This post is part of an editorial series, “The Stork Stories,” brought to you by the Fort Worth Moms Blog. We hope these pieces provide you with helpful information, encouragement, and answers as you prepare for baby’s arrival.
“Open your eyes; she’s looking right at you!” My mom said this moments after my second daughter was born. Sure enough, there she was staring into my eyes, not like a stranger meeting for the first time, but familiar, as if she knew my heartbeat.
My second child was born via VBAC (vaginal birth after Cesarean). It was an incredibly intimate experience. Immediate skin-to-skin was such a welcome change to receiving my first child wrapped like a burrito with a hat. Despite the change, after each delivery, I had the same thought: This is the way to go!
As I prepare for a second VBAC in the coming weeks, I have been looking back and comparing my experiences. It is interesting to me how people respond to hearing I have had a successful VBAC. Women who know what it is congratulate me with what feels like unfounded gusto. I want to say, “If you think I’m accomplished, you should see what these babies have done to my body! It’s impressive really.”
Making the Choice to Birth Differently
My first child had been born by scheduled C-section due to her breech presentation. Talking to our doctor and praying about our options gave us peace about making this choice. As it turned out, the umbilical cord was wrapped around her neck, so trying to turn her in pursuit of a vaginal delivery would have been a dangerous endeavor.
Though my first doctor was in full support of a VBAC for future births, the clinic he affiliated with was not. I liked him enough, and trusted him after he walked me through severe postpartum psychosis, that I did not mind foregoing future vaginal births to keep him as a doctor.
Moving to the Fort Worth area meant finding another doctor — one who would be supportive of a VBAC. I knew the risks and knew that for some women this route was unsuccessful. I just wanted to see what my body could do. There was no political motivation or trauma from my first birth, just a curiosity into how the “other half” did things.
My VBAC went seamlessly. Thirty hours of labor, an epidural, and 20 minutes of pushing brought my baby into the world. Despite the stitches from aforementioned demolition, the recovery was far easier than major surgery, making me hopeful for round two.
Looking Back, Moving Forward, Letting Go
I wonder sometimes how each birthing experience affected my child or myself. Would things have gone differently postpartum had I done more skin-to-skin time after my C-section? Did I bond as well as I could have? Would not having an epidural make it better or worse? Should I move forward with an induction or wait baby out? What songs do I need on my birthing playlist? Should I forego wearing my new underwear today, just in case my water breaks? Every variable of giving birth begins to feel like a strategic piece in the ever-planning mind of the pregnant.
I think the fears and celebrations that come with having a successful VBAC (or any other birth) are the same that tinge each delivery with anxiety — that somehow our birthing choices are about a constant struggle between re-gaining or losing control. Yet, isn’t that the brutally stunning juxtaposition of childbirth? The ultimate image of love is the losing of one’s self so completely that it literally ushers another to life.
With every possible contraction, every extra twinge that sends my mind reeling into the “what if” zone, I am reminded of this total inability to control. I have hopes and plans for this coming birth. I have to remember though that birth plans are never set in stone. If I get to labor at home and have a vaginal delivery, or if I need to have a C-Section, this is about a beginning, not a means to an end. Regardless of how my newest daughter and I get there, my labor is not in vain; she will breathe her first, while sacrificial love transforms me once again.
Don’t Forget to Breathe!
From my experience I can say this for certain: Whatever you choose, however your birth story unfolds, it is YOURS, and it is beautiful. Maybe you need to write out a detailed birth plan, maybe you need to just show up at the hospital and hope you packed some socks. You might be a home-birth, medicine-free, labor under the stars kind of super woman, or a “hook me up with that sweet, sweet epidural” powerhouse. Whether you give birth in your bed, a bath, or in the hospital, you and your body are undergoing nothing less than the extraordinary. I might be a double VBAC mama, while you are a scheduled C-section mommy of five. Regardless of how we jumped in, we have all accomplished the unfathomable — bringing new life into a world that so desperately needs it.
The Fort Worth Moms Blog is hosting its next event just for you! Bloom, happening May 20, 2017 from 2:00 – 5:00 p.m. at Cook Children’s Medical Center, is an event for expectant moms and moms who are currently parenting children two years and under. (Foster and adoptive moms are welcome too!) The afternoon will focus on information, resources, products, and more that target the pregnancy and delivery stage of parenting through the first two years. This event, held in partnership with Cook Children’s Health Care System, will provide a few hours of pampering, light snacks, educational resources, giveaways and swag, shopping, and connecting moms and families with relevant local resources for this season of life. For information, tickets, and more click HERE!