Why I Opted for a Repeat C-Section
My first delivery experience was far from ideal. After a long labor with failure to progress, and heart rate decelerations for both me and my baby, my delivery ended in an emergency c-section. So when baby #2 came along, my thoughts of labor and delivery were far more complicated.
At first, I think I was expecting my doctor to make the decision for me. I wanted to hear from her “You should definitely try a VBAC” or “I don't think you'd be successful.” And while she did lay out both scenarios for me, unfortunately for me, she was willing to try whatever I wanted to do. I left that appointment feeling even more unsure of what I wanted to do.
I came home and discussed our options with my husband, who was just as supportive and open as my doctor was. And while these are usually qualities that I enjoy in my husband, on this occasion, I was wishing for him to be more opinionated!
You have to make the choice that is best for YOU. Not the choice that is best for the majority, or best for your sister or cousin.
I sat down to look at the VBAC waiver that my doctor had given me. She'd talked with me about some possible complications, but the wording on the waiver seemed far scarier to me. (I realize they have to cover their bases for legal reasons, but in my hyper-sensitive pregnant state, the words “uterine rupture” and “fetal and maternal death” were terrifying!) The more research I did, I found that instances of uterine rupture are actually very rare (less than 1%), and most VBAC attempts are actually successful (about 74%).
You may be looking back at the title of this article now, thinking, “Well, what the heck, lady? I thought this was about choosing a repeat c-section. All of this information makes it sound like you made the wrong choice.” And this is why all the doctors will tell you that you have to make the choice that is best for YOU—not the choice that is best for the majority, or best for your sister or cousin.
My final decision was based ultimately on my experience with my daughter and my first delivery. My first labor was induced at 39 weeks because I was a gestational diabetic, and they didn't want my daughter to be too large for my 5'3″ frame. I was admitted to the hospital in the evening and was given a cervix-ripening medication that I was told would just “do its magic” as I slept.
For me — LIES! I was in full-blown labor by 11:30 p.m. with contractions that the doctors called “camel backing,” meaning they came one after the other with no rest in between. Although I was only two-centimeters dilated, they gave me an epidural for two reasons. First, to help me relax and be able to make it through these hard contractions one after another. Second, to try and help with fetal heart-rate decelerations that the doctors were detecting on the monitors, likely caused from contracting without rest.
The epidural did help with that, but my labor was no longer progressing. They tried to start pitocin to “ramp up” my progress, but that just continued the camel-backing contractions and fetal distress. The thought was that my body just simply does not labor correctly. While contractions are natural and necessary for vaginal delivery, the way my body contracted was not healthy for me or the baby, and actually, it wasn't helping me progress at all.
By 2:00 p.m. the next day, I was only dilated to four centimeters, and all of a sudden, there were a LOT of people in my room. Doctors and nurses were running in and out of my room, checking my contraction sheet, whispering “Is this for real?” to each other, like they couldn't believe this was my actual contraction pattern, turning me on different sides and increasing my oxygen. My OB came in, took one look, and said to prepare an OR immediately—that my baby was in distress, and we would be doing an emergency c-section.
To me, all of that and the chance that I would be putting baby #2 in, quite possibly, the same position as #1 and end up with a c-section anyway, led me to opt to schedule a repeat c-section.
As it turns out, I got to find out that that was the right choice when baby #3 decided to start my labor spontaneously literally right before my scheduled c-section. I was in the hospital, anyway (thank goodness!), and my labor began right there while waiting to be prepped for surgery. When I told the nurses I was in labor, they hooked me up to the monitors to find that lo and behold, there we were again—camel-backing contractions and fetal heart decelerations. Everyone moved a little faster, and my repeat c-section that was scheduled for 3:00 p.m. was bumped to an emergency c-section at noon!
So, I guess my point is to trust your gut. While statistics and other people's experiences may point one way, you are the only one who will have YOUR experience. Choose what feels right for you.
What was your labor experience? Did you opt for a VBAC? A repeat c-section? Did you feel judged for your decision?