I still remember the moment my doctor told me I could have a VBAC if I wanted to. He caught me off guard. I had never considered the possibility let alone dare to dream of such a thing. Yet here I am, months later, typing this story and having achieved a beautiful natural birth.
The weekend before I went into labour I had a mini-breakdown. Despite waking up that Saturday full of energy, determined to tackle Georgie’s wardrobe and be as productive as I could, as the hours dragged on my mood took a turn for the worse. By midday I was in tears, sending messages to my doula saying that I knew deep down in my heart that this baby would not come easy and that I was heading towards a c-section.
It rained that day. I love the rain so I took it as a sign that it was time to pack in the pity party. I dressed myself in something akin to pyjamas and headed to the mall with papa and Georgie for dinner and a movie. That would be our last outing as a family of three.
The day after my due date, papa and I made our way to my doctor’s bright and early. I had opted for a stretch and sweep as I was becoming quite anxious and the fear of a repeated c-section was bringing me down. That morning I wasn’t too hopeful as the option of sweeping the membranes was given to me when I was pregnant with Georgie five years ago. It didn’t work and I was induced two days later.
But this time things would be different.
We left the doctor’s and went to Starbucks for a coffee before heading home. As I sipped on my iced americano faint pains kept striking my stomach and lower back. I still wasn’t hopeful. Could this really be it? Could these be contractions? Was the baby coming? Perhaps not right now, my doula said in a text, but by tonight, yes, maybe.
I went back to the clinic to be monitored, as is standard procedure with a VBAC, I was told, but after a couple of hours I felt there was no progress so I asked to go home. While my bag was packed and in the car I suddenly felt the need to leave the clinic. Make a run for it, go home, take a deep breath, be with Georgie. Get my makeup bag. Reluctantly my doctor agreed as long as my doula was with me. We left the clinic and headed home for a cup of tea and some banana bread which I had baked the day before. No more than 15 minutes after I put the kettle on, I lost my mucus plug. OK, said my doula, perhaps we won’t be staying for an hour or two.
At that point those faint pains in my stomach and lower back weren’t so faint anymore. As I packed Georgie’s backpack I told him that he would be spending the night at yiayia’s but didn’t want to say anything about how his baby brother would be coming soon because I STILL wasn’t sure this was it. Papa had gone back to work and also took the car for a wash. THAT’S how much of a clue we had that this baby was coming.
I left home with papa and my doula. We quickly dropped Georgie off and headed to the clinic. It was happening. That moment only a VBAC woman can understand. Speeding towards the clinic, taking deep breaths, grasping the door handle, knowing that this is it. grabbing your partner’s hand and smiling through the pain. Immense happiness. I am finally living that movie-like moment. And I am closer than ever to a natural birth.
We arrived at the clinic and I was ushered into a labour suite. From that moment on, my life would change. I still can’t believe what my body did. I know it sounds like a clichè but the respect I have for my body and me as a person after giving birth is now unwavering.
The pain was intense. There was no living in the moment, going to my happy place or dancing around. And I felt like crying even though for some strange reason I couldn’t. I I remember literally hanging off papa’s body as he hugged me with each contraction. I remember asking for a hot bath and grabbing the shower head from my doula’s hand, directing it on my belly and back. The nurses, the doctor, papa and my doula encouraging me and holding me. My music in the background. And I remember the need to push. I’ve always wondered about that part and now here I was living it. At that moment there was no pain. Excitement took over. All I had to do was push and bring my baby boy into this world.
James Andreas was born two hours after I went into active labour. I had finally achieved my VBAC. All those months of preparing, reading, writing, sleepless nights and endless thoughts and I had finally experienced a beautiful and powerful natural birth.
I want to thank my doula, Claire Anne Mavris for her unwavering support throughout the last months of my pregnancy and during birth. I knew I wanted her by my side for a reason and she proved herself many times over.
I also want to thank my wonderful doctor, Andreas Mavrides, for believing in me and directing me towards a natural birth. A big thank you to all the nurses at ISIS Clinic too because they were amazing.
Thank you to our paediatrician Emily Joseph for being so cool and utterly perfect.
And the biggest thank you to papa, my rock and biggest supporter. I could never have achieved my VBAC without you.
If you’re pregnant in Cyprus and hoping for a VBAC contact Birth and Baby for all the guidance and help you’ll need.
You can read my doula’s version of my birth story here.