My Unforgettable VBAC* by S. Mizrachi

My Unforgettable VBAC* by S. Mizrachi

The following is a letter I received this week:

Dear Chana Jenny,

I’ve been meaning to write to share my special birth which I experienced 2 months ago. I have never felt Hashem’s presence and guidance in my life as strongly as I did the day I delivered my son.

With my first child, my daughter, thank G-d my pregnancy was very typical and progressed nicely. Just like many first time mothers-to-be, I read every chapter of What to Expect and had sighed in relief when all my aches, pains, and feelings were normal. I was developing by the book and all my check-ups were great.

Of course, I skipped reading the C-section chapter because, after all, that happens to other people. Why would it happen to me? I am bound to have a typical birth. The book said so! Only 33% of deliveries require C-section.

Hashem had a different plan.

I delivered my daughter on her due date after 22 hours of labor, 2 hours of pushing, and an emergency C-section.

The doctor said the baby was too big in size and facing the wrong way (head down, facing my spine) and so it made it really difficult to push her out. She was in distress and they needed to get her out fast.

I felt like I’d failed. What if I had tried pushing harder? What if I had taken a birthing class? What if my personal doctor (who had decided to take a vacation that weekend) had been there?

All nonsense. Hashem is in control. He wanted me to have a C-section. But it took me some time to internalize that.

I recovered quickly and was hopeful that the next time I would have a natural delivery. Fast-forward 10 months later. One morning, I awoke to intense nausea. I knew baby number two was on its way. What a blessing! I switched to a different doctor whom I found to be so calm, patient and serene. She was my perfect partner in helping me have the natural delivery I so wanted. And I prayed to Hashem during these months to give me siyata dishmaya (Divine assistance) in delivering this second child.

There were times when the topic at the Shabbat table naturally lead to childbirth and every woman present would describe her birth experience and I would receive some: “well, YOU don’t know what true childbirth feels like” comments. Those were frustrating and insensitive, though I know the people who said it were well meaning.

This second child was my chance to finally experience the birth I wanted, especially since this was my only chance! After two C-sections, all subsequent births must also be C-sections. The pressure was on and my praying intensified as time progressed and my due date was nearing. I had not read any books on pregnancy during this time. I had graduated into parenthood and so parenting techniques and motherhood were all I was interested in.

I had also discovered JewishMOM.com somehow and loved all the articles and mommy peptalks. They spoke to me. I also felt like I sort of know this Chana Jenny Weisberg. I think I once even spent a beautiful Shabbat dinner at her house!

My due date rolled right by and so every day could have been “the day.”

I went for a checkup and got an ultrasound to check the amount of fluid and the baby’s size and position, which the doctor was concerned about. The baby was the same size as my daughter (uh oh) but facing the right direction (yey!). I rationalized that since I’m about to deliver any day now, the baby won’t be turning. The most important factor was perfect. I was hopeful and cheerful!

My mother was visiting and like any Sephardic mother, she had breakfast, lunch, dinner, Shabbat preparations, and anything food-related taken care of and made sure my toddler was overfed. I had so much time on my hands while I was waiting to welcome our new baby.

One night, already 4 days overdue, I decided maybe I should read something inspirational about deliveries. It would help me to prepare. To say I’m a last-minute type is an understatement. So I started perusing some of the stories you have on your website and somehow I started reading the introduction to your book Expecting Miracles (CJW: my daughter Hallel’s birth was a lightning quick birth, 1 hour from 1st contraction to the birth.). I read your birth story with Hallel and felt so inspired. Another lesson that Hashem is in control. I called my husband and read it to him too. He blessed me that I should have that kind of delivery. But all I can think was, those miracles happen to other people.

The next day, I had another doctor’s appointment. The ultrasound showed that the baby had not only gained weight but had also managed to turn- my second uh oh! The doctor tried to reassure me that the baby can always turn back and that the guidelines have changed. Nowadays, I can still attempt a natural delivery even after a second c-section.

But I wanted to cry. I could already envision hours of contractions and hours of pushing. I dreaded delivering.

Again, I had to remind myself Hashem is in control. I came home and started googling ways to turn the baby. I found a website from a doula that gave some tips and techniques. I found myself for a considerable amount of time in an awkward yoga position and just talked to Hashem, begging for His help.

I went to sleep and woke up suddenly at 6:30 am, even though it’s very unusual for me to wake up so early. The mild contractions I had been experiencing off and on for almost a week were starting to feel a little more rhythmic and regular. Maybe today is the day! I started talking to Hashem. At that moment I experienced an epiphanic realization and understanding of how little control I have of anything and how much I am completely dependent on Hashem. Only He could help me. So I spoke to Him and explained how much I wanted to have a natural delivery. I really felt an indescribable closeness to Him.

At 6:45 AM I told my husband that maybe he shouldn’t go to work that day, the pains weren’t intense but we’re surely more frequent. At 715am, I got out of bed, and when I was praying it hit me: a contraction that made me go “ow!” Within the next 10 minutes, my contractions went from uncomfortably bearable to the most fiercely intensive pain I have ever experience in my whole life.

We rushed off to the hospital. My husband was driving very fast and I was screaming really, really loud. The pain was all consuming and just utterly unbearable. The contractions didn’t give me time to catch my breath. I made it to the hospital by close to 8am with the most intense desire to push.

When I got to the delivery room, and the nurse asked me my name, all that came out was “I want an epidural. NOW!”

They whisked me in and called my doctor who just happened to be having breakfast at the hospital cafeteria. Then they checked and told me what felt like the most devastating news I’d ever heard: it was too late for an epidural. I did not think I could bear another minute of the agony.

The doctor came in and after just a few minutes of pushing I heard the sweet sound of my new baby.

It was 8:12 AM and the world seemed bright again. Baruch Hashem!

My labor and delivery took less than 2 hours and I delivered in the most natural way possible.

I have never felt Hashem as I felt Him during that birth. Hashem gave me the VBAC I had prayed for.

Thank you, Chana Jenny, for your wonderful stories and all the time and effort you put into inspiring other women. The effects are far reaching and I thought I would share how your site impacted me.

May Hashem give you continued strength and blessings to continue to give to Jewish women everywhere.

Sincerely, S. Mizrachi

*VBAC means Vaginal Birth after Cesarean

Related posts:

Rav Shach and the Chassid
The Key to a Happier Home (7-Minute Mommy Peptalk)
The Miracle Playground

3 comments

  1. Elisheva

    Beautiful!!!!! Mazal tov! May you go from strength to strength. I’m expecting my 3rd VBAC baby in a matter of days – it should go as smoothly as your birth. Thank you for sharing you story. 🙂

  2. Wow! So in retrospect, would you rather a quick, painful, completely natural birth or a slower one which may or may not be natural? My friends and I always discuss this – how Hashem gives everyone what they can handle. My friend has short, very painful births and she can’t imagine having it long and drawn out. Mine are really slow and drawn out but probably not as painful as so quick ones (I can’t imagine being more painful than mine) – and I’m happy with mine and she’s happy with her’s!

  3. Sharona

    It is at times of utter helplessness that we really feel that Hashem is in control. Your exeperience is an excelllent reminder. Now I just have to remember that in all the other times in life when I think that I’m the one in control.

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