My Husband Thought It Was Selfish, My OB Thought It Was Risky, but What About What I Thought?
I wanted a vaginal birth.
I wanted it so badly — I welcomed the intense pain, the potential for vaginal tears and, yes, even the pooping. I was ready to poop in a room full of people. And for a person who thinks hugging is too intimate, that is saying a lot.
I am not ashamed to tell you that having a vaginal birth was one of the most important things in my life. Ever.
But the funny thing is, I couldn't even tell you why. Not really. I knew from the birth of my first child that I did not want a c-section again. But not because it was terrible. It wasn't. I recovered quickly. There were no complications. My scar even looked pretty good.
I didn't want another c-section because it didn't feel complete. It felt like I had run a marathon only to stop five feet before the finish line and be carried across. Or, better yet, it felt like someone picked me up and walked me around the finish line — like I never even crossed it. It was like I ended up with a baby and never really gave birth. I felt robbed. But yet, there she was in my arms. It was unsettling to say the least.
So, when I got pregnant with my second baby almost two years later, I knew immediately that I was going to have a vaginal birth. No c-section. No epidural. Just a baby making its way into the world through my vagina. That was what I wanted.
But not surprisingly, as soon as the words “VBAC” came out of my mouth, I was met with all kinds of resistance from all kinds of people.
My husband thought it was selfish.
My OB thought it was too risky.
People joked about it being silly at best and life-threatening at worst.
To be fair, though, there were a few champions: my mom was one of my biggest and a few close friends who either could relate or knew me well enough to know what this would mean for me.
So, mostly I didn't talk about it much, except to my husband, who was the only person I felt I actually had to convince.
We talked about it a lot in a lot of different ways.
I pulled up research studies citing the risks of both VBACs and repeat c-sections. We talked to a number of doctors and had a handful of ugly arguments. But, eventually, he came around. He said that if it was that important to me he had no choice but to go along with it. He was on board but ready to jump ship at the slightest sign of trouble.
But I didn't care. I was elated. I figured that once I succeeded at delivering our son vaginally, all fights would be forgotten, and he would be singing my praises.
My next hurdle was my obstetrician. I gave the office a call and asked to speak to one of the nurses.
“Hi! I was just wondering, do you guys do VBACs?”
The nurse didn't even pause. There was no hesitation. No “Let me think about it, look up your charts.” She didn't even ask me for my name.
It was clear from her tone that she felt allowing me to attempt a vaginal birth after cesarean was right in line with assisting me in suicide.
So I had to find a new doctor and quick. After enlisting the help of Facebook, I found a practice sort of near me that was supposedly pretty “VBAC friendly.” It was 45 minutes away but, again, I didn't care. What's 45 minutes when you get to have a vaginal birth? I could hardly wait for my first appointment. It was better than Christmas.
On the morning of my appointment, I sat in the waiting room for an hour, smiling, but nervous. Normally I would be super annoyed about an hour wait. But not today. They could make me wait all day.
I repeated my mantra a thousand times trying to calm my nerves: “You've got this. You've got this. You've got this.” There was a part of me that was terrified they were going to take one look at me and laugh. I pictured a big red x over the words VBAC.
Finally, they called my name.
I shot out of my chair and practically ran to the exam room. The nurse did a few tests, and then I filled out some basic health information.
“OK.” She said with a half smile. ” That is it! The doctor will be right in to see you.”
I was sweating.
“You've got this. You've got this.”
The doctor came in and introduced herself. She was young, peppy. I liked her.
She showed me a piece of paper with a bunch of charts and graphs. At the bottom, there was a number: 58%.
Our eyes met.
“That is your likelihood of success. You have a 58% chance of delivering your baby vaginally.”
I was stunned. I felt like I'd been sucker-punched. Tears welled in my eyes. It was difficult to breathe.
So much for my mantra.
Ready for Part Two? Read it here.
I would love to hear your thoughts on my experience so far. Please leave me a comment!