby. I have actually avoided talking to you both regarding how I would go trying for a v-bac after 2 c-sect (twins & haemorrhage then another c-sect.) I have been too afraid to ask in the case that what I find out, might help to make my mind up & speed things up for me, when I know that I still have negatives creeping in from my previous births. I know that I need to heal but am getting frustrated with that. I sometimes feel like I just don’t want to think about it anymore or deal with it, because when I do it totally consumes me.
Am I making sense? I know that I really should give Deb a call & I will push myself to do so on Monday. I have been avoiding calling Deb, only for the reason that I have to face what I am going through & actually talk about it. After the meetings, I so want to hang around as you all seem to do & chat but I really don’t know why I don’t. I think it seems easier at the time to just go & cut myself off, but then I am left feeling this way, not being able to shut off from it at all.
One thing you said tonight that really saddened me was how you said that Deb firmly believes that parenting flows on from all that happen in birth. I guess at the moment, I’m not feeling very confident in my parenting & I know that there is a lot stemming from their births that is affecting me now with them. I know this is all part of the healing process, I think I am just getting impatient.
As I said tonight, I feel a confidence in heading into another pregnancy now from what I have learnt from Birthtalk, but still have a negative feeling that is linked to all that also. I suppose I am still comparing & haven’t moved on from those births yet.
Thank you so much for just reading this. I know how busy you must be, & I already feel a little lighter in getting all that out!
Have a lovely long weekend, see you next week.
We replied to Emmy’s email, and an excerpt is below :
I should clarify Deb’s comment about the parenting – what Deb believes is that birth is designed to give you practice in the skills we need for parenting, so that if you don’t get those lessons in birth, there is potential for you to start a bit ‘behind the 8-ball” and have to learn them a harder way. I know you have been having a rough ride with your twins lately – I can imagine it must be very full-on sometimes. Parenting is hard work, and parenting consciously is even harder – (but so worth it). I love the way you are facing the challenge and looking for answers.
Date: Wed, 30 Apr 2008
To: Birthtalk Subject: Re: Hi Emmy
Thanks so much (again),you truly understand & make everything seem so clear.
I think how I feel really is coming down to my ‘hurry’ to have another baby, which when I really think about it, another baby isn’t what I want at the moment. I have enough challenging me at this stage, & I don’t actually feel ready for a change in our family at this stage.
My fear is that the longer that we wait to have another baby, that we may actually decide not to have another then I will never experience birth. Which, in reading this makes it sound that what I actually want is ‘birth’ not another baby. Which is really scary to think that may be true…
Another thing is also that there is a 10yr age gap between Richard & I, so with me turning 30 this year isn’t a issue, but Richard is turning 40, which to us is a contributing factor in having another baby or not & when.
In reading back on what I have written, I know that continuing on my healing process will probably clarify what I was talking about above, whether I need to experience birth to be truly happy or whether regardless of the birth outcome, that having another baby will make me truly happy.
So thank you again, I am feeling quite content with what my situation is & the process, today that is, tomorrow might just be totally different, another layer of the onion perhaps!!
See you Thursday (bit sad that its the last night of the course),
After the last night of the VBAC Course, Emmy emailed us after she arrived home. She talks in her email of Romi – a Birthtalk mum who at that time was pregnant with twins, and working hard to have an empowering vaginal birth.
Date: Fri, 2 May 2008
Melissa & Deb, you’re Champions!
Tonight, instead of feeling lost, stuck & scared of where I am & what I am going through, I feel like ‘bring it on’!!!! That I know that I need to really let go & feel all these emotions that are creeping around & that I feel ok about letting that happen. During the meeting I just felt sad, sad for all that I have missed & that I can never change that, but I now want to be ok with knowing that I can’t change it & become accepting.
I suppose I let myself really ‘feel’ for the first time tonight, although I know I was holding back. I just don’t think I felt terribly comfortable totally letting go there in front of that group. That’s what I was trying to say to you after the meeting, that I just don’t feel that especially the first-timers need to be exposed to my full extent of emotion, or maybe that’s just my way of saying that it wasn’t ready to totally come out yet???? But then in saying that, hearing our stories makes those first-timers even more determined to not experience what many of us have.
I just keep thinking about Romi, I suppose its the twin connection. I’d love to email her, maybe I could send you an email & you forward it onto her for me? I would just love to tell her how brave I think she is & how much I admire her (& secretly wishing that it was me having that chance again) for becoming aware & informed before it is too late. Any pregnancy is a journey but what she is going through is such a truly beautiful & special one, & she & her husband will need each other more than anything once those babies are out & it is full-on, but arming herself with what she knows already & wanting the positive & empowering experience that she wants will put her so in front. Anyway…
Its really interesting when you said that maybe Tilly is sensing something from me & wanting to sleep with us again. When I walked upstairs from getting home tonight, she was crying & I had already made a conscious decision to go & check (kiss & tell them I love them) the kids before heading to the lounge room to say hi to Mum. But it was like Tilly knew that in a way & was telling me to come to her by crying out for me when I just got in the door. Maybe just a big coincidence, but I’d rather believe my first theory!
Again thank you so very much, you have really touched my heart & although it is because of a painful thing that I am going through, it also makes space in there for my heart to smile : )
Talk to you soon,
A few months after the VBAC Course ended, we emailed Emmy as a follow-up on some issues, and received this reply :
Date: Mon, 7 Jul 2008
To: Birthtalk Subject: Re: Hi, Emmy from Birthtalk
I think I have been keeping busy, & have pushed my baby thoughts & births way back to somewhere that I haven’t needed to think about for a while, pretty much since the course finished. I have actually intended on still coming to Healing from BIrth, but we have either been away or just arrived home when they have been on, so it has never been suitable to come. Plus like I said, those thoughts & feelings have been buried again. OR should I say, HAD been buried again, have resurfaced in the past week or so. It all still seems too hard to even go there, which I know that coming to Healing meetings will help, so should be there next Tuesday.
I don’t know what has triggered it but I am really thinking about another baby again. For a while there, I had thoughts that we might not have another now it all seems so hard again.
Anyway thanks for thinking about me, has given me the push I think that I needed to continue on my journey of healing.
Take care, see you next week hopefully,
Date: Mon, 21 Jul 2008
To: Birthtalk Subject: Thursday
Thanks again for last week’s Healing from Birth meeting. It really helped to clear my mind & now I feel so ‘together’ in regards to all my feelings. Hope that makes sense. Thanks so much to you & Deb, I know I have said it before, but you both really are such amazing & wondeful people. You both have made me feel so valued & understood & saying thanks doesn’t seem like enough.
I actually contacted Nambour Selangor Hospital the other day & the midwife I spoke with was so helpful & answered all my questions in detail. We have decided when the time is right, that we will going up there. Even if things don’t go to plan, at least we will know that they will be trying to do all they can to give us the best possible experience & that they do know what is important to families.
A month later, we announced the arrival of Romi’s twins in our Newsletter. Romi had attended our course with Emmy, & had Deb from Birthtalk as her doula, and had a wonderfully empowering vaginal birth with her twins at Selangor Hospital.
Date: Wed, 20 Aug 2008
Just read the newsletter & I was so excited to see Romi & Trent & their beautiful twin girls! I am so happy for them (& I suppose still a bit jealous) that they had the experience they did. Wow, thats pretty much all I can say! Thanks so much for the newsletter, I can never read it fast enough!
See you tomorrow,
Date: Sat, 23 Aug 2008
To: Emmy Subject: Re:
Hi, Emmy – I’m so glad you emailed 🙂 I was actually wanting to email you too when the newsletter went out, because I knew you’d be excited, and maybe a bit envious (completely natural & reasonable that you would be), and that it might bring up some stuff. Romi is writing her full story, so that will be interesting to read too 🙂 I’m glad you like the newsletter:)
Hope to see you soon,
Emmy then emailed straight back :
Its wierd you know, I was so excited to read about them & so happy for them but still felt some of my own crap also. I was talking to Richard about it, & I know he means well, but he went on to say stuff about having a healthy family etc. I suppose I have realised that although I am feeling better than I did about my situation , I still have stuff to work through. I hate feeling this resentful feeling that I do when I think back to my births. I don’t feel the fear anymore that I once did, but still think that it all just sucks that it could have been so different right from the start if I just asked more questions of my doctor. My situation could have been so different now, but I have to stop thinking about the ‘if onlys’ & get on with what I can control or at least go into it all with confidence.
Another thing is that I am not rushing to have another baby, the time just doesn’t feel right yet & I am ok with that. I know that I need to feel ready for a change in the family & I feel content right now trying to care for what I have got.
Talk to you soon
We didn’t hear from Emmy for another six months, until she emailed with a big question… “How do you know when you’ve finished your family?”
Date: Fri, 6 Feb 2009
To: Birthtalk Subject: Hello
I have a question to ask. I am feeling really torn now between wanting another baby & the experiences that come along with that – pregnancy, the big one BIRTH, & the beautiful newborn stage & then feeling like I am content with the Family I have & happy to continue along trying to be the best Mother that I can be to them. I realise that is a pretty personal question I asked you & totally understand if you don’t want to reply to it. I just wonder if most Mothers have similar feelings to me in wanting to experience all that again & again but knowing that sometime the decision has to be made in when to stop. I know in my situation that I am also spurred on by wanting to experience all I can possible in Birth & what I missed in my previous Births, but those feelings don’t seem quite enough to push me into having another baby anymore. But then the question still hovers around. Is this a good thing? Have I actually moved through the pain & disappointment I was feeling in regards to what I have missed out on previously & know that I don’t need that to feel ok anymore? Wow, I hadn’t realised any of that before I typed it just then. I have always been able to really express myself when chatting & emailing to you – thank you for being so great : )
Do you think when the time is right, I will know what to do? I try to believe that, but can’t help wonder whether everyone feels like this at some stage & in time moves through it. Richard & I have both kinda thought that if we didn’t have another baby this year then most likely we wouldn’t have another at all – I know that’s probably too much pressure on ourselves. I suppose what keeps us thinking that is Richards age.
I am really enjoying already the special Tilly & Mummy time that we have since Wil & Olivia started Kindy, & in a way I don’t want that taken away.
Emmy began to take steps towards having a different experience of birth, & made an appointment to see the Head Obstetrician at her hospital of choice. But she did not want to go in unprepared…
Date: Tue, 17 Mar 2009
Well we have been doing some talking about the will we/won’t we have another baby & I have been finding out some info about Nambour Selangor & the Doctors etc. I had a really good chat with the Midwife/Receptionist at Dr Ted Weaver’s Rooms. I have booked an appointment with him to basically have a chat, explain my history, ask some questions & meet him, which is next month. I was feeling quite anxious about entering into the ‘unknown’, the new hospital & Doctor. But now I feel really excited & at the same time relaxed about it all. I am so glad that the Midwife spoke about coming & having an appointment first, which made me really feel at ease. Also in doing that, she assured me that whenever (& if) I do fall pregnant, that I am guaranteed to be able to have him as my Doctor as I will already be classed as an existing patient.
So, we are on a new journey, no idea where it will take us at this stage but that’s the excitement in a way.
Another thing I forgot to mention is how great Richard has been through all this & so supportive of checking out the Doctor & Hospital etc before. He learnt so much from you both & coming to Birthtalk & I thank you again so much for that. Without his support & understanding would make everything so hard. I believe that he really understands what I went through & now what I need to do or what we need to do together
It had crossed my mind about talking with Deb to go over the questions etc that I will need to ask. So I will give her a call. I am feeling really proud of myself for taking that step & knowing that I am getting informed before I fall pregnant. That I am deciding the steps this time not just continuing on a path of familiarity. I have you & Deb to thank for that. For giving me the knowledge & confidence that I can do it. I really feel in such a different ‘head space’ this time around. I know that I can take it all in now without all my history creeping back in & getting me all emotional. Although I still get emotional, just in a more positive way now!!
Take care – we look forward to seeing you sometime during the course,
Date: Wed, 22 Apr 2009
To: Birthtalk Subject: Re: Vbac Course and seeing Ted
just tried to call Deb actually but got her answering machine. Time has flown & I have my appoint with Ted on Mon! I had planned on sitting down & writing out my list of questions & what is important to me etc before I called Deb just so I would be prepared whilst chatting with her but other things have kept coming up & I had planned to call Deb on a day when the twins are at kindy & Tilly was asleep so that I could actually have the chance to concentrate & chat freely. But just now I tried to make some notes & have gone blank. Over the past couple of weeks I had felt really in control & kept thinking about all the things that I want to talk to Ted about & ask etc but now that I actually sit down to write them down, I have no idea! Feeling a bit un-prepared now & a bit freaked!
Anyway hopefully I can get in contact with Deb before next Mon. Or I just need to chill out & relax & make a quiet time without any distractions to gather my thoughts & probaly chat with Richard also. At the moment, TIlly is due to wake up anytime & I know that theres no way I will be able to concentrate once she wakes anyway so maybe thats my reason for panic at the moment!
Sorry – I’m such a stresser sometimes!!
Will let you know how I go,
Date: Mon, 27 Apr 2009
To: Birthtalk Subject: Vbac rsvp
Just quickly, wanted to definitely book myself into the next vbac course. Deb told me that you had pencilled us in already, I just wanted to confirm that with you also. At this stage it will be just me, but will it be ok if Richard came along to some?
I will call Deb to let her know how I went today with my appointment with Ted, but just to let you know, it went really well. Richard & I both came away happy with all that was said, we liked him & I feel totally supported by him. He seemed genuinely interested in our situation.
Not once did I feel disappointed with his answers, he made me feel totally at ease in my choices & that it is all about my birth. I especially liked the way he made me feel normal, & basically that it was totally normal to be asking/wanting a vbac.
Thanks again for helping to steer me in the right direction!
Looking forward to catching up with you soon.
Please forward this on to Deb, I will be calling her also for a chat.
Emmy and Richard attended various sessions of the VBAC Course again in May 2009, and continued their journey of re-education and , for Emmy, healing and understanding about her previous births. Sixteen months later we received an exciting email :
Date: Sun, 12 Sep 2010
Well…we are having a baby!! Its only very early days but we are so excited! I’m feeling great, it all just seems so right!
Anyway was hoping that you could also pass on my news to Deb. I called her last week (maybe Friday, not sure) & left a msg. I wanted to talk to her regarding Doulas & possibly booking her. I understand that she is mega busy & totally understand why she might have not got back to me, but just wanted to let you know our good news & also just to make sure she got my msg, as I’m very keen to secure a spot with her for our birth, even though I’m not due until May next year!!
Deb was very honoured to be asked to be doula for Emmy and Richard’s baby’s birth, and gladly accepted the role. Over the next nine months Deb supported them as they dealt with any emotional issues that arose, and the practical challenges, including Emmy’s obstetrician retiring just weeks before her due date! Emmy worked hard to negotiate to get her needs met in this crisis, and secured another obstetrician, with whom they now had to build a relationship, and communicate their specific needs. Deb came with Emmy and Richard to their antenatal appointments and together they negotiated a plan for an empowering birth.
In early May, Melissa from Birthtalk sent Emmy an email of encouragement and support, telling her : ‘You are an amazing, strong, courageous woman already because of the journey you have been on in healing your previous births, and in mothering your children, and in negotiating getting your needs met in this pregnancy. ‘ An excerpt from Emmy’s reply is below :
Date: Sun, 1 May 2011
So we are nearing the end of this pregnancy, & I’m definitely feeling it! I’m so uncomfortable most of the time but I swore to myself that I wouldn’t say things like ” I’m over it ” or anything like that. This will be the last time I have such an amazing thing happening inside my body & I really wanted to enjoy every part of it. It just gets so hard to continue on with day to day life – especially with 3 little ones already! – & struggle to move & bend! But also, I’m so excited for whats ahead & can’t wait to meet our little one. I feel in such a good place, relaxed & ready, just waiting…
Deb had been great. Makes so much difference to have already known her & formed that bond with someone that will be so involved in something so special with us. Already she has helped us through what feels like so much especially when we changed Obstetricians. I really do feel so well supported already from Richard & Deb, that its helped me to have the confidence to believe in my own instincts & know which path to take with different things that have come our way. I really do feel I have full trust in my body & in birth.
Thanks again for your thoughts & encouraging words, even though I’m feeling strong & confident, it’s always so nice to hear someone say things like that.
All the best, I’m looking forward to sharing our news with you!
And then, in late May, came this beautiful email :
Date: Mon, 30 May 2011
Well we did it! I’m sure Deb had filled you in but wanted to share with you also – both you & Deb have been such a big part of us getting to this point. I’m still so in awe of what we went through. I feel so great & could tell anyone & everyone how proud of myself I am! Amelia is so perfect & so calm & settled & I really do believe that has a lot to do with me feeling relaxed, strong & confident.
Throughout my pregnancy I gained more confidence in myself & relied on the trust I had in my body & in birth (thanks to you & Deb) to stay relaxed & in a good head space in the last couple of months. Then when I went into labour I felt so trusting & safe & so well supported that I didn’t once feel scared. It was certainly the hardest thing I’’ve ever had to do & my body was pretty knocked around, & is still recovering now. I remember getting emotional between contractions because I felt so good, felt so safe & supported, from knowing the kids were well looked-after by Mum & Dad, to how wonderful Richard & Deb were to me. They were so great, Richard was amazing, he stayed by my side the whole time. I really believe that having Deb there helped Richard so much, helped him to stay strong & supportive of me & she looked after us both so well – giving us drinks, food & even applying lip balm for me!
Then when Vicki Chan came in was just such a blessing, I really feel like I won the lottery! After Deb explaining that she knew Vicki & her telling me about her (I have previously read bits & pieces about her also), I instantly had trust in her & what she wanted or suggesting that I try to do. It all just seemed ‘so meant to be’.
In the days after Amelia’s birth, it all seemed still so fresh in my mind, the pain of pushing was so intense that I just didn’t want to think about it, let alone look at the photos! But I finally plucked up the courage to look at the photos & WOW – I’m still just so amazed at what we went through! I feel like I should be at Birthtalk sharing my story, that I now ‘really get it’.
I’m still feeling a bit emotional though, especially feeling that journey that I have been on pretty much since Tilly was born, so 4.5 years, through finding Birthtalk & you & Deb, through all the emotions of healing & educating ourselves to deciding to have another baby. That was all such a big part of my life for so long, now even though I couldn’t have asked for a better outcome & I feel so proud of myself, part of me is sad to say goodbye to that part of my life.
Thank you again from the bottom of my heart, finding you & Deb has helped my Family more than words could ever say.
The following beautiful photos were taken by Deb as Emmy and Richard met Amelia – a powerful account of an empowered birthing woman and her family.
There is one more email from Emmy we’d like to share, sent to us after she had read the final edit of this article. It truly demonstrates the impact of the journey Emmy has undertaken, and we are so grateful that she has agreed to share her story with us, so we can share it with you.
Date: Tue, 5 July, 2011
Hi again Melissa,
Its so interesting to read what my thoughts were for so long but then to realise how I worked through it all. For so long I struggled with knowing that I wanted ‘the birth experience’ but perhaps not really wanting another child. But when we finally decided to try for another baby, it wasn’t at all about the birth. And now we have Amelia & I couldn’t imagine life without her, & as a bonus, we got the most beautiful & rewarding birth as well! I even felt at peace late in my pregnancy when Amelia was laying transverse & even though I wanted to try everything I could to encourage her to turn, I felt ok in my head knowing that if it was necessary for me to have a caesarean, that I’d done all that I could.
Even though I know giving birth to Amelia was & probably will be the hardest thing I will ever do, I just want to go & do it all again! Do you feel that way? I have listened to Lucie & Lisa talk at the meetings & they have always said the same thing & I always found it hard to understand. But I find myself constantly looking at the birth pics (we have a beautiful pic of her head out just sitting there patiently waiting & also a little bit of a video of my last contraction & her coming out – its so awesome to watch even though its dark & quite hard to see) & wishing we could go back to that Sunday (Mothers Day) & do it all again, not change a thing but just experience it all again.
I just feel so different this time. I’m really loving every minute of feeding Amelia, I even don’t mind waking up at night to feed. I once had an immaculate house, housework always done, washing always folded but now I’m quite content to cuddle Amelia all day. She’d rather stay in our arms so I try my best to do everything one handed when I can. We’ve all fallen in love with her.
I was actually thinking about it all & what I would say if I was asked about my story & feelings etc. And thinking back, I never actually knew what it was that I was so sad about & what my ‘problem’ was. I felt ok after the twins birth, mainly because I didn’t know any different but something inside me kept me thinking about a natural birth. I didn’t know why, because at that time I had no idea about the wonderful rewards that birth & the hormones could give. Then after Tilly’s birth, I still didn’t feel right but still didn’t know why. Until I met you guys & over time learnt about what birth could be. And now it is so surprising how many people I chat to about my feelings & experiences, that they themselves start to mention some things about how they would have liked to birth naturally etc. I wonder how many people feel exactly how I did, that something just doesn’t feel right. And perhaps those people will never have answers or never know any different. I just feel so blessed that I did get to experience it, I guess I may have always felt a bit of sadness if I didn’t birth Amelia naturally but I am so thrilled to have had the most awesome & empowering experience that has kept me floating along enjoying every moment. Even though before Amelia’s birth I knew how birth could be, to be able to speak now from experience feels so great & knowing that I will be able to share that with my kids is so special.
Although sharing my story on the blog feels really personal, it doesn’t really worry me. I’m not ashamed of what I went through – I am so proud of being able to be honest with myself & take on the hard journey to healing & educating. I always had so many questions from people regarding my choice of hospital & comments about not making it there in time. Even my GP was quite critical at first about my choices. But I knew & trusted in myself enough to not let all that concern me. At one of the vbac meetings, Deb & Lucy gave out those Pregnancy & Birth Oracle Cards (which I absolutely loved) & the very last one I drew out in the week leading up to Amelia’s birth was – YOU ARE ON THE RIGHT PATH Well done! You have been honouring your intuition! – and still now I can’t bring myself to put that card away! I love reading it & remembering that ‘place’ I was in back before her birth & still feel like now reading it keeps me honouring my intuition in knowing what’s right in my parenting & decision making.
I feel exactly as you have said – that I don’t want to lose those feelings & the awe of it all. Even though at the time it was such hard work & all I wanted was for it to be over, I can now think back & smile!
More than happy to come along to a Healing From Birth meeting anytime you’d like me to. With you wanting to use my story, it makes me feel quite important, like my story & journey really mattered. I love that I could be helping others, just as so many have helped me.
©Melissa Bruijn and Debby Gould from Birthtalk.org & Emmy Lee 2011
As a footnote, we also want to make it clear that Emmy’s birth wasn’t just ‘amazing’ because it was a VBA2C. It was different to her other experiences even before she conceived – this time she had support and information to become empowered, from the pregnancy through to the day of the birth, and postnatally too. We have Birthtalk mums who are planning a VBAC and for a variety of reasons, they end up with a repeat caesarean. The difference in the majority of cases, to their previous caesarean, is that THIS time they feel strong, empowered, involved in the decision-making. And yes, they will likely feel sad and disappointed and grieve that a vaginal birth was not possible…but they are NOT traumatised, and can make sense of what happened to them with ease, and feel supported as they grieve, and move back into parenting their beautiful babies.
Melissa and Debby are the authors of How to Heal a Bad Birth : making sense, making peace and moving on. This ground-breaking self-help book takes the reader on a ‘Choose your own adventure’ style of healing journey… because every woman’s path to healing will be different. The pages are filled with heartfelt quotes from women, facts and insights about birth trauma, and ideas for dealing with common emotions that arise such as sadness, guilt, feelings of failure, anger and partner issues. There are step-by-step tools for healing, and immense support and compassion contained within these pages. Say the authors : “For the past 15 years we’ve been working with women after a traumatic birth in our ‘Healing From Birth’ support sessions. Because we’ve see the impact birth can have, we are gentle with women’s hearts as they step forward and acknowledge that they are ready to take the journey to healing. And we are with you all the way.” Go to howtohealabadbirth.com to learn more
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