Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Birth Stories

An article in Newsweek today discusses how although research supports Vaginal Birth After C-Sections (VBAC), doctors and hospital are still resistant. It makes me think about my three deliveries and how I still have strong emotions about each one.

My first baby was positioned oddly (and came with an extra large head, thank you husband), this combined with my young age and three hours of pushing, made a c-section the best choice. At the time, I was like, yes, anything to stop this suffering and get my baby out safely.

When I got pregnant again I was on the VBAC train from day 1 and so was my doctor. I did my research and I did all that I could to prevent another surgery. But a major infection during labor resulted in a change in plans. This one really affected me. I brewed over the situation for years (I still obviously have some regrets). I had such a high fever that I was mentally incapable of delivering the baby on my own will. My husband and mother were scared and wanted it all to end as quickly as possible. I later found out that another mother had very serious complications that night and that may have made the staff a bit more cautious with me. But not one person in the room said, no, wait, she can do this, let's help her, this is what she wants. I needed someone to say that and help me through. But in my fever, drug-induced haze, I did consent to the surgery.

When the question came up for our third child, the doctor did say that he would respect my wishes but he recommended a repeat section. I resisted for awhile but the emotional pain of the second birth experience pushed me to a more controlled situation. It came down to the question of 'should we try a VBAC again and if it fails, will I be able to deal with that failure?' I didn't I think I would. Honestly, the third was the best (as much as a major surgery and recovery can be). We selected the day appropriate with my due date and baby size (I was affirmed a bit when I was having contractions that morning). We had childcare ready for our other children. We knew when and what to expect. Our OB and pediatrician were there and it was lovely...nothing like telling jokes with someone who is rearranging your internal organs. I got to hold the baby as soon as I got to recovery and nurse him. It was great. I was happy to have made that choice.

If I am faced with the decision again, what will I do? I really don't know. I had three c-sections for three different reasons. C-sections happen for appropriate reasons and we shouldn't feel bad if that is how our children entered this world. But we also shouldn't be forced into the decision because of hospital or doctor's fear. I would, however, recommend that anyone who has had a c-section at least consider a VBAC with your doctor and partner. Consider hiring a doula. Make your intentions clear (in writing) beforehand. It is your decision overall but making it in the heat or pain of the moment is not effective in the long-term.

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