So, I got all weepy waiting to see if there was a baby in my uterus, and if it had a heartbeat, but I'd never, ever been made to cry , like, really cry, at a prenatal appointment. Until yesterday.
When I saw my OB - the one who complimented my hair - for the first time this pregnancy, he said that we would just schedule me for a repeat Cesarean at 39 weeks. They cut on the same scar. Easy.
And I was thinking, Yeah, easy for you. Not your abdominal muscles. In fact, you don't even have a vagina. What am I doing?
But I said, "Uh...that's the next thing on my list to ask you. What's your approach to VBAC?"
For those of you who haven't jumped through the Cesarean hoops (Hahaha - it's not really a hoop, just a small incision in your abdomen and uterus. A small incision through major muscles.), VBAC stands for Vaginal Birth After Cesarean. Those in the club pronounce it Veeback.
On a sidebar: in the fertility/birth world, I believe there are more acronyms than in the military. I don't know if you read Julia, but if you've ever struggled with fertility, or even if you haven't, you might love her. I think I've read her entire archives, would stalk her if she lived in DC, and love this post about dippos.
My OB, who I actually really like, gave me a verbal pat on the head and said, sure, sure, we could think about it and discuss it later in the pregnancy. Although very candidly, he strongly favors repeat C-section.
At which point I promptly started shopping for another practice. I might wind up with another C-section, but I don't want it to be automatic.
So I was very excited when I got into this highly regarded midwife practice, which is part of one of DC's major hospitals. You deliver in the hospital. But they are midwives, really focus on nutrition and exercise, and will work very hard for you to have natural childbirth.
This approach appeals to me. And the midwife I got to see is THE recommended person in DC for natural birth and VBAC.
(And I am deliberately not using names. They have an extraordinary reputation, and it's a a well-respected practice. They just take a harder line than I am equipped for. So if you're in the DC area, and this rings a bell, please don't guess.)
As soon as we began talking about my prior birth experience, the conversation became, well, kind of hostile.
WHY did I have a C-section?
Well, I was induced at 41 weeks...and I never dilated...and...
WHY was I induced?
Well, my OB was in favor of it, and it was August, and I was huge, and it was so hot, and I just couldn't handle being pregnant anymore.
Long story short, I found myself defending the choice I made to be induced at 41 weeks. The choice that was highly supported by my OB. Who would've made me induce at 42 weeks in any case.
I wound up bursting into tears, explaining how my dad had killed himself two months prior, and we had moved into this row house with a 4th floor kitchenette, and I was just so big and everything was so HARD.
What I didn't say was: first we moved out of Nick's place, and then there was my dad's suicide attempt, and then my dad's suicide, and then we moved again into this asshole of a house where everything was broken and dark and creaky and creepy and there was no normal kitchen and I had to lumber up to the 4th floor. And sometimes I would just waddle over to the liquor store and buy 10 pounds of ice because they don't sell it in smaller bags and waddle home in the hot fucking hot August sun with the goddamn ice melting down my leg.
And then I would haul both of us - the ice and me - up to the 4th floor and drink iced drinks and refuse to come down. And my husband worked ALL THE TIME and my mom was in her own crisis and FUCK YOU LIFE WAS REALLY REALLY HARD IT'S NOT LIKE I WAS SMOKING CRACK AND HAVING SEX WITH STRANGERS.
But I didn't say all of that. I just cried. And she asked me if I was under the care of a therapist.
I'm not currently.
She suggested that it would be helpful.
I said I'd had a lot. I'm on a break.
Her response then was as follows: I need to understand that with their practice, there is no induction because you're tired of being pregnant. I will probably go past 40 weeks. Given my profile, I will probably go to 42 weeks, because in their practice, you wait for the baby to come. And I could be in labor for five days.
If this is what I want, they will support me in this. It's a lot of risk for them, and so you have to sign a risk statement. Which makes sense to me. It's a litigious world, and their liability is high.
Also, I need to understand that the risk of stillbirth increases every week after 37 weeks. Every week after 37, the chance of your baby dying goes up. Am I prepared to take these risks? I need to really think about this.
(I didn't know about this. Nobody told me about this, as Jordan was happily cooking away, week after post-37 weeks week.)
Also, she said, having IVF increases your likelihood of a C-section. So there's also that.
Plus, being older, you could just take longer to dilate. And clearly that's an issue, since I didn't before.
"So," I said, "you think I'm a bad candidate for VBAC?" (At that point, it seemed silly to even ask the question.)
"Not at all. I think you're a good candidate. You just have to really think about all these things and be prepared to deal with the risks. And your husband has to be on board."
I am dramatically condensing the conversation. We talked for at least 45 minutes, I think. I'd say I was on the defensive for 43.5 of those minutes.
So finally, finally when she said it was time to get on the table to listen to the heartbeat, I was so relieved. And then it took her a while to find the heartbeat. And I almost started to cry again.
She then found it, and said it sounded good. She added, "You have a lot of anxiety, don't you?"
I nodded. But I really wanted to say, "I was fine when I walked in. The only way you could possibly have made me more anxious would be to set my hair on fire."