People frequently ask me about having a second c-section. Their questions or comments are usually along the lines of “So do you have to have a c-section because your first was that way?” Some well-informed friends tell me “You know you don’t have to do it that way, right?” or they’ll politely tell me about a friend who chose not to have a c-section the second time around.
Because I love and value honesty, I don’t mind the comments and in fact, I appreciate them. In some ways, it even shows me how well people know me. In a lot of areas, most people know that I tend to go with the more natural option. Yep, I’m the breastfeed for a year and a half, make your own baby food, cloth diapering type. And I’m the type to opt for natural childbirth. But that wasn’t an option for me last time, and it’s one that my husband and I have thoughtfully and prayerfully eliminated this time. Over the next couple of days, I’ll share with you Isabelle’s birth story and then I’ll tell you about why I hate c-sections and why I’m having another one.
A Baby Story
A week before Christmas of 2008, my husband and I went in to the doctor for my weekly checkup and a sonogram to check the position of our baby girl, who was due in two weeks and three days. At Thursday’s checkup, the sonogram revealed what we’d feared. Isabelle was breech. Nowadays, most doctors automatically do c-sections when a baby is breech, so we were quite disappointed to find this out. My doctor, however, presented us with a second option. The other option was something called an external cephalic version, or ECV.
With an ECV, I would be admitted to the hospital and given an epidural. While watching a sonogram, my doctor would attempt to push on my uterus in a certain manner to cause the baby to turn into the correct, head-down position. Should the baby turn, I would immediately be induced into labor, so that we could prevent her from returning to the breech position. Damian and I both agreed that this was a great option, and my doctor said she’s actually pretty good at turning babies. In fact, she’d performed a successful ECV for a friend of mine. My doctor and I’d had numerous conversations about my desire for a natural childbirth, which she completely supported, and my dislike of c-sections, which she agreed with as well. So I really appreciated her effort to prevent a surgical birth.
But when my doctor checked me for dilation, I’d already dilated from a 1 to a 3. Instead of waiting a week or so (and giving the baby time to turn on her own), we’d need to do the ECV soon. My doctor’s concern was that if I went into labor on my own, we’d no longer have the option of an ECV and induction. If I showed up at the hospital in labor one day, our only option would be a c-section. She said Sunday would work great for her, if that was fine with us. My husband nodded “sure.” Astonished, I had to reiterate what she’d just said. “Honey. Sunday. In three days. We’re having a baby in three days.” We were both shell-shocked as we realized that parenthood was looming so quickly, but we agreed and made the necessary arrangements.
That afternoon, I got home and cried. I called my mom, who joined me in crying too. Why was I so upset? Honestly, this was not what any of us had in mind. We all preferred the good ole “time your contractions and rush to the hospital to have a baby” way of doing things. Some people might like the idea of scheduling their baby’s arrival, but I personally did not. And the idea of having surgery to have a baby bothered me immensely.
In my ideal birth, my husband and mom would coach me through the process of giving birth as I labored completely on my own, without an epidural. I would see my daughter being born, my husband would cut the cord, and she would immediately be handed to me to nurse for the first time. I could live with the idea of an epidural or some other pain medication, but the idea of a c-section was incredibly depressing to me.
I began calling other family and close friends to let them know that we were having a baby in three days. When I finished talking to my friend, Melissa, who was completely sympathetic, the Lord brought me to a harsh realization. I was a spoiled brat. Other than several miscarriages, Melissa had no children at the time. Neither did some other friends of mine, friends who’d tried for years. Many women are completely unable to have children. And not only was I about to have my first child, but as far as we could see, she was a perfectly healthy baby. Yet I was crying because my labor and delivery weren’t the way I wanted them??? My years of teaching English paid off as I thought of Friar Lawrence’s admonishment to Romeo that all of this was “A pack of blessings light upon thy back.” (R&J, III, iii). Suddenly, I was done crying. My pity party was over, and I was thrilled. I was having a baby.
On Sunday, we attempted the ECV, with no success. Isabelle was just as stubborn as her mama (as the second twin, I was born feet first–breech). Before the procedure, my doctor had prayed with my husband and I for success and for a healthy baby. I knew it was all in His hands. When the ECV didn’t work, I felt no sadness, only joy at the thought of the baby I would soon meet.
The c-section was no fun, but the hospital staff made every attempt they could to let the process seem normal and exciting. My husband was right next to me, holding my hand as the surgery was performed, and we teared up when she was born. Isabelle was the most perfect thing I’d ever seen. I’ve read in multiple books that one drawback of a c-section is difficulty with bonding between mother and child, but this was not my experience. I was elated at being a mother and completely in love with my child. My eyes couldn’t get enough of looking at her. I couldn’t sleep at all that night because I was on an emotional high from delivering a baby, even if it was a surgical delivery.
Tomorrow, I’ll share with you just what I dislike about c-sections, but then I’ll also tell you why I’m having one again this time around. I welcome any comments or questions you might have.