The birth of my first son was a very long and absolutely horrible experience. The scars went much deeper than my abdomen and uterus, emotionally I was changed.
Many women after having gone through labor and delivery will tell you that it is painful but that the pain fades. Charlie’s birth left a pain that refused to follow this rule of thumb and I was very able to vividly recall what that experience felt like physically and emotionally.
At first, right after he was delivered I felt the guilt and inadequacy of having not been able to push my child out. I tried like hell for over three hours but his head refused to come down. It was with the diagnosis of craniosynostosis which relieved that guilt. My son did not have a soft spot and no matter how hard I pushed against his hard little head he would not and could not budge. Somehow this discovery helped return some of my womanhood to me.
So when I found out I was pregnant again I became determined to have the experience I was unable to have the first time. I wanted, more than anything, to push this child out.
Although there were doctors who tried to scare me away from the birth I wanted and attempted to make me doubt myself and my ability to naturally birth a child I pressed forward, fully intending to prove them wrong. I had a lot to prove to them, to myself, and to the world.
I was told my pelvis was too small and I was incapable of a natural delivery. I ought to just schedule the section. Those doctors could attend some other poor laboring woman as they would not be attending me. If your doctor doesn’t believe in you, how can you believe in you? Why was I not like 99 percent of women and deemed “incapable” without even so much as an examination? I however never doubted myself or my ability to do what I was created to do and as such I gave myself every opportunity to make my VBAC happen. Unfortunately a vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC)in the land of lawsuits is an uphill battle.
I put together a fully supportive team; a home birth midwife, a hospital doctor and a well informed husband in a supportive environment. New Jersey law makes it illegal for a doctor/midwife to attend a home birth VBAC so legally I was forced into the hospital. However, by arriving at the hospital at already 9cms, I was not pushed into receiving an epidural, I was not put on the clock and I did not receive pitocin or other measures routinely used to force labor along. What I did receive was completely voluntary and arriving “ready” was part of the plan.
Keep in mind I do not judge any ones use of an epidural for the pain, I think it is great to have options, but for my personal story the epidural was not an option. I firmly believe the epidural stopped my forward progress with my first and since my goal was to succeed, I was not about to undermine that goal in any way. I also felt that if something was going wrong I wanted to be able to feel it. So I took the epidural completely off the table and planned accordingly from the very beginning.
When it came time to see this VBAC through, I focused, not on the past but on the present. The physical journey of actually becoming a mother is quite a remarkable one and I did not want to miss it.
Having felt every painful and sometimes agonizing second of my second son’s birth I somehow became healed. Once he was out the pain stopped on a dime and all of the pain from Charlie’s birth disappeared right along with it. I felt whole again for the first time in a long time and somewhat vindicated. I now knew what they meant when they said the pain is forgettable. Who was this man who told me I couldn’t do it?
So what does my VBAC mean to me? It means power. The power not only to know that I could do it but that I did do it. It also means healing in a way I never expected. I joked shortly after the birth about about having t-shirts made up. I was only partly kidding…
Cesarean Section can be a necessary, life-saving option. Had it not been for the surgical technological advances in childbirth my eldest and I would not have survived. However, with the climbing rate of unnecessary surgical interventions it is important for women to realize there are other options and having had a previous c-section does not automatically doom you to a life of repeat surgical births. Having had such an awesome experience, I believe all women are capable of, it is about time us women take back our power from the “system” and begin believing in ourselves and every amazing thing we are fully capable of; including childbirth.
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