Iz- two days…Linc- 7 hours..
We are on the downhill slope now- my app tells me I’m just about 33 weeks pregnant and the baby is the size of a pineapple? Feels bigger. We just hit the every-two-week appointments, then we will go every week, then BAM baby time.
Most people assume I am having a repeat c-section. This is correct. I have no choice now but to have a repeat surgery to have my baby born. Actually that’s not true…because you know me, as soon as I delivered Lincoln I called around trying to find somewhere that would take me as a VBA2C patient- someone who would let me have another trial of labor and a natural delivery. There are a few places in Davis/Roseville/The Bay Area that allow VBA2C patients at their clinic. Even fewer hospitals. And the closest to me is three hours by car. There are OB’s in Utah/Arizona that will accept me as well- and theoretically I could stay with my sisters until I go into labor and the baby is born. I say theoretically because it all sounds fine on paper, but let’s not forget my current situation. I live in Redding. I have a four year old, a two year old, a husband, a house to maintain, and a perfect little unborn baby to think about.
A few people have said why all the trouble! Why would you want to go into labor again! Skip it! You guys, I know I’m in the minority here, but I loved my labor with Lincoln. Like, loved it. Ate it up like a hot sandwich, and really my soul aches that I won’t experience that again. So many stars aligned to make that all happen- the only explanation is that God had a hand in making sure I could experience that and enjoy/endure it and see what my body is capable of. As we get closer to the birth of baby #3, I am realizing more what a blessing that was. Moving to Sacramento right after Christmas seemed crazy at the time, but it was really simple. Isabelle was so easy- a fantastic 2 year old. She was transitioned from her crib. She and I lived in fully furnished third floor condo for two weeks, waiting for Lincoln to arrive. Just thinking of how impossible that would be with Lincoln makes my brain explode. Bless his heart, but he is more of a toddler challenge than she ever was. I’m okay with that- just noting that things happen for a reason. Isabelle came first. I will never forget her piggy-tailed pajama-ed 2-year old body skipping through the halls of UC Davis at 4 in the morning while I slowly made my way to labor and delivery. (Lincoln literally would have sprinted away from me and probably would have been assisting in the ER by the time I caught up to him.)
In the two years since that experience, I have read and researched and read more. I’ve read every vba2c story on the internet. Books. Medical journals. New studies. etc. Going over both of my previous deliveries I learned some things too- mostly that my body can actually go into labor and does actually know what to do. That is a relief to me. There are lots of things that my body can do right, and a few things that I struggle with. One of them is that my babies sit posterior, or sunny side up. This is not optimal for labor or delivery at all, it presents the wrong part of the babys’ head to the cervix and makes dilating difficult. It makes moving down difficult. We figured this out before and tried and tried to turn Lincoln around but there is something about my body and pelvis that makes this impossible. When we did finally turn him, it took less than a minute for him to flip back to posterior position, and a long time for his heart rate to recover. And without surgery, there is nothing that we can do to encourage the baby to move down into my birth canal. Too far for a vacuum, too dangerous for forceps. (Trust me I seriously asked them about every option.)
I was at a playdate when I was newly pregnant and we were discussing deliveries, and one woman said “well it’s a different baby! It will be totally different!” And I felt so offended, like of course it is a different baby DON’T YOU THINK I’VE THOUGHT OF THAT. The reality is, in the end, I am the same person with the same anatomy. The odds of having a successful delivery after two previous trials of labor ending in cesarean sections is less than 50 %. I’m not a gambler, but those are not good odds for me, especially with the large team of support I would require does not exist anywhere close to me. Maybe anywhere, I don’t know. Just because I want to try again, doesn’t mean I should.
The good news is that I’ve come to terms with this situation. Lots of women have c-sections, lots of them prefer it actually. I’m very thankful that I can carry a healthy baby to term and deliver even in an alternative way. I know that. There is not a single part of me that is ungrateful for the entire experience, thankful to be a woman and thankful to be a mother. I don’t know why it is not in the cards for me to deliver naturally. My mother had five natural births- two of which were twins. Both of my sisters have delivered without complications. Genetically I should be a professional. I may never know why. I do know I did everything I could, exhausted every option, and turned it out of my hands.
There are some great aspects of having surgery. First of all, we get to pick the baby’s birthday. I will be showered and hair blown out, nails done and make up on. For someone who cares about stuff like that, its a nice perk. I get a bonus day or two in the hospital. Again, some people hate that, but after surgery it is sort of necessary plus I don’t mind hospital food. I always miss my bed though.
Also, we have a wonderful friend who works for my dad as a nurse in his surgery center. She also works at Mercy in the NICU, sometimes as a transitional nurse, which means she is there when the baby is born and does the post birth stuff like bath and stats. She will be able to be there for the birth and hopefully help it be a better experience for me- make it possible for me to hold the baby right away and be there for the first bath. I usually miss out on those things, in fact I didn’t even hear Lincoln’s first cries, so I look forward to this being better.
Right away, I was very vocal with my doctor expressing my wishes to stay pregnant a little bit longer than the normal 39 week surgery cut off. Both of my kids have gone almost to 41 weeks, both of them were very normal sized, and I don’t feel like evicting this baby earlier will have more benefits. Mostly, I want to avoid the respiratory problems that are really common with c-section babies, especially boys, who aren’t quite term. I don’t mind staying pregnant 5-6 more days if it means the baby can avoid a trip to the NICU.
Let me clarify. Some babies are born at 36 weeks no problem, healthy and happy and go home fine. Some babies are born later and need help. I don’t know why this is. But for ME and for MY pregnancies, I tend to gestate a little bit longer. So I was very up front with my OB and told him hey FYI I’m not doing a scheduled section 39 weeks 0 days. He already moved my date up a few days based on an early ultrasound, so he wanted to schedule surgery at 38 weeks 5 days. Sorry, I’m just not comfortable with that. And when I told him that, he made me feel horrible. Told me what a risk I was taking, how irresponsible I was being, and that I would have to sign an Against Medical Advice in order to proceed forward. With swear words! Now, I’m an educated woman, I’ve done my research, and most importantly, I know my own body. I left my last appointment sick to my stomach. I couldn’t believe that I was going to let this man operate on me- major open surgery- and have him be part of one of the best days of my life… I just didn’t want him around.
So I kept my ears open, and got some suggestions of some new OB’s in town and met with a few of them. I told them my story, my history of previous labors, and my wishes to deliver around 39 weeks and 5 days and not ONE of them told me I was being irrational or dangerous. Not ONE of them told me my uterus was going to explode and my baby going to die. Seriously. They were kind and empathetic and while advised I not have a full on labor before a third c-section, going a few extra days was completely fine.
The infamous testicle ultrasound was my last appointment with my original doctor. I had an ultrasound I had already paid for- so I had a polite appointment and tried to bite my tongue as he again reassured me that I was making a horrible and dangerous decision. We took some measurements of the baby, awkwardly changed the subject, and on my way out I dropped off the paperwork to have my chart transferred to my new OB. Relief.
Something that I’ve learned in the past five years is that not all doctors are created equal. I think this man is a fine surgeon, but really has horrible bedside manner. He lacks compassion, empathy and the sort of gentle spirit that is so important at such a vulnerable time in a woman’s life…combine that with his brevity and habit of not being very thorough, I’m very happy to be switching to a new doctor.
Let’s do this thing.