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Fairly Odd Mother

Frantically waving my magic wand to make wishes come true.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

My VBAC Stories

I am not a huge risk-taker when it comes to my health. I floss. I get regular check-ups. I wear a seat belt, don't swim alone and eat well.

So, it was a bit out of character when I took a risk by insisting on having a VBAC over a second C-section.

Back in 2003 when I was about to have baby #2, I had no idea that VBAC's were so controversial that over 300 U.S. hospitals refuse to let a woman choose this birthing option.
All I knew was that I didn't want another C-section.

Two years prior, in 2001, my first child was born via an emergency C-section after an otherwise ordinary labor (Belly was a
Frank breech that wasn't discovered until I was 10cm dilated). The C-section went well, and I will forever be grateful that I had doctors available to do the surgery immediately.

But, my recovery was tough. Pain, limited movement, pain, trying to nurse, exhaustion and more pain. Suffice to say that I did not want another C-section if I could at all avoid it.

My midwife was hopeful when I told her my plans for a VBAC. My first labor had gone perfectly, and there was no sign that my body could not have delivered my 8 1/2 pound baby girl naturally if she had just turned herself the correct way.

The OB in the office, though, was not as understanding. I had to listen to lectures about uterine rupture, infant death, maternal death and other not-so-pleasant side effects, as well as sign a multi-page waiver of responsibility from the hospital.
I signed. And, while my long labor with Baby #2 was very, very hard, I felt so awesome after having my chubby Jilly. I knew that I had done the right thing in deciding to have a VBAC.

By the time I was ready to have D, just 18 months later, there weren't any lectures or scary stories. In fact, that same OB who had warned me of possible death was the one who delivered my 9-pound son, and watched me walk around the delivery room within the hour.

I write this not to say that all women should have VBAC's, or that I think C-sections are "bad". My C-section was as glorious an experience as my VBAC's---when my beautiful newborns were held up for me to see, the entire birthing experience immediately became perfect.

But, to say that VBAC's are too dangerous and C-sections are all safe is not fair. I've met women who would like to have more than three children, but have been told that they cannot since repeated C-sections cause a buildup of scar tissue that can later rupture. I have a friend who had this happen to her as she left the hospital with her third C-section baby, and her story sent shivers down my spine.

I know women who wanted to have a VBAC but didn't because their doctors made rupture sound common, even thought the percentage is very small. There were others who went to hospitals that flat out refused to consider a VBAC.

Ultimately, how the babies got out of me is not nearly as important as the fact that they are here now, healthy and happy. But, I
'm also glad that I was able to make an educated choice on how they entered this world instead of being forced to follow a blanket hospital policy.


I'd like to thank my Twitter friend, MothersWork, for bringing this topic up today.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is such a personal subject for me. Cole was breech so had a c-section. I was basically scared into having a 2nd one. At the time, I just believed what my Dr. said was the truth. Now I have had 3 c-sections and would really like another baby but am not sure I want to risk having a 4th c-section. I'm really mad at myself for not looking more into it with my 2nd and mad at my Dr. for not giving me the other option. Good for you and I'm jealous.

And I love these happy, glowing Mommy pictures!

10:10 PM  
Blogger Whirlwind said...

What a great story. I had a friend who had an emergency c-section and the doctors did not even want to think about allowing her to have a VBAC with her second. I also know a few people who go to a major hospital to deliver their VBAC babies.

My third daughter was frank breech and thankfully, I had a great doctor (and a wonderful birth history of quick deliveries, small babies and no complications) as I was allowed to deliver her naturally. Let me just say, babies coming out feet first are freaking hard. I can see why there are risks involved.

Didn't your sister deliver a breech baby?

7:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A beautiful story. So powerful and yet so personal. I love how you understand that every birth is wonderful and special, but that you wanted to shape your birth story instead of having other people shape it. Thank you for sharing it.

9:30 AM  
Blogger Beck said...

I think the vbac-not vbac thing depends upon a variety of factors, right? Like, why you had a c-section in the first place and what sort of scarring you have...
I had a c-section with my first (like you, my first baby was breech!) and my recovery was HORRIBLE. So I've had two vbacs and really no complications with them, either.

12:41 PM  
Blogger Red said...

I have this on my Netflix Que. I heard it is unbelievable how women are treated when it comes to something that is so natural.

To doctors, and hospitals, birthing is just a business, not something that was meant to be.

7:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had two vaginal deliveries, so I don't know what the c-section experience is like. I do know that I wanted to avoid knives at all cost and would have done anything to deliver naturally. It's nice to hear that you stood your ground and your doctor and hospital acquiesced. It should be your choice.

10:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had 5 c-sections - I wished I had my kids the other way but it didn't work out and I am happy I was able to have children even if with surgical help.
Congrats on the V-bac

ShannonI know many people who had 4 c-sections - while not ideal several women have done it...

11:42 AM  
Blogger Ali Wicks-Lim said...

Thanks so much for posting this. Mason was also frank breech, though we knew about it ahead of time. I tried everything I could do to get him to turn, but when he didn't I ended up with c-section. I had a really rough recovery from the c-section and now, when I consider having a 2nd baby, I find myself terrified about the birth/c-section. It is amazing how these things stick with you, but I appreciate your story because it gives me hope. I just hate to imagine spedning a whole pregnancy caught up in fear about the birth. Ugh!

7:21 PM  
Blogger Sus said...

I just saw a fascinating play by a Polish theater troupe called Eighth Day, in which the original actors from the 70s (when the group started) read their KGB files on stage, since they were highly suspect back in Communist Poland. What, you ask, does this have to do with your VBAC stories, which are wonderful BTW? :) It just made me so thankful to be living at this time in this place, where I can and do take such advantage of my freedom. I feel that way about having my babies in this era, too - an era of information and power for mothers, or educated mothers anyway. They told my grandmother to HOLD HER LEGS TOGETHER so her sixth child wouldn't come out early. The baby was deprived of oxygen and still lives with severe cerebral palsy because of it. We must continue to question the establishment, and be thankful that we can.

10:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK. For a split sec, I thought your nip was showing in the photo with Jilly. Internet porn!

9:31 PM  
Anonymous Karen Chatters said...

Thanks for retweeting this old post. I'm pregnant now and really hoping for a VBAC. I feel that my daughters birth was rushed by the doctors because doing a c-section fit nicely into some window they had. I strongly feel that with a bit more time, I could have had a safe vaginal birth. But, I'll be delivering in the same baby factory that I did last time so my hopes are low but at least now I'm more informed.

9:32 AM  
Blogger Renee said...

Great post.

I had to fight to have a vbac in 2008 with my second baby. My OB was supportive, but the hospital where we were to deliver was not. The new recommendations were making them rethink their policies and it was unclear through most of my pregnancy whether I'd be allowed to attempt a vbac at that hospital. I was pretty determined not to have major surgery unless it was absolutely necessary. Until about a month before J was born my options seemed to be to go to a bigger hospital 2 hours from home, to attempt a homebirth (which I live way too far from a hospital to be comfortable with) or to go to my regular hospital and refuse a c-section. Not great options. In the end the OB practice decided that they would continue to do vbacs until the hospital absolutely banned it. Sadly, the vbac rate is so low that there are only a few women a year in their practice that even want to try it. I had a beautiful 8 lb boy via vbac and could not have been happier about it. I thank God that I chose that route because he had to be transferred to another hospital due to a minor birth defect and if I had chosen a repeat c-section I would not have been stuck 100 miles away from my baby instead of nursing him in the PICU.

9:45 AM  

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