I’m a VBAC Failure

I’ve tried to write this post a thousand different times in a thousand different ways. And I have come up with no clever way to say these words.  So I’ll just say them plainly. 

My VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) attempt failed. And it was the exact birth I needed. 

My emergency c-section with my daughter was nothing short of traumatic for me, and I firmly believe that it played a part in the postpartum depression I dealt with for the first year of her life.  So, when it came time to discuss my options for baby #2, I was thrilled to hear that my hospital and physician of choice now allowed for mothers to attempt a VBAC. 

Because I was so, so sure that pushing this baby out the good ol’ fashioned way would mend my heart from my first birth. 

But you know that thing where babies have plans all their own and you actually can’t dictate what your body will do when in labor?

Yeah. That happened. 

I’ll spare you the nitty gritty details, but suffice it to say, that after 48 hours of breathing through contractions every 5-7 minutes. And not progressing past One. Freaking. Centimeter. I was so done. 

And also ready to roundhouse kick the next nurse that put me through a painful cervix check only to say, “I think you’re at a 1 and a wiggle!” 

(God bless you, L&D nurses, for dealing with laboring women who have ALL THE FEELS and may or may not take some of those feelings out on you. You are true treasures. Heroes among us!)

My OB, who was wonderful and kind and exceedingly supportive of my wishes for this birth started to become concerned about the state of my scarred uterus once we neared that 48 hour mark.  She gave me one directive:

“Go downstairs and walk, sister. Walk that baby out!”

And lo, I’m a rule follower to the core. So we walked.  Or rather, my husband walked and I waddled a few steps at a time then had to grab on to something and hold on for dear life as a contraction coursed through my body.  We walked for so long. So, so long.  And I was in pain. So, so much pain.  I was sure I’d made progress. 

“One and a wiggle!”

Enter: Tears, anger, frustration, and grief.  Also enter: One of my dear friends getting on the phone with me and saying what I couldn’t put into words. 

It SUCKS when your body doesn’t do what it’s “supposed” to do. It is the absolute worst when, despite your very, very best efforts, your plan doesn’t work out.  But the bright side here is that you did give it your all, and you’ll get to meet that baby soon.  

So, a c-section time was scheduled. And you know what?

I felt great about it. 

In spite of myself, I had such a sense of peace wash over me in that moment.  It was very likely due to sheer exhaustion. But I was so ready to meet my baby, however he had to arrive. 

And let me just say, his birth was awesome. And it validated for me that my daughter’s birth was every bit as serious as I thought it was.  

Put simply, his birth, and the fact that it was a c-section, healed me. 

The OR was empty when the nurses wheeled me in, instead of everyone being poised and ready to go in order to save my baby’s life.

The anesthesiologist was able to take his time setting up my spinal block, I don’t even remember this from last time because it had to happen too fast.

When he was born, he turned the most beautiful shade of pink nearly right away, not the scary purple of near suffocation that stayed with my daughter for far too many minutes.

And best of all, the NICU nurse practitioner looked over my beautiful 37 weeker and said these words:

“I see no reason why he can’t go back with you.”

 I got to hold my baby, ya’ll.  When they wheeled me out of surgery, he was in my arms. 

And that, my friends, was all my mama heart needed.  

So if you’re trying for a VBAC, please know that I pray it works out the way you want it.  I really, truly do.  But also know that if it doesn’t go the way you planned – you can still have a really beautiful birth experience.  

Even if it’s in an operating room.


*Originally published December, 2016.

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Kelly Guinn
Kelly is a working momma to her daughter, Genevieve (2014) and son, J.W. (2016). She’s an Edmond native, but left the state to get a degree in journalism from Texas Christian University (Go Frogs!) and work in Dallas for a few years. She moved back “home” to Oklahoma after meeting her husband and is now so thrilled to be raising her children right where she grew up! When she’s not working or playing with her kiddos, she’s making note of some of motherhood’s (mis)adventures and celebrating mediocrity on her blog –The OK Momma.


  1. Thank you for getting your words out! 🙂 I had a very traumatic c/s after my first Vbac attempt, and then after a failed vba2c, felt like I had a somewhat healing experience with that c/s, as well. For some reason, though, I didn’t feel like I could say it- and I certainly still have some regrets and feelings of failure to work through. But being able to do skin-skin right away, nurse, and look into those dreamy newborn eyes, first thing- it’s one of my most favorite and treasured memories. The fact that we were in an operating room didn’t even matter anymore. I was just so thrilled to have that experience.

  2. This was exactly what I experienced. My daughter’s birth made me never want to set foot in a maternity ward again. I was set on a VBAC home birth with my son. But after he gained so much weight the last 2 weeks there was now way that a normal delivery would be possible. We arranged a sensitive c-section immediately and it was a beautiful experience. It completely healed me.

  3. Kelly, I’m an OB nurse ( yes, the one all women despise at cervix-checking time). I have attended hundreds of births in my career. You didn’t fail! You carried a baby in your body and he is now in your arms. No matter HOW he arrived….it’s STILL an awesome miracle!

  4. I’m also hoping for a vbac but trying to come to terms with either. Were you induced at 37 weeks? That’s what my doctor wants to do.

    • Not induced — I went into labor on my own at that point. My OB actually said she couldn’t induce me due to my previous c-section.

      Congrats on your baby to be – praying for a smooth delivery – whichever way it goes!

  5. Hi Kelly! Its Bri! From the daycare! I miss you and little Miss Genevieve so much! I absolutely love your VBAC story. I had Kaydence via c-section and I am determined to have a successful VBAC. Reading your story, I am more comfortable knowing that whatever happens, happens and that I will be okay in the end. I will just pray for a happy and healthy pregnancy whenever we decide to have another baby!

  6. Kelly, THANK YOU for sharing! I’m currently 22 weeks pregnant with my daughter after my son’s birth 19 months ago, an emergency c-section. I’m still so torn between pursuing a VBAC or scheduling a repeat c-section and worry about it in some fashion every. single. day. I’ve been thinking over and over about getting to the end of this pregnancy and having a VBAC failure. I’m SO glad to know there is peace in that, too. You’ve given me insight into a world I knew had to be there, but no one ever talked about. ❤️

    • Thank you for your kind words, Jessie! It really was such a peaceful experience, and I don’t regret the attempt for one second. Ultimately the risks outweighed the benefits and it was still such a healing birth for me. Best of luck to you in whatever route you choose!

  7. so beautiful to read! you are so lovely ! This so touched my heart! love you kiddo and two little ones who have the best Mom<

  8. Hi! I just read your story and I am so glad you had a good experience. I am currently trying to decide if I want to attempt a VBAC for my 2nd child due in April. Do you mind sharing your Dr’s name? I am looking for a Dr that is not just willing to do a VBAC, but really supportive of it as well.


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