A collection of VCU Health birth experiences
It can be challenging, emotionally raw and supremely beautiful. It forces us to dig deep, tap into strength we didn't know we had, and use every ounce of our being to bring new life into the world. Our birth stories are unique to each of us, and are meant to be told, heard and celebrated. On this page, you can share your VCU Health birth experience with other women and connect to an incredible community of motherhood.
Please, tell your story. We want to hear it.
Delivering my son at VCU was truly a life-altering and healing experience. The empowerment I felt after my son's birth was in stark contrast to the helplessness I felt after my first child was born. After a less than stellar experience with my first birth, I knew delivering at VCU would increase my chances of having the natural birth I desired. It was truly a transformative experience in more ways than I ever could have imagined, and I’m eternally thankful for the amazing team that made it happen.
I was 41+1 when my husband and I walked out the door at 7:33 on a Sunday morning last June. We walked into the hospital, and I signed my paperwork just before 8. Once in the room, I got on the bed and my water broke right away. The bed was in a reclined sitting position, and I held onto the back during each contraction. I love that VCU supports women laboring in the way that feels best to them. I remember hearing my midwife, Elizabeth, say, “The baby is at plus four,” and I knew it was time to push.
I began pushing while our nurse, Robin, used the wireless fetal monitor to check on the baby. I knew something was going on, but I didn’t feel scared. Melanie, my doula, later told me that the baby’s heart rate was dropping with each contraction and not coming back up. Elizabeth told me I needed to turn around to be on my back. Everyone in the room was calm, but it was obvious something wasn't right. Elizabeth, Robin and Melanie told me it was time to get the baby out. They were firm but didn’t sound at all panicked, which helped me focus and not panic myself. I would later find out that he had such a tight nuchal cord that it had to be clamped and cut before he was even born. He also had his elbow over his head, further complicating things. Everyone kept telling me to hold my breath and push as hard as I could in order to get him out. Melanie said to send all my energy into pushing out my baby, and her words gave me the strength to do just that without totally freaking out. The sensation of delivering him was completely surreal. I felt incredibly fierce and also insanely relieved, especially once I found out about his cord.
Since I didn't have time to labor in the spacious tub, Robin helped me into it after delivery. She sat on the edge of the tub and chatted with me about all sorts of things – local farmers markets, jam making, my blog, kids. There are certain people who touch your heart in a way you didn't know was possible, and Robin is one of them. The only moment I teared up was when Robin was hugging my daughter. She said, “Do you know what the best thing is about having a little brother? You get to take the kindness that’s in your heart and share it with your brother. Then the kindness that you put into the world is doubled.”
Words can't describe how much I treasured my delivery at VCU. There's something truly magical about delivering at VCU, and I will forever be grateful for the experience I had there.
There is so much beauty in urgency although we never get a chance to embrace it. It's as if everything on the outside moves in slow motion yet every ounce of your existence on the inside shifts into this eccentric rapid duet . I like to think of it as watching a flame dance in the wind. Dangerous to touch but so beautiful to watch. It's the Yin and Yang of life yet we rarely notice this during labor.
I had told myself on Friday,June 3 after my prenatal appointment that at 3 cm dilated and 50% efface that at week 38 I would meet "My Magic". She would tell me she's ready and I would just follow her lead. I told my baby girl that whenever she was ready I'd be ready and it didn't matter when. Well as the weekend past and Monday arrived. The small Braxton Hicks now and again seemed minuscule and I began to question if I really knew myself. I remembered telling her, "in her time" and well that meant it had nothing to do with how well I knew me but how much I trusted the little girl inside me.
My mother spent the night of Monday, June 6th and all of Tuesday, June 7th she and my husband stuck around as well. Tuesday night my mom went home for work but was ready on call to look after my boys.Nothing was happening. I felt no pains, no contractions and perfectly normal but they trusted my judgement that she would soon be here.
On June 8th at 10:40 am I woke up in active labor. Labor pains 5 minutes apart but rapidly moving to 3. I went to the bathroom, showered, called after my husband to get ready and call my Midwives. I spoke to Stephanie. We spoke while I stood in the shower breathing. Inhaling, exhaling and welcoming each surge knowing no matter when she decided to come out this was her journey I would not interfere I would not be scared. I trusted her because my "My Magic" had decided she was ready. My mother made it in record breaking time to my home as if she was camped outside my home. I was on the floor on elbows and knees breathing through my surges making space for "My Magic" within. It was time to go and as soon as I could I stood up headed off to the hospital now facing my biggest fear: The Car Ride.
The entire highway ride I imagined the swerves and narrow paths as a part of the process. It was getting me closer to her and it was preparing me for the end of a journey. And although I was trying my best to stay calm I had to keep reminding myself, "DO NOT CRY! STAY IN CONTROL! LET HER LEAD YOU. YOU MUST FOCUS!" We made it to VCU's Visitor and Patient Valet on Level 6 but continued to move slowly behind a white car that was very leisure about it's endeavors and it killed me. I wanted to scream to tell this leisure cloud floating in darkness that is the garage to MOVE! But I asked myself, "What is this White Car?" I thought, " White horse and carriage, White horse and carriage" anything to allow me to believe I was just getting closer to " My Magic."
We finally stopped on Level 1 and my husband took whatever spot he could. He grabbed a wheelchair while I got through another contraction and I sat down thinking... " This is the hardest wheelchair EVER known to mankind!" He rushed, He rushed, He rushed to every elevator. I watched and I watched as people moved in that slow motion. Everything around me; sounds, smells, the faces of staff members and patients all existed but in a paradox while everything inside me became a rapid dancing beautiful flame of fire... "My Magic." Surges and Waves back to back. Nothing mattered but "her" and I remember thinking, "All I need is to see Stephanie's face and I know I'm here. I know I made it here."
We made it to L&D and the front desk told my husband he must fill out some paperwork. I stared at him and noticed him shaking. I have never seen my husband nervous. I actually never knew in all the 14 years of knowing him that he had that emotion.The classroom presentations as a group in High school when we met he never seemed to worry or be concerned that we were standing in front of a bunch of our peers. The day he asked me to be his girlfriend he didn't stutter or stammer. The day he asked me to marry him he didn't seem unsure at all. On our wedding day he didn't sweat a bit as he awaited his bride. He delivered our baby boy at home alone without our midwife and didn't blink. Yet, he was nervous and instead of trusting myself I trusted our baby girl to give her daddy a little more time. He rushed through the paperwork and I saw Stephanie emerged from "The World of Code Pink." Registration ended at 12:30 pm. I was introduced to Jess the most sweetest, hilarious nurse ever. The surges became stronger and they were right on top of each other but I was ready. We hurried into " The World of Code Pink." As I managed through another surge I got on the scale and then another long white path to the delivery room. I remember sitting in the middle of the room and being told that pee would be needed. I rushed to the bathroom sat and... NOTHING. Another major MAJOR surge and I rushed out the bathroom took my dress off tossed it to the couch and up on the bed I went. I remember wanting to labor in the birthing pool, wanting low lit lights, soft music and wanting to focus all in a warm hug of water. I remember wanting to be on all fours or squatting when she arrived. I remember wanting to sway as needed until she made her appearance but, here I was up on the bed on my left side feeling her move farther and farther down the birth canal. I told my myself to be OK with this because it was her journey not mine, her way, her time. I told Stephanie to just check me and that in two minutes my baby would be here. I recall her saying, " Oh,I believe you." I told her just check for dilation although I knew I was right there. I remember hearing chatter from someone and shouting, "There's too much talking." I needed to focus just a little longer. Sure enough, check, check, pressure... " Your water bag is bulging. Can't really get a measurement." I here Jess say, " Should I put 10, 0, Spontaneous?!" And Yep, that's exactly what it was a bulging water bag just like my two other babies and that meant a babies head would soon emerge spontaneously.
I felt her head, I felt her pressure and I felt her reassurance that, "Mommy, I am ready. I am here.You said whenever I was ready. Are you ready for me?"Stephanie said, "Okay, Vallin you are having your baby." I reached down and focused on small pushes. At some point the discouraging feeling of being on my side reminded me of laying on my back with my first child leaving me with 37 stitches and I said in a defeated nerve stricken tone, " I'm going to tear!" I heard Stephanie, "No you're not, slow pushes just like that you're doing great." And at 12:52 pm and pretty much only 10 minutes of actually being in the labor room with just a tiny paper cut from delivery that I couldn't even feel, " My Magic," my little fiery flame, my dancing beauty. All 8 lbs. and 20.5 inches of miraculous arrived. I said," Oh, I feel much better now." No tears at all I was just overwhelmed with Joy and Peace.
There's something powerful about delivering a daughter. It's something like a rebirth. It's pivotal and dynamic when a woman can say she birth another woman. It's letting go of the world, it's expectations, it's demands it's desires and for once being that woman that finally decides to trust the little girl inside them. No questions asked and with no reservations. I committed myself to trusting her from the moment of conception. Any ups or downs I promised to trust this process. It's no longer figurative but literal. Trust the little girl inside you to bring you to both the end and beginning of the journeys in your life. Somehow, where you have faltered when you were younger and unsure; you now have the opportunity to trust her. For me that's truly "Magic."
Thank you to my Midwives, My L&D nurse Jess and to all the nurses in the recovery unit, the Nurse Practitioner in Pediatrics for being so loving, carrying, sharing their birth stories and experiences with their own children. I felt welcomed, safe and super supported. I would do it all again.
When I became pregnant with my first child, I was with an OB-GYN group unaffiliated with VCU Health. I had always hoped to deliver my children naturally and wanted to be supported by those who would allow nature to take its course and not rush the process. When I began to have concerns that my doctor/group may not support me through an unmedicated birth, I made an appointment to chat with the VCU Health midwives.
I instantly felt comfortable with the midwives' approach to pregnancy and birth and transferred my care to them when I was 6 months pregnant - one of the best decisions I have ever made. Guy's birth was a transformative event in my life. I was able to achieve a natural birth because of the unparalleled support of the midwives.
Fast-forward 4 years to the birth of my second child. I was excited to deliver with the midwives again, but this time, I would be in the new Labor & Delivery Unit - bonus! When I entered my gorgeous L&D room, my midwife had already put on relaxing, soft music. The curtains were drawn and the room was dimly lit. Our L&D nurse was filling up the labor tub for me. It was a quiet, peaceful, safe setting.
Although my husband and doula were with me for support, my midwife hardly left my side. When time came to push, she was right there for the hour and forty-five minutes it took to deliver Coco. As we later discovered, Coco's umbilical cord was wrapped several times around her body, which slowed her descent. My midwife was by my side every inch of the way, recommending different positions and expertly guiding my labor. She did absolutely amazing work to bring my little girl safely into this world.
Shortly after Coco was born, our wonderful nurse drew a fresh, warm bath so that we could relax together after working so hard. It was heaven! Birth at VCU truly is special.
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