I know a lot of women have c-sections, and it is a wonderful technological advance, many women would die without it. If I lived in the pioneer days, I might have died. My baby might have died.
The first month of Isabelle’s life I spent recovering. I needed help lifting things, getting in and out of bed, holding the car seat, walking long distances. As far as recoveries go- I think mine was about as standard as they get- as good as I could hope for considering the giant incision and trauma my body had been through. I enjoyed my newborn every bit as I could, she was so little and healthy and perfect.
But it hurt. I don’t think anyone will tell you that major abdominal surgery is a breeze. For a short time, Jazz would have to come around to my side of the bed and physical lift me up while I cried because using certain muscles was so painful. There were times when the thought of walking to the bathroom was so daunting, I didn’t want to go. There were things that I missed because I was immobile or on drugs or just not able to participate in. I missed her first bath. I missed changing her diaper the first day or so. I missed being able to pick her up in the night when she cried- I had to have someone there to hand her to me. These things may seem trivial to some, but to me I felt less than equal, and I hated that.
None of this tarnished the bonding or the instant love I had for Isabelle. Every moment spent with her was perfection to me- she was so incredibly perfect. Waking in the night was a privilege and sometimes me and Jazz would look at each other and say “should we wake her up so we can play with her?” I loved bathing her in the sink (eventually) and putting her weak little arms into her onesie sleeves I had embellished for her. Her tiny meow cries were priceless, her every facial expression soaked up, every noise appreciated. I would have ten c-sections to have another baby, every bit of it was so, so, so worth it.
I didn’t tell people I had a c-section unless they asked. I didn’t want them to know that I had a giant FAILURE sign stamped right on my fore head. I know I didn’t fail- I KNOW THAT. But to me, that’s how it felt. Like I wanted into this great exclusive club and I was on the waiting list for 9 months and when I got to the top of the list, I was skipped over and sent home.
So I started reading. I started reading about rising c-sections and why they happen and how to avoid them. A checklist was given of what not to do if you want to have a regular birth. I hit every point, to me I had done everything “wrong.” I was induced. I had an epidural. I didn’t labor at home. I didn’t wait long enough. I waited too long. My doctor feared a large baby- when Isabelle was a petite 7 pounds 4 ounces. We did learn that her body was twisted and she was posterior, meaning she was facing the wrong way, her head was tilted and wasn’t causing me to dilate.
Was that because I was induced? Because of the epidural? Maybe Isabelle never would have turned the correct way? I don’t know. I can speculate and ask ‘what if’ all day long, but it can’t be changed and I’ve accepted the way everything happened. I don’t know why it happened, but I know it was for a reason.
I assumed I could try for a different birth experience the next time around. When I had healed, when we were ready, we would have another baby and everything would be different.
Then, unexpectedly- we moved to Redding, where we currently live. I searched for an OB who would do a VBAC with me (vaginal birth after cesarean). I found none. I learned that because of hospital regulations in this area, there are zero VBACs allowed. NONE. There are a bunch of reasons why, and I won’t go into them now, some are political and some are because of money and insurance, but it doesn’t matter. Bottom line, I can’t have a VBAC in Redding. (Unless I choose to have a home birth, which is not something I personally feel comfortable with.)
The closest hospital that will take me as a VBAC patient is in Davis, which is a three hour drive from my house. Three hours! It may seem far- and it is far, especially with the labor game when we don’t know where or when or how things will happen. This is what I know so far.
I have an OB here in Redding who is willing to work with me until my 8th month of pregnancy. He does not see any reason why I wouldn’t be able to have a trial of labor in a different hospital. I have been referred to UC Davis Women’s Center for Health, where their hospital allows and encourages VBACs. I have an appointment in November, a VBAC consultation, to set up our schedule of weekly visits towards that last month of pregnancy and discuss how this will work with me living 3 hours away. I’ve been told that at some point, I’ll have to stay in the area for the remainder of my pregnancy, I’m not sure how that will go or when that will be.
Let me just clarify. This is no guarantee that I will not have a c-section, and I know that. I may labor and labor and have the same problem with this baby and will eventually have to have a c-section. I feel like I have to do everything in my power, everything that my body can do to have a regular birth, and if that doesn’t work out, it will not be because I didn’t try. I feel like if I don’t try now, with this baby, I may never get the chance.
I do know that every birth is different. Every mother has different expectations and ideas. I know many women who have been perfectly happy with their cesarean births and wouldn’t have it any other way. I also know women who have had horrific and very scary vaginal births as well. There are definite risks either way I go at this point- and things we are discussing and praying about as a family. This is not a decision to be made lightly, and I understand that.
That being said, we are moving forward with hopeful hearts and daily prayers that I will have a different experience the second time around. I’m feeling very optimistic about it right now- and really excited for what lies ahead. Regardless of the method of delivery, we are all overjoyed with bringing a new spirit into our home and into our family and can’t wait to meet baby boy.