Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Pressure of Giving Birth

I got pregnant with my first baby when I was 19 years old. Other than the knowledge that I wasn't supposed to drink or smoke, I had no idea what I was doing. I had never heard of a birth plan or even thought about how the baby was going to come. When I went into labor a little before 36 weeks I was given shots to stop the labor, the doctors told me they wanted the baby to stay in as long as possible (even though I selfishly was ready for him to be out). Finally at 36 weeks exactly I went into labor (again) and they didn't stop it. 

The only thing I knew for sure was I wanted an epidural, and I wanted it ASAP.  After 16 hours of labor, I had finally fully dilated and was ready to get the baby out. The nurses would wait for a contraction to show up on the monitor and tell me when to push. With my chin burying into my chest I would push every minute or so. After about 10 minutes alarms started going off and I was told to stop pushing. They had me lay on my sides, they would push on my belly and even shake it at times. When I asked what was going on they told me that the baby wasn't handling the labor well and was in distress. They then told me I was going to need a c-section.   By the time I got into the OR they told me they had to get the baby out right away, meaning there was no time to numb me more.  I remember the doctor pressing the scalpel to my thigh and asking if I could feel it, I said yes but he said there was no time.  I was cut hip to hip, and felt a very good portion of it.  It was the most terrifying and painful event I have endured thus far in my life. 

Like I said before I had no idea what I was doing or what I wanted. All I knew at that point was I was scared and young and trusted that what I was being told was the only way to go. I never felt there were more options. I had no idea that all of my future deliveries would be decided by this one moment. They got him out and he was safe, small, but safe. He stayed in the NICU for a while because of his size, but ended up being just fine

I got pregnant with my second baby 4 years later and had heard a lot about VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean). After doing all of my research I had come to the conclusion that I was a perfect candidate to attempt it and was eager to do it. When I told my doctor about my plan I was flat out told "no". I was told that in order to have a VBAC the hospital would have to approve and that the doctor would have to be available 24 hours to monitor my labor. That was something she told me simply wasn't possible due to the amount of patients she had.   I was devastated.  She also scared me by telling me how dangerous it was.  I looked into doctors in the area that supported VBACs and there was one, yes ONE.  

I wasn't educated enough to look into doulas and midwives, let alone meet with one.  I had been with my doctor since I was 16 and was afraid to jump ship to another one.  I didn't think that she would lie to me when it came to the way I wanted to give birth.  I am now done having children and ended up with 3 cesareans.  I dont know if it is my age, or that times have just simply changed since I had my first baby but VBACs are everywhere now.  I see success stories so often and while I am happy for those women I am incredibly jealous.  Its hard to watch someone do what you wanted to do so badly.  In a way I feel I was robbed of giving birth.

Sometimes women don't have a choice when it comes to a c-section, but in my case it came down to the fact that with my second my doctor just didn't have time for me.  Plus what she told me was not completely the truth.  While yes there is a risk with a uterine rupture in a VBAC (1%) I was more likely to die on the operating table with a repeat c-section (3%).  Giving birth no matter how it is done is a beautiful thing and an accomplishment.  In the end I ended up with three beautiful children that I grew inside of my body, and I do feel very lucky to have been able to do that, but there is a part of me that wishes I would have fought harder to give birth the way I wanted.  Do I feel like less of a woman?  No, and I don't think anyone who has had to have repeat c-sections should feel that way.  The only thing I feel is that I didn't get to experience something I was so close to doing, and wanted so bad.

If you have had a c-section and don't want to go through it again, do your research.  If your doctor doesn't support you, look into another one, or even a doula or midwife.  Don't give up!  If you are fine with having repeat c-sections then awesome, some people prefer it and that's just fine.  Fight for yourself and your baby, don't let anyone tell you, you cant do something with YOUR body (unless it is medically necessary of course).  It doesn't matter if you are 19 or 40 explore all of your options, and make the best decision for YOU.  Don't be pressured into another c-section (or a first) because your doctor wants to make their tee time, or has to catch a plane.  You should be the only thing that matters to your doctor, and if you aren't, then its time to find someone else


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