160 Everything Left Unsaid with Mari and Allie
“To the unsupportive OB:”
“To that labor and delivery nurse:”
“To my partner:”
“To the midwife who believed in me:”
The long-awaited episode is here. This is the one where YOU have the spotlight. Mari Vega and Allie Mennie are back to join Meagan and Julie as they read your letter submissions. Let your voices be heard. Let your trauma heal. We tell the world everything you weren’t given the chance to say during your birth.
The VBAC Link’s Advanced VBAC Doula Certification Program
Allie Mennie’s website
Mari Vega’s website
This episode is sponsored by our Advanced VBAC Doula Certification Program. This course is designed for birth workers who want to take their VBAC education to the next level so you can support parents who have had a Cesarean in the most effective ways. Head over to thevbaclink.com to find out more information and sign up today.
Interested in sponsoring a The VBAC Link podcast? Find out more information here at advertisecast.com/TheVBACLink or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Note: All transcripts are edited to correct grammar and to eliminate false starts and filler words.
Julie: Happy Wednesday, women of strength. We have a really incredible episode for you today. I can’t even put into words all of the things I am feeling about what we are about to do because it’s big. It’s big, and it’s emotional. Some of us are reading over these for the first time. I think there’s going to be lots of tears and crying. I don’t know. We’re going to try to not get angry and frustrated.
We asked you back in December, or the end of November, maybe it was, to write an anonymous letter to a healthcare worker, your provider, somebody on your hospital staff, or somebody that negatively affected your birth. These are all anonymous letters. We have lots and lots of submissions, and we are excited to read them to you today.
Now, I want you to be advised that some of these letters have some difficult experiences explained in them. But, I think it’s really, really important that we listen to these, we hear them, and we meet these anonymous letter writers where they are because this is the state of maternity care in our country. These things that we are about to read are not uncommon experiences. And this is why we as The VBAC Link, and we as birth doulas and all of us advocate so much for change and education, and all sorts of things. But before I start rambling on more, I don’t want to take too long. We are not going to read a review of the week. We are just going to get right into the letters after the intro.
Julie: Birth workers, listen up. Do you want to increase your knowledge of birth after a Cesarean? We created our Advanced VBAC Doula Certification Program just for you. It is the most comprehensive VBAC doula training in the world, perfectly packaged in an online, self-paced video course. This course is designed for birth workers who want to take their VBAC education to the next level so you can support parents who have had a Cesarean in the most effective ways. We have created a complete system, a step-by-step road map that shows exactly what you need to know to support parents birthing after a Cesarean. Head over to thevbaclink.com to find out more information and sign up today. That’s thevbaclink.com. See you there.
Everything Left Unsaid
Julie: Alright, as you know, we have invited Allie Mennie and Marilys back with us to this episode as a follow-up to Marilys’ episode. We are going to take turns reading the letters. You guys, these are really raw and vulnerable. We are going to rotate through and try not to scream, and yell, and hit our computer screens. But also, yeah. That’s it, nothing else.
Mari, do you have the first one?
Mari: Our first letter starts with:
“Hello, beautiful doula angels! I just listened to Marilys’ episode and wanted to send you my letter. My letter may actually be the opposite of what you are looking for. It would be a positive one because although I ended up with a Cesarean, my provider made my birth experience amazing. It was the nurses I didn’t care for.
‘To my provider, thank you. Thank you for letting me make my own decisions. Thank you for asking for consent before doing any procedures or taking the next steps. For informing me of all the risks and benefits of any procedure, I had the OPTION for during my pregnancy, labor, and delivery. Thank you for not making me feel guilty or bad about my 60lb pregnancy weight gain. For giving me the option of which hospital I wanted to deliver at. For dealing with my many text messages asking you questions throughout my pregnancy.
Thank you for coming to my birth even though you were not on call. For having me push for four hours before even mentioning a Cesarean. For being quiet and calm while having me and my son in our most vulnerable states-- my body open and my mind full of fear.
Thank you for taking time going over the risks and benefits of a Cesarean as well as a VBAC and reminding me that the best-case scenario for me would be to VBAC. For assuring me that the risk of uterine rupture is extremely low and should not deter me from having a VBAC. Thank you for recommending a pelvic floor therapist when I came to you six months postpartum, still leaking urine and in agonizing pain during intercourse.
Thank you for being the provider that performed my cesarean and the provider I have 110% confidence in to support my VBAC.’
I hope this letter can be a reminder that a negative birth experience is not always the result of the provider or their actions. My provider was one of the most positive aspects of my birth and the only time I was fully able to relax was with her in the room. The negative aspects of my birth experience came from the labor and postpartum nurses, as well as my lack of knowledge and education about the whole process. I didn’t know what I didn’t know. But because of The VBAC Link, I now know what I didn’t know, and more.”
Mari: Whew! Go, VBAC Link.
Julie: I love that.
Mari: What a nice start.
Julie: What a great letter to start this episode off with. Perfect.
Mari: It’s important. It’s important for people to know that it’s also the journey that matters and not the outcome.
Julie: Absolutely. Absolutely. I love it. Alright. Allie, you are up with the next letter.
Allie: Alrighty. They start by saying:
“Thank you for posting the most recent podcast.”
This is actually a member of Mari’s ICAN chapter. She says:
“I'm so glad to have seen and heard her on your platform. This is such a good exercise. I'm glad to have had the chance to write out my feelings to MYSELF on my ‘failed’ VBAC.”
So this is a letter that this mother wrote to herself. It says:
“You are a warrior mama to your two beautiful babies. I wish you didn't cast so much self-doubt and ill feelings of your capacity to be a mom simply because you didn't push them out of your vagina. After your first C-section, which we both agree you naively weren't prepared for but still doesn't justify how traumatic it was (even these 30 months later), you did ALL the things in preparation of your next pregnancy-- switched providers, read all the books, listened to podcasts, went to ICAN meetings, hired a doula, found your voice to fight for the birth you knew you wanted and the chance to make that happen.
That morning, four days before your due date when you went into labor, remember those feelings. You were ecstatic to go into labor on your own, something previously robbed of you, it escalated so fast. You got to the hospital two hours later to have your water break as you wobbled in, to find you were already at a ten and fully effaced and ready to push that baby out.
As you started pushing, you had a deep gut feeling that this wasn't going to be a different…