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"Do You Trust Me?" - Claire's Redeeming VBAC of Baby Daniel in the "Wrong" Hospital

The story of my second birth really starts two and a half years earlier with the story of my first birth. In May 2021, I gave birth to my son, Dominic. It was a 27 hour labor that ended in an unplanned c-section. My water broke before any labor and I went into labor about 5 hours later. I progressed to 10 cm with very little pain. But then, I ended up pushing off and on for over 7 hours, I had an epidural fail, and I was physically and mentally exhausted. My son's head was a bit ascynclitic (i.e. a bit crooked) and without positional help was having trouble descending. While his vitals were 100% fine and I was showing no signs of infection, my care team recommended a cesarean. My husband, Nick, and I agreed hesitantly.

My epidural failed again during the c-section, and I was put under full anesthesia in the O.R. While in the hospital, the doctor who performed the c-section came in on a round and told us that she didn’t think I would ever be able to birth vaginally because my son’s head was too big for my pelvis and large heads run in families. Thankfully, we didn’t believe her.

Flash forward 2.5 years to October 2023. Our second son was due any day, and since the rural hospital where we had Dominic was wary of TOLAC (trial of labor after cesarean) patients, we planned to drive two hours to Sioux Falls to birth with a reputable midwife group. On Friday, October 20, I was 40+5 and ready to have my baby in my arms. Nick and I left Dominic at home with my in-laws and went to my 40-week appointment in Sioux Falls. They checked me and I was at 5 cm and 70% effaced, but she also mentioned that baby was in a posterior position, which can make birth a little more challenging. The midwife swept my membranes and told me she expected to see me that evening in the hospital. Nick and I got a hotel room in Sioux Falls. My

contractions kicked up around 3 p.m. and were consistently 5-6 minutes apart but not intense.

Around 10 p.m. they petered out. (This can happen after a membrane sweep. It triggers contractions but the body is not actually ready for labor.) I was incredibly frustrated and did not sleep well. At one point in the night, I was venting my frustrations to Jesus and said something along the lines of, “Why? Why can’t I just have this baby now?” And I very clearly heard Him respond, “Do you trust Me?” I remember thinking, “Yes, Jesus, of course I trust You. But that’s a little rude to say in this exact moment.” I also remember thinking how clearly I heard Him speak. More clearly than I ever remember hearing Him.

The next day, we talked to our doula to get some advice on what to do. She gave us several stretches to try and help baby rotate into a better position. We decided to stay in Sioux Falls another night, just in case. Around 8:00 that night, I told Nick that I would rather go to bed and get a good night sleep rather than continue trying to stretch and grasp my way into labor. So we did and we slept for 10 hours.

I woke up around 6 the next morning and did the Miles Circuit while I waited for Nick to wake up. We went to an 8:30 a.m. Mass. Right as the entrance hymn started, I felt a contraction - nothing too intense, similar to the contractions I had felt for the past four weeks. I glanced at my watch and noted the time, but just brushed it off as Braxton-Hicks. They kept coming all through Mass and I glanced at my watch every time. They were around 5-6 minutes apart, but they were so mild I didn’t think they could possibly be labor contractions. We left to go back home. While we drove home, I kept having contractions. They were getting closer together, about four minutes apart, so I asked Nick to pull over in Brookings, halfway home, so we could walk for a bit and

see what happened. The contractions lightened as we walked, so I said let’s just go home. As we drove, we joked about how funny it would be if we got home and then God was like, ope, today is actually the day and you need to turn right back around. Little did we know.

When we arrived home, the contractions were still coming every four minutes. I gave Dominic a big snuggle, then I went to lay down and see if they would stop. After half an hour, they hadn’t stopped, so I got up and decided to go on a walk to see if that would slow them down again. Since my in-laws were still around, Nick joined me. About two blocks into our walk, we started timing. They were getting closer together and lasting 45-60 seconds, but still weren’t intense.  We called our doula. She suggested we continue walking for a bit before deciding. We walked about a quarter of a mile from home before the contractions started getting a little more intense. We turned around and by the time we got home, I was having to stop and breathe through each contraction. I told Nick it was time to go and we hopped in the car. 

The contractions had definitely intensified, but the first half hour of the drive wasn’t too hard and in between contractions we laughed about how funny God’s sense of humor is. We stopped at a gas station to grab gas and I went inside to go to the bathroom. Then things really started rolling. We were 45 minutes into a two hour drive, and I was heading into the transition phase of labor. I told Nick he needed to call the Brookings hospital which was about 20 minutes away. He called our doula and she told him yes, call Brookings. As Nick called the Brookings hospital, I managed to pull up the map during the very brief pauses between contractions (we’re talking 10ish second pauses).

When we walked through the ER door eight minutes later, there was a team of three nurses and a doctor experienced in VBACs waiting for us. We got up to our room and the doctor checked my cervix. I was completely dilated and could push. About 10 minutes of insanely intense pushes later, my water broke, and 10 minutes after that, Daniel Louis was born. At some point during my pregnancy, I had joked that part of the reason I wanted a VBAC was to prove the previous doctor who told me it was impossible wrong. I learned to never make jokes you don’t want God to take seriously. Not only did I have a successful VBAC, Daniel weighed in at a whopping 10lb 12oz, 1.5 pounds more than his brother and had a head 1 inch larger in circumference. He had also rotated during labor into an anterior position.

The “Do you trust me?” from Jesus turned into a beautiful and redeeming birth on the feast of St. John Paul the Great. I can so clearly see God’s hand (and humor) weaved into our story. He took all the hurt and brokenness that we had experienced in our first birth and used our second birth as a tool to heal our hearts.

Claire lives with her husband and two boys in Southwest Minnesota. She is a full-time Mom, parttime accountant. When she’s not accounting, you can find her trying new recipes, reading books, or going on long walks behind a double stroller.


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