Tuesday, January 12, 2010

How important is the birth?

I struggled with how Peanut was born. I questioned my decisions. I questioned the doctor's decisions. I've come to this conclusion: She was born healthy via a C-section and that's what matters.

Every once in awhile, I come across something that makes me pause. Like this. A woman moved 6 hours just so she could go to a hospital that would perform a VBAC. The article goes on to give tips for avoiding a C-section.

The husband and I began the preliminary discussions for The Next Baby. Are we ready? Do we wait longer? Do we just see what happens? No decisions have been made but the question looms out there.

Which always leads me to The Birth question: Will I need another C-section or can I have a VBAC?

I don't know if hospital in our town will allow a VBAC given the higher risk of complications. So should I travel to a hospital that will? Does it matter?

I'm in awe of women who have natural births. The endurance of pain and the triumph. The logical side of me wonders why anyone would put themselves through so much pain when they don't have to. And yet, I think I would do it given the chance.

My water broke in the middle of the night. I labored with Pitocin and no painkillers for probably about 10 hours, give or take an hour or two. It's kind of a blur. I got an epidural when the pain became too much and labored with it for another 5 hours. When I didn't progress past 3 cm and Peanut's heart rate dropped, the doctor said I should consider a C-section. Afraid for Peanut's health, I agreed. When she was born, we discovered the cord had been wrapped around her neck.

It does bother me that in certain circles, C-sections are portrayed as evil, awful things that should never happen. I know it's the extreme and I realize that ideally we would all be able to have a natural birth. It's part of the reason that I insisted on breastfeeding for a year. I felt it made up some for the C-section.

I do agree that some doctors use C-sections as a default birthing plan when things aren't going exactly as expected. But I believe that in condemning C-sections, some mothers who have had them feel guilty for no reason. C-sections are not the easy way out, especially if you had one for medical reasons. No matter how you bring your child into this world, you aren't taking the easy way out. You created that child IN YOUR BODY for NINE MONTHS. That is not easy. It is mind blowing if you really try to think about it.

When I grieved the loss of a rite of passage of motherhood, a friend told me giving up my wants in the interest of my child's needs is a rite a passage of motherhood. I've carried that with me and tried to pass it on to other mothers concerned about having a C-section.

I'm not promoting C-sections. I know the risks are higher for both mother and child. But I believe mothers should do what is best for them and the child that they are birthing. We can try to prevent C-sections all we want but we should respect any way mothers bring their children into the world. I'm not less of a woman or a mother because my daughter was born via C-section. And the same will hold true if I opt for a second C-section whenever that time comes.

What do you think? Does it matter how we give birth?


MomOf4 said...

The one thought that comes to my mind is that if you didn't have a c-section, you might not have your precious daughter right now. Nope, it does not matter how you give birth. Getting that baby out safely is the thing that matters the most. Your responsibility as a mom is to put some time and effort into choosing the right OB and then trusting him/her when it comes down to how to deliver your baby safely. I actually left my OB at 8 months pregnant with baby #4 because I didn't trust her judgement. I am so glad that I did. As far as that lady moving somewhere so she could have a VBAC? That seems a little bit off the wall to me. Common sense has to come into play. How will that work out financially for her family? Will extended family be near? Can she still live with her husband? Will it cause more stress? Interesting to think about. And honestly, it is not even the 9 months of "baking" that makes you a good mom. It is what you do after that preciouls child is born that makes you a good mom. :)

MomOf4 said...

Meant to write PRECIOUS. Sloppy fingers! :)

k said...

Great topic.

I have a friend who needed an emergency C-section and for many months after the birth, she felt anger that that was it how turned out. That c-section hadn't been in her plan.

With Ezra I gave birth naturally (but, you know, with an epidural). With Noah and Iris it was a C-section. Because they needed to make the incision vertically with the C-section, I have to have a C-section the next time around. In fact, I can't even really have contractions for fear of some catastrophic rupturing. (Gag.)

To have some of the "naturalness"--contractions, pushing, labor--removed from the situation makes me a little sad. But would I place my laboring experience over the safety of my health and the baby's? Most def. not. Just doesn't seem worth it really.

Amanda said...

Gah. I think about this a lot. I was watching A Baby Story today and sobbed as the mom on the show went through her section (it was planned b/c she was having twins).

I know, like you, that I did everything I could to have the natural birth we hoped for. I know that in the end I had no choice in the matter, Quinn was stuck and the only way to get her out was via surgery. Even as we sat on the hospital bed in L&D and sobbed the Robot and I knew that we'd exhausted all possibilities and although we were crushed and scared I think the fact that we felt we had made informed decisions the whole way through was consolation. My daughter would have died had I not been in a hospital and been monitored and been delivered via C-section.

Do I still feel robbed of the natural birth experience I longed for? Sure. I feel cheated after all of the time and energy I put into educating myself, the time the Robot spent learning to be a good birth partner -- that I invested so much of myself and still ended up in surgery while other people do NOTHING and have the birth I wanted. BUT - had we not spent the time I think that the final decision that day would have been even more devastating and it would have felt out of control.

The next time I'm pregnant I will do the same preparation, anticipate a natural, drug-free labor and delivery and should it not work out that way we'll know again that at least we were prepared for every possibility. Am I little scared that time number two will end up like Quinn? Sure. But I know that I have a care provider who is supportive and who I trust and that we'll be in good hands no matter what kind of birthing experience we have.

In the end, no. Doesn't matter how you give birth. You did everything you could in the best interest of your body and your child. And, when Miss Quinn talks back at 13 I am going to look her squarely in the eye and say, "DO YOU KNOW WHAT I WENT THROUGH TO BRING YOU INTO THIS WORLD?!" ;)

Erin said...

When I think about my birth (long labor, lots of pushing, and a c-section in the end because E was crooked), I am grateful for modern medicine and that I can have a healthy baby and safe delivery BECAUSE I can have a C-section.

I don't know if I'll have a VBAC someday. I may consider it. My husband and I have to be OK with the risks. In the end, what matters the most is a healthy baby and a healthy mom. The recovery from a c-section stinks, but I can say this: it never hurt to go to the bathroom!!!

Party of 5 said...

I've had three children, the first two with an epidural and the last naturally. I was told with the last that I was going to have to have a c-section because I had such vein issues but I was able to try vaginally first and see how that went. It went well and I was able to continue. I am grateful for that because I worried about having major surgery with two little ones at home. I can tell you that women who CHOOSE a natural birth (mine was only because the anesthesiologist wasn't available) are incredibly strong. I thought I was going to die. But women who CHOOSE epidurals or women who CHOOSE c-sections are not any less strong. Birth is birth and bringing a child into this world is miraculous no matter how you look at it. Thank God for modern medicine that can ensure our babies arrive safely.