I’ve cultivated a very careful circle of friends since having kids, and so it’s jarring for me to go places among strangers or relatives who ask me a ton of very personal questions about my pregnancy and birth and then say, “You’re planning to do WHAT?? ARE YOU CRAZY?”
Actually, that’s what the nice people say. I’ve gotten a lot worse.
I had two unexpected cesareans after planning two natural births with midwives. I know most women planning natural births with midwives get a lot of similar comments from strangers/relatives, but the comments get more intense when a woman has a scarred uterus.
In some ways, I have a super limited village of support for this pregnancy, because many of the women who support me in extended breastfeeding and peaceful parenting have also had beautiful home- or birth-center births–I often get the sense that they suspect I might not believe that birth can be beautiful and empowering and important. At any rate, I definitely feel left out and sad when they discuss their deliveries and postpartum experiences as “babymoons.”
I truly do believe in birth and that women’s bodies can birth. I also believe that women, given the facts, make decisions that are best for them and for their babies.
The best thing for my family has always been midwifery care. I can gestate like nobody’s business. I grow healthy boys of average weight. I go into labor spontaneously and within the typical windows of gestation time. I exercise, attempt to eat well, take my prenatal vitamins, and pass my bloodwork with normal ranges.
I visit my midwives fully clothed and we all use first names and we talk about life or health. Then they make me feel better about my young boys rummaging through their buckets of speculum. And then, each time, I plan for a natural, vaginal delivery.
At the beginning of this pregnancy, we made an appointment with the obstetrician who backs up our CNM group. We reviewed my records, talked about the facts, and he fully supports our decision to go for it. I know what my very small risk of uterine rupture is–uterine rupture is the big bad that doctors and insurance companies fear when it comes to VBAC.
I also know exactly what it’s like to lie on that surgical table while my babies are cut from my body and I know exactly what that horrible recovery is like. I know how many weeks it will be before I can drive or lift my older sons or laugh/sneeze without agony. I know exactly what it feels like to have staples removed from my stomach. And to have my bladder suffer damage during surgery.
Those risks are all very real to me, and I’d try anything (with the support of skilled caregivers) to avoid another cesarean.
So when I’m in line buying pretzel rolls at the bakery and a stranger grills me about this choice, I really want to ask her if she’s ever willingly signed up to parent a newborn through a Vicodin haze while shooing a toddler away from a catheter bag draped over the living room sofa. But I don’t.
If you’re out there reading along, feeling isolated because you’re planning to give birth vaginally after two cesareans, know that you actually have a lot of company. The trick is to find and rely on the people who get it, and bounce all the other back-seat-obstetricians right off your bubble of peace.
I’ll keep you posted on how it all works out as I get more pregnant and the temperature rises!