Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Getting Personal: My Journey to VBAC

I'm 32 weeks and 3 days pregnant today. I'm getting closer and closer to baby's arrival and I couldn't be more excited. But as I get closer, emotions are rising for me as I reflect back on Conner's birth and visualize what I hope for with this baby's birth.

Conner was born via emergency c-section on November 6, 2011. To make a long story short, I developed an infection during my labor and after hours of being on oxygen and antibiotics, it was no longer safe for Conner or myself to continue the laboring process. I can honestly say that my C-section was truly necessary. I have no regrets or what-ifs about it. I wasn't treated poorly in labor...I wasn't bullied, like so many women can be. I was treated well by my entire care team and spoken to honestly when my surgery became an emergent need. And throughout my surgery I never felt alone or mishandled.

But even so, while I know my experience could have been so much worse, it was still a devastating blow to me, and I am very open about that. Feeling like my body had failed me was a hard thing to get past, especially because my failing body had landed my newborn in the NICU for several days with an iv in his tiny arm and heart monitors on his chest. I often reflect back to the moment I was taken to recovery. Alone, besides a nurse who came to "massage" my belly every 15 minutes, my first view of my son was a picture being sent to my phone by my husband from the NICU. I bawled at the sight of it. He was beautiful. But it would be four long hours before I could look into his beautiful eyes, kiss his sweet cheeks and finally hold the little person I had gone through so much to meet. I grieved the lost experience of my just born baby being placed on my chest...I yearned for the skin-on-skin time we couldn't have because of his wonky heart rate...and I envied my husband, who went with Conner immediately to the NICU and made happy phone calls and texts to family and friends that our boy had arrived.

Almost three years later, I have no shame in admitting that it's still hard to process. And while I am so grateful that Conner is healthy and was born safely, my emotions about his birth are still very raw and very real. 

I have found a lot of solace in connecting with other c-section moms, ICAN, a VBAC support group and other caring, kind parenting groups. It's been quite empowering and healing. And as the days go by and I come closer to birthing another beautiful baby, I've been able to break from the jealousy I've experienced when my friends would talk about their own wonderful births and focus on the experience I want to have.

A VBAC to me isn't necessarily a second chance. I'm not looking to replace my C-section experience or discount it. It's made me stronger, it's taught me to allow myself to feel things when I just need to feel them...and it's given me the privilege to open the door and speak honestly about my emotions with it. And I think opening the door and allowing women and mothers to talk about it is SO important.

But what a VBAC does mean to me is the chance to heal a bit. It's the chance to know that my body isn't broken and a reminder that neither is my spirit. It's the opportunity to experience something new and hopefully wonderful, and the chance to be an even bigger cheerleader for other VBAC hopeful mommas in the future.

I'm trying hard to focus my emotional energy on positive thoughts...picturing myself pushing my baby out, breathing a sigh of relief when I hear a sweet cry and looking into the eyes of a just born babe laying on my chest. I'm reading positive affirmations and finding strength in hearing other VBAC success stories. I'm fighting to keep myself in the light, beautiful space of what a VBAC can be for me...and out of the dark fears of a repeat C-section.

I don't know what the stars have lined up for me...I'll roll with the punches of life as they come, because what's else can you do? But I'm hoping so much to end my journey with a sigh of relief and a great big "I DID IT!"

So here's to it.

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