I have never fallen into a minority group before. At least not to my knowledge. But 3%. That is the percentage of babies who are breech come delivery. 3%! The first time my doctor told me my second baby was breech my heart just sunk into me. My first pregnancy was textbook easy. So easy I joked to my husband I wouldn’t mind becoming a surrogate mother. My son was a different story. Bulging varicose veins, gestational diabetes and now… breech! We had about 6 weeks to go. Each week that passed and my doctor checked and the baby was still breech I would leave in tears. I never thought in my life I would have a c-section. It was just never in my plan for my life. Me? No. No. I don’t have c-sections. Each week my doctor would reassure me there was still time but every moment I touched my upper right rib and new I was feeling my son’s head I just battled back the tears.
It was mid-October in Arizona… still somewhat warm but not swimming weather but I got myself into the water every day trying to relieve the pull of gravity and convince my son to flip around. I even tried the upside down position. Then we scheduled the External Cephalic Version (this is where 2 doctors try to manually turn the baby from outside your belly)… 58% of the time this is successful. Again I fell into the minority. We went into the version knowing whether he turned or not we would deliver on that day. My son was not happy about the version. His heart rate dropped quickly and significantly during the procedure. My doctor had a 3 strikes and we’re done scenario… she stopped after 2 tries because of his intolerance to the procedure. The OR began to prepare to cut my body open. Everyone left me and all I had were my tears. I began to ball. My doctor came back apologetically saying she wished there was some other way.
I look back now and wonder if I could’ve delivered him breech. It was never even discussed. What if I would have done more research? What if I had a doula or midwife there to suggest it? What if I knew some friends in this same position who had delivered breech babies? What if we had tried the version earlier? What did women do for thousands of years before c-sections were even practiced… they delivered breech. But what if is such a place of spiritual darkness. I can’t live in the what if. God had a reason why He allowed my body to be cut open. I am convinced I will never know the reason until I get to heaven. But that is not what God needs from me. He just needs my trust that He knew and knows what He is doing and that He will work together all things for good to those who believe in Him (Romans 8:28).
Less than an hour later my son was born. It was a joyous and heartbreaking time. They didn’t have mirrors but they situated one of the lights so I could see the procedure through the metal reflection (this is the nurse in me wanting to watch the operation). I saw my son being pulled out of my body while I laid there lifeless. They cut the cord, wrapped him quick, handed him to my husband to bring over to me. I wanted to reach out and pull him to my chest but I couldn’t move my arms. My husband had to pick up my arm and put it on him so I could pretend I could feel the life in his body but I still couldn’t feel anything. I had a hard time smiling because my mind and face were stuck in a cloud of medications. And the whole 1 or 2 minutes he was there ended just like that and they took him away. I didn’t get to see him cry as they did his newborn tests and bath or watch them get his footprints or weigh and measure him. That whole first hour of his life I have no memory of. It was about an hour before they brought him to me in the recovery room. My son was so sweet to me as if he knew the pain I was going through from not having delivered him and he nursed instantly and easily and our bond began.
Then came the recovery. We spent the full 3 days in the hospital and I was dreading leaving because of not being able to sleep in a hospital bed anymore. I never imagined the type of pain that is associated with a c-section. I never thought of it as MAJOR ABDOMINAL SURGERY… but it most certainly is. And here I was… a nurse who worked with patients recovering from major abdominal surgeries. I suddenly understood something about them that I never understood in the last 3 years I worked with my recovering patients. I had a newfound immediate respect for those patients who just pop out of bed and get going and a new understanding of those who ask for just another minute before they logroll out of bed because of the pain. Just like each woman’s vaginal delivery is completely different by means of recovery, it is the same for a c-section. I don’t know why but mine was a very difficult recovery. Maybe it was from the version where the doctors push so hard to turn the baby they sometimes bruise you internally. All I know is I found myself on my recliner chair 24 hrs a day for about a week. It took about 10 minutes to get out of the chair, walk to the bathroom, sit myself down, go to the bathroom and push through the bladder pain (during a c-section they cut away your bladder and reattach it after), stand back up and walk back to my chair. I could not lay down in a flat position because it stretched out my scar and my insides too much. I walked like a hunchback for the same reason. I couldn’t wear anything but my nightgown and special loose underwear because too much pressure on my incision was very uncomfortable. When friends came over to visit or bring meals I waved to them from my chair. I felt helpless. I cried everyday because I felt sorry for myself. I constantly wondered why anyone would willingly choose this path. An elective c-section… sounds like an oxymoron to me. As with all things, each day did get better and eventually I found some sort of normalcy and healing to my life both physically and emotionally but I will never forget the pain and difficulty of my recovery period.
I struggled and still struggle with a lot of guilt over my anger at having a c-section. I know there are thousands of women who are unable to become pregnant who would give anything for the opportunity to have a c-section knowing it would mean they were with child. How dare I be so picky to wish for a perfect delivery. While this position does not take away my anger and the pain it does help me keep things in perspective and remain utterly grateful for the incredible blessing of bearing a child. My son was healthy. There were no problems with him and thankfully no problems from the c-section. We truly are blessed.
A few months after his birth we moved to small town Colorado. A few months after living in small town Colorado we tested positive for our third baby! My son was only 9 months old! I would’ve never dreamed of having a third blessing and so close to our second. Psalm 127:3 says “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, The fruit of the womb is a reward.” God was certainly blessing us and with a unique timing to say the least. I quickly learned the only option for a VBAC was a small clinic 1 1/2 hours away who were hesitant to accept me because of the small amount of time between my deliveries, or I could do a home VBAC which didn’t seem a good option since we were living in a dinky rental apt. and the nearest hospital was a 30 min. drive or the next best option was a 4 hr drive away. Once we realized this and also realized we would need to relocate to find work for the wintertime we decided to head back to Phoenix where my old OB and my other two babies were delivered. We would be in the city with a lot of options for a VBAC. How perfectly God’s timing is considering we are due the end of April which is about the amount of time we thought we would need to be out here for work anyways.
I write all of these things not yet being able to say I have had a VBAC but advocating and pushing for this. My mentality has changed thanks to my research and I agree with some authors in hopes that the term VBAC will eventually disappear and I can be treated like any other normally laboring woman… since statistics show that is all I will be doing. This is part one of all I want to share with you. The next segment will include some of the statistics and history of a cesarean section and anything relevant to showing why a VBAC is safer than an elective repeat c-section. Stay tuned!