“A few months back, I wrote about pursuing a VBA2C delivery with my third baby.
That didn’t happen.
And it hurt.
The winds changed early one Monday morning. I woke in pain in the middle of the night. It wrapped around my entire abdomen, even around to my lower back.
I thought that was it. That labor had begun. So the waiting began. I waited for the contractions to come and go…but they never did. Instead I just felt pain. Tremendous pain. It was hard to stand. It was awful to sit. Amongst that pain I eventually felt small, familiar waves of contractions. My husband and I fretted for about an hour before we decided it was time to go.
We called my mother around 2 a.m. and headed with our bags to Hopkins. And it was the most painful car ride ever. I felt every bump, every pot hole, every curve in the road. It was excruciating. And it got worse and worse.
The pain never stopped. I prayed. I remember praying in the car that God would hold me together. Literally.
Rupturing is a risk after having a c-section. What was happening to me didn’t feel like labor contractions. It just felt like a tightening, an intense strangulation from the inside. Like simultaneously something in me was both stretching and wrenching. Then right before we reached the hospital, the burning started.
I remember holding Rob’s hand and begging him to avoid every jolt in the road that he possibly could.
Rob wheeled me into the hospital. And I breathed through answering the obligatory questions upon checking in. They hooked me up to all kinds of things and declared that our baby girl was fine. There was so much relief at that point.
And there we waited. There was no progression after a few hours. No further dilation. The contractions eventually subsided. After things had calmed down and stopped altogether it was time for some discussion.
In that time, my husband and I had both independently grown uncomfortable with the idea of a trial of labor. Typically, in the early stages of labor contractions come in distinguishable waves. For me, it was five hours of near constant pain with contractions throughout. The contractions were staggered like they ought to have been, but the pain was not.
I was told that this may be the way that my labor would play out. Since I was a precious c-section mom, even if my labor was successful, there was a good chance it was be much like these last five hours, read: constant pain. I had scar tissue that would need to stretch under the pressure and pangs of labor, something that can sometimes be a painful process for a mom who has more scar tissue from previous c-sections.
While there is more than one way to monitor for complications and rupturing during a TOLAC, pain like mine, that differed from “typical” contractions, was one red flag that things were amiss. But there was no sure-fire way to tell unless we let labor progress. Then it’s anyone’s guess. Something that we weren’t particularly comfortable with. Add to the fact that we discovered a note in my post-op file from Clara that made mention of scar tissue, though to be fair, it wasn’t a wildly excessive amount of tissue that was noticed. This was still information we had asked about numerous times and were assured that there wasn’t any mention of. Finding out at that moment just seemed to shift our thinking even further.
I was 39 weeks. At one of the best hospitals in the country. And it was actually the day that we had previously scheduled our 39 week c-section at the hospital near our home. It seemed like things had lined up somehow. Just slightly different from what we had planned.
I felt somewhat helpless. Had I come this far to give up? Was I ready to mourn the fact, maybe forever, that I would never experience a vaginal delivery? Why did I care so much? I’m not some ultra-Crunchy or Organic momma. I never thought I would care so much about this stuff. I never fretted ridiculously about bottles or pacifiers or read “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” cover to cover or surveyed Google for every bit of information I could get my hands on. I was, in many ways, a “by the book,” conventional mom. At least I thought I always was.
Why did I care so much?
And how do I just let go and not?
After spending almost the entire day in Baltimore, we decided on a cesarean. Though it hurt to yield to that truth, we knew that we were doing the right thing. Our excursion the night before changed things for us.
As much of a relief as it was to talk to our doctor about delivering our baby and knowing that we had a plan and that the end was in sight, it hurt.
I think somewhere around there, I’ll be honest, I was a little angry with God. I had put so much hope into laboring that when it didn’t work out, I was floored.
I didn’t want another painful, debilitating surgery. I know moms who bounce back quickly. I am not one of those moms.
We arrived early the next morning and I was scared. Like I was the last time. As I signed consent form after consent form and listened to risk after risk, fielded question after question about the two children I had at home, I churned. I sat, holding my belly, knowing that she only had minutes to go inside of me. And she had no idea. Her small world was about to change forever.
“It’s gonna start getting harder from here on out, kid,” I told her. Her time in the safest, most hospitable of environments she would ever be in was ovah.
I want to tell you that I didn’t have a meltdown, but that’s not true. I want to tell you that I held it all together, but that’s not true either. But my husband was with me every step of the way and he was amazing. And maybe, if there is a fourth baby, I will stop feeling like a c-section is something that happens to me and instead more like the delivery that it is.
Because it is, momma’s.
Rob asked me if I thought that I could let go, and not hurt every time in the future when I thought about our children’s deliveries. I wasn’t sure. I told him that it would probably hurt to see my friends become moms and experience labor and know that it was something that I would never have. The labor, the work, the anticipation, the reward. Will a c-section ever feel like that for me? Would I ever let it?
There is something more to this, though.
The truth is that I do labor. I have labored. I labor each day. And I will never stop.
I labor over these children. Every. Day. I clean for them, cook for them, clothe them. Love them. I labor for them night and day. More than any task ever before. Perhaps my birth wasn’t conventional by the standards of some. But everything afterwards? It’s been nothing short of being connective, painstaking and rewarding.
I yearn. I yearn to see them grow up. I yearn to see them love God, love each other. To see them change this world. I miss them when we are apart. I cried when the school bus first came to my house and my oldest child climbed up those steps. My heart shutters to think about when they will leave our home, leave this nest, leave this mother. My heart is theirs. My heart is in this.
I worry. I stress. I work. Labor, no matter the delivery, is the easy part I’m told. And I believe it. You leave that hospital and life smacks you in the face and doesn’t quit until…until I don’t know when.
I anticipate. I anticipate their needs. I anticipate the future. I anticipate difficulty. I anticipate joy. I see the anticipation in their eyes and in the own heart. My daughter who is excited to start school next year. My son who looks forward to being old enough to go camping or drive a truck like his dad. Our lives are filled with anticipation.
I deliver. I deliver all that I have, sometimes. For them. To them. Me and Rob are working every day to deliver our best so that they can deliver their best lives. Our arrows, in our quiver, readying to let go. Preparing for that moment, when it’s finally time.
It’s all been a labor.
Hopefully, I’ll stop caring so much about how they got here and focus on what it has taken to care for them since they’ve arrived. It’s getting easier.
I’m getting stronger.
And of course she was worth it. She still is. They all are. And I have it so, so good. Plus, I have a finer appreciation for two things: being able to walk again and heating pads.
2014 has been good. Maybe, if I get the chance, I’ll write up some more about it. Happy holidays, folks!