The second in a two-part personal story about the decision to deliver vaginally following a Cesarean Section.
Still and all, I wanted to try to deliver vaginally. It seemed like an experience I might regret not having. (What? You don’t want to know what it’s like to have a person come out of your vagina? C’mon!) Also, with a one-and-a-half year old son in the house, having major surgery seemed unappealing. The idea of being unable to pick up my little boy whenever I wanted made me unbearably sad. It’s one thing to recover from surgery when that’s your main job (well, that and taking care of a newborn!), but another when you have a toddler in the picture as well.
At every prenatal visit the doctor would ask me about scheduling a C-section, and I’d remind him or her that I wanted to try a VBAC. I guess because VBAC rates are still low, the assumption was that I’d schedule a C-section. This may have changed in the last few years, but I remember being slightly discouraged by the presumption of my birth plan. I’ve talked to other friends who’ve planned VBACs (all turned out successfully, I might add) who felt similarly confused or discouraged by the assumption that they would schedule a C-section. One friend emailed me a couple months ago, right before her due date, that the fact that her OB kept asking if she wanted to schedule a C-section made her think that they thought her chances of success were low, so maybe she should just schedule it after all. I felt the same way—did they know something I didn’t?
My guess is that practitioners want to help pregnant moms keep their eyes on the prize—a healthy baby—and they want us to keep our expectations reasonable. I’m sure there are women who, after being particularly disappointed by an unplanned C-section, feel very invested in having a successful VBAC, and I can see how it’s important to help them keep perspective.
As for me, my pessimism was helpful—I figured I had a 50/50 chance of a vaginal delivery, even though the statistics were much higher. I wanted to keep my expectations low. Still, I read all I could on VBACs, and visited a chiropractor and acupuncturist to see if there were ways I could increase the likelihood that my baby’s head would be in a good position.
I admit that every few days I’d question my decision, wonder if I wasn’t just setting myself up for disappointment. Why even try? Why not just schedule the surgery and forget about it? That way my mom could buy her plane ticket and we’d know what the baby’s birthday would be and I could stop wondering how things would turn out.
Also, the idea of a long labor following by surgery, like with my son, was highly unappealing to me—who would want that, really?
In the end, my desire to have a trial of labor, as the docs call it, won out, and I’m happy to say that it turned out beautifully.
The same OB who delivered my son delivered our daughter, and as crazy as it might sound, the labor was actually quite fun. (Did I mention again how amazing my epidurals were at TMC?) The recovery was pretty easy, in the sense that I could get up and walk to the bathroom afterward, and not having staples was pretty awesome.
I was kind of surprised by the aftermath of a vaginal delivery in ye olde lady bits, but that’s to be expected, and all seems to be back in working order. (Pelvic floor therapists are FABULOUS—don’t hesitate to ask your OB/GYN for a referral!)
In the end, we all know what matters is delivering a healthy baby. Having a VBAC won’t magically make everything better in your life. As the saying goes, no one gets a medal—the baby is the prize. Still, I was really elated to be able to experience a vaginal delivery, to hold my baby daughter on my chest with her cord still attached, to nurse immediately, and to avoid surgery. Mostly I was happy to be able to pick up my beautiful toddler son when he came to meet his newborn sister for the first time.
My entire VBAC story can be found here, in embarrassingly abundant detail.