There have been few decisions harder than the one that my husband and I made in the last 2 weeks. After months of going back and forth on my decision to VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) with Everly, we have made the decision, at 34 weeks, to go ahead and schedule a c-section. I was dead-set on doing a VBAC from the get-go, but things have changed.
With Jude (my firstborn), I had planned a natural home-birth that went drastically different than I expected, and I ended up with an emergency c-section after over 20 hours of labor. (You can read that story here and here.) I remember crying as they wheeled me down to the OR because I was terrified, exhausted, and angry. Then the attending doctor assured me that I was a perfect candidate to VBAC when we decided to have another child. I was only mildly consoled at this point, but I did feel a little better knowing that I at least had options.
Fast forward to finding out we were pregnant with Everly. I got on the internet and took to finding a doctor in our area that did VBAC. Let me tell you that it was not an easy task! There are very few doctors that feel the risk is worth it, but I was fortunate to find an amazing OB/GYN who happened to deliver at the hospital that I had chosen, and she is a big proponent of them! I cannot say enough good things about her! From the start she has been supportive, informative, and so even-keeled. I have felt completely at east with her from the start, and my hubby likes her too which helps! She has made sure that each decision we have made so far has her complete support and has plenty of information to boot.
So, like I said, we sat down with her today and made the difficult and emotional call to go ahead and schedule the c-section, despite our original plan. She smiled at me and asked me what had changed my mind. I explained that I had not been completely at ease with my original decision, that I had more pain than I expected at the original c-section scar I had, and that I felt making the call to go ahead and c-section would take a lot of my anxiety away about the whole experience. She smiled again and kindly told me that those were all valid reasons and I shouldn’t feel bad about our decision. She said I could still change my mind at any time, and that she supports any choice that we make. She explained that c-sections at the hospital that were scheduled were done as close to a natural birth as possible, allowing skin-to-skin time immediately following birth (right in the OR!) and we could actually watch the whole surgical process if we wanted.
To say that I felt a huge weight being lifted from my shoulders is an understatement. I sighed out of relief and told her that all of those things were important to us, and we wanted to do them all.
See, I have never felt peace about my decision to VBAC. I’ve always had a slight hesitation that I might be making the wrong decision for all the wrong reasons. It seemed like the route I should take. It seemed like the obvious choice because I wanted to feel strong. It seemed like the obvious choice because I wanted the experience of natural childbirth. But I still had hesitation, and I couldn’t understand why. What shifted my perspective was my husband asking me if I was doing it because of me or because of Everly. I didn’t even blink before my answer came out…”For me.” I knew in that moment that I needed to make the tough decision.
Many of you are reading this and more than likely thinking a few different things. Some of you are inwardly thinking that I’m weak and that “the system” has scared me into making this choice. I can honestly say to those critics that you couldn’t be more wrong in your assessment. The only “fear” that I’ve had is for the safety of myself and my daughter. I have felt zero pressure from anyone to make this choice. Some of you are thinking that I was stupid for even thinking that VBAC would be a good idea considering my previous experience. Understand that we fit all the criteria for this option and wanted to consider all of our options. C-sections are hard on your body, hard on your baby, and kill recovery time. Natural birth just seems, well, more natural. 🙂 Some of you are wondering why I’m telling you all this to begin with. My answer to that is that I feel as though this is a sensitive subject and many women find themselves in the same boat as I am and feel the pressure from all sides, which is so unbelievably unfair. Therefore, I hope that my story will give peace to anyone who finds themselves in this situation.
The whole pregnancy/birth/parenting process is such a polarizing topic, and I find it not only unfair, but absurd. We feel the need to chastise the way people think about these processes, all the while not understanding the whole story and not taking into account the emotional weight that comes with these things. We think if you choose a natural birth, at home with a midwife, then somehow you are a hippy-dippy crazy person. If you have a c-section, you are somehow less of a mother and woman. Then there’s everything in-between. Again, it’s all unfair and unnecessary. We are bringing life into this world, and if the end result is a healthy, happy, and loved child (or children), then why does anything else matter? Why do we feel the need to point fingers and assert blame…as if there should be blame at all.
In writing this story, though it’s really no one’s business, I am getting ahead of the impending noise from critics and naysayers and letting everyone know that my husband and I made this emotional decision together and feel as though it’s the best and safest choice for both me and Everly. I am asserting that I am no less of a woman or mother in this decision, and that I will not feel the same shame and disappointment I did after the birth of my son. I am still strong, capable, and overflowing with love for our daughter. 🙂 She will enter this world exactly the way that we intended…into our loving and waiting arms.