This was MY story, MY body, and MY baby. I KNEW what I wanted."
She had swallowed meconium. I asked my friend who had been with us earlier if a c section was actually necessary because I had heard a lot of doctors were cutting corners and just giving them left and right. She assured me Vaelyn was in danger, and that if we hadn’t have gone in when we did and got admitted, she didn’t think Vae would have made it. This gave me some peace about the situation, although inside I felt confused, scared and angry. Partly it was my own fault, having not been completely prepared for any scenario that could have happened. But a lot of it was the lack of communication from the medical staff and the lack of compassion for me as a first-time mom.
I should have asked more questions, I should have been more prepared, I should have been ready for any situation, but I should have been cared for for the scared and unsure first-time mother I was, and I wasn’t. I felt the two sentences that were said to me the whole time I was laboring, were not enough.
My recovery was awful, I was overweight, sore and in the worst pain I had ever been in. I couldn’t even laugh without feeling immense pain. I swore to myself and the world I would never get pregnant again. I had so much guilt and sadness, so much regret and just felt awful about myself. Despite all of that, it was about two years later that I felt like I wanted another baby, and I wanted one so bad, I didn’t care if I had to have another c section, I had gotten through it once and I could do it again. After all, Vae was the light of our lives, and worth every second of pain I endured both physically and emotionally, and I knew the second baby would be as well. We found out we were pregnant in May of 2010 and we were thrilled.
I knew the medical group I went through attempted VBACs, vaginal births after c section, and I was happy to have the option to chose what route I attempted, but I was still completely terrified. Not only was I still traumatized from my first experience, I was also confronted with the unknown that would be a vaginal birth. There are risks with VBACs, the worst that can happen is a uterine rupture in which case the mother and baby can both die (a 1-2% risk. That risk goes down even lower when the mother's labor is not induced with pitocin.) There were so many different people giving me different advice, and I felt insecure and afraid to make the wrong decision. I realized I was so afraid, I began freaking out about labor once again, and all I could do was think and worry about. I went to my friends for prayer and help, I cried and prayed and was so frustrated. Why was this such a big deal to me? Why are all my friends all around me giving birth left and right every which way like no big deal, and I’m such a damn mess?
It was a heart issue. I had guilt that I couldn’t and didn’t give birth to Vae the way “I was supposed to”. I had anger towards myself for not being more prepared and healthy for the labor, I had anger towards the cold and abrupt medical staff that handled my labor, I felt abandoned by God and felt like I was left out to dry, and I felt regret. I was disgusted with myself. After realizing all those things, I began getting somewhere. I realized that all of these feelings were only HINDERING me.
So I began researching. I read stories online, watched youtube videos, called my friends that had c sections and continued to have them, or had c sections and then VBACs. I asked a billion questions to every mom I knew, asked their opinions, and asked them to be praying for me. At this point I was desperate, I didn’t care how annoying or embarrassed I was, I was going to get to a place of peace about this labor no matter what.
There were times I felt like I was finally sure I wanted to attempt a VBAC, only to have my confidence shattered by a doctor who made it seem so impossible. There were times when I was like, I just can’t handle this anymore, I’m just going to schedule the damn c section and forget all about this shit. Then, one day I went to my appointment and my midwife said, let’s pull up your medical records and find out exactly what went wrong the first time, to get a better idea of if we should attempt a VBAC. She told me Vae’s cord was wrapped around her neck, that she was choking, and her heart rate was dropping because she couldn’t breathe and that’s probably why I wasn’t dilating and so on and so on. I was shocked! How could they not have told me that?! All this time I thought there was something wrong with ME, and really it was that? The cord was around her neck and she WAS dying, oh thanks for the heads up! I couldn’t believe they never told me! They left me in the dark!
This changed EVERYTHING!
What went wrong with Vae’s birth was completely unique to her and nothing to do with my body. I felt like I was supposed to give my next baby their own story. I felt like I was supposed to attempt a VBAC.
There was a rule at the medical group that I went to that if I didn’t go into labor by my due date, which was 1.11.11, they would do a c section on that date. It was kind of a relief for me, because if I didn’t go into labor by then, it was just meant to be and I’d have a c section and that would be that. As it got closer to my due date, I realized that I did not want a c section at all. I wanted to push this baby out more than anything else I had ever wanted.
Having said that, it’s time to talk about the FEAR that came along with that desire. I wanted to have this baby vaginally, absolutely, but I was still TERRIFIED. I felt afraid of the unknown, I felt worried, what if something crazy went down? What if I just couldn’t do it?
That’s when I got down to the nitty-gritty. I had to push my fearful thoughts aside, I had to think, this is what I want and what I feel is the best decision for me and my son. I started “training” just like I was about to run a marathon. I used my faith, my favorite music, the wisdom of my friends and family, and soaked the TRUTH out of everything I could. I worked out physically, mentally and emotionally. There was no room to mess around, no time to doubt myself, I took this upcoming event extremely seriously and would be damned if I let anything get me down. This was MY story, MY body, and MY baby. I knew what I wanted.
When I went into labor, I was at home and had had my membranes stripped that morning. I embraced the contractions, welcomed the pain, and spoke, out loud, the truth. What was the truth? You can do this, I want this, I want this, I can do this, I will do this, I want this labor, I want to push my baby out. These were truths for me and I had to know them in the deepest parts of my being. My c section was scheduled for Monday, it was Friday and I wasn’t going to be there Monday. I just wasn’t. There was also a peace in me, that if I did end up having a c section, then that was just what was supposed to be, but that I had done everything I could in my own power. I needed to know I had done everything I could to prepare for the decision I had made and journey I had in front of me. “The marathon” that was ahead of me. I felt trained and ready.
We got to the hospital around 5:30 pm, I was dilated to a four, I never even got that far with Vae! I walked around the hospital with my husband to get the labor moving even more. I was NOT going to be sent home, I was not going to lay in a bed and labor, I was going to have that baby. I looked into my husband’s eyes and did my best to focus and embrace the contractions. With my son’s heart rate staying solid the whole time, I dilated to 5, then 6, then 7, and so on. Every centimeter was a victory in itself. It was one step closer to my goal, and one step further then I had ever gotten before. I was ecstatic with every hint of progress I made. My nurse joked I was the happiest patient she had ever had. Finally, I got to ten, and when I found out I screamed, “I’m at a ten bitches!!!”. Yep, I was that excited. When it came time to push, I watched in a mirror as my son came out of my body. Oh the power I felt! I had done it! I had experienced VICTORY in every sense of the word! They placed him on my tummy right away, my little Moses, and I placed my hands on him and I was overwhelmed with happiness and contentment.
The big sister meeting her baby bro:
This is my story.
If you have a similar, or even the same, journey and decisions ahead of you this is my advice to you…
What is the nudge you feel in your heart? What do you WANT to do, regardless of what other’s think? Because whatever it is, you CAN. Once you decide, embrace your decision. Believe that you can and WILL accomplish your desire. Have your husband or whoever will be by your side and your labor team/Dr. on your side, make sure they know what you’re wanting to accomplish. Tell them all of your hesitations and fears, that way when you're in pain and in the middle of whatever is going on, they can help you stay focused and make different decisions if they should arise. If you want to have a repeat c section, and that's just what you want, don't feel guilty about it. But if you want to try a natural birth and feel like you should, don't let fear or anxiety stop you. Deep down you know what you want to do, You know what you can handle and what you want your story to be. Hold tight to that little nudge in your heart and stand by it, because I think it is there for a reason and will probably be the healthiest decision for you and your baby.
If the odds are against you, like you want to attempt a VBAC and end up having another c section, you’ll know you listened to your body and did all you could do, and it just wasn't meant to be. You have to be ok with that too. If you do decide to go for a VBAC, I’d encourage you to take it very seriously. Research all you can, talk with your husband, friends and family about your fears, needs, concerns, things like that. Be in communication about it, being open and honest will give you such freedom, even if you feel dumb or annoying or like a broken record. What are things that help you feel better? Listening to music, watching movies, painting, reading, exercising? Do those things when you can and let them comfort you as you wait for the big day.
Do you have faith in any religion or believe in prayer? If so, read, pray, speak the truth you believe over yourself. Train like for a marathon, because that is what labor is and you want to be in the best shape, and I mean that more emotionally and mentally then physically. When you’re in labor, fight against the urge to clench up and reject the pain, and try to relax your muscles and welcome the pain. Remember what you want, focus on truths, and BELIEVE in yourself. Your story will be beautiful, it’ll be victorious, and it will be unique to you and your precious little baby.