I’ve tried to write this post a thousand different times in a thousand different ways. And I have come up with no clever way to say these words. So I’ll just say them plainly.
My VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) attempt failed. And it was the exact birth I needed.
My emergency c-section with my daughter was nothing short of traumatic for me, and I firmly believe that it played a part in the postpartum depression I dealt with for the first year of her life. So, when it came time to discuss my options for baby #2, I was thrilled to hear that my hospital and physician of choice now allowed for mothers to attempt a VBAC.
Because I was so, so sure that pushing this baby out the good ol’ fashioned way would mend my heart from my first birth.
But you know that thing where babies have plans all their own and you actually can’t dictate what your body will do when in labor?
Yeah. That happened.
I’ll spare you the nitty gritty details, but suffice it to say, that after 48 hours of breathing through contractions every 5-7 minutes. And not progressing past One. Freaking. Centimeter. I was so done.
And also ready to roundhouse kick the next nurse that put me through a painful cervix check only to say, “I think you’re at a 1 and a wiggle!”
(God bless you, L&D nurses, for dealing with laboring women who have ALL THE FEELS and may or may not take some of those feelings out on you. You are true treasures. Heroes among us!)
My OB, who was wonderful and kind and exceedingly supportive of my wishes for this birth started to become concerned about the state of my scarred uterus once we neared that 48 hour mark. She gave me one directive:
“Go downstairs and walk, sister. Walk that baby out!”
And lo, I’m a rule follower to the core. So we walked. Or rather, my husband walked and I waddled a few steps at a time then had to grab on to something and hold on for dear life as a contraction coursed through my body. We walked for so long. So, so long. And I was in pain. So, so much pain. I was sure I’d made progress.
“One and a wiggle!”
Enter: Tears, anger, frustration, and grief. Also enter: One of my dear friends getting on the phone with me and saying what I couldn’t put into words.
It SUCKS when your body doesn’t do what it’s “supposed” to do. It is the absolute worst when, despite your very, very best efforts, your plan doesn’t work out. But the bright side here is that you did give it your all, and you’ll get to meet that baby soon.
So, a c-section time was scheduled. And you know what?
I felt great about it.
In spite of myself, I had such a sense of peace wash over me in that moment. It was very likely due to sheer exhaustion. But I was so ready to meet my baby, however he had to arrive.
And let me just say, his birth was awesome. And it validated for me that my daughter’s birth was every bit as serious as I thought it was.
Put simply, his birth, and the fact that it was a c-section, healed me.
The OR was empty when the nurses wheeled me in, instead of everyone being poised and ready to go in order to save my baby’s life.
The anesthesiologist was able to take his time setting up my spinal block, I don’t even remember this from last time because it had to happen too fast.
When he was born, he turned the most beautiful shade of pink nearly right away, not the scary purple of near suffocation that stayed with my daughter for far too many minutes.
And best of all, the NICU nurse practitioner looked over my beautiful 37 weeker and said these words:
“I see no reason why he can’t go back with you.”
I got to hold my baby, ya’ll. When they wheeled me out of surgery, he was in my arms.
And that, my friends, was all my mama heart needed.
So if you’re trying for a VBAC, please know that I pray it works out the way you want it. I really, truly do. But also know that if it doesn’t go the way you planned – you can still have a really beautiful birth experience.
Even if it’s in an operating room.
*Originally published December, 2016.