Saturday, November 27, 2010

Andrea's Path to VBAC

I asked one of my friends to share her VBAC story and here it is! Thank you Andrea!

My VBAC Journey
I suppose my story begins with my first pregnancy. It was a healthy and normal pregnancy. My husband and I took a childbirth class which spent one entire session discussing Cesarean Section. I spent most of this session thinking about what I needed at the grocery store. I tuned out because I wasn't going to have a Cesarean Section. I was going all-natural. My prenatal care was with a group of OB's with an outstanding reputation. Towards the end of my pregnancy, one of the doctors told me that I may run into problems with cephalopelvic disproportion. (which turned out not to be the case...) My water broke late at night and I was already tired. As soon as I arrived at the hospital, my OB ordered a Pitocin drip, even though I was in labor and having contractions. After several hours of increasing amounts of Pitocin, I felt like my spirit was broken and caved and had an epidural. My labor lasted into the next day. I was finally fully dilated after 21 hours and began pushing while laying on my back. I pushed with all my might for THREE HOURS. During this time many strangers came in to "observe" it was really humiliating. My doctor came in periodically to bully me. She reminded me that the hospital policy was to only allow a woman to labor for 24 hours after her water breaks. After that she "had to have" a C-Section. I remember during a previous appointment (when the doctor mentioned that I should be prepared for a C-Section) explaining that I didn't want a surgical delivery and he explained that occasionally they obtain court orders to require a woman to have a C-Section against their will. Nice, huh? The baby crowned over and over again. My doctor came in and determined that the baby's shoulder seemed to be caught on my pelvic bone. There was never any mention of changing position or other methods to remedy this. She tried the vacuum three times. When this was unsuccessful she pushed the baby back inside me. To say this was uncomfortable would be an understatement. Then she announced that I was going to have a C-Section and told me to remove my jewelry. They wheeled me in, I was so defeated and sad that I asked not to be awake for it. The anesthesiologist told me that he could do that as soon as the baby was out. He also told me that since I had an epidural, that I would have some dreams. Well, it turned out to be hallucinations, HORRIBLE hallucinations. Thankfully, the procedure went well and the baby was healthy. A few hours later I woke up to find my husband rocking her next to me. I was overjoyed. After the next few weeks I battled post-partum depression, undoubtedly exacerbated by grief over the delivery. I felt a sense of loss, as if I had failed, less of a woman, and missed out on a right of passage. My wound did not heal well. I wasn't able to do much for a couple of months. I had to be driven to the OB's office every week for 6 weeks for the wound to be drained. I remember one night after nursing my daughter, I leaned over to the side of my bed to put her back in her co-sleeper and I dropped her because the pain in my abdomen was too much to bare. I quickly learned that although Cesarean Section is the most common surgical procedure in American hospitals, it is not to be taken lightly. It is a major surgery that leaves physical and emotional scars. When I became pregnant with my second child, I knew I didn't want to have another C-Section. I had moved to a much smaller town, one with only one hospital. Turns out this hospital has a "VBAC Ban". Don't get me started on this! There have been several challenges to the legality of these bans, but I didn't have the time, money, or energy to fight it. I received prenatal care from an OBGYN in a nearby, ironically, smaller town. She was one of the few doctors in the area who would attend a VBAC 'attempt'. After the first half of my pregnancy, however, I left her practice as she didn't seem to have the same goals as I did. VBAC was very important to me, as this was to be my last child and only chance to experience a natural childbirth. She treated me as if the idea was a novelty and at one point told me I had a "38% chance of successful VBAC." I often wonder what scientific formula she used to calculate these statistics. I got in touch with the local ICAN chapter...( International Cesarean Awareness Network) . The woman that I talked to was very understanding of my situation and recommended another hospital in another (much bigger) city. I wasn't too excited about driving an hour each way for my prenatal appointments. I was also uneasy when she told me the group was midwives. I had a vision of a women delivering a baby on a kitchen table, Little House on the Prairie style. I was so wrong, these women were professional, educated, and very sincere. They practiced in a very beautiful hospital next to a group of OB's. The technology they used was modern I and received similar care to what I would expect from an OB. These women just had a different approach. The focus seemed to be on letting birth happen and minimizing interference during labor. I AM SO GLAD I found them. I met most of them over the course of the rest of my pregnancy. By the end of my pregnancy, I felt at peace that whichever midwife was at the hospital when I arrived in labor, I would be in very capable, supportive hands. I believed that my vision for the birth was indeed their vision for my birth. They actually REQUIRED me to have a birth plan.
At one week past my due date, my water broke in the evening after dinner. We left for the hospital and arrived in the early hours of the night, it WAS a full moon, and everybody and their sister was in labor! They didn't have a labor room for me. I eventually got a better room. Progress was slow. My doula came and I got on the birth ball. Later in the afternoon, I got in the shower as the pain was intense and the only birthing tub was in use ...I never did get to get in the tub, even though that was the plan. The shower only helped for so long and it seemed as if there was no end in sight. I tried various positions and rocking in a rocking chair, but eventually decided to have an epidural. I wanted to see if I could go without, but it seemed obvious that I was in for another long labor. It was more important for me to have a VBAC than not to have an epidural...if that makes sense. Finally, at 1 a.m. the next morning, I was dilated and pushed for three hours. After this, they started some Pitocin to get labor to speed up. The OB's at this point came in and sort of threatened a C-Section due, which was stress I did not need. The midwives and my doula were taking care of me just fine, thank you very much....My midwife told me to "get really mad and push", which was easy to do. I tried lots of positions, but finally ended up reclined with my feet on the shoulders of my doula...poor thing had severely bruised shoulders at the end of it all! They could tell I was starting to lose steam and they pulled out the mirror, in which I could see my baby crowning and that was what I needed. I finally pushed out Fiona at 10:08. I can't really describe the feeling, but it certainly empowering. I felt so proud of myself. I had this internal dialog ever since my C-Section that I was somehow incapable of giving birth to my babies, and therefore, less of a woman and a mother. Now that I have been a mother for 5 years, I realize that mothering makes you a mother, not how the child came into the world. However, I am SO glad that I had this experience and wouldn't change a thing.