Birth photographer captures extraordinary scene
Anyone who has tried for a VBAC knows that you do not want to get to the hospital too early. Hospital staff is often apprehensive about letting a woman who is trying for a VBAC labor. When Paula D’Amore was preparing for her third birth, she’d already been through one successful VBAC, so she had her team in place and ready for the big day.
But, proving that no amount of preparation can truly predict when your baby decides to arrive, she ended up delivering in the family Jeep in the parking lot outside Boca Raton Regional Hospital. And she has an array of incredible photographs that document the experience, thanks to her birth photographer Paulina Splechta.
When her contractions were 15 minutes apart, she decided to call her birth team: her doula, birth photographer, mom, and close friend who is an L&D nurse. She wanted her friend to check her so she didn’t head to the hospital too early. She called her midwife to let her know she was in labor and would call her when she was on the way to the hospital. D’Amore was multitasking like a boss — while in labor. She recounted her birth story in an email to Scary Mommy, and let me be the first to say this woman is incredible.
Not only did she calmly assemble her birth team while she was in active labor, she also did all of this stuff downstairs and away from her family so they could sleep! “I labored downstairs to allow my husband Joe and my boys to sleep while I paced around,” she wrote. “I made coffee for everyone and got Joe’s gift ready for when I was to wake him.”
She finally decided to wake her husband before everyone else arrived. She matter-of-factly writes, “I went upstairs to let him know it was go time and gave him his gift (Labor coach shirt, with his rules). He got up and showered. While I ran to the bathroom to vomit.” No big. Just laboring, vomiting, getting the whole house prepared, and making coffee. Women are truly incredible beings. If anyone ever disagrees with that statement just show them this story.
She decided to start laboring in the tub while waiting for her nurse friend to arrive, but when she lost her mucous plug, made the decision to head to the hospital.
She headed to the hospital with her doula, photographer and husband — but her labor started progressing FAST. “We got on 95 and at this point I’m moaning and screaming because I can’t control the urge to push,” she wrote. By the time they pulled up to the hospital, her baby was emerging:
“I’m 100% sure my water broke as she came out. Lindsey (doula) instructed Joe to catch her head. Then a nurse came out and moved him over to suction around her face since there were a ton of fluids coming out. Then Christine (midwife) took over and with 2-3 pushes Daniella was out. She was placed on my chest and we allowed the cord to pulsate a bit. Then Joe was able to come around the other side of the car and cut the cord. I got out of the car into the wheel chair and escorted to recovery while holding my baby in my arms.”
Photographer Paulina Splechta writes on her blog, “Instead of scheduling a repeat c/section for her 3rd birth, which is what she did not want, (but would have been the route she would have been directed by a vast majority of medical providers in the United States), Paula wanted to go out of her way to build the right birth team, to find a midwife, (Christine Hackshaw, CNM, MSN, ARNP of Midwifery Women’s Care), and a doula (Lindsey Ripley, The Doula Sisters of South Florida), who would support and trust her in what she wanted for herself for her third baby’s birth: a second vbac (vaginal birth after cesarean).”
She extensively planned her birth to try and make her VBAC possible — and that’s okay. She had a team of knowledgeable people around her.
“When the media expressed interest in talking about the extraordinary events of Paula’s empowered second vbac birth, and I asked whether she wanted her birth to be public, her answer was: yes,” Splechta writes. “She did not say yes to undermine birthing decisions made by other women who chose to have repeat cesareans and she did not say yes to become a spectacle in the media.”
“She said yes …
to help bring national awareness that we must respect birthing mothers, to help empower mothers to become informed in their birth decisions, to find the right provider that will support their birth plan, and to bring awareness that if a mother wants a vaginal birth and she meets the criteria to be considered for a vbac by a medical provider who is skilled in delivering vbac moms, she CAN have it.”
I tried for a VBAC and was unsuccessful, like many, many women have been. That does not take away from my ability to see the positivity of this message. Every woman should feel empowered and supported to make the decisions she wants for her birth. It’s okay to have a vision and plan for your birth — don’t ever let anyone make you feel guilty for that.