April is Cesarean Awareness month. It is to bring awareness to those who do not know much about cesareans. It also supports reducing the number of cesareans in moms who really do not need to have the procedure done. Therefore, I thought it would be fitting to share my story of a cesarean section and a VBAC that almost did not happen.
Here’s my story…..
As soon as I found out that I was pregnant for the first time I wanted to learn everything about pregnancy and parenting. I bought multiple books, subscribed to various magazines and registered for many websites in relation to these topics. I wanted to know most things about pregnancy, but what I didn’t want to know about were the “bad things.”
Situations where myself or my child could be caused additional pain, did not interest me. Gestational diabetes, C-section, Preeclampsia, and Down syndrome were topics that I glanced over or skipped altogether. Because in my mind, I knew that I was going to have a wonderful, healthy pregnancy, which would result in a healthy baby. I was in good shape. I ate healthy (cheese fries, cheeseburgers, and as many milkshakes as you want, don’t count in pregnancy). And, I did everything that my doctor told me to do. However, this was not enough and a “natural” childbirth did not happen for me.
Not long after my C-section, my doctor decided to stop by my hospital room for a short visit. She spoke to my husband and I about the delivery and things to come in the future. As I was lying in the bed heavily medicated I can somehow vividly remember my doctor saying, “When you are pregnant with baby number two, at your 38-week appointment we will schedule your repeat C-section”. I remember asking, “Isn’t there something called a VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean)?” She replied, “Oh no you don’t want to do that. Trust me the best thing for you is to just have another C-section.” I was NOT satisfied with her answer.
I remember certain things that my doctor did throughout my pregnancy that I was not too sure about. She ordered so many unnecessary ultrasounds for me. I think that I saw my son just about every month while he was inside of me. She was also the one that encouraged me to have medications during childbirth. I told her at one of my appointments that I wanted to try to deliver without an epidural. She then asked me why I would want to do that. She said, “This isn’t back in the day when women didn’t have a choice. We have modern medicine so that we do not have to experience any pain.”
I believe that the epidural is actually why I needed to have a C-section. I was ten centimeters dilated, however I could not feel below the waist. Everyone was telling me that I was having contractions and to push, but I could not feel anything. I pushed for a half an hour and my doctor decided that I needed to have a C-section because my son was not coming down the birth canal. However, he was not in distress and there was no emergency. As she left my hospital room, I recall telling my husband that when the time comes for baby number two, I would want to find a different doctor. Which is exactly what I did.
I choose an Ob-Gyn practice with four doctors; three men and one woman. All of the doctors were pretty cool about my decision to have a VBAC, all but one. On the day that I met this particular doctor my husband accompanied me, which he hadn’t done previously for this pregnancy. I told him how all of the doctors were really nice and helpful. So, he could not wait to meet the new doctor as well.
When the doctor came into the room, I did not get a good vibe from him. He made a few off-color jokes that made me wish that my husband did not come this day. This doctor was proving me wrong and when I looked over at my husband I could tell that he was thinking the same thing. The doctor said he knew of my choice of wanting a VBAC and he had a form that he needed me to sign stating that I was given the risks associated with a VBAC.
He asked if the other doctors explained it to me and I told him, “Yes.” He said, “Did they really explain it to you?” I said “Yes.” He began to harshly state the risks. “Do you know that your baby could be born mentally retarded?” “Do you know that you could die and your baby could die?” “You’re willing to take that chance?” “You’re okay with that?” Then he began to state statistics and by that time I wanted to run as quickly as I could out of there.
My husband is a very strong opinionated person and I knew that he was trying so hard to remain calm, which I am very appreciative for because it could have gotten really ugly in that doctor’s office. I left the doctor’s office that day questioning my decision. My husband knew this and gave me positive reinforcement. He let me know that everyone has an opinion, but I know what is best for me. If I feel that I can do it, don’t let anyone talk me out of it.
He reminded me of the situation with my last doctor. As well as how I felt after my C-section. How I cannot remember my son’s first diaper change because I wasn’t able to do it. Or how I felt sad, frustrated and would cry a lot once we got home from the hospital with our son because I could not help with him as much as I wanted to. The only time I really held my son those first few weeks was to breastfeed him. I was in a lot of pain.
He let me know that everyone has an opinion, but I know what is best for me. If I feel that I can do it, don’t let anyone talk me out of it. He reminded me of the situation with my last doctor. As well as how I felt after my C-section. How I cannot remember my son’s first diaper change because I wasn’t able to do it. Or how I felt sad, frustrated and would cry a lot once we got home from the hospital with our son because I could not help with him as much as I wanted to. The only time I really held my son those first few weeks was to breastfeed him. I was in a lot of pain.
There are risks associated with everything. My husband stated that everyone is so focused on informing you about the risks associated with having a VBAC, but no one is saying what the risks are of having a repeat C-section. He made a good point.
There are serious complications that can occur with repeat C-sections. Some complications that can occur are: severe blood loss, blood clots, infection, and death as well. I decided I was going to really try for a VBAC. The only thing that would make me change my decision is if during labor I was told that for the baby’s sake I needed to have a C-section.
I began to read other stories from women who either had successful VBACs or tried, but could not because of a complication. I also experimented with methods that I read could help in having a successful VBAC, such as drinking red raspberry leaf tea and lots of walking. If these methods truly helped? I am not sure. But on the day of my labor, everything went so fast. From the start of my contractions to the time that I had my baby was an hour. My water broke at home. I honestly did not think I was going to make it to the hospital.
Thank goodness we lived about 10 minutes away. The pain was unlike anything that I had ever experienced. A nurse told the staff that I was there for a repeat C-section. My husband adamantly told them that I was there for a VBAC. Good thing my daughter wanted out because I had no time for any medicine. I pushed about 4 times and she was here.
This experience taught me that I am strong and it is important to follow your goals despite what others may say. Yes, I understand that doctors are experts in their fields, but every case is not the same. I would not have experienced a vaginal delivery if I had listened to some of those doctors.
I had no vaginal tears and virtually no pain afterward. It was a complete 360 from what I experienced with my son’s delivery. I was up and moving around immediately after giving birth. I went home from the hospital the next morning and was gladly on mommy duty.