|Meeting Walter for the first time in the OR|
I have had a couple of people ask why I would want to try VBA2C (vaginal birth after 2 cesarean). When I had Dean, I was sure that it was a life and death situation by the way the doctor was acting. After my 18 hours of labor and c-section with him, all the drugs in my system left me convulsing and I could barely open my eyes (let alone nurse or hold him) when Matt brought him after he'd been cleaned. I remember hearing myself say in a very drug induced way, "Thank you for saving my baby!" as they were sewing me back up. My actual doctor was the one who did the c-section (though she wasn't there at all for my 18 hours of labor), but she did a great job and I healed up pretty well. Because I felt like it was so "emergency" I never really felt angry about having to have a c-section (though I did feel very angry about the nurse refusing to help me get him latched that night because she had "5 hours of charting she was behind on" etc. So Matt just ended up holding him, we sent him back to the nursery for the whole night, and I slept off all the drugs that were in my system). It's just what happened. I don't feel like I had many problems recovering from Dean's birth emotionally. As I look back on it, it probably wasn't quite as dire of a situation nor was his cone head or molding abnormal. It's hard to say, though, since we were so naive of the actual birthing process, interventions and the like. Oh, and as an aside, I just heard from a reputable source (though I haven't had official confirmation) that the c-section rate in my area is 50%!! That is outrageously high in my opinion. Makes me think that the doctors here jump to c-section unnecessarily and quickly!
When I was pregnant with Walter, I did have a desire to try for a vaginal birth. My OB would have allowed me a trial of labor at Centennial Hospital which was further away from us (and my doctor's practice) than MCM. She was a pretty laid back doctor, so I didn't really feel like she was truly discouraging me from having a VBAC, but she also didn't inform me much of anything or encourage me either. I was never given a clear reason as to why I had a c-section with Dean. She stressed that they could not induce me and who knows how long I'd go or how big my baby would be. She also mentioned she would have had to cancel all her appointments when I went into labor since the hospital was further from her practice and I was higher risk. Matt didn't feel all that comfortable with a VBAC. He couldn't really see another outcome than another c-section, so why not just take the emergency out of the equation. In the end I went with a scheduled c-section. I kind of felt like my body was "broken". I wasn't sure if I was "big enough" to birth a normal baby.
Walt's birth was so much more surreal than Dean's. I knew what day I'd have him. I knew what time of day. I didn't have one contraction nor one Braxton Hicks contraction even. I was happy to have my baby after surgery, but I honestly don't think I felt like I'd "earned" him. After having Dean I was a leaky lactating mess every time he cried or even when I thought about him. It was not so with Walt. I was, however, leaky when I heard Dean cry even after I had Walt home. I gave away all my nursing pads after about 4 months and then at about 5 or 6 months I finally felt connected enough to the little guy and started gushing like I'd just started nursing him! My emotional state after I had Walt was precarious. I was a wreck. I felt like a crazy person most of the time. Walt was so good so I felt guilty about being such a mess, but Dean was just hitting his 2's and I was not handling that well. I felt very, very disconnected from my family of origin and didn't feel like I had enough close friends to lean on or call on anyone. It didn't help that the few people I did try and reach out to were not that responsive or were actually quite aloof. I remember talking to my mom at one point saying I just wanted to come spend a month in Snowflake so I could get my head back on right. Luckily we were able to go to CA for Christmas that year for 3 weeks. I had help. I was able to go on some dates with Matt. I felt like I was able to finally "heal" emotionally and put my crazies away for good. That was about 6 months after Walt was born.
When I started running again in March of 2010, I started voicing my desire of having a vba2c as I jogged with my running partner. I knew I was a ways off from even wanting to be pregnant, and I didn't know if it was even possible, but I knew I didn't want to have to go through another postpartum experience like I'd just been through. I talked about it a lot. I kept going to see my OB, though for most of my check ups I ended up with the nurse rather than my OB. At my 1 year check up I remember asking the nurse practitioner if a vba2c was even possible, and she said they didn't do it and didn't know anyone who did. I even wrote my doctor and asked if it was possible and she said no, and that she didn't know of any doctor who would do a vaginal birth after multiple cesareans. That sounded like bull to me.
I had a friend who had been a midwife before moving to TX. Talking with her about my birth experience with Dean was the first time I questioned the veracity of the "emergency" of my c-section, and she told me some things they could have tried rather than going straight to a c-section. I started thinking in the direction of midwife and birthing center though I'd never really considered it before. After I learned I was pregnant with baby #3, I emailed her and asked if she knew of anyone who would do a vba2c since my doctor swore she didn't. She pointed me to the ICAN group of North Texas (International Cesarean Awareness Network). I also had a lead on a midwife about 1/2 hour north of me from a friend who'd had 5 home births with midwives, the last being with this particular midwife in Sherman. The ICAN is how I got in contact with Dr. Cummings, the OB I chose to go with, and the midwives in Sherman that I considered, but Matt felt was too risky. Both said they'd allow me a trial of labor.
I just sent my papers and deposit into the woman that I've hired to be my doula because, honestly, I know I need someone else in there if I'm going to accomplish what I want to. No matter how many classes I take or books I read, I really want someone there to keep it real, simple, calm, and keep me informed.
Kathy, my doula, asked if I had planned a natural birth the first time around and if I was hoping to go med free this time or if I just wanted to vbac. I didn't really have a plan with Dean. I didn't know what to expect enough to write out a real birth plan. I had mixed emotions on the meds. I had friends and siblings who had done it both ways and loved the ease of the epidural. I also had friends and family who were very adamant about having a natural birth. I went 9 hours from my water breaking until I got an epidural with Dean, and that was when Matt stepped out for breakfast and I didn't want to go on by myself with contractions. My goal was to try to go without, but if I wanted them, then I wasn't opposed to them. This time, my original goal was to just vbac successfully, labor at home as long as possible, and see how it went in the way of meds. So not all that different from the first time around.
However, the more reading and research I do, and the more birth stories I read, I'm convinced I would like to have a natural birth. And with a doula by my side (Matt kind of doesn't get why you wouldn't go straight to an epidural), I really think I can do it. I don't do things just because they're easy, and I don't NOT do things because they're challenging. I didn't run a half marathon because it was easy. I don't make my own bread or cook most of my food from scratch because it's easier than buying it. I feel like I run on the "natural" end of the spectrum in almost all other aspects of my life. I really, really want to experience birth in it's true, primal form. Regardless of the outcome this time, be it vaginal or c-section, I don't think it will be like either of the other 2 births. I will not be bullied or tricked or scared into a c-section. If there is truly a medical concern I will listen and weigh the options rather than blindly follow the hospital staff.
I just finished watching The Business of Being Born and am in the middle of reading Your Best Birth, both by Ricki Lake. I wish I'd seen it before I had Dean. I probably would have seriously considered birthing in a birthing center (Matt's soooo not into the home birth though I have nothing against it) with certified nurse midwives. I'm nearly convinced that my particular "emergency" c-section was most likely not a true emergency. Maybe, but I've come a long way from thinking that I or my baby would have died during labor had I not had a c-section (my exact sentiments right after I gave birth to Dean). There's a great birthing center in Allen that I would have gone to this time around, but their director doesn't allow VBAC patients (let alone VBA2C) since we're considered high risk. I do realize now that my doctor is really an exception to the rule on doctors, and there really aren't many who will take on VBAmultipleC patients because of possible litigious reasons (NOT because of the possibility of the uterus rupturing). There's only 1 other OB/GYN I know of in the area who will take new patients in my situation that I know of. In some states (AZ being one) it's actually illegal to even have a trial of labor after 1 c-section. So, I'm glad I get to at least try.