VBAC: not just an experience

A little while ago, when this pregnancy was new and shiny and secret, I decided that I wanted to try once more for a VBAC. Knowing how hideously this went wrong before, I didn’t make this decision lightly. I know what can go wrong, and more. I know that terror, that fear of the dropping heart rate. That silence. That never ending silence as the machine stops it’s beep beep beep and the sides of the bed rush up with a clank! and the feet run and the eyes stare and the world goes dark and you just don’t know. Dead. Alive. Not sure. I know all of that can happen again. I know it might.

I know it might not.

Not long after I tested the waters by daring to think, to say it out loud, I came across an article written by a very angry doctor in the US. She was furious. Very anti VBAC. Very very angry at a lady who had gone against her own doctor’s wishes and laboured. A lady who believed in her body and yet, in the end, had no baby to show for it. A lady who faced the fear and lost. And this doctor was furious. Medical opinion had been disregarded and a baby’s life had been lost because a mother had wanted ” an experience.”

vbac: not just an experience~ Ghostwritermummy.co.uk

I struggled with this article. Reading of a baby’s death is never going to be easy. And I am not ignorant. I know that a VBAC can be risky; all of childbirth can be risky. I know that in my case, a VBA3C is even more risky than usual. Three times they have cut into my body to pluck out a baby. Three times they have held a knife to my skin and brought my babies into this world. And just once- once- I would like to be the one doing the bringing instead. But I know that the odds are not in my favour.

I also know that if my doctors advise me to have another section, I will be too scared to argue. I will be too afraid of what could happen, what has happened. I am not willing to risk my life nor that of my baby’s to prove a point. To prove that I can do it, that my body is able. What will be in November, will be. But.

But I want that doctor to think about her phrasing when she accused the mother of wanting an experience. It’s about more than that.

It’s about healing a scar. It’s about having control; taking back control. It’s about empowerment. It’s about strength. It’s about self belief. It’s about feeling. It’s about a quicker recovery. It’s about a connection. It’s about finding strength and courage from within and using that to bring life into the world. It is not an experience. It is the beginning of life. The first moments of the rest of a journey. The breaths, the first touch. The first time for everything. The beginning.

Not just an experience. A VBAC, for me, will be so much more. If it is to be, it will be. And if it is not to be, then that is ok too. Birth, however it happens, is amazing. And in no way am I passing judgement on women (some of whom I class as very dear friends) who decide to have an elective section. I cannot pass judgement, especially when I have made the same choice too. I know how that decision is made, and it is never easy. I hope these women know that my choice to strive for a VBAC is hugely personal and no reflection on my views of their own, personal, birth choices. My choice to strive for a VBAC is not born out of a desire for ‘an experience’.

I want more than that.


Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com

62 Comments

  1. July 13, 2014 / 11:29 pm

    I haven’t experienced a csection and so I have never experienced a VBAC but I do know that I wanted anything to have a natural birth and avoid a csection because of the recovery and healing time. I wanted to be as easy on my body as possible so I can understand where you’re coming from even just a fraction.
    I really hope you get a positive birth x
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    • ghostwritermummy
      Author
      July 14, 2014 / 6:08 am

      Thank you. I’ll always admire you your home birth but I know that is completely out of the question for me. But if I can avoid a c section this time it will mean the world to me. x x x

  2. July 14, 2014 / 6:18 am

    Wow i know how traumatic your first birth was and how big a decision this must be for you. I hope the consultant is able to give you really good advice and it’s a possibility for you. I know that being a c sec mum myself, how potentially challenging a vbac can be yet so many women go on to do it very successfully. That could be you too. Hope you get the answers you need cx
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    • ghostwritermummy
      Author
      July 14, 2014 / 3:21 pm

      Thank you- it really could be me! I have never felt that confidence before. So far my consultant is positive and all is going well so I really hope that this time will be different x x x

  3. July 14, 2014 / 11:47 am

    Wishing you all the best – I agree that there is a lot more to any delivery and birth plan than just wanting ‘an experience’. Sending you lots of love as you continue to do the most amazing job of bringing a life into the world – however they arrive xx
    Helen at Casa Costello recently posted..Toffee & Pecan Roulade – Bake of the WeekMy Profile

    • ghostwritermummy
      Author
      July 14, 2014 / 3:20 pm

      Thank you so much, what a lovely comment x x x

  4. July 14, 2014 / 1:07 pm

    After an emergency section with my son, I was keen for a vbac with my second however when we found out it was twins I decided for an elective section as the safest option for them both.
    Number 4 has not been decided nor ruled out. We will see in a few years but I totally relate to the choice element and wanting to feel in control. If I had another pregnancy I would like to try VBAC but again like you I wouldn’t feel sad if I had another c-sec. The ability to choose outweighs the end result which ultimately we all want is a healthy baby!
    Fab post x
    Beth recently posted..Silent SundayMy Profile

    • ghostwritermummy
      Author
      July 14, 2014 / 3:20 pm

      Thank you. I understand completely your decisions for the elective- I chose one last time as it was so soon after my traumatic birth and failed VBAC. This time though more time has passed and I feel a renewed strength. But like you I am keeping my mind open- what will be, will be x xx

  5. July 14, 2014 / 2:05 pm

    I haven’t had a caesarian, but I can see (as much as is possible) where you’re coming from, and I think it’s very valid. Just dismissing it as ‘wanting an experience’ is very poor of that Doctor, and belittling of the woman involved, who is ultimately the one who is most important here. Every birth is an experience, and they’re all different – I hope that however your baby arrives in the outside world is a fabulous experience xx
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    • ghostwritermummy
      Author
      July 14, 2014 / 3:18 pm

      Thanks Jenny, I agree totally. So far my doctors are supportive so I think the hard work lies with me at this point. x x x

  6. July 14, 2014 / 2:31 pm

    Firstly good luck and I hope you have a considerate and supportive set of doctors and midwives and that all goes well however the baby ends up being born.

    Just to give a different perspective though, I had an elective CS for my second baby and for me it was a wonderful empowering and healing experience. I also found the recovery far better than after my first emergency CS as I only had the surgery to heal from, not everything that had gone before as well. Although I’m sure recovery from a successful VBAC would have been much better the problem is that word – succussful i like to plan and be in control so I decided not to take the gamble.

    I also think that far far more should be done to help women who have had traumatic births. I was incredibly lucky and got some great help including a named midwife for my second pregnancy who was there throughout the pregnancy and afterwards and was at the birth where she ensured i was ok and that the baby came straight to me for skin to skin contact etc. Prior to accessing all these things I had been considering a home VBAC. Not because I really wanted a home birth but because a doctor was insisting I had a VBAC and home seemed the only way to get good care and avoid a repeat of the previous experience in hospital. That wouldn’t have been a free choice, it was a choice based on fear and unresolved issues from last time.

    Before doctors – or anyone else judge women for their birth choices they need to look at why those choices are really being made. They also need to ensure that it is a genuine choice and that all women get good, consistent care however they plan to give birth.

    SB

    • ghostwritermummy
      Author
      July 14, 2014 / 3:17 pm

      Thank you for your comment, I agree with every word you say. My elective section was also very gentle but as it was my third I found the physical recovery very hard. This is a huge factor in my decision to try for a VBAC but I am not blinkered at all. I want what is best. I do admit to having a hankering for a ‘healing’ birth and I know that I need to do more to tackle the demons from my first two births. I am hoping that natal hypn therapy might help? I am going to speak to my midwife and try and get a plan in place soon. Thank you for your support, it really does mean a lot x x x

  7. July 14, 2014 / 5:05 pm

    I understand how you feel. I really wanted to try for a VBAC second time around, having had an emergency c-section first time. My main concern was ending up having a section anyway, even after going thruogh the labour. My doctor gave me advice and I heeded it (if the baby was over 7lbs don’t take the risk). So I’ve now had 3 sections and although very straight forward and I healed well, I do feel somewhat cheated. I don’t believe it to be an ‘experience’, I believe it to be nature taking its course, that’s what we were created for. You go for it, I know many people for whom it was very successful x
    suzanne3childrenandit recently posted..It Ain’t Over til the Fat Lady SingsMy Profile

    • ghostwritermummy
      Author
      July 14, 2014 / 6:50 pm

      Thank you, your comment brings hope and comfort! I too have fears of it all going wrong and needing a c section anyway, and that has already happended to me twice. But I think I just need to try, all being well. x x x

  8. July 14, 2014 / 5:57 pm

    I completely understand where you are coming from, I was all set to try VBAC but ended up having a C-section again, it’s disappointing but so difficult to go against medical advice no matter how much you want to. Wishing you all the best x
    Angela Webster recently posted..Teen Pregnancy-A Personal PostMy Profile

    • ghostwritermummy
      Author
      July 14, 2014 / 6:50 pm

      It is disappointing but there has to be hope. I will not go against doctor’s wishes but I a determined to try if I can x x x

    • ghostwritermummy
      Author
      July 15, 2014 / 4:43 pm

      Thank you, I am determined this time! x x

  9. Helen
    July 15, 2014 / 9:33 pm

    I thought I would just add to the birth debate. My sister has had 6 home births over the last 13 years all successful with no interventions. I had my first child last February and as a emetophic and tocophobic I decided to have an elective section. I am the first person in my extended family to have a section and I found that the midwives and general opinion is that sections are very painful, recovery is longer, they are not so good for the baby, more time in hospital etc etc. I can honestly say I researched all risks very extensively including reading the whole NICE report into c-sections. I am very fearful of pain and have never had any surgery in my life so to opt for an elective section was very scary. However as a complete fearful control ‘freak’ I can truly say that it was a brilliant experience, my daughter was born to the Dances with Wolves sound track, I had a consultant anesthesiologist who ensured I had no sickness during or after my section at all. Following surgery she gave me tab blocks by ultra sound which meant as the epidural wore off I was still in no pain. I required nothing more than paracetamol and diclofenac. I can honestly say that a migraine was worse. I was driving within 10 days and it was the best thing I ever did. I had lots of meetings with my consultant who ensured he delivered my daughter, my anesthesiologist to discuss exactly what drugs I would be given for sickness and for transfer to baby etc. I again decided that I wanted my daughter to have breast milk but didn’t want to breast feed and it would potentially be difficult having had surgery too. I expressed for 12 months exclusively, she was born very peacefully with an at birth APGAR score of 9 and 10 after 1 minute. I don’t wish to sound all perfect but for me I controlled every single aspect of the delivery and as such it was very controlled and peaceful and there is nothing about it I would change. I sincerely hope that you get the birth experience that you want as I think that this allows you to move into motherhood positively with no negative feelings about the birth experience.

    • ghostwritermummy
      Author
      July 16, 2014 / 7:20 am

      Thank you so much for your comment and it is lovely to read about such a positive birth experience! My first daughter was born by emergency section and the recover from that was pretty much as you describe- classed as emergency, it was more ‘unplanned’ than anything and actually an ok experience. My next baby, my son, was a failed VBAC and I was put under GA to deliver him urgently. I was in lots and lots of pain afterwards, from both the breathing tube and the section scar, plus I had laboured too. My entire body was covered in bruises and I was discharged the next day with no pain relief. As you can imagine the whole situation was extremely traumatic and I suffered PTSD and anxiety (still do) as a result. My third baby, a girl, was an elective section. I had fallen pregnant within 15 months of my son being born and it was just too soon to consider any other option. Like you, my section was peaceful, controlled and almost healing. But since I had already had two previous sections, no matter how gentle my surgeon had been (and he even ‘mended’ my two wonky scars to give me one neat scar) I was still in a LOT of pain afterwards. I was on pain relief for at least 3 weeks and even today my scar can feel a little sore. This is one of the major factors in my decision to try once more for a VBAC. But there is a part of me that also wants to try for peace of mind too. Its hard to explain and at the end of the day if it is deemed too risky I also know that a c section is a good option for me. As you know, it is not the easy option but when it comes to childbirth I think there is no such thing as that! So sorry for the essay, I just really wanted you to know my history and know that I completely agree with and understand your viewpoint. Thank you so much for taking the time to comment 🙂
      x x

  10. July 16, 2014 / 9:36 am

    All I can say is best of luck lovely. I had stomach surgery as a child, and have been terrified of being cut open ever since. My first baby was very nearly an emergency c-section, but ended up being delivered by forceps instead. Even with thirty odd stitches I was fully healed within a month. Really hope you get the birth you want this time round xx #sharewithme
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    • ghostwritermummy
      Author
      July 16, 2014 / 2:13 pm

      Oh so sorry to hear you’ve been through all that! But it is amazing what the body can withstand isn’t it? Thank you for your well wishes, it really does mean a lot x x

  11. July 16, 2014 / 9:49 am

    Fantastic post lovely and sums up so much of how I feel about it too. It sounds twee to say it but you feel that as a woman we should be able to bring life into the world, we should be able to give birth, naturally. For all the reasons you mentioned above! But I also recognise that for those of us not able to do that (for whatever reason) we are hugely lucky to live in an age where medical intervention is possible and c-sections can be performed to save the lives of potentially baby and mummy, and I for one do not have the confidence in my body to go against medical advice. So if they feel I can try for a VBaC I would love to, but if they feel I need a C-Section I will go with what they say, they are the experts after all. The poor mum in that article, it must be incredibly hard to lose a baby at anytime but even worse if you are somehow made to feel it was your fault, and the Dr certainly doesn’t sound very sympathetic! xx #sharewithme
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    • ghostwritermummy
      Author
      July 16, 2014 / 2:11 pm

      The article was a real eye opener it has to be said! I am just going to wait and see, and hope. Its all I can do!
      x x

    • ghostwritermummy
      Author
      July 16, 2014 / 4:28 pm

      I’ll drink to that! Thanks lovely xx x

  12. July 17, 2014 / 1:39 am

    I really hope you get the birth you want this time hunny. It must be so hard to have that decision taken from you. But I agree that whatever will keep mommy and baby safe is best. I can’t imagine go against a doctor’s advice for anything but we are all different. Thanks for linking up to Share With Me. November is just around the corner. It will fly by. And you will be holding your baby in your arms! #sharewithme
    Jenny recently posted..Share With Me ~ wk 24My Profile

    • ghostwritermummy
      Author
      July 18, 2014 / 9:48 am

      Thanks lovely, I plan to do all that I can to make it possible. But I will also make my peace with what will be will be x x

  13. July 17, 2014 / 7:45 am

    Not having had a section (yet – and fingers crossed not ever) I haven’t much to add except to say that it must be a really difficult decision to make, and that it seems incredibly shortsighted of the US doctor to suppose that that lady made the decision either on a whim or simply for the life experience/imaginary brownie points – none of us are cavalier, we’re just trying to make the best decisions based on the available evidence.
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    • ghostwritermummy
      Author
      July 18, 2014 / 9:46 am

      That is it, ins’t it? We just want to do the best- for our babies and for our bodies. A c section is not the easy option but it is also not a terrible way to birth a baby- so far it is the only way I know. I have many reasons for wanting a VBAC and none of them are for an ‘experience’ or to prove anything. I just want the best. x x x

    • ghostwritermummy
      Author
      July 18, 2014 / 9:40 am

      It totally depends upon you, your body, and how well the scar tissue has healed. For me, I am a good candidate for a VBAC and at the end of the day it is my body and MY choice, nobody else’s. Obviously I can’t comment on your situation but there is never no choice. Lots of women have had successful VBACs after 3,4, 5 even 6 sections x x x

  14. July 17, 2014 / 4:14 pm

    What an awful thing for that doctor to have said about that mother who lost her baby. As a mother who has lost her baby, I am utterly disgusted. I am sure that bereaved mother feels enough pain without being berated for her choice. I had no choice about what happened to me, and there is nothing that could have been done differently, but I’m still appalled on behalf of that mother.

    All any mother wants is to be able to take home her healthy baby. It shouldn’t really matter how the baby comes in to the world, as long as you and baby are both ok. There shouldn’t be any judgement. You should feel empowered to make as many of the choices you are able to. Wishing you well xxx
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    • ghostwritermummy
      Author
      July 18, 2014 / 9:43 am

      You’re absolutely right. And for a doctor to be so uncaring is quite hard to believe- it is surely better to learn from situations like this than to point the finger and apportion blame. I am so sorry for your loss, and I know that the pain of this mother is probably more apparent to you than anyone- but thank you for your comment, and your support.x x x x

  15. July 17, 2014 / 6:49 pm

    Brilliant, brilliant post. And it’s also a really important one as it shows what mums on the “other side” of the fence to the one that doctor was on are thinking. Apart from being incredibly insensitive, the doctor’s words also assume a certain knowledge of the situation that isn’t hers to know. Thank you for linking up to the #BlogBumpClub again. x
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    • ghostwritermummy
      Author
      July 18, 2014 / 9:26 am

      That’s it exactly. Each and every case is different and where as one woman will be advised not to have a VBAC, it may turn out ok for her, and another woman may not be able to deliver her baby that way despite the doctors believing otherwise. There are no guarantees at all and the only way to be prepared is to be knowledgeable, in my opinion
      x x x

  16. July 17, 2014 / 10:06 pm

    As you know I hoped to be able to have a VBAC with our Little Man, to partly heal the mental scars from my first caesarean in China, but it wasn’t to be. I took the advice of my consultant and I played safe. Do I regret that decision? I wondered if I would but actually I don’t. Do I wish I’d had the opportunity to experience ‘natural’ birth? Of course, but I actually recovered better from my operation the second time around, perhaps knowing what to expect, and Little Man being healthy displaced any concerns I had about the way he came into the world. But the important point I think is having CHOICE supported by professional but unbiased advice. I truly hope that you get the opportunity to make the decision that’s right for you Susanne, you so deserve it x
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    • ghostwritermummy
      Author
      July 18, 2014 / 6:34 am

      Thank you so much lovely. I have no regrets at all about Bella’s elective section. That pregnancy came along so soon after Luka was born and I simply wasn’t strong enough, confident enough or ready emotionally to have her any other way. This time I have made some peace with it all and I want to try. Knowing that another section is just as likely just makes me more determined!
      x x x

  17. July 17, 2014 / 11:05 pm

    I ended up having an emergency c sec after an induction and have often wondered if I’d just go straight to choosing an elective next time around. My head says yes, but in my heart I’d love to try and birth naturally. I just don’t think my body would cope. But I love the chance to try. It’s a tough decision for any Mum considering a vbac. xx
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    • ghostwritermummy
      Author
      July 18, 2014 / 6:32 am

      It really is a hard decision to make. With my second, I wanted an elective but I was refused; they told me that baby was too small and that I could have a section if I went over to 41 weeks. When the time came, they moved my surgery date and I went into labour the night he should have been delivered safely. I think because my heart had been set on a section and I was so frightened about it all, I was not strong enough to cope and things went haywire to say the least. He was born under GA and I was in doubt 3rd time around that I wanted a section. This time though, I feel stronger and more confident in myself and my body. I want to try but I know the risks and I know that another section is just as likely as a VBAC. I think knowledge is power and I feel happy that what will be, will be. Thanks so much for your comment, and I wish you all the best x x xx

  18. July 18, 2014 / 2:15 pm

    What a horrible and insensitive comment by the doctor. I have never had a csection but can understand where you’re coming from. I think I would mentally struggle with not being able to do it naturally, although at the end of the day as long as mum and baby are safe that’s the main thing. I really hope you get the birth you want, but if you end up having another csection that’s fine as well – but you sound like you know that already and are prepared well for either outcome x

    • ghostwritermummy
      Author
      July 18, 2014 / 9:18 pm

      I am. What will be will be and at least I will know I gave it my best shot x x

  19. July 18, 2014 / 8:39 pm

    Ah, I have never been in this position, but am all for informed decisions, I think if the consultant says no you need to ask why even if you’re afraid to as you need to know the thoughts behind it x
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    • ghostwritermummy
      Author
      July 18, 2014 / 9:17 pm

      Yes I agree. I have already learned through my own research that guidelines advise it is safe to allow me to go up to 42 weeks gestation, whereas my consultant intends to book a c section for 41 weeks. I will, this time, question more because I intend to be better informed. x x x

  20. July 18, 2014 / 9:25 pm

    I feel really moved by your post. I really hope you go on to have the birth that you want the fourth time, it sounds like you will have and you feel confident and ready for it. I would have felt angry had I read that article too! It is so much more than an experience, you’re right. Good luck! X
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    • ghostwritermummy
      Author
      July 21, 2014 / 6:20 am

      Thank you. I am going to give it my all to get that VBAC x x

  21. July 19, 2014 / 2:11 pm

    What a great post. There is a lot of pressure on women to trust their bodies etc etc and I’ve been reading about why inductions are bad, why you should avoid a CS etc but at the end of the day I trust the medical experts more than other women putting pressure on me. As for that horrible article – how many people tried for a VBAC and were victorious? A massive percentage I think. You should go for it

    xXx
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    • ghostwritermummy
      Author
      July 21, 2014 / 6:18 am

      Yes, scar rupture etc is very rare and yet they label VBAC women as high risk which is just ridiculous. Thank you for your support x x x

    • ghostwritermummy
      Author
      July 21, 2014 / 6:17 am

      Thank you so much, so do I x x x

    • ghostwritermummy
      Author
      July 21, 2014 / 6:16 am

      I agree! x

  22. July 20, 2014 / 12:45 pm

    Instead of being so angry, what if the doctor had worked with her at every step, encouraged her to believe in herself, and informed her of the risks she was taking? I don’t know why it has to be this or that. Why can’t any doctor be happy with a VBAC instead of doing it begrudgingly? It’s not about who’s right or wrong, it’s about respecting the mother.
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    • ghostwritermummy
      Author
      July 21, 2014 / 6:13 am

      I’m not sure if I mentioned, but the doctor who wrote the article was not this lady’s doctor at all. She really had no right to be so scathing and judgemental at all. But you’re right- if more support had been given who knows if the outcome would have been the same? x x

  23. July 21, 2014 / 8:22 am

    Oh Jenny, this post made me cry as I read it this morning. I felt very much as you describe when I went for my VBAC second time pregnancy. I needed to try to do it to prove to myself that I was not afraid of my body, that I would accept either outcome but I wanted to have faith and to try to do what nature intended. I needed to heal the emotional scars of the first time. And of course I would do nothing to endanger me or my baby. We had my sister on hand as well who is a doctor as I wanted someone with my interests at heart, not just someone who needed a bed freeing up. In the end, I have birth and it is such a personal thing. As you say, I have no judgement on people who deliver any which way – Elective, EC, VB – all we want is safe babies and mummies. Good luck to you. Xxx (from Brilliant Blog Posts)
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    • ghostwritermummy
      Author
      July 21, 2014 / 8:40 am

      Thank you so much. I am so glad you got the birth you wanted. What an amazing achievment x x

  24. July 21, 2014 / 7:53 pm

    Oh darling, you must do what you feel is best and is safest as you said for yourself and your baby.

    I felt healed with an elective second time round-the trauma of the first crash section was made better by my non traumatic, beautiful birth, I had the euphoria, the contact, the joy-although I still felt joy when my first was born, Oliver, the trauma hit after. It was a pretty traumatic pregnancy with OC though too-something I didn’t have with my second.

    My elective was the best thing I ever did, I don’t feel I missed out on a VBAC (it was the safest thing for me anyway emotionally and physically as advised by my consultant but I wanted an elective too). It is so important to do what you want so I empathise with your post and understand your personal longing.

    I just didn’t feel the need to go through labouring the second time (although wanted to the first)-but I get where you are coming from 100% and all power to you lovely-all that matters is you and baby are OK xxx
    Honest Mum recently posted..A Lovely Day Out in LiverpoolMy Profile

    • ghostwritermummy
      Author
      July 24, 2014 / 4:16 pm

      Thanks lovely. I felt the same after Bella’s elective and honestly never ever thought that I would want to try a VBAC again. And I still may change my mind I guess. But for now it feels like something I have to at least try x x x x

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