When my first labor and delivery ended in a failed induction and a c-section, I knew that I wanted to try a VBAC for my second child. That VBAC failed as well, and I know now that I did my best.
Over nine years ago, I was a new, young mother, facing my first labor and delivery. I had no idea that inducing because you were going to have a "big baby" wasn't the best of ideas. Without going into too many details, the outcome is what you might expect. After 24-hours in labor, I ended up with a c-section.
The Pressure to Birth “Right” is Real
I’ve noticed that more and more people are focusing on childbirth types like natural childbirth, water birth, c-section. The attention that birthing the way the mother wants is a great movement because women, myself included, have found themselves at the mercy of a doctor who didn’t follow their wishes.
At the same time, that movement also makes women who don’t have a natural, drug-free birth feel inferior, in a way, to other mothers.
When someone asks how your birth went, and you say that you had a c-section, the next question is often "what went wrong." While many of these questions and comments are well-meaning, it's easy to undermine the confidence of a new mother about her birth and make her feel guilty.
After the birth of my first child, I felt tremendous guilt. I listened to my doctor, and that turned out to be the wrong choice. Why shouldn’t I have been able to trust my doctor?
So, when I found out we were expecting our second child in 2012, I searched high and low for a local doctor that would support me in my desires for a VBAC.
My doctor was amazing, but he did lack a bit of personality. I overlooked his dry, monotone voice and focused on his knowledge and supportive nature to VBACs. He helped a friend of mine VBAC twins! He was my best shot, and I had to drive nearly an hour to get to him.
The Big Day Arrived
On July 3rd, I went into labor as I was preparing dinner for my husband and daughter. It started slow, and I labored at home for hours, as my contractions increased.
I spent my pregnancy reading books, talking to mothers, and researching how to approach my VBAC. I felt confident in myself and my ability to birth a baby naturally.
Around 11 PM, my husband and I made the hour-long drive to the hospital and met with my doctor. He was fantastic, supportive, and spent the night checking on me regularly. I felt so supported by the nurses, my husband, family, and doctor.
The environment was different.
To make a long story shorter, I will give you the Cliffnotes version. After over 24 hours in labor and a variety of problems, we made the educated decision to have a c-section.
At first, I felt like a failure again. How did I fail my child again? What was wrong with me?
It turns out, my c-section was healing, and the atmosphere was everything I could hope. The nurses and doctor were chatting, laughing, and talking to me. My baby never left me, unlike my first birth. I watched him being weighed, held him while they finished the sutures, and nursed quickly in recovery.
I Didn't Fail, and I'm Not Disappointed
It’s easy to feel disappointed in yourself when your plans fail, especially plans as important as your birth plan. However, the outcomes don’t mean you failed.
In the beginning, the comments by friends and those I spoke to were of sympathy, as if I lost a family member. They were “so sorry” for me, rather than telling me that I was a rockstar for laboring unmedicated for 24 hours. No one told me how proud they were of me, aside from my husband.
You see, I chose to have a c-section instead of continuing labor. My doctor asked me several times if I was positive, this was the choice I wanted.
With my first birth, I was never given a choice. I was told this is what you’re going to do, and my doctor didn’t care what I thought.
I didn't fail; I rocked my birth. I gave it everything I had, and no one besides my husband, my doctor, and I know the circumstances that led to us choosing to have a c-section.
Years later, I've had two more c-sections, for a total of four c-sections, and I've recovered remarkably well from each one.
We Aren’t Alone
The more I thought about my birth and spoke to other mothers, the more I realized we aren't alone. So many mothers feel guilty about their c-sections or failed birth plans. Many mothers have experienced nasty comments, telling them that their births weren't birth.
If you’re in the same shoes as me, I want you to know - you aren’t alone. You rock. You tried your hardest, and things might not have gone the way you planned. That doesn’t mean you failed or that you did something wrong. Circumstances happen.
I’m not disappointed in myself; I’m proud of myself. Find your pride in yourself as well.