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Welcome to Returning to Birth! I share the amazing ways childbirth can teach us more about ourselves. ALL women deserve a positive and empowering birth experience, and I’m here to help make that happen.

Kara's VBA2C: "I Knew My Body Wasn't Broken!"

Kara's VBA2C: "I Knew My Body Wasn't Broken!"

  • Name: Kara Swanson from Life Well Lived and on Instagram @karaswanson

  • Baby’s name: Shepherd Alan 

  • Weight: 8 lb 8 oz 

  • Length: 21 inches

  • Gestation: 41 weeks 

  • Birthday: May 31, 2019 

  • Place of birth: Iowa City, IA 

I was a mix of emotions, both anxious and excited as my husband and I drove to Iowa City, nearly two hours away, to be induced that morning. I was 41 weeks pregnant. Although I tried everything to induce labor, here we were on our way to do just that. This was my chance at having a VBA2C (vaginal birth after two c-sections) and I was both incredibly happy to try and a bit nervous it wouldn’t happen. 

Having a VBA2C was my dream. I had fought so hard to get to this day driving 2 hours for every appointment because no one locally would allow me to do a VBA2C. I wanted this more than words can even express and I’m forever grateful for a supportive doctor who allowed me to try. 

They first started me on a low dose of pitocin and gradually increased it as they monitored the baby and I closely. After 5 hours of walking the halls and light contractions, I made no progress so we decided to do a Cook Catheter that manually dilates you to 5-6 cm. Once that was put in things got incredibly intense fast. My contractions were very strong with only 15-30 seconds in between. I was struggling big time to even catch my breath. 

Kara dreamed of having a vaginal birth. She drove 2 hours to see a supportive provider who helped her realize her dream of having her VBA2C (vaginal birth after 2 cesareans). Read her birth story and all the little moments she celebrated along the way! #VBAC #childbirth #birthstory

Kara dreamed of having a vaginal birth. She drove 2 hours to see a supportive provider who helped her realize her dream of having her VBA2C (vaginal birth after 2 cesareans). Read her birth story and all the little moments she celebrated along the way! #VBAC #childbirth #birthstory

After an hour or so laboring in bed my nurse suggested I move to the tub. I felt some relief but I couldn’t get on top of the contractions. What I thought was breathing gracefully through the contractions was later described by my husband as screaming. 

This led to an emotional conversation with my husband and nurse about getting an epidural. I was concerned it would stall labor and I wouldn’t be able to have a VBA2C — I was trying everything to avoid one. 

The contractions continued to intensify and I slowly crawled out of the tub with the help of my husband and nurse. But once I got out, things got even more intense. I could barely breath and I was utterly exhausted. It had been almost 5 hours of hard laboring with little progress to show. So, tearfully I decided to get the epidural. 

Immediately I felt relief. I could breathe again, and labor became peaceful. My doctor checked me after I got the epidural and I was still only dilated to a 1… so yeah, I had a long way to go still. I cried… lots of tears after that because I was discouraged and had to fight my fear that maybe I wouldn’t get my VBA2C after all… maybe my body just didn’t work right. 

Thankfully, my doctor was nothing but supportive and assured me that we had plenty of time. They weren’t in a rush, which I’m still so thankful that there was never pressure or talk of just doing a c-section. 

Kara dreamed of having a vaginal birth. She drove 2 hours to see a supportive provider who helped her realize her dream of having her VBA2C (vaginal birth after 2 cesareans). Read her birth story and all the little moments she celebrated along the way! #VBAC #childbirth #birthstory

Kara dreamed of having a vaginal birth. She drove 2 hours to see a supportive provider who helped her realize her dream of having her VBA2C (vaginal birth after 2 cesareans). Read her birth story and all the little moments she celebrated along the way! #VBAC #childbirth #birthstory

We continued to wait and around 10:30 pm I heard a pop between my legs. I thought maybe my water had broken but the Cook Catheter actually came out which meant I had dilated to 5-6 cm! This had been the farthest I had ever been in labor and I cried — so many happy tears! I knew my body wasn’t broken and I was getting closer to having a VBA2C. 

And from there, things continued to progress.

At 1:15 am, my doctor broke my water and around 3:00 am I started to feel a lot of pressure. At one point I reached my hand down over my pubic area and felt a big bump: it was my baby’s head! He was making his way down!

At this point, I was beyond excited! I couldn’t believe it: “This is actually happening!” I screamed, tears filling my eyes.

At 4:30 am, my doctor came in and I told her that I was experiencing a lot of pressure. She checked me and told me the baby's head was super low and that it was time to push. 

I was shocked. I couldn’t believe it was happening. I remember saying, “Wait, what? It’s time to push… like I’m actually going to get to push?!” My doctor smiled and said “YES!”

Kara dreamed of having a vaginal birth. She drove 2 hours to see a supportive provider who helped her realize her dream of having her VBA2C (vaginal birth after 2 cesareans). Read her birth story and all the little moments she celebrated along the way! #VBAC #childbirth #birthstory

Kara dreamed of having a vaginal birth. She drove 2 hours to see a supportive provider who helped her realize her dream of having her VBA2C (vaginal birth after 2 cesareans). Read her birth story and all the little moments she celebrated along the way! #VBAC #childbirth #birthstory

Pushing was surreal. This had been a dream of mine for the past 7 years, ever since I had my first daughter through c-section. I had fought so hard the past 9 months to make it a reality. To have this chance to push and experience a natural birth was a dream come true. 

I remember being focused and determined — I had my mind fixed on my goal, my dream. Throughout this time the fear still lingered in the back of my mind that they would tell me to stop pushing and rush me in to get a c-section. So I was so focused on pushing and getting this sweet baby out as fast as I could before they could tell me to stop. 

At one point after pushing and waiting for another contraction, I looked at my doctor and said, “I’m doing it! I’m actually doing it!” She smiled the biggest smile and cheered me on.  

After 30 minutes of pushing we got the best surprise ever — a BOY! 

I was so full of emotion as I held this sweet boy. Not only because I was getting to hold this precious baby but because my dream that I had prayed for and dreamed about for years had finally come true. 

I got to experience a natural birth and I am forever grateful. I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. This will forever be one of my favorite experiences of my life. 

At 5:12 AM, on May 31st we welcomed Shepherd Alan Swanson into the world. He weighed 8 lbs 6 oz and was 21 inches long. 

My birth experience taught me the power of determination, to never give up on my dreams, to fight for them because they are worth it. 

Singing My Baby Into This World

Singing My Baby Into This World