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Sunday, February 3, 2008

My Near-Collision with Cesarean

(When I turned in my manuscript, I thought I was done with everything I could ever say about my births--guess what, I was wrong!)

I was most vulnerable the first pregnancy. I was professionally educated and not at all empowered.

The first threat of a C was with the diagnosis of a partial placenta previa (placenta overlying the edge of the cervix) during my first pregnancy. "If it doesn't move, you'll need a C." The OB knew it would likely move (and not a big deal to him) and was just an automatic comment to let me know what I might be faced, but his verbalization caused me to worry. The OB's also insisted I stop working. I remained anxious, sendentary and bored for the rest of that pregnancy.

The placenta moved up as it usually does. With another US, they told me it had move. I was cleared for vaginal birth.

After three hours of pushing and exhaustion, I pleaded for the labor to be over. I begged for anything to get William out. I thought that I would be better off dead, then to have one more contraction. This is when I came the closest to a C. Had a cesarean been performed on me, I would have been convinced that my body was abnormal and malfunctioned. At least at the time, I would have been convinced that birth was risky and OBs were necessary. I think that I would have eventually figured out that a C was an end-result of a fearful birth culture. In anycase, even with a vaginal birth, I was left feeling humiliated and very unempowered.

I have wondered why he didn't do the C. I didn't have an epidural, so "easy anesthesia" wasn't on board. Physicians have high rates of C's, so I can't say being a physician protected me. Since 12 years the C rate has exponentially gone up. Today the same labor would no doubt end in a C. Who waits three hours for a primigravida to push? No one.

I was so close to that C. I have wondered how it would have impacted my future healing births, if I would have been allowed to have them. One birth has such long term implications. My second birth occured before the VBAC ban. VBAC wouldn't have been the huge issue it is today.

The next worry was with my second pregnancy. At some point Scott was positioned breech. I again heard the threat, "If he doesn't turn, then C!" Probably no one took it a serious as I did. I worried. I was not given breech turning techniques or anything active to do. Scott did turn and I had a very nice birth with my heaven-sent doula. The first time I heard about breech turning techniques was during my third pregnancy. I was editing an article written by a chiropractor on the Webster technique for our locally published Mother to Mother... I was sure I didn't have to worry about breech.

There was no C threat during my third pregnancy. When I had abnormal triple screen results my husband demanded that I go to an OB. I resisted. He then requested "just a ultrasound." I refused. The morning labor started he reminded me "to get that US." Let's make sure the placenta is out of the way. Can you imagine if I did get that US and found the placenta clear but the baby breech (if indeed he was breech early in labor)? I would have been sent in for my C right then. I never imagined breech could happen to me and I wouldn't have been prepared to explore last minute other possibilities. I'm glad we didn't know. By Trusting birth, I was Rewarded.

Most women have to put up with the threat of Cesarean several times through pregnancyand labor, it's a wonder anyone has a Vaginal birth.


Lauren said...

I find this post very interesting. I think I came close to having a C also.

I was diagnosed with Shingles at 38weeks. It was all along the top and side of my bikini line, the inside of my thigh and it wraped around the top of my hip bone, ending at my spine. Luckily I sought treatment right away and it cleared up nicely. I was very anxious about potentially having to go through a C. Both of my OBs weren't sure if I could deliver vaginally if the Shingles hadn't cleared up before I went into labor.

I delivered vaginally at 41 weeks- blister free. However, I did push for 3 hours and thought for sure that the OB was going to wheel me in the OR. She didn't, though.

Ruby was rushed off to the nursery because they thought she was too pale. I wasn't able to nurse her right away as I would have liked. After my OB stitched me up, I was escorted down to the nursery to nurse Ruby. When we got there, the Peds nurse on duty refused me entry because I had Shingles 3 weeks prior. I was mad! They didn't bring her to my bedside to nurse until 6 a.m., 2 hrs 40 mins after she was born. Too sleepy to latch...

pearly1979 said...

It is unbelievable how it seems that at every turn it's such a readily available option, a ready made "solution". (I use the term solution lightly!) It's so common that people don't know there are other solutions, other ideas. They aren't offered and they aren't heard of because so few know about them and choose to go those other routes.

I think with breech it is exceptionaly hard because you don't know for sure until the end. There isn't time like there are with other things. Like you said, you wouldn't have had time to prepare so you were glad you didn't know. Often the time for some of the things that would helped, have passed. I think it is very common for women to go along thinking everything is fine and then WHAM-breech baby. There is no time to decide what you should do. There is no time to information gather, no time to provider search, no time to decide for yourself. I go back and forth between being angry I didn't know until my due date that Cosette was breech and being glad that I at least didn't know for as long as I didn't know. I'm mad because given more time I could have prepared, maybe made different choices, but because I didn't know I also wasn't forced into a preterm c-section.

You were really fortunate that when you didn't know your son was breech that you were in the care of some one who knew what to do. We all should have providers that we feel confident will be able to support us in whatever we put on their plate, but I don't even think enough of them exist, I know there is a serious need in my area. I'm sure that your confidence in your provider allowed you to go into labor without knowing and it's a wonderful thing really. More than good fortune I guess it was your plan after what you had learned through your two other births and that credit goes to you.

It's really sad that mothers are filled with regret so often and that childbirth really is a "trial of labor" for most everyone because there is so much to learn and women have no idea. I think more women would make the right choices if they knew there were choices. Of course not all of them would, but even going into my first birth I knew I was making choices most people didn't make and there were still other choices I still didn't know about, and now there are still things....

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