When I was pregnant with my first child, I was young and naiive. I really didn't know anything about childbirth. I knew it was supposed to be painful. I assumed that everything would go exactly like it does in the movies, my water would break unexpectedly several days before my due date, and I would be rushed to the hospital, pop in the epidural, and then smooth sailing from there! It didn't exactly go as planned. With my first pregnancy, I was very over weight, I will admit. I started off over weight, and gained over 50 lbs throughout the pregnancy. My legs and ankles were swollen all day long, and I was absolutely miserable. About a week before my "due date", I developed a rash on my stomach that I later learned was called PUPPS, which is an awful pregnancy related rash similar to hives that makes you just absolutely miserable. So here I am, over weight, rash all over my stomach and my ankles were the size of elephants. My last OB appointment before my "due date" was scheduled for 3 days prior and I was absolutely convinced that I was not going to leave that appointment without being told I was about to have my baby. I packed my bags and brought them with me!
My OB took one look at me and saw the misery in my eyes. She took my blood pressure, and it was slightly elevated. She told me she doesn't normally induce first time mothers until at least a week past due, but felt that this would be a reason to induce. I almost jumped out of the table to hug her! We did a sono, and sure enough, the baby was measuring "big" and that just sealed the deal for her. I was immediately taken over to L&D to stay the night and be induced first thing in the morning. First thing in the morning: induced, epidural, wait. I waited all day long. Contractions were showing on the monitor, but I couldn't feel it, I had my happy juice. Every time I was checked, there was no progress. I didn't progress past 4 cm all day. Around 4 pm, my OB came and checked me, and started talking about a c-section. She said she would be back in an hour, and if I hadn't progressed, we would move forward. I of course was devastated. 20 minutes later, I began to shake uncontrollably. My sweet husband went to get the nurse. She came in, checked me, and said that I was dilated to a 10 and ready to push! So we began to push. We kept pushing and pushing. I was told to push harder, but I certainly couldn't feel whether or not I was pushing hard because I had that epidural! I was so exhausted from pushing, and had absolutely nothing to show for it. My OB came to help and still no progress. After 90 minutes of pushing, I began to feel sick, turns out I had a fever which meant I had developed an infection. Baby's heart rate went over 200! So immediately I was wheeled into the OR and ended up with a c-section.
When I became pregnant with baby #2, I assumed I would need to have another c-section. But then I began to do my research and learned about VBACs. I knew what they were, I am a product of one. For those who don't know, a VBAC is a Vaginal Birth after Caesarean. My sweet mother delivered her first child by c-section and then delivered myself and my brother naturally. But I had never really given it much thought. I brought the idea to my OB and asked her if she would consider it. She said she would! She told me the risks involved and said that if I would like to try, she would support me. The risks are really very small, about 0.55% that something could go wrong, typically uterine rupture. But even then if that happens, the chances of it becoming fatal are even smaller. So I decided to move forward. Unfortunately, I was still pretty naiive. I didn't do much research beyond what a VBAC was and that it really wasn't as risky as people make it out to be. I didn't look into the idea of trying natural birth and I certainly didn't know that many Doctors will act supportive in the beginning and then pull the plug a little too soon. Well that is exactly what happened. Two days before my due date, I took my blood pressure and it was "slightly elevated." It wasn't considered high, just on the cusp over being normal. So I reluctantly called my OB and she asked me to come in. The nurse took my blood pressure, and like me, thought it wasn't too high and didn't see it as being cause for concern. I went in the waiting room and then my OB came in and said, "Guess who is having a baby today?" Well I certainly didn't think it would be me! I had no signs of labor coming on, and my blood pressure really wasn't all that high. But no, she was convinced that the elevated blood pressure meant I needed to immediately go in for a c-section. I was devastated, again.
Baby #3 on the way, and even though I entertained ideas of VBAC again in my head, I knew it was probably a lost cause. My thoughts were confirmed when I met with my OB and she said, "Well you don't get a choice this time, we will do a repeat caesarean." I caved. Even though I had people telling me that some Doctors will consider a VBAC after two caesareans, I just didn't want to think about changing Doctors at this point. Even though I didn't agree totally with how she handled everything with my attempt to VBAC, I still really loved her as a Doctor. I enjoyed working with her, and well, I just didn't want to rock the boat. So I had my third c-section.
With #2 and #3 I developed an awful incision infection that had to be treated with an antibiotic. C-sections mean a much longer recovery process. I was already hurting, let alone having to deal with an infection. With #3, I also developed PPD (postpartum depression.) I really do feel a lot of that had to do with how I was feeling with my long recovery. After several months of dealing with the depression, I was finally feeling back to normal. But I in no way, was ready to even think about having another child. I even told my husband I wasn't sure if I wanted to have any more kids. I didn't want to think about having another surgery, and I was overwhelmed with life in general.
But then it happened, blessing #4. I was not expecting this at all. We weren't physically preventing, but we were taking ovulation tests to make sure I wasn't ovulating... well, I guess it didn't work. I was about 10 days late, and really didn't think anything of it, because my cycles have been whacky since my period returned. I was still nursing my almost 10 month old and it just hadn't dawned on me that I was "late." So I randomly took a pregnancy test one day, thinking I would just confirm that my period was still just being weird. I got an immediate dark positive! Holy cow, we're doing this again!
Immediately, the terror set in. I don't want to go under the knife again! I told my husband that this was it for sure, I was getting my tubes tied, I could not handle another surgery after this. He told me we would pray about it, but let's just take this one step at a time. Then the thoughts began to come back... what about a VBAC? No that's crazy, I thought. What Doctor in their right mind would even consider that after three c-sections! Some, very few, will consider after two, but after THREE?? No way. I certainly knew my Doctor wouldn't! But I just felt this nudging inside to look into it. I began to google Doctors in the Dallas area that specialize in VBAC. One name in particular kept coming up. It was VBS week at church, and one of the women in the nursing room with me had mentioned her Doctor's name the day before. It was this VBAC Doctor! So the next day, the last day of VBS, I decided that if she and I were in the nursing room again at the same time, I would ask her about him. Sure enough, she was there. So I asked her, and she said he was not only fabulous, but she had a VBAC with him! She said that he is a wonderful Christian Doctor and was so worth talking to about the possibility. I told her I would pray about it. We went on vacation that week, and it was all I could think about. When I got home, I began to ask around some more. I asked my close friend who had just had a VBAC a couple months prior, and she asked her Doula for recommendations. She came back with the same name of this Doctor! She said that this Doctor was the ONLY Doctor in all of the Dallas area who would do a VBAC after 3 c-sections. Most Doctors limited it to two c-sections prior. Then another friend of mine asked around on Facebook for me, and came back with the same recommendation. So I knew I had to at least meet this man!
We scheduled the appointment and went in to meet with Dr. C. From the moment I met him, I felt at peace. I knew he was the one. When he looked over my operative reports and told me that he saw no reason why I couldn't try for a VBAC, I wanted to jump up and hug him! He said that he has always practiced with the belief that EVERY woman should have the opportunity to deliver vaginally, no matter how many c-sections she has had. I asked him why more Doctors wouldn't consider doing this, even though the research clearly shows it is safe. He said it basically boils down to convenience. I am not here to bash the medical community, but I do believe this to be very true. More and more Doctors today are scheduling c-sections, purely out of convenience for their schedule. Women every day are told that c-sections are just as safe if not safer than vaginal delivery. How could that possibly be true? It's major surgery!!
So now I embark on a whole new adventure. In future posts, I will share more details about VBACs, the risks, the facts. But for now I wanted to share my story as I begin the journey.
I feel like I have a new lease on life. I am so inspired and excited about this new adventure! I am seriously considering try to delivery "natural" as well! Thank you for reading my story, and look forward to sharing the journey ahead!