Okay, so, that last pregnancy related post of mine?
Yea, not one of my proudest moments.
Actually, that’s not entirely true. While I don’t want to complain about my pregnancy (or anything, for that matter) every chance I get, at the same time, it was all the truth. I’m Abraham Lincoln when it comes to pregnancy discomfort – I cannot tell a lie.
Thankfully, some of those less than great days have passed for moment. I could also be feeling better because I took two Tylenol PM’s the other night, and got about seven hours of uninterrupted sleep. It’s amazing how getting some sleep can affect your outlook.
This is my third pregnancy. My oldest child is five, my middle is three. Both of them were born via cesarean. This time around, though, I’m exploring the option of delivering via VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean.)
Here are the why’s.
With my son, it was necessary to deliver via a section. I was induced for preeclampsia, and after about 17 hours of labor, nearly three of them spent pushing, he wasn’t coming out. Turns out he had a watermelon for a head. Goodie. I was given general anesthesia and had a c-section. Stat!
My daughter was also born via c-section. We live on the Eastern Shore of Maryland and our local hospital’s policy is that once you have delivered via c-section, all subsequent deliveries there are by cesarean. This is because they do not have an anesthesiologist on the premises at all times, so should a woman rupture during a VBAC attempt and need an emergency cesarean there would be no anesthesiologist readily available for her. Makes sense to me.
Initially, a repeat c-section is what I thought I wanted. It was actually rather terrifying and unpleasant to make it entirely through labor the first only for my son to be “stuck.” I thought a planned delivery was the way to go the second time around. I was wrong.
Recovering from cesarean number two was…a task. Recovering from having baby number two, regardless of how you deliver, is harder the second go around. Less rest, less down time, more stuff to do. Making this process even more fun was the fact that my nursing care was less than great.
While they got me out of bed once, about 24 hours after delivery, they pretty much left me to my own devices after that. No re-checks to make sure I was up (or able!) and walking, nobody eager to help me stand and shower if I so chose. While I understand that their hope is that a patient would be able to get up and be able to move a bit more freely by that point, this just wasn’t the case for me.
My IV pain medication was also not working for me. I spent the first 24 post-op hours having a minor reaction to my morphine. Lots of itching, lots of drowsiness, next to no pain relief. And no desire to get out of bed unless I absolutely had to.
It also turns out that I was hooked up to a bag of pitocin after my delivery, which no one told me would happen. When trying to describe my level of pain to my nurses and all that I could equate the feeling to was like I was having continuous, medium-level contractions they stared at me, puzzled. Go figure.
Throughout all of this I felt as though I was a complete inconvenience to the staff. You would have thought that I was there to get a cavity filled, not for major abdominal surgery. They didn’t see the big deal in much of anything that I was dealing with.
The cherry on top of all this is that my precious daughter was not a good breastfeeder. I asked every nurse that walked through my door their opinion on the matter, and every one of them reassured me that it was “normal” for her to be a less than enthusiastic eater.
As a mom who had previously breastfed and knew some of the ropes, I didn’t feel as though I was being overly cautious, but I also know the stigma that can sometimes come with asking too many questions: they think that you’re being overly paranoid while they think that they know best.
There is a happy medium between making a woman feel like she isn’t crazy, especially when she has enough hormones pumping through her body to power a small city and has a six-inch cut across her abdomen, while also doing your job and making sure that it really is normal for a baby to be eating hardly anything. I just wanted to know my options before heading home.
Apparently they felt like I was asking them to make me a unicorn or to catch me a leprechaun. Because it seemed the answer they wanted me to be satisfied with was “it’s normal for newborns to not take to nursing immediately. So stop paging us, already.”
I had a compete meltdown on the last day of my hospital stay. I just felt utterly and completely incapable of being able to take care of myself. At all. Which is something I knew that I needed to be able to do when we were back at home and Rob returned to work.
I had a baby who wouldn’t eat, I had no extra hands to help since Rob needed to go home at night to be with Jerry, and nurses who didn’t seem to want to answer my questions or who didn’t even seem to want to put my baby in the nursery for me so that I could get a break.
When they did relent, they returned with her within the hour to tell me that the baby was hungry (duh! she wasn’t eating!) I wanted to tell them that it was “normal” and that it would work itself out (see what I did there?) but I just didn’t have the energy for sarcasm, which tells you how I was feeling. I was basically holed up in my room like the unibomber – by myself and on my own.
I could barely make it from the bed to the bathroom I was in so much pain. I made it to a rocking chair in the corner of my room to pump and after barely even making it there, I sat down….and cried. And cried. Well, there was one thing I was at least capable of doing at that point.
The head nurse pulled up a chair and sat with me, listened to me pour my heart and soul out about my worries (a baby who wouldn’t eat, my inability to even get out of bed, how I thought I would be further along by now, the state of the economy, the ending of Old Yeller…) and she sat and stared while I vented.
After I finished, she looked at my blankly and said (and I quote.)” “Okay……….so what do we need to do to get you go to home today?”
If you think that she meant,” okay, Ashley, let’s get your pain meds comfortable, address Clara’s breastfeeding habits and get you both prepared and feeling ready to going home…” then you are mistaken.
This was basically, “okay, well your stay is up at midnight tonight. So, what can I do to placate to you for the next 9 hours until you are mandated to leave because your insurance will stop covering your visit?”
Making it home (FINALLY)
Once home, once back in my house, tensions eased up some. Also, we switched my medication (something that could have been done SOONER) and within the first few days, I was much more comfortable and at ease with moving around and being at home.
Clara lost about 12 ounces during her hospital stay. My milk came in like the Euphrates River, but she remained a picky eater for the first six months of her life. First no left breast, then no breasts at all, then only breasts and nothing else. That’s a saga for another time. Don’t worry – it really was as terrible as it sounds.
Needless to say, cesareans haven’t necessarily been my friend. While I know that a lot of my anguish from last time can be attributed to some of the nursing staff, who I must state were not all bad, I truly did struggle to get over that initial hump in the beginning.
Don’t mistake me, c-sections save lives. My son would not be here, I might not be here, if cesareans didn’t exist. And I really have had fabulous doctors both times. Of them I couldn’t complain about. But, if it isn’t necessary, why put yourself through one? Why go through the ordeal of being cut if you feel like it may be something you don’t need?
I can appreciate differing points of view on the matter. There are some women who had a situation like I had with my first delivery and they are comfortable having another c-section simply because of memories of the stress of having a labor go slightly awry. I can understand that. But after my second delivery, I realized that next time, if it was an option, I needed to ask questions and see what was possible for me. I simply had to know if there was something better.
This time I was ready to venture into the territory of VBAC deliveries. This means venturing across “The Bridge” to find a practice that allows for VBAC’s. Initially, I had no luck. With two prior cesareans, I was either directly turned down or my messages not returned.
I plan on steering clear of midwives, if only because in a dire situation, such as a case of my uterus rupturing, I would want an OB with me, ready to spring into action. Make no mistake, I have heard wonderful things about midwives, and statistically, women tend to be as happy, if not happier, when delivering with a midwife.
My OB office actually put me in touch with doctors who deliver out of Johns Hopkins in Baltimore. Thus far, it seems like this could be a promising relationship. It sounds like my first appointment with them will be toward the end of August. Somehow, this summer, and this pregnancy, are flying by. I’m already looking at the cusp of autumn and my mind is blown.
My only concern is finding a doctor who won’t feel the need to induce my labor either drastically earlier than my due date, or for any reason other than it being absolutely necessary. I do believe that one intervention can lead to multiple interventions. This time, I don’t want pitocin, I don’t want IV medication. My husband and I are still discussing epidurals and whether or not we will go that route this time.
No matter the outcome, I am determined to have peace about what happens. If I need another cesarean, if God closes these doors fully, then me and Rob pray to be content with it. We don’t feel like we will be done after having baby number three, and my skin is already crawling at the thought of not just this c-section, but also another c-section down the road.
But, when we started this journey of potentially VBAC’ing, we always said that we wanted what was safest and best for our baby. And we meant it. If that means mommy needs to be cut up again like a shish-kabob, then that is what we will do. Because that’s ultimately anyone’s goal.
The pains of any delivery, vaginal or cesarean, it’s something that becomes null when you have them safe in your arms. You know it was all worth it. You know that is all that you ultimately wanted anyway.
Thanks for reading! I’ll be posting up a follow-up post or two to let you know how things are progressing!