Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A new perspective on a big decision

You may or may not know it, but something has been weighing heavily on my mind for months. It's been there daily-this decision that needs to be made. Just when I had "convinced" myself that I had found the right choice for me and for my family, someone flipped the switch in my head and I've gained a whole new perspective.

So what is it? What is this big choice that's been eating at me a little bit day in and day out? Don't laugh, but I've been trying to decide whether to have a repeat C-Section, or attempt a VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean).

Labor with my daughter was grueling! 23 and 1/2 hours of laboring, 2 and 1/2 hours of pushing, forecepts, and she got stuck! My temperature rose rapidly, and I had to be taken in for an emergency C-Section. I thought labor was rough, but the Cesarean was nothing short of a nightmare. I got a "high" spinal, and my lungs were paralyzed. I was in distress, nearly intibated, and my husband was taken in and out of the room-scared out of his mind. The end result, though, was a beautiful, healthy 7b 8 oz baby girl, and all was soon forgotten. Recovery itself wasn't all that bad. But the memory still sticks with me, and I swore I'd never put myself through a C-Section again if I didn't have to.

Fast forward 2 years and 3 months. My scar as all but faded, I'm 15 weeks pregnant, and facing the decision of how to have baby #2. I was all gung-ho on having a VBAC, and then I went in for my 9 week ultrasound. I love my OB-he is truly wonderful. He will support either decision I make wholeheartedly, but he gave me some startling facts. 1.5% of women hemorrhage, and a startling percentage of those, and/or their newborn babies, die. If a surgical procedure has more than a 1% chance of death, it is not allowed to even be performed. So, if my VBAC were a surgery, my doctor wouldn't even be allowed to do it-it would be too risky.

But the clincher for me was what I'd have to do in order to have the VBAC. I wouldn't mind laboring for another whole day. I wouldn't mind pushing for another 2 hours. But in order to have the VBAC, I would have to sit and write in my medical chart the following: "I, Angela Smith, understand that attempting a VBAC carries a significant risk of rupture, which could ultimately result in the death of my baby and/or me."

I tried to practice writing that today. I could not do it. Heck-I could barely even type it. My thoughts went immediately to my husband and 2-year old daughter. And now all I can think is how selfish of me that would be to rob them of a wife, mother, or sibling. I can't even remember why I cared so much about having the VBAC in the first place. Sure-I'd love to experience having a baby naturally! It would be wonderful. We're having this child because we want to expand our family-I don't want to risk taking any one piece of that away. Not after 19 months of trying, and three heartbreaking losses.

The first time around, I never thought I'd be one of the 3% of women who need an emergency Cesarean. And I don't want to even think about being the 1.5% of women who face something catastrophic from a VBAC. That chilling thought resonates within me.

I admire the women out there who try and succeed. I guess I just don't have your courage. Or maybe I just have courage of a different kind-courage to know my limits.

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