I Want a VBAC, But I Don't Know if I Can...

5 years ago

Emmy’s birth was a far cry from the one I had imagined. In the days leading up to the projected date of my daughter’s birth, I daydreamed about what it was going to be like. I envisioned a semi-panicked ride to the hospital in the back seat of my husband’s car. I envisioned begging for ice chips and cold washcloths to cool my forehead, and singing very loudly through my contractions as they got closer and closer together. I envisioned groaning and moaning, and walking and squatting, and burning and possibly screaming. I envisioned squeezing my husband’s hand with all my might as I clenched down and used all my strength to push Emmy out into the world.

None of that really happened. Instead, Em stayed inside my uterus ten days past my due date, and after a not-so-spiffy non-stress test, I was admitted to our birthing center and administered cervidil. Though I started to experience something that seemed akin to normal contractions on the cervidil, it wasn’t long before I was put on pitocin, and contractions were forced mightily upon my body.

Now, I have heard plenty of women try to describe what their natural contractions felt like, and what I felt was NOTHING like their descriptions. I found out the hard way that induced contractions, coupled with back labor, feel like whopping electrical shocks sent right through the spine. And the pitocin drip made sure it happened every few minutes for hours and hours on end, leaving little time for recuperation or rest.  

I have had my share of broken limbs, teeth terrors, and other physical pains in my life. I think for the most part I have dealt rather well with pain. But I could NOT deal with pitocin/back labor contractions. It was too much for my body to take. After 16 hours of crying hysterically and feeling like my body was being ripped into two pieces every few minutes, I gave in and ordered an epidural. And the next morning I had a c-section.

The afternoon following Emmy’s birth, the operating doctor came over to me and explained that I had a very unusual septate uterus that had prevented Emmy from getting into proper position for birth. She also told me that she wasn’t sure I would be able to have a VBAC delivery if I was to have a second baby, and she told me I should see a uterine specialist to further investigate the issue.

I was somewhat relieved to hear that there was apparently nothing more I could have done to try and birth Emmy the natural way. I had wanted a med-free, operation-free birth for my daughter, but that just hadn’t been in the cards for us, thanks to my body’s oddity.

Since Emmy’s birth, I have had two ultrasounds examining my uterus, and no one has been able to find the septum that apparently is hiding somewhere inside my uterus. It’s a complete mystery. I am sure the operating doctor wouldn’t have LIED to me about my septum, but no other doctor has been able to find it.

Now, being pregnant with my second child, I have become semi-obsessed with figuring out what is going on with my uterus. I want to know if, because of this mysterious and ellusive septum, I should not even be getting my hopes up for a VBAC birth. It would be pretty horrible to get  myself all mentally and emotionally prepared for a natural birth again, just to find out it simply isn’t a possibility.

But what if the septum WAS a fluke? What if the doctor THOUGHT she saw something, but it wasn’t really there? What if I AM capable of having a VBAC?

I have asked my midwives to get their hands on the detailed medical reports from the birthing center Emmy was born in (which is no longer in existence). I have asked them to speak with the operating doctor to see if they can jog her memory and find out more about what she saw. I am determined to find out as much as I can, because I want to know if my body is capable of birthing without medical intervention. I need to know.

When I talk to my co-workers about my VBAC dreams and my desire to feel my body naturally go into labor, they look at me like I am crazy. The most common response is, “why don’t you just schedule a c-section and get it over with?”

But if I have a choice in the matter, I don’t just want to “get it over with.” I want to experience contractions. I want to LABOR. I want to have the same “holy crap I can’t believe my body just did that” experience that so many other women have felt.

I just don’t know if it will even be possible.

Dvora Koelling
Parenting with imagination. Or at least trying.


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