I first met Sheridan Ripley when I signed up for her Hypnobabies classes in the spring of 2007. I was expecting my second child and wanted to make sure I had a successful VBAC birth after a C-section with my first child, who was breech. From the start my husband and I were extremely impressed with Sheridan’s caring and supportive nature. It was clear that she was there to truly help you by giving you as much information and support as possible. Her classes were informative, relaxing and enjoyable. Never once did we feel pressured into a birthing choice but instead left each class empowered by the information that had been shared with us.
1st Attempt at VBAC Thwarted
I was set to deliver by VBAC with a Dr. that seemed supportive of my decision, but as the time grew closer, I was “scared” into delivering via C-section again. My Dr. informed me that my fluid was low and that the baby would be larger than my first baby. At this point I was exhausted, I had been working full-time and I was ready for the baby to arrive.
I had my husband call Sheridan’s co-doula, who was assisting us with our delivery, and let her know the developments. Again, never were we made to feel like this was a bad decision, or that they were disappointed in any way. She was extremely supportive and understanding. By the way, our second son who went a week longer in the womb was born an ounce less than my first. Don’t believe the claim of bigger babies when your Dr. says it.
Determined to have a VBA2C
Three years later when I found out I was expecting my third child, I was determined to get my VBAC, especially since I knew this would be my last pregnancy. I desperately wanted that natural birth experience. I immediately contacted Sheridan. She was hesitant at first. I’m sure she didn’t want a repeat of how the previous birth ended.
She informed me that if I found a Dr. willing to do the VBA2C, she would consider it. (At the time my Dr. had said she wouldn’t allow it.) I began to call Dr. after Dr. Any Dr. that was mentioned as a possibility was called. I knew this was just half the battle, as I really wanted my son born at the same hospital as my other two and this hospital was well known not to be VBAC accepting.
After no success in finding a Dr. willing to perform the VBA2C, I figured I would switch Dr.’s regardless. This is where the turning point occurred. Once my Dr. discovered I was switching to another OB, she suddenly changed her tune. I decided to stay with her after she promised to allow me to try a VBA2C, but I had to go into labor on my own.
Sheridan continued to follow up with me during the entire process and constantly forwarded me incredible articles and insights to our situation. I’m sure she was still a bit apprehensive, but continued to be supportive. It was also at this time that ACOG published the new suggestions for VBAC and VBA2C . This definitely helped us and added needed ammunition to our fight.
Always get a 2nd opinion
Twice I was told by my OB that my fluid was low, but this time I had learned enough to ask for a second opinion. Both times the fluid was found to be fine. I was told I would be allowed to go to 41 weeks but no longer. We had a C-section scheduled for Friday morning at 9 am. Did I mention we also moved this week? I was packing/unpacking like crazy, hoping it would trigger something, no such luck.
Cesarean is Scheduled for Tomorrow
The day before the scheduled c-section arrived and I was determined to get that labor started. I went to an 11am pregnancy massage and then proceeded to Rite-Ad to buy any and everything I could find with a lavender scent. This is supposed to relax you enough that labor starts. I hate the smell of lavender, by the way, but was willing to try anything.
I arrived home at 2 pm and immediately after, my water broke and contraction started. I began timing them and called my OB and Sheridan to let them know. This was the first time I had even felt contractions. We arrived at the hospital by 4pm. Sheridan had asked to meet outside before we went in, but I was panicking that I’d deliver this baby in the parking lot. I had no idea how long labors lasted and my contractions were coming every 5 minutes consistently.
Once we were in the room, Sheridan began coaching me and offering suggestions to help keep the labor going. It was comforting to know I had someone in my corner. Hospitals are intimidating enough, and it helped to have her knowledge, support and advice. At around 10pm we were given permission to walk laps around the halls. The nurse said we had to “really” walk (almost a powerwalk) if we were going to be off the monitors. We had to make this count. As we walked the contractions began to come closer and closer. Sheridan pinched my ear during each one to help with my feeling of nausea. I know it sounds crazy, but it helped tremendously. Another affirmation of how great she is! We walked for 20 minutes or so and it was enough to do the trick.
What is my real desire?
At that point the contractions were getting pretty intense for me. I was really having a hard time focusing on my scripts and practicing my meditation techniques. I was debating receiving an epidural. I was so exhausted at this point. I remember Sheridan asking me, what was the more important factor to me, having a vaginal delivery or a completely natural delivery. I will be forever grateful to her for that question. I realized I didn’t have to be some “superhero” and try to do it medication free. I was having my baby vaginally, I was in LABOR, something I’d never made it to or gone that far before. I chose to have an epidural and have never regretted it. And Sheridan never made me feel bad about that decision. She truly wants the best for her patients and respects their choices. I was able to take an hour nap after that, pushed for an hour and delivered my son 5 hours before our c-section was scheduled.
I will be be forever grateful to Sheridan for her endless support, compassion, knowledge, suggestions and care. I know without a shadow of a doubt I could not have had that outcome without her guidance along the way.