A little while ago, when this pregnancy was new and shiny and secret, I decided that I wanted to try once more for a VBAC. Knowing how hideously this went wrong before, I didn’t make this decision lightly. I know what can go wrong, and more. I know that terror, that fear of the dropping heart rate. That silence. That never ending silence as the machine stops it’s beep beep beep and the sides of the bed rush up with a clank! and the feet run and the eyes stare and the world goes dark and you just don’t know. Dead. Alive. Not sure. I know all of that can happen again. I know it might.
I know it might not.
Not long after I tested the waters by daring to think, to say it out loud, I came across an article written by a very angry doctor in the US. She was furious. Very anti VBAC. Very very angry at a lady who had gone against her own doctor’s wishes and laboured. A lady who believed in her body and yet, in the end, had no baby to show for it. A lady who faced the fear and lost. And this doctor was furious. Medical opinion had been disregarded and a baby’s life had been lost because a mother had wanted ” an experience.”
I struggled with this article. Reading of a baby’s death is never going to be easy. And I am not ignorant. I know that a VBAC can be risky; all of childbirth can be risky. I know that in my case, a VBA3C is even more risky than usual. Three times they have cut into my body to pluck out a baby. Three times they have held a knife to my skin and brought my babies into this world. And just once- once- I would like to be the one doing the bringing instead. But I know that the odds are not in my favour.
I also know that if my doctors advise me to have another section, I will be too scared to argue. I will be too afraid of what could happen, what has happened. I am not willing to risk my life nor that of my baby’s to prove a point. To prove that I can do it, that my body is able. What will be in November, will be. But.
But I want that doctor to think about her phrasing when she accused the mother of wanting an experience. It’s about more than that.
It’s about healing a scar. It’s about having control; taking back control. It’s about empowerment. It’s about strength. It’s about self belief. It’s about feeling. It’s about a quicker recovery. It’s about a connection. It’s about finding strength and courage from within and using that to bring life into the world. It is not an experience. It is the beginning of life. The first moments of the rest of a journey. The breaths, the first touch. The first time for everything. The beginning.
Not just an experience. A VBAC, for me, will be so much more. If it is to be, it will be. And if it is not to be, then that is ok too. Birth, however it happens, is amazing. And in no way am I passing judgement on women (some of whom I class as very dear friends) who decide to have an elective section. I cannot pass judgement, especially when I have made the same choice too. I know how that decision is made, and it is never easy. I hope these women know that my choice to strive for a VBAC is hugely personal and no reflection on my views of their own, personal, birth choices. My choice to strive for a VBAC is not born out of a desire for ‘an experience’.
I want more than that.