I didn’t get my VBA3C. However much I wanted it, in the end it wasn’t possible. But this post must start at the beginning, ten years ago.
My first birth experience was shrouded in fear. Not realising how young I was. But I was. And I was scared of giving birth. Nobody I knew was having babies or even pregnant so I had no support network to lean on. I saw a different community midwife at almost every appointment and towards the end was crippled with fear over baby’s size. Too often I was told that she was too small, but never given explanations as to what this meant. By 42 weeks there was still no sign of baby, so I was sent for induction.
Despite being told that I was not favourable for imminent labour. Despite being told I was feeling niggles from the gel, not contractions. Despite being told I was not ready- my body was not ready… despite all this I was taken to delivery just hours after being induced. I was given an epidural. I was told to push.
I could not push.
I could not stand it.
I had no choice but to lie on that table as they plucked my baby from my tummy.
And that fear stayed with me, intensified through my second pregnancy. There was no way I wanted to go through THAT again. And yet what I wanted was not of concern to my doctors. I was not allowed a planned c-section at 38 weeks because my baby was too small. Again. A date was set for 41 weeks, begrudgingly, and then changed at the last minute to 42 weeks.
It’s a long story, but I was backed into a corner. I found myself attempting a VBAC that went horribly wrong. I was stripped of my confidence. I was stripped of my self belief. I was denied precious first moments with my son. His entire first year passed me by.
My third baby was a planned section, with no attempts to discuss birth at all. Done and dusted.
And then to Elsie. I didn’t want another c-section. I knew that my uterus had healed well from the two emergency sections and I knew that internal scarring was minimal. I knew that I could do this; that my body was up to it. I knew that VBA3C was a ‘thing’ and it could be done. There was no reason why I couldn’t do it.
Except that there was.
Regular readers will know why I did not get my VBAC with Elsie Rose. Why my pregnancy was ended for me, too soon. And those who know me know how I’ve struggled to accept the way that my last pregnancy ended. But it’s not just the fact that I didn’t get my VBAC.
In the end, agreeing to a repeat c-section was my decision. I signed the paper. I consented to the surgeon’s knife cutting through my skin at 37 weeks. Really, I was given little choice but it was still up to me to decide.
When a baby is growth restricted, often it is better for them to be on the outside after a certain point in the pregnancy, and 37 weeks is the latest that doctors like it to be. I knew that. I also knew that induction was not an option for me after three c-sections, And induction was the one thing I was sure I did not want either.
So the decision to sign that piece of paper was mine. My choice. But that doesn’t mean I had to like it.
I still wanted answers. I wanted to know why my baby was small. What did ‘too small’ mean?
Why did the doctor I saw at 31 weeks laugh when I told her I wanted a VBAC?
Why was IUGR written on my notes, but never explained?
Why did nobody ask me how I felt about having a repeat c-section?
Why was my c-section labelled as ‘elective’ rather than planned?
Why was the reason for the elective section given as ‘patient previously had three sections’?
Why did nobody ever tell me that having had three sections previously did NOT mean a 4th section was a necessity?
Why did everyone assume from the beginning that another c-section was the only outcome for my pregnancy?
Three previous c-sections does not mean a fourth c-section is the only option and it WAS NOT the reason why Elsie Rose was born that way. I chose to end my pregnancy on the operating table because I was scared. I was sure that it was the only way to guarantee a baby would come home with me. The weekly scans and sessions on the CTG praying for my baby to move- it all wore me down. It took away my confidence in my body and filled me with fear instead. The only thing I was sure of was that I wanted to do the right thing by my baby.
I still do not know if a c-section was the best and only option for Elsie and I. She was small, but not as small as they predicted. She was born too soon. Her early weeks were a struggle, one that she may not have had if she had been born at a later gestation. She is still small, but all of my babies have been the same.
Why am I telling you this? Because it matters that I had a choice. I chose a c-section because I felt it was the safest option for us both. I did not sign that paper because I was scared, or because I had been told that I must. I didn’t get my VBAC but it was my choice.