Emotional Recovery from C/S #1

The first few months with my new baby I never questioned the need for the c-section. I had trusted my OB to make the decision and I was just happy to have my darling little boy. He was an easy-going baby, napped a lot and hardly cried. That made it easy for me to just go with what happened. I was sad I had to have a c-section but I didn't question it and already knew I would try a vaginal birth the next time.

A mother on a messageboard I visited had her son shortly after mine and it was her story that got me to look into the realities of birth. She had a c-section for her first daughter but had a VBAC with all the rest. She had even given birth at home. In the water. Unassisted. Of course I thought she must be some crazy hippy or something, but she helped me see that maybe the "typical" hospital birth with interventions and fancy equipment wasn't all it's cracked up to be.

As I researched more about birth the what-ifs started to enter my mind. What if I had waited longer to go to the hospital? What if I hadn't gotten the epidural? What if I had walked around more to help get the baby into position? What if I had tried pushing in different positions instead of the one position that is actually one of the worst because it doesn't allow the pelvis to move open more? What if I had pushed longer? (They'd made it seem like 2hrs was way too long, but I researched and saw that 2-3hrs is actually normal for a first time mom.) And I knew that there was no way to know if my c-section had truly been necessary because we had not tried everything before going with it. My baby's heart rate was still ok and even though I was tired I could have pushed longer.

As I realized that there was so much more that could have been done I got angry. First I was angry at my OB for not suggesting anything other than the hospital norm. I was angry that she hadn't told me so many things. But then I realized she was just doing what she was taught and what she knew. I stopped being so angry at her and was angry with myself. How could I have been so ignorant about such an important thing as birth?! Why didn't I do all this research before? And I was angry at this country that has bring about this kind of situation for so many women. Nobody tells you to do your own research or look at alternative options. We are always told that the doctor knows best and we just follow blindly.

I also learned that having a VBAC is not as easy as you would think. Many doctors and hospital won't assist in them anymore. They say it is because of the risk of uterine rupture, which is a real risk but less than 1% and only a fraction of those are major problems, but really they are worried about themselves and getting sued. As one doctor has said "You don't get sued for doing a c-section, you get sued for not doing a c-section." meaning that they only get in trouble if they don't do a life-saving c-section in time, but not if they do a completely unnecessary one and the mom and baby don't die.

I decided that the next time I got pregnant I would have a homebirth, alone. I didn't want any chance that "they" would screw me over again. When Jason was almost 7 months old I got pregnant. It was not planned but I was excited, and I was eager to prove that my body worked just fine. Unfortunately I miscarried a few weeks later and that tempered my anger a bit. I realized that a c-section was preferable to losing a child. Of course I didn't want another c-section so I continued to research and do what I could to prepare myself for a VBAC the next time I got pregnant.

I would read birth stories that had ended in unplanned c-sections and go over in my mind what they maybe could have done differently. I read birth stories of beautiful natural births in hospitals, homes, and birth stories, and tell myself that I could do it. I would get angry all over again when I heard women say that they had no choice, or they had to do what their doctor said, or just follow along without bothering to do their own research. I had been just like them and did not want them to end up in my situation but there wasn't anything I could do to change it. Anytime they were told they had other options they would get defensive and angry, even while they lamented their situation. It was infuriating to see, so I just sat back and watched as my scenario replayed over and over in many of the women on my messageboards.

When Jason was almost a year old, I got pregnant again. I was so happy, although nervous about the possibility of another miscarriage. I switched to a midwife who worked in a group practice with other midwives and OBs. I had read that things would be so much better with a midwife, but honestly that group seemed no different than the OB I had seen before. The midwife I saw was more like what I have heard termed a MED-wife, pretty much the same as seeing an OB. Plus, because I was planning a VBAC she wouldn't even be able to oversee me, I would have to see the OBs in the group too. After just a few visits I realized I just was not comfortable with them and I switched back to my old OB.

I was thrilled when my OB was supportive of my choice to VBAC and have an un-medicated birth. I had been afraid that it would be a battle, but it was not. She told me that with the reason for my c-section (CPD and suspected macrosomia, which I know is a bunch of crap, really his head was just asynclitic) that I had maybe a 20% chance of success, but that she would do all she could to help me.

Obviously by this point I had decided to go ahead and give birth in the hospital again. If I had a planned a homebirth I knew I would get stressed out from my family being unsupportive, plus I decided that for my first VBAC I would be in the hospital "just in case" and the next time I could try an out-of-hospital birth.

Throughout that pregnancy I repeated positive affirmations to myself about how I am strong, my body knows what to do, my uterus is healed and strong, etc. That really helped me. I also stopped feeling anger towards my OB and took more responsibility for my own actions and preparedness.

The birth of my second son was what healed me the most.

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