As of today, there are 80 days until my third child is due (according to the registry where I entered my ‘To Buy’ list) and I can feel the anxiety bubble rising. I have never been more anxious about delivery than I am with this child.
I lost the baby in my first pregnancy at eight weeks. When I confirmed I was pregnant with my son, I thought the biggest worry I would ever have in pregnancy was getting past the first trimester. I knew labor and delivery would be difficult, but it was a temporary difficult and the results would be incredible. The first miscarriage ensured that every first trimester after would be a roller coaster of emotions. With my son, it was an easy pregnancy. I was excited and thought I was prepared. So excited, that I did not do much research about induction: I just wanted to meet my baby. 27 hours of labor and a Cesarean section later, I was face to face with my son, and he was worth every minute of labor and every stitch. I remember the lack of food more than I remember the pain. Throughout the labor, I was not allowed to eat so my husband was sneaking me bits of cookie when no one was looking. Imagine my disappointment to get through more than a day’s worth of labor, a surgery I had prayed would not happen and feeling as though I could finally get my money’s worth at a buffet, only to be served broth.
Things were a little different the second time around. We made a big move across country mid-pregnancy, and my only thought was finding a pro-life OBGYN. I did succeed in this and asked the OB I was leaving for words of wisdom in attempting a Vaginal Birth After Cesarean (VBAC). While my new OB was indeed pro-life, the hospital would not allow for VBACs, so I cried for a bit in his office and talked with him a bit, and came to the conclusion that was the only option available. When the surgery day came, I was nervous. When the surgery was delayed and I was prepped and waiting for two hours, panic set in. The thought of the surgery made me cry. When I finally was holding my daughter in my arms, again it was worth it all.
My previous birth experiences spurred me to research things before I was pregnant again. I found that VBA2Cs (Vaginal Birth After two Cesareans) were not unheard of, but I could not stay with my pro-life OBGYN for delivery if that was what I wanted next time around. It was a complex decision for me: pro-life and NFP centered medicine really did help me gain fertility and sustain pregnancy. Without a doctor that was familiar with reading my Sympto Thermal charts, willing to evaluate progesterone levels during pregnancy, or willing to discuss dozens of other simple yet effective solutions, I would have spent the rest of my life knowing only the pain of miscarriage. (Barring a miracle, of course!) Pro-life medicine was my miracle. Leaving that behind for delivery was a difficult thing to consider. I looked into birthing centers, but VBA2Cs were not an option. It was homebirth or finding a hospital with a lower Cesarean rate, and one that was willing to at least consider a VBA2C.
All of the researching must have stirred something up, because I soon confirmed pregnancy. I was due after the recommended 18 months between deliveries, and I was at a healthy enough weight to minimize a few risk factors. I also am really terrified every time I begin to think about labor and delivery!
It all felt so much easier when I had not experienced labor or surgery. The thought of having to recover from and all the potential risks associated with a third c-section is scary. I would be recovering with two other children that need me, miles away from our families. I am fighting a seemingly uphill battle to deliver my child as naturally as I am able to with unfamiliar doctors that have quite a say on the outcome of the delivery, and it is not easy to admit that I am scared.
I fancy myself Wonder Woman: being scared is not an option. However, the more I allow myself to be scared right now, the more I reflect on the scary moments of deliveries past. This reflecting helps me to see that every pain or uncomfortable moment in the nine or so months of pregnancy (including delivery) is worth it, and it is temporary. The incisions heal and my body changes a bit, but it is reflective of where I have been and what I have overcome. While attempting a VBA2C is scary and quite the mountain to climb, it is a challenge I am ready to accept. I will have the reward of another son or daughter. I will embrace the part of me that is scared so that I can unwrap the emotion and understand the “why” instead of pushing the feeling away. I will look forward to meeting the newest addition to our family, regardless of how he or she may come into the world. That helps things seem a little less scary.