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Women gives birth vaginally in her car after three cesareans (VBA3C)

I love this!  I meet women all the time whose confidence in their bodies has been dashed by the “failure to progress” diagnosis they received in past labors.  This woman had three cesareans, all with that same diagnosis, because, as she says, she got to the hospital to early.  And look what happens when she is permitted to labor in the peace, privacy, and safety of her own home – she gives birth vaginally!!

Baby born on I-43 during the morning rush

By Erica Perez and Sharif Durhams of the Journal Sentinel

Posted: July 27, 2009

The baby’s name was supposed to be Cecilia Violet Marie Schulte.

But "supposed to be" doesn’t work for a child born in the front passenger seat of a 1998 Toyota Corolla driving through rush hour on I-43.

Her mother, Annmarie Schulte, delivered the baby herself at 7:28 a.m. Monday, moments after she reached down and felt the little head in her hands.

One contraction later, the baby slid out into her mother’s arms: pink, still sleeping and – her mother knew instinctively – healthy.

"She’s here!" Annmarie exclaimed to her husband, Matthew, who still sat behind the wheel.

By the time they got to the hospital, they would christen their daughter with a new middle name befitting her special birth.

But the story of how the newborn got her name began months ago.

Annmarie, 34, a stay-at-home mom, and Matthew, 39, a teacher who is looking for work, have three older daughters – Megan, almost 7; Millie, 5; and Libby, 2.

For each of her three previous childbirths, Annmarie had gone to the hospital too early and had to have a Caesarean section because of failure to progress. This time, Annmarie wanted a natural childbirth. Some doctors told her it shouldn’t be done. Vaginal births after two C-sections are considered risky because they can cause uterine rupture. She was due Aug. 4. Two doulas – Wendy Kogler and LaNette McQuitty – worked with her during pregnancy, and a physician and a midwife worked with her at Aurora Sinai Medical Center, where she planned to give birth.

Wait until you know for sure the baby is coming before you go to the hospital, Annmarie was told.

At about 1 a.m. Monday at the Schultes’ Muskego home, Annmarie woke up Matthew. Her labor pains had become more intense.

By 3:30 a.m., contractions came about two minutes apart. She and Matthew called the doulas.

They came over and monitored Annmarie’s progress. She got in the bathtub. She changed positions. Around 7 a.m., she was fully dilated. They called the midwife. It was time to go to the hospital – now.

Leaving their other girls with neighbors, Annmarie and Matthew rushed to the car. In their hurry, they grabbed towels but forgot everything else at home – a change of clothes for them, the baby’s clothes, the car seat.

They drove toward Aurora Sinai, Annmarie still in her black-and-white striped nightgown and Kogler and McQuitty following behind in separate cars.

Matthew remained calm, driving below the speed limit and soothing his wife when she felt a contraction.

Kneeling on the passenger seat, Annmarie felt between her legs and cupped her baby’s head.

"She’s coming!" Annmarie screamed.

"Do you want me to stop?" Matthew asked.

"No! Keep going!"

With the very next push, the baby entered the world. She didn’t cry; she slept peacefully.

"She’s here!" Annmarie said.

Annmarie looked at the baby and experienced a deep feeling that everything was all right. Unconventional, but all right.

Matthew was not so sure. He looked at the baby and felt the deepest sense of terror he has ever known. He let out a primal scream. He pulled over into the distress lane at the Plainfield Curve on I-94/43. The doulas pulled over after him.

He ran from the car, still screaming. Words finally came. He frantically waved and yelled for the doulas to come out of their cars.

Kogler called 911. McQuitty checked on the infant. The baby turned a bit purple.

McQuitty gave her a breath and rubbed her back. The newborn turned pink again, letting out a tiny mewl.

Everyone cried. Annmarie wrapped her daughter in a towel and held the 7-pound, 4.8-ounce baby to her chest.

Emergency responders arrived, giving the baby a clean bill of health. Matthew clamped the umbilical cord and cut it.

People driving by on their morning commute, having heard about the freeway birth on news radio, rolled down their windows and yelled: "Happy Birthday!"

The emergency medical technicians joked: "You should name the baby ‘Plainfield’ or ‘Freeway’ or ‘Shoulder.’ "

"Her name is Cecilia," Annmarie said.

Matthew and the doulas followed behind Annmarie and the baby in the ambulance to the hospital.

"We freakin’ did it!" Matthew yelled when they got to Aurora Sinai.

"I think we really should make her middle name ‘Freeway,’ " he said.

Well, Annmarie thought, this child has a free spirit. And the name certainly fit the occasion.

So it was agreed. Cecilia Violet Marie Schulte would be Cecilia Freeway Schulte.

"Each one of my kids is an amazing blessing, but this baby, I delivered – not only vaginally but on my own," Annmarie said. "With the help of my husband and the doulas, I did it. I feel awesome."

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14 comments to Women gives birth vaginally in her car after three cesareans (VBA3C)

  • chrissy

    Amazing! If Annmarie can do it then so can I. Kaiser Permanente is all but condemming Vbacs, but I know my body can do it. This will be my third child. The first was delivered with no complications. My second, I got to 8 cms without any problems until my little rascal decided to give us a scare. With every contraction our son’s heartrate dropped to the double digits. And then, Emergency C-section. And now after my body proved to be very well capable, the docs at Kaiser are strongly advicing me for a repeat c-section. I’d rather wait at home till the last possible minute to leave for the hospital.

  • Sheva

    I just caught my friend’s baby in the back of my car for the same reason! She wanted a VBAC, but her doctors were giving her a rough time. So we, too, decided to wait til the last minute before heading to the hospital. Turns out we probably should have waited til the second to last minute – he slid out into our hands – was born in the caul, hand first, cord wrapped around his shoulders with out one push from his mother – just gentle breathing. He cried right away and pinked right up. In the hospital this would have been a complicated birth – hand first, membranes not ruptured, cord wrapped….
    But he and my friend are fine!

  • Georgia

    Inspiring and amazing story…

  • Nicole

    I am so inspired by this! I am pregnant with my 4th child and I have had 3 previous c sections. I refuse to believe I have to have another one. My body is capable and I feel it beyond a shodow of a doubt and the doctors hypocritical advice!! Please forward any information regarding VBAMC

  • Kristen

    I have had three scheduled c-sections. My first was breech; my second and third were repeats. (All of them were nearly 9 lb babies) I never labored, and my cervix never so much as changed even the slightest little bit. In exploring the option of having a fourth baby, I feel crazy to even desire a VBAMC. After reading this story, I feel slightly less crazy… but… every account I have read of VBAMC,the mothers have all labored before. I feel like my chances are extremely, extremely minuscule to succeed. My current OB is VBAC friendly, but I was too afraid to try last time. And this time, I’m afraid he’ll look at me like I’ve grown another head (like… you didn’t want to LAST time, but NOW? Really?). Does anyone know of any mother who has never ever labored, had 3+ sections and had a successful VBAC?

    • Jen Kamel


      I’m sharing your question on Facebook. Go here and here to read the comments.



    • Jennifer D

      Hi Kristen,

      I don’t think your chances are “extremely, extremely miniscule” at all! If anything, your chances are as good as any first time mom, given that you have a truly VBAMC supportive provider who is going to let you and your body and your baby do what they need to do! You are allowed to change your mind and have a vaginal birth this time instead of a repeat cesarean. Some fears and anxieties around laboring are normal, but you might want to seek out support if it’s overwhelming to you. I know you can do it!! Look up your local ICAN chapter and you’ll find you’re among women who totally get what you’re trying to do and will support you.

      Take care!

    • carla

      hi,kristen,im in the same position i have 3 c-sections and pregnant again i would like to try a vba3c but dont know if my ob will let me,my first dr. appt is may 14.when is your due date

  • Jennifer

    I did not labor with my first c/s. contracted (to 2 cm) (breech presentation) before c/s. 3rd was c/s. my fourth was my vbaccc. And my 5th a hb.

  • Karen

    My vbac’s were not quite so dramatic, but I do understand the feeling of fulfillment when it happens. My first was a hospital birth (8lbs). It was vaginal, but I wouldn’t call it natural. My second was a section for fetal distress (10 lbs). Later, I did massive amounts of research and decided on a vbac, and I wanted to do it at home. I saw a midwife and a doctor as a backup. My daughter died at six months, and I had to go to the hospital for an induction when labor wouldn’t start. My third son was born at home. Doctors kept telling me my babies were too big, and I couldn’t labor more than 10 hours. My son was born at home after 26 hours of labor weighing 10 1/2 lbs. My fourth son took contractions every eight minutes from Monday through Friday, dilating one or two centimeters a day, and was also born just fine at home. By the way, that super long labor was by far my easiest. Every eight minutes but only one hour of hard labor. He weighed nine pounds. I wish there was more available information out there so more women could experience how wonderful birth can be–whether it’s a vbac or not.

  • Umi

    I had my first three babies by C-section. The first baby was in distress after an over dosing of pitocin and I had the emergency C-section. Though I had been in induced labor for 6 hours and was at 6 cm, my records then listed CPD because my first baby was 8 and 1/2 pounds. I was small on the outside so I guess they assumed I could not handle future deliveries. Second and third were preterm repeats due to the label of CPD. For number 4 I simply refused to go to the hospital until labor started on its own. I had a stroke of luck when I went in after 3 hours of home labor to make sure it was real. The Resident on call let me have a VBAC, but with an episiotomy. My 4th was also 8 and 1/2 pounds. My 5th baby came so fast I had time to get to the hospital and push. She was born minutes later at 10 pounds with no time for IV, episiotomy or prepping. She was out in one push! So much for the CPD!. I went on to have 3 more (one surprise home birth with literally one contraction, one planned home birth and the last one 5 minutes after arriving at the OB floor of the local hospital. NEVER give up hope.

  • Brandie

    Thank you all so much for sharing your stories. I am in the same situation as many of you. I had my first C-Section because baby was breech. My next to were elective repeats. My OB at the time supported VBACs (even for my 3rd), however, we are a small town and the nursing staff in the office and L&D had be scared to try for the VBAC. I have never labored or even dilated. The closest I came was a dimple in my cervix at 38 weeks. I am currently 18 weeks along with our 4th. I have a new OB because my old one moved to another state. The new OB is young and on my 1st appointment flat out told me I would be having another C-Section. The further along I get in my pregnancy the angrier I get at how he handled that. There was no discussion about it, just basically I have no choice. I called the only other OB in our town today and she is willing to consider it after reviewing my records. I also do not have a lot of support from family, my spouse included. I know that it is out of fear and love for me and the baby, it is not because they do not want to support me. I really feel that this is something I can do. It is what our bodies are made to do. Again, thank you so much for sharing your stories. I feel better and better about a VBA3C with everything I read.

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