The OGB

Thursday, August 6, 2009
If you don't follow Dooce's blog, you really should. This woman is freakin' hysterical and honest and real....basically, she is my hero. Her post entitled, The Labor Story, Part Three left me weeping.

But before I go any further, I will preface this post with the following statement: I know that a healthy baby is the ultimate prize and I would in no way, shape or form sacrifice or risk that. I will find solace in a having a healthy baby at the end of this, even if that's all I get. I know that some of you do not agree with me and think that I am a lunatic for wanting a VBAC. I know that some of you interpret my desire for a VBAC as an affront to whatever choices you have made and for that I am sorry. I know that there are thousands of women who would be grateful just to be pregnant and miserable like me. I KNOW all of these things, people. But I want a VBAC more than anything in the world.

I keep telling D that either way, I'll be ok because I know he worries. But I'm lying. I won't be ok. I really, really, really, really want a VBAC. I desperately want to experience labor and contractions and PUSH! I want to scream at D that I hate him and that he will never touch me with his penis again. I want to walk around all sweaty and gross and curl over in the most crushing pain I have ever felt and know that for tens and thousands of years (or 6000 years and no dinosaurs, for all you religious readers out there) that women from every corner of the earth have stood where I'm standing, experiencing the exact same terrifying yet overwhelmingly beautiful metaporphosis that I am undergoing. I want to be brought to my knees by the sheer power of my own body. I want to have an experience similar to Dooce's, where she finds herself lost in her husband's hand and feels closer to him than she ever has. Because while D and I have an extraordinary relationship and have grown even closer since the birth of E, I would love to share something so pivotal with him. To look at him in that moment of such naked vulnerability and know that he is the father of my children. I want to be a woman at her most essential, her most primal. I want to come out on the other side, knowing that I have the inner strength and willpower to face the medusa-head of childbirth and stand my ground. I want that high that so many mothers talk about, that near-hallucinatory sensation that courses through your body and over-fills your mind. I want the doctor to lay my beautiful baby girl on my chest and I want to breath her in through my eyes for the first time while she's at her very newest. And I want to lay there, in all our glory, welcome her into this world and reward her hard work by giving her her first taste of milk. This time, I want it to be love at first sight. Love at my first sight. Love at her first sight.

With Evan, I was a scheduled C-section. We were first-time parents and my ob had us terrified. I had developed a fibroid that was relatively large and threatened the pregnancy from the beginning. At our 12 week appt, the ob suggested that we consider a D&C and try again later after the fibroid had been surgically removed. He ticked off all the potential dangers of attempting to carry the pregnancy to term, not that he had an ounce of confidence we would make it to term, and even suggested that we be ready to make the choice between burial and cremation if this inevitably did not work out. He monitored the pregnancy closely, always on the look-out for asymmetrical growth restrictions, cystic fibrosis, etc. He warned us that only by the grace of God would we make it to the crucial 27 week mark and if/when we did, we would have to have steroid injections because the baby could be born at any time. He advised us to be ready to spend week after week in the NICU. None of the fears were ever realized. The only thing he didn't warn us about was that the fibroid could degenerate and would cause what had to be the most acute pain ever imaginable. And that if this happened while I was standing at the front of my classroom teaching math, it would scare the bejeezus out of me and my students and cause a panic amongst the staff members. Funny - he didn't warn us about that.

So why did we stay with him? He had been highly recommended, and I had even been warned that his bedside manner left much to be desired but that he was a really good ob...and we were so, so scared. Eventually, by divine intervention, he went on sabbatical and his replacement was not a fear-mongerer and was much more laid-back. He even compromised and let me go to 39 weeks (previous ob was issuing the eviction notice at 37 weeks max) but said that if I hadn't gone into labor by then, the baby was coming out via C-section.

Did I need to have a C-section? I don't know and try not to speculate too much, as what's done is done. The fibroid is in a position that um, blocks the exit, and so maybe E couldn't have found his way out given the opportunity. Maybe he could of. The human body is an incredible and awe-inspiring thing, so who knows? What hurts me is that we weren't given the chance. I know that if I'd gone into labor and given it a go, I would feel very differently about my experience. But then again, I know too many woman who have ended up with an emergency C-section after hours of labor and experienced horrifying complications. Maybe I was lucky to have a very controlled surgery that wasn't rushed. Maybe I was lucky in that I knew I was having a C-section and therefore had time to mentally prepare. Again, who knows? What I do know is that I came dangerously close to falling down the spiraling rabbit hole of PPD. If I hadn't read so much, if I hadn't prepared myself so thoroughly, I wouldn't have been ready to fight it. There's been a lot of research linking increased risk of PPD and c-sections and because I was scheduled, I was a prime candidate. Scheduled C-sections where the mother doesn't go into labor are of particular vulnerability because your body doesn't release any of the hormones or chemicals usually triggered by birth.

I had a particularly hard time at the beginning. While I loved E and was instantly protective of him (I stood at the window to the nursery with tears streaming down my face while I watched him recover from his circumcision) I wasn't in love with him. At first I questioned whether or not he was even ours. I asked D if he had watched the nurses put the id bands on his wrist and ankle. And once the family was all gone and it was just us, I quickly felt like I was treading water in a deep, dark ocean. This kid wanted to eat all the time. We didn't know it until months later, but he had reflux and constant nursing kept his pain at bay. He had his days and nights mixed up for weeks and he never napped. He could only sleep in an upright position (another sign of reflux) and so I had to carry him all the time. I didn't mind carrying him and had planned on doing a whole lot of baby-wearing, being a big proponent of attachment parenting, but I needed to put him down for a few minutes without him screaming, and I couldn't. Anyway, I could write all night about how tumultuous those first few months were, about the high highs and the lowest of the lows, but that's not what this is about. This is about my desire to avoid finding myself in that state of mind again, hopefully by giving birth naturally.

For now I will continue to prepare for a VBAC, both physically and mentally. I have my fingers crossed that I will get to experience the whole thing from beginning to end. Even if I just get to go into labor, at least I'll have that. It won't be enough, but it'll be something. And this time I know that if I do end up having a C-section, it won't be for lacking of trying, which will eventually provide me with some consolation. I have a stack of books, a doula and a new ob, one that is "willing to go the distance" with me. This guy is a walking legend. He is one of the only obs in Colorado who delivers breech babies vaginally and he's amazing. He's an older gentleman who has seen so much, yet ultimately believes in the power of the human body. He basically just backs up the midwives. Before meeting him, I'd heard so much about him and expected this young, super progressive guy who was a revolutionary. And instead, this guy is revolutionary by being so counter-revolutionary. He is the Original Ganster of obs. He is the OGB. And I am hoping with all my hope that he can work some of his magic on me.

2 comments to The OGB:

JLux said...

You are amazing, Nanette! I am so glad you are so honest about the experience of natural birth and cannot wait to hear how things go for you! I have been seeing lots of shooting stars this week and I'll wish on the next one for you :)

Annette said...

Wow, Sis. I know we discussed the miracles of VBAC, but I never knew what you faced with E. I believe in you and that B will be different, in a good way. I love you.

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