When I was pregnant with Simeon, I had all kinds of wild plans for his birth. I read up on labor techniques. I researched Lamaze and hypnobirthing (<—yes, that’s a real thing). I poured over lists of local doulas.
I was not messing around.
About a year earlier I had seen The Business of Being Born. If you haven’t had the pleasure of watching this documentary, let’s just say it’s all about natural childbirth and was produced by Ricki Lake– and Ricki Lake can be quite inspiring when she’s gnashing her teeth and moaning in a birthing tub full of lukewarm water. I was gonna do it just like Ricki (minus the tub of water). Just like a full-fledged pioneer woman (minus the home-birth and you-could-die part). Just like the granola-eating hippy-mom I had decided to be. I set my sights on an all-natural med-free childbirth experience.
It was going to be zen, it was going to be flawless, it was all going to follow my carefully crafted plan. Kinda like this:
Then I remembered why planning is for the birds. I was actually talking to my OB about the whole “doula” idea just moments before our 20 week ultrasound– the one where we found out that our baby had spina bifida.
And that he would need intense medical intervention shortly after birth.
And that I would be having a c-section.
And that my plans were totally worthless.
The whole situation felt unreal and completely unfunny– except for the “birth plan” thing, which is the only topic I could muster a laugh about that day. I remember turning to Greg and saying with barely contained mirth, “So, about that doula…” and then cackling like a mad woman. Contemplating the utter pointlessness of the hours I spent on childbirth research made me giddy. What a joke.
I was sad about my thwarted plans for approximately 3 minutes. After that, I felt kind of… relieved. The thing is, I’m pretty sure my over-planning had been nothing more than an elaborate coping mechanism– a way to calm my nerves. All that time I’d been reading and prepping and trying to wrap my head around what my body was going to do, I’d actually been harboring an intense fear that I just wouldn’t be able to hack it. Childbirth scared the stink out of me.
Even though all the books said that giving birth would make me feel powerful– like this:
I was scared that it might actually make me feel like I was for sure dying and would throw me into an epic panic attack. In a way, the need for a c-section (even though it wasn’t my first choice) forced me to let the natural-birth thing go. I could stop worrying over the baby’s exit strategy and focus on other things. I had bigger fish to fry anyway (and by “fish” I mean spina bifida and by “fry” I mean obsess over.)
I had the c-section and it wasn’t fun but it wasn’t terrible either. It was a lot like my original birth plan except I did nothing but lay like there like a slug. Basically, I was having a lump removed– and he was the cutest little lump ever. The experience went something like this:
So, a few months back when my doctor asked me if I was interested in trying for a VBAC, I froze. I said I would give it some thought. I figured I would ponder it for a week and get back to her but here I am, three months later with only one trimester to go, and I still don’t know what I want to do.
Some days, the VBAC seems like a great idea. I can do the labor thing (although, let’s be honest, I want a freaking epidural). I can experience a traditional birth (the kind where you yell things at your husband like “Look at what you’ve DONE to me, YOU PIG!!”). I can be powerful like She-ra, or whatever. But, on other days (most days?) the idea of trying something new sounds dreadful.
Simeon’s birth was intensely medical and full of unknowns. As far as we know, this baby’s birth will be quite different, regardless of the exit strategy. There will be no lengthy NICU stay. No immediate surgery. No team of doctors hovering around her day and night. For me, it’s uncharted territory.
Oddly enough, trying to VBAC would take away the one element of this childbirth gig that I’ve actually done before.
I’ve never had a baby stay with me in the hospital, or brought a baby home just days after giving birth, or even had to wake up with my kid when I was still in recovery mode. Do I really want another unknown? I’m just not sure.
Greg says we should take a birthing class and see how we feel. I say we should ignore the issue and just let the baby fall out when the time is right– like how cows do it on the farm. Either way, I’m giving myself three more weeks to make a decision on this “VBAC or c-section” debate. The clock is ticking.
Until then, you can find me at home, fervently praying for an old-fashioned stork delivery. Seems like the most dignified way to go, yes?
Alright, spill it– anyone ever tried for a VBAC? Was it fantastic? Scary? Worth it? What about repeat c-sections– were they rough, easy, just whatever? Is it normal to be anxious about childbirth in all it’s forms? Can’t we just skip that part?