Monday, August 25, 2014

I Did it all for the VBAC: My Journey to my Ideal Birth


Hello, hello, hello!!! It has been way too long my friends. I have truly missed writing and assure you that I will not be gone this long again if I can help it. As you can see, my little girl arrived into this world, healthy and safely. My life has not changed too much, but my heart has doubled in size. But this post really isn't about my sweet angel, it's about me and the journey I took to get her here. So let's go!

      Now before I get into my story, I want to make it clear that in no way am I discounting or judging any other mothers birthing options. Every birth is personal and sacred. Our children come into this world by whatever means they have to and our purpose is to get them here safe and sound. Now that I have the formalities out of the way, let's talk VBAC. Because really, throughout my pregnancy with Yui, that was the most asked question. "What's a VBAC?" folks would ask me with a confused look, trying to decipher the letters. And my reaction was the same every time. "It means vaginal birth after cesarean." I would say with a smile and a quiet sense of pride because I knew that I was amoung the few women in America that would chose this option. It was like being in a secret club or some kind of underground society. Why the VBAC rate in America is so low, I honestly cannot tell you, but I knew that it was the only way for me. And the reaction I got when I said I was doing it drug-free was priceless.  You see, with my son, I had an unplanned c-section. And although my Masaya's birth was one of the most magical events in my life, the experience left me feeling...well...robbed in a way. The power of his birth, the decision making was no longer mine, but someone else had taken it. Someone else had taken my power and I had given it up without a fight because I was afraid and honestly didn't know any better. I didn't know that there was another way, another option.  And in retrospect, I know now, that it had more to do with being on a clock then any true emergency with my son. But I'm not going to down that road right now.  I knew that this time around, I did not want the same experience.

 Because really, I prepared for my baby, but I had not prepared for labor and birth and all it entailed. I read all the baby books and style guides on pregnancy. I listened to podcasts giving me weekly guides to all things maternity, but I did not educate myself about what birth was. And I don't mean taking those one day birthing classes that the hospital offers. I mean really researching through all kinds of media, books and people. I know some will say "You can't prepare for labor. It is what it is." But I have to disagree. You cannot anticipate what will happen exactly, but you can understand the process of birth. You can know how your medical teams' procedures run, whether you decide to give birth in a hospital, birthing center or at home. And prepare with your own personal support team, be it your partner, parent, sibling, friend, doula (Oh, my doula blog post is next) or whoever you feel comfortable with. You can prepare mentally, physically and emotionally. This time around, I had done all of these things and if something was amiss, I quickly made changes so that my goal could be achieved. I actually changed doctors early in my last trimester because I no longer felt supported in my choices. 29 weeks pregnant and I switched practices without a second thought because I had educated myself to know that no matter what, I was in charge of my baby's birth and my body, not the doctor. That move turned out to be one of the best decisions I made during my pregnancy.  
                    A worn out me and a brand new Yui just moments after her being born

I went into labor with Yui exactly two weeks before my due date. Now that was something I had not planned on and was a bit upset about it. I remember crying in the hospital triage when the doctor who examined me told me I had to stay. Mainly because I felt I still had two more weeks and a whole lot of stuff to do. In that moment, I was not ready. But it was game time and there was no going back. My daughter was ready to be born and all my preparations needed to be put to the test. Everyone says that once  a woman has a child, she forgets the pain of labor in order to have more children. In some ways I agree, but I can remember moments. I remember not so much pain, but waves of intensity. I remember my mother, Kenji and my doula Pam, working together to keep me focused and relaxed. I remember going out of my body and pulling energy from my ancestors. I know that sounds so hippie to a lot of you, but I thought of the women in my family who had transitioned past this earthly realm and I truly pulled energy from them, knowing that they had gone through this exact same experience and many times with less luxury then I was receiving. I could do this. I remember wanting to push and how good it felt to bear down. I remember the "ring of fire", the burning pain of my daughter's head crowning and I embraced it know that she would be here and the pain would be over soon. And I remember the feeling of my daughter emerging from my body and being placed in my arms. I had done it. I had my daughter vaginally, drug-free and I was in awe of what I had just done.

Yui Lena Caudle-Saito born at 6:24am on June 30th, 2014
Many say that vaginal deliveries are better for babies and mothers. That the risks are so low compared to the many complications that could take place during a cesarean. But you know what, I didn't do it for those reasons. I didn't even really do it for my Yui, I did it for me. As selfish as it sounds, I wanted to have as much control over the uncontrollable as I could. I wanted to prove those wrong who said that this vaginal birth could not be done. I also understood that even though I planned to have a VBAC, I was open to any changes that could of happened, even if it meant that I would have a c-section again. But I was blessed in so many ways. I saw the outcome of my child's birth, prayed for it, visualized it everyday and spoke it into existence. All the mediation and relaxation techniques, the monthly meeting at my VBAC support group, talks with Pam, talks with my girlfriend Becca, it all led up to that moment. There was no fear, no sense of the unknown. I can say, I have never felt so empowered. I remember saying loudly in the delivery room after Yui was born "I just had a baby!". I wanted to proclaim to the wold what I had done. And in a way I believe I do every time I take my daughter out.  So I leave you with this my friends, you always have options. You always have choices, be they few or many. And you have the power to make your dreams come true. Wishing you all nothing but love and that it surrounds you everyday.

Love Malinda xoxox

Masaya and Yui…the loves of my life.
For more information on VBAC and VBAC groups, please visit the following links:


  1. Malinda, thank you for sharing your story with us. I'm happy that you were able to have the birthing experience you wanted. By the way, I loved the book Guide to Childbirth by Ina May.

    1. Thank you so much!!! Ina May is one of my favorites. I've read almost every thing she's written. Wish more health care professionals looked at pregnancy and child birth the way she does.

  2. Awww.. I really enjoyed your story. Thanks for sharing love...