Monday, March 3, 2014

C-Sections (a series)

I went in for my first doctor's appointment last Tuesday and it was nearly as uneventful as I imagined it would be.  It was just a new pregnancy intake appointment, where I answered questions with a nurse practitioner and didn't see my doctor at all.

But one statement that she made towards the end of the appointment sent my head spinning, as thought after thought began to chase each other round in my mind.

"Our doctor's are very, very good and very supportive of VBACs."  She said in an optimistic voice.  "So I'm not sure if you want to try, and I can't promise you they'll say yes, but you should bring it up if you want to because there's a very good chance they'll say yes."

"Oh."  I said, and sat there dumbly.

I didn't say that I'm 99% certain that none of the doctor's in the office would be on board with the idea.  My own doctor was the only one on board for my VBA2C and he was very clear that if the trial of labor failed he wouldn't be on board with another attempt.

Still the question, "If I could have another trial of labor would I?" kept running through my head and I'm finally sitting down to order my thoughts and face the fact that the answer, quite simply, is no.

As a woman who's had three c-sections in the last five and a half years I've probably read more than my fair shares of articles and online debates on the topic.  C-sections, like breastfeeding and co-sleeping and so many other hot button issues in the seemingly endless rounds of Mommy wars, is a topic that is sometimes wielded like a weapon to cut other moms down.

"Had a C-section?  You know you didn't have to?"  Someone will likely say (no, seriously, it really happens when the topic comes up).  "It really wasn't necessary."

I was told quite a few times that my first c-section wasn't necessary.  Sure I went into labor naturally and progressed quickly and had no painkillers for an hour before pushing and was up and about in a variety of positions, and pushed for five hours before my c-section, but I probably could have done something differently.  You know, if I tried a little harder.
And my last?  Maybe if I'd just toughed it out for a little longer.  Sure it was a 36 hour trial of labor (I did ask for an epidural around hour 34), and I was up pacing the halls and bouncing on a birthing ball and doing my hypnobaby mp3s, but I'm sure I could have done something differently.  I mean, I may have gotten Patch to turn from breach to head down twice, using the spinning babies positions and hypnobabies breach mp3 I'd downloaded, and he was transverse in the end when they did the surgery, but I'm sure I could have done something.

The point of all that, in case you were wondering, is to show how, no matter how good your reason, you'll run across people, who, with no medical training or knowledge of your case, will announce that you could have done something different. They'll be wrong.  They're taking the fact that there are unnecessary c-sections and applying it to every woman who's ever had one.

Of course, if you've read here through my last pregnancy you know I'm a big fan of natural child birth.  But I'm also really thankful that c-sections exist.  Because there are those of us who wouldn't be here if it weren't for that option (as I was told by pretty much every doctor I saw after I delivered Sadie).

Which is a whole lot of lead in for the post(s) (because I have a feeling there may be more than one if this first trimester exhaustion doesn't knock me off my feet first) that I'm going to write for a friend who is expecting and asked me to write about my experience with c-sections (and who I'd like to congratulate here!  You know who you are! Congratulations!).  The posts to come are going to be my mishmash of what I've learned from my c-sections, because while it's not my first choice in the way I'd like to welcome our little ones into the world, it's not all bad either.

And for those of us who do face necessary c-sections, we might as well look on the bright side!


  1. Cam, I honestly think you're right. If your last baby hadn't been transverse, you might have managed the v-bac, but I'm rather doubtful that there are doctors out there who would look at your history and figure you're a good candidate for a vaginal delivery. If your baby decided to arrive a month early, maybe, but you just don't seem to be built to deliver huge babies vaginally. I had my second by c-section due to a placenta previa so no one ever questioned the need for the operation. My daughter had her second by c-section because he was breech and there have been people who have suggested she didn't try hard enough to turn him. When he was delivered he was no longer frank breech, but footling and turning would not have been an option. If his position had been discovered at 30 weeks instead of 37 weeks, it might have been possible to get him to turn, but he'd been in that position right along. I like you am incredibly grateful for safe c-sections, and ironically both my daughter and I found that our recovery after our c-sections was easier than after our vaginal birth (which is mostly a comment on how poorly our vaginal births were handled by the attendants) There's a wonderful kindle book out there with a title something on the order of Making the Most of Your C-Section (I'm not looking at my kindle at the moment) which my daughter found helpful. But don't take any guff, from people who don't really know the facts.

  2. I had my first natural, and then the second and third were C's. I got all the "unnecessary" comments with my first...I about went into a depression from the feelings of stupidity guilt and wishing I had a second chance to retry! Then when I got pregnant with Lucy I was determined to v-bac period. But, at 37 weeks my little Lucy was sideways, and in the worst position for cord prolapse upon water breaking. I still prayed and hopes she'd turn, I even went to a chiropractor and tried methods I really wasn't comfortable with. Yet to no avail, Lucy did not turn. So I had a scheduled repeat C-Section. And I was honestly completely at peace, my baby came safe and healthy, I'm alive and fine. No regrets, and I know it was absolutely necessary for the good of the baby. I know that natural childbirth is the best scenario....but c-section mama's especially repeat c' momma's are warriors! I

  3. I really appreciate this article too. I have a strong medical background and my birth plan consisted of 2 items: #1 healthy baby, #2 no C-section. Unfortunately I only achieved 50% but fortunately I got the healthy baby. I was induced for medical reasons but after a 72 hour induction and continued failure to progress AND with my baby's head pointed nose first (incompatible with delivery) the doctors strongly urged a section. I still wish I could've had a natural birth but given my baby's size and how small I am, I just don't think it was possible. And as much as I hope to at least have a trial of labor with the next, I am NOT going through a medical induction again- which will likely mean a scheduled section given my health history. It's nice to have this kind of support :) since I always feel bummed out by well meaning people who are so anti-CS that they can't see that there are legitimate reasons for the procedure.

  4. *hugs* I'm as pro-natural birth and anti-unnecessary c-section as you can get, but I will also be the first person to say thank GOD c-sections exist, because they save lives of both mothers and babies. And truthfully, however a mother chooses to give birth (barring any medical complications, of course) is her business and her business alone. Even if it's not a choice I would have made for myself. I'm sorry anyone ever made you feel badly. I think you're a superhero for going through three (soon to be four) major surgeries to bring those sweet babies in to the world! :)

  5. I highly favor natural, undrugged births, but the honest truth is that a lot of women used to die in child birth and a lot of babies were lost during birth, and the c-section being well handled is a very good thing.

    I had two totally natural, unmedicated, midwife directed births. Wonderful experience, good fast recoveries, healthy happy babies.

    And as an older mom having more kids, well, two c-sections, two healthy babies and I am alive and well. Also a very good outcome.

  6. I am so with you on this. I just had my third baby and third c-section and I'm just assuming it will be all c-sections from here on out. And I'm okay with that now.

    Your posts are timely, I'm thinking about writing my thoughts on c-sections as well, although I imagine you have said it all already.

    Congrats on baby #4!


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