I honestly thought I would be writing about my VBAC journey in November. The beginning is easy. The middle has some hiccups, but the end? The end hurts. And I know it shouldn’t. And even if it all turns out ok, it is still the end. It has to be.
I wasn’t sure I would be ‘allowed’ to even consider a VBAC. After three sections, surely my body was too broken now to deliver a baby by itself? Perhaps it was never really meant to do it in the first place? I wasn’t sure. But I found support in the most surprising of places. Online, in doctor’s consulting rooms, at home. It seemed that most people thought it wasn’t such a ridiculous idea at all. All I needed to do was figure out why I wanted to do it.
Why risk another emergency section?
Why go through the pain and anxiety of labour?
Why not choose an elective section, where I could be in control of when and where?
Why should I?
My body should have been made for birthing. I have all the correct parts, they all seem to work ok. Why shouldn’t I give birth? I was so sure I was able to conquer the fears that had plagued me during those first two births. I listened to Natal Hypnotherapy CDs. I researched online. I talked to other women, and suddenly I realised that the biggest battle I faced wasn’t to get the doctors to agree. After all, I have every right to refuse every intervention I want. I have the right to ignore doctor’s orders. I have the right to demand the type of birth I want. No, the doctors were not the problem. It was me.
Despite knowing that I wanted a VBAC, I still didn’t know why. I was still scared.
Then I read Ina May Gaskin’s guide to childbirth and it all changed for me.
All of a sudden my body was capable of this too. Of making, nurturing and delivering. It wasn’t me that had been broken all along. It was circumstance. It was fear. It was lack of self belief. It was anxiety linked to previous experiences. It was a lack of understanding of the complex systems involved in childbirth. It was not knowing just how amazing my body could be. Would be.
I suddenly thought how ridiculous to ever think I wouldn’t be able to do this. And how wonderful it was going to be, to bring my baby into this world by myself. To have my hands be the first to hold, my voice be the first to be heard. To feel my baby enter the world. To see it. To live it.
And the pain? Yes, the pain was all part of it. A pain with a reason. A force. A purpose. Physical. Only physical.
I literally floated after I read that book. Nothing was too big to conquer! If giving birth was so hard, so impossible, the human race would be in trouble. But it’s not. Giving birth was something that my body was made to do.
It has been so hard to accept the end. So silly, when you are told that the birth is just one day. Only I know too well that it’s not just one day.
The deal was always this: wait and see what the growth scans tell us, then we green light your VBAC. And for me, it was: the growth scans will tell them what I’ve already told them. My babies are always small, it won’t affect my VBAC.
Now the deal has changed. Now there will not be a VBAC.
Now, my body really has failed. It isn’t keeping up with the demands of the job it has previously done so well. It isn’t nourishing my baby. And a baby who is weak from lack of oxygen and nutrients is not going to fare well in labour and birth. A baby with siblings who were also small for gestational age, and who experienced distress during labour is not going to make the doctors green light anything. A baby who might be better outside than inside does not make it’s mother a good candidate for a VBAC.
And what of it anyway? It’s better for baby to be healthy and delivered safely into the arms of a doctor. It is better for baby to be taken before it is ready, to be inserted with wires and to leave me prematurely so that it has a chance. It is better. I know it is better.
And if all of this has been a mistake, or my body decides that it can do this one last time, it is still the end. I cannot and will not face the anxiety and fear of a birth laced with what ifs. What if there is something wrong, after all? What if my body really wasn’t designed to birth a baby? What if going to term was the worst mistake we ever could have made? What if a VBAC is not the right decision for me?
Perhaps it was never meant to be. Perhaps the whole VBAC dream was just that- a dream. Perhaps I’m playing it safe. Perhaps these last few weeks of waiting for it all to go wrong have been for a reason.
This baby will not be a VBAC baby. This is where the journey ends. And I am fine with that. It hurts, but I am fine. I want whatever is safest for my baby and I. The only question that remains is when. The nappies have been bought and the bags have been packed. And I do not know if sooner or later is better or worse.