Whether you have had a baby or plan on getting pregnant, how you deliver your baby is something many women stress over. New moms are especially vulnerable to this fear, since it is something they have never done before and they aren’t sure what to expect. I feared childbirth way before I was pregnant. I was afraid of the pain and the crazy birth stories I had heard from my circle of friends – you know, the stories about the epidural not working, the baby’s heart dropping, emergency c-sections. I was afraid of the unknown.
My fears were justified the day I gave birth to my daughter and the hours (two days to be exact) leading up to it. I started having mild contractions one evening which started to come more frequently. I tried everything I could to stay home as long as possible. I took a shower, walked around, cleaned up the house – anything to keep me from going to the hospital too soon. I knew that once I was in, I might stay and be bedridden until I gave birth, which could have taken hours. By 9pm that same day, my contractions were about 4 minutes apart and my hubby and I decided to make our way over to the hospital. I walked up to labor and delivery, stopping every few minutes to catch my breath through the contractions. I was hooked up to the monitor and sure enough, my contractions were very close but I was only dilated about 1 cm, so I was sent home. Immediately after I left labor and delivery (I wasn’t even off the L&D floor yet) my contractions became violent. I was just checked so I figured, there would be no progress within a few minutes, so I went home.
The car ride home was brutal. Each and every bump was agonizing. Knowing I didn’t want to be strapped to that hospital bed, I told my hubby to just take me home. I took a VERY long shower, as this was the only thing that eased my pain, and tried my best to get rest. I knew that the next day I would be having my baby! The following evening around 10pm, I made my way back into Labor and Delivery, but this time I had to be wheeled in. I couldn’t walk or talk from the pain and I just wanted my epidural NOW. Mind you, I had no intentions of getting an epidural to begin with, unless I absolutely needed it – the fear of a large needle in my back was quickly erased by the immense pain I was feeling. Since I was in so much pain, I was immediately hooked up to an IV and an epidural and THEN I was checked, only to find out I was only 3 cm. A few long hours later, and two more epidurals later, my doctor arrived, broke my water, and started pitocin, another drug I was hoping to avoid. He told me my baby would be born within a few hours.
I stopped progressing at 7cm. It turned out my 8 pound baby was too big to fit through my pelvic bones. Pushing her out would likely get her stuck, cause brain damage, and possibly kill me. I didn’t believe anything I was hearing. I was NOT having a c-section. I was NOT going to be one of those ladies on “The Business of Being Born” who were scared into having a c-section because the doctor was impatient, or whatever his reasoning was. I was in such denial that 3 nurses had to come in and give me a pep talk. I wasn’t hearing anything they were saying. I was wheeled into the operating room, completely inconsolable. My doctor even told me as he was wheeling me in that I would be able to have the next baby naturally – Are you freaking kidding me? Next baby? Who was he talking to? I lost sight of why I was there in the first place. Inevitably I was heavily sedated in order to calm me down. Within minutes I heard my little girl crying, and in less than an hour I was holding her.
I progressed rather quickly in recovery. I was able to move my legs very quick and I was up and about sooner than I thought I would be. The real test was when I had to stop all pain meds because I had a bad reaction to them. C-Sections suck, to say the least, but my baby was here and she was healthy, and there was nothing I could do to change how she got here. It still bummed me out, A LOT. I still felt cheated. I couldn’t even deliver my own baby.
Fast forward a few years after that, I started thinking of having another baby. The fear of delivery terrified me enough to not take that plunge. I wanted a VBAC (vaginal birth after c-section) but I read too many horror stories of women rupturing. Then I would hear about the 90% success rate of VBACs, provided you aren’t in a risk category. I spoke with friends who had VBACs, and others who had repeat c-sections. Still, the fear of rupturing and causing injury or death to my baby was terrifying. I decided to see what my doctor thought of all this, so I scheduled my routine appointment. It turned out, the doctor was all for VBACs and said I had a half of a percent of something going wrong. My chances would be pretty good if I had a VBAC. He pretty much told me to chill out with my fear, because once I do get pregnant, I may not have the option to VBAC for reasons beyond my control, such as a large or breech baby.
Still, the fear of rupturing consumes me, yet having another c-section terrifies me. I’ve always wanted a large family and while living in a two bedroom apartment in NYC means I probably won’t be able to fit more than two kids in here anyway- I would love the OPTION to have more kids. I know that with c-sections you are limited to three, but if I am terrified with the little scar tissue I have now, I would be even MORE terrified the third time around.
So, now I’m contemplating… to VBAC or not?