I interviewed Riley Jensen, a Sports Psychologist on The Today's Mama Podcast. At the beginning of the episode we shared some of the experiences we've had surrounding birth.
Riley talked about his daughter born at 25 weeks due to HELP Syndrome. I talked more about my experience trying for a VBAC with Baby Number Two (that I share below).
When Sticking to Your Birthplan Makes You an Idiot
Now don’t get me wrong, if I didn’t have C-sections I would be the hypnobirthing queen. Who knows, by now I’d probably be at home giving birth in one of those big birthing jacuzzis and burying my placenta in the backyard.
I did hypnobirthing with my first child which ultimately ended in an emergency C-section. I was a ninja. I was dilated to an 8. Totally comfortable. I was in the zone. But my labor (all 18 hours of it) wasn’t progressing well and my little guy was getting tired and his heart rate became unstable. After trying every trick in the book with my midwife it was time to throw in the towel and have a c-section.
I was determined to have my 2nd be a VBAC. I busted out my hypnobirthing tapes again (did I just say tapes?), I wrote up my birth plan, I made my soundtrack, I was geared up and ready to go. Until of course my doctor said NO. My little girl wasn’t growing a whole lot and she was breach. A VBAC did not look like a good option in my scenario. I asked if we could try a VBAC if she flipped around and turned head down and he said he’d consider it. By my next appt. I’d used my hypnotic mind powers to get her to flip with her head down, but she still wasn’t showing as much growth progress as he wanted her to. He did a non stress test and she passed with flying colors. He still told me that he felt I needed a C-section.
At this point I’m getting fired up. I’m practically throwing up my gown and asking to be checked. I even asked “Please . . . pretty please induce me instead! Let me wait another week! PLEASE!”. I got a big N.O. He sent my husband home to get my things and sent me off to prep for surgery.
I stood in the bathroom and cried. This is not how I wanted things to go. This was, once again, NOT in MY birth plan.
Well. My doctor sliced and diced and I remember him saying surprised “Oh wow! There she is!” And in my very advanced, college educated mind I’m thinking, “Well of course you can see her! You just cut me open! She’s just chilling in there in a little clear sac!” (not realizing that the uterus is a muscle that holds the clear sac of fluid that is holding that baby and that the uterus should not be see through).
He went on to explain to me that I had a paper thin window on my uterus about the size of a football that was literally ready to shred to pieces. He could see through what should be a thick muscle as if it were glass. Thus the “There she is!”.
What does that mean? It means that my uterus was about to rupture. It means that if I had gone into labor on my own and waited it out at home 30 minutes away from the nearest hospital that my baby and I would have been in big trouble. It means that had I been induced in the walls of the hospital that my uterus would have most likely ruptured sending us into an emergency c-section/hysterectomy if I was lucky. In short, it means that had I had my way I would have subjected us both to physical dangers that could have had catastrophic effects.
But none of that happened. I delivered a 6 pound baby inside a sunny O.R. with the Barenaked Ladies singing lullabies in the background. I guessed her weight to the ounce and marveled at how she came out with all of that dark hair.
I had an overwhelming feeling of being watched over, and an overwhelming realization of my own foolishness.
I realize that medicine is a big business. We all want to stick it to the man. But sometimes having your way just isn’t worth it. I’m going to bet that there are simply some doctors out there who would prefer that you have a repeat c-section for your safety, not their paycheck. Maybe, just maybe some of those doctors have seen some things happen that they don’t want to happen to you. Um, like let’s say, hysterectomies, long term damage to your health, losing your baby, and losing you.
So while the battle cry of “ignore your doctor” is fine in theory. What about when it’s not? Are you prepared for that little snag in your birth plan?
To be clear, I support doing your best to stick to a birth plan and style of your choosing. But let’s not get so married to that plan, and what we think child birth should look like, that we’re inflexible, and ignore what is actually good advice . . . because we want it OUR way.
So while there are some of you out there who need to hear “Stick to your guns! Do it your way”, still others need to hear “It’s OK if it doesn’t go as planned.” Or better yet, GET OVER IT! While your vaginal birth friends are peeing their pants when they sneeze, run, or jump on the tramp, you and your c-section business will be doing backflips and running marathons with dry panties. That’s something worth cheering for!
This post is NOT about encouraging everyone to go out and get a C-Section. This post is about being flexible with our expectations. It’s about life really. It’s about being OK with the way things turn out (especially when they are out of our hands). And no, I’m not calling YOU an idiot. This story is about ME. Me being stubborn, and ME almost making a gigantic mistake because I wanted things to look a certain way.