My first birth left me with many regrets. I had hoped for a natural birth. I read all the books, watched all the documentaries, and took the classes. I ended up being pressured into an induction which led to a Cesarean when my body never progressed after many hours of labor. My baby was not allowed to come with me to recovery so it was three hours before I was able to hold her. That experience left me with many what-ifs and ultimately led me to doula training. I supported parents as a doula for two years before going back to work full-time in the corporate world. Then, after two years of trying, I found out I was pregnant with our second child exactly six years after the birth of our first.
In the years since our first daughter was born, I had learned a lot about birth and had grown and matured as a mother. I felt confident that this time I would have a birth that wouldn’t leave me feeling regretful. We had moved to Baton Rouge from Arkansas, and I found an amazing OB/GYN who was supportive and respectful. He encouraged me to try for a VBAC and was determined to help me in any way possible. In many ways, I had a very easy pregnancy. Very little morning sickness and I felt good physically throughout. I did have gestational diabetes which helped me to manage my diet and limit my weight gain. Our baby girl was head down and low by 28 weeks. Everything was falling into place.
At my 38 week biophysical profile ultrasound (I had them weekly due to being on medication for gestational diabetes), the technician said “Hmm, this baby is transverse. Her head is at your side.” What?? How was that possible? She had been in the perfect position for weeks, and I was only 2 weeks from my due date. To compound the issue, I needed to deliver by 40 weeks due to being on medication for gestational diabetes. My mind went into panic mode. I met with my OB after the appointment, and we discussed my options. I would spend the next two weeks seeing a Webster certified chiropractor and essentially standing on my head to see if we could get her to move back. Then we would discuss my options.
At my 39 week ultrasound, the technician confirmed what I already knew: baby was still transverse. I may have shed some tears in my OB’s office during my appointment that followed. My doctor and I talked through all of the options and their respective pros and cons. I decided to go ahead and schedule a repeat Cesarean for my due date with the promise that we would check her position again that morning just in case she decided to move, and we could look at induction instead. I showed up at the hospital at 6 am on my due date, and although I knew my baby was still sideways (it was very clear by the shape of my stomach), my doctor went ahead and did an ultrasound and told me I didn’t have to have the Cesarean that day if I didn’t want to. At that point, I was at peace with the decision we had discussed, and my C-section went without a hitch. We used a clear drape so I could see my baby being born, and I was able to hold her very quickly.
Both times I had wished for a vaginal birth. Both times I had a Cesarean birth. But my births were not equal. The first one left me feeling broken, full of disappointment and regret. My second Cesarean couldn’t have been more different. Decisions were made with me instead of for me. My treatment was a discussion in which I was empowered to make informed choices after going through all of the options with my provider. I went into my pregnancy afraid that having a repeat C-section would devastate me all over again. But what I ended up with instead was a birth experience, on my own terms, that allowed me to heal even if it wasn’t in the way I had expected.