Between a VBAC rock and a C-section hard place…

Today I was given the date of birth for my baby. Not an estimated date but the actual day. It’s something I have decidedly mixed feelings about, as it is also the date of my planned/elective C-section.

Between a VBAC rock and a c-section hard place

ToddlerGirl’s birth ended in an emergency caesarean, which puts me in the slightly strange and difficult position this time of being able to decide whether to try for a VBAC (vaginal birth after caesarean) or go down the planned c-section route.

Deciding how your baby will be born feels strange to me because it wasn’t something that even entered the equation first time round. All was on track in the pregnancy, so there was no decision to be made – I would (hopefully) go into labour and deliver naturally. Of course, I was aware that if I was overdue I may need to be induced; or if things weren’t going well, I would be taken for a c-section. But, as far as the birth plan went, there was no question about mode of delivery beforehand.

It feels both empowering and disconcerting to have this choice now.

Empowering because, well, my experience with ToddlerGirl was traumatic and I would hate to be railroaded into a VBAC this time if it’s not something I feel I can face psychologically. Disconcerting because it feels like such an important decision to make – and get right – and I’m really not sure how to make it.

The question of c-section or VBAC has been in my mind pretty much since I had ToddlerGirl, despite the fact I had no intention of getting pregnant again until she was at least two! Initially, I was certain that a second child would be born by planned c-section, as I simply couldn’t bear the idea of going through labour again. Since I’ve been pregnant, however, I’ve oscillated between the two options, realising that the caesarean itself was equally as traumatic for me as the labour.

I do not have a strong drive to try for a VBAC. I completely respect that there are women who are depressed, angry, disappointed or otherwise to have had a caesarean. It is such a personal thing, I would never presume to dismiss how somebody else reacts to the situation and how this affects what they want to do the next time. But I don’t consider ToddlerGirl’s birth a fail in any respect and I certainly don’t feel any less of a mum or a woman for not pushing her out! She was born the way she was born and, thankfully, we both came home safe and sound afterwards.

So, this leaves me in a huge dilemma as I actually don’t really want to go through either a VBAC or a c-section… The words ‘rock’ and ‘hard place’ spring to mind as, of course, this baby has to come out somehow!

Medically, there is absolutely no reason for me not to have a VBAC. And when I add up the medical facts as to risks and benefits, they do seem to point to taking the ‘natural’ option. If I am looking at the situation with cold, hard logic, it would seem an easy decision to make.

Yet…

Take away the overwhelming desire to try for VBAC that some women feel and replace this with a substantial level of fear about labour given my previous experience and I find myself unable to choose this option. A c-section it is, then?

Yet…

Talking to the consultant today, he looked at me and said: “I don’t think you should try for a VBAC.” (This was as a result of me being very candid about my feelings during labour the first time and how I am afraid of reacting to it this time rather than him pushing for it; he’d in fact been very positive about the VBAC option through our meeting.) So, there you go, I’ve got my planned c-section if I want it. The trouble is, my immediate reaction wasn’t one of relief or excitement.

My first thought was, “Hang on, no. I’m not sure I have decided either way yet!”

Clearly, I am not 100% set on the caesarean option either, as surely I would have come away satisfied that everything was settled.

If I’m honest, I’ve been having a little fantasy about booking in for a c-section and then, the day before, going into labour spontaneously and having a super speedy, event-free delivery that takes place almost before I have any choice in the matter. (This really can happen, I read a birth story about it…!)

This leads me to believe that, deep down, I do want a VBAC. However, I want a VBAC where I can control the outcome, one that doesn’t end in a c-section. There is obviously no way to dictate this, it is something completely out of my hands and therein lies the rub… I’m not sure I can cope with another labour ending in an emergency c-section, which I believe is the worst of both worlds. I am determined to avoid feeling like I did after ToddlerGirl’s birth: the days after this are amongst the hardest I’ve ever experienced and I’m not sure I could go through that again, especially with an older child to worry about this time also.

So, for the time being, I have the date of birth for my baby. I am booked in for the planned c-section.

I can change my mind, though.

These next few weeks will be all about me coming to terms with the decision either way. I need to do some research into positive planned c-section birth stories. I need to do some soul searching as to whether I could summon enough courage and trust to have a VBAC. It’s really not a decision I’m taking lightly. I mainly wish I had a crystal ball to hand to help me make it…

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