Friday, April 6, 2012
Two years post-VBAC.
I have to be honest. I had a lengthy post about my VBAC all typed up, but I just highlighted every last speck of text and hit the backspace button. I wrote it the other night while Dill was at Boy Scouts (he leads the 11-year-olds) and the kids were busy terrorizing everything in my bedroom. Dumping all the clean laundry onto the floor and filling the hamper with puzzle pieces, trucks and dinosaurs. Oh, that was Buckwheat. Bubby was actually being pretty good, playing Just Dance 3 on the Wii. The same MIKA song "Lollipop," over and over and over again. Dill got that game for my birthday, which happens to be tomorrow. But who's counting?
Anyway, I was a little frazzled after a full day of housework and music lessons and was in no frame of mind to express my complicated feelings then. Alas, Buckwheat is now peacefully napping, Bubby is away at preschool, I just got back from Target and everything's peachy-keen.
OK. Deep breath.
First, I'll start with a disclaimer: this post is not about VBAC's in general. It's just about mine (and Buckwheat's, really, since it was his body that came through my birth canal) and how it was and has been for me. So please, don't assume I am against VBAC's generally and that I'm going to be pushing C-sections on every expectant mother in the world from here on out. That's not what I hope to accomplish at all. In fact, I am still on the fence when it comes to C-section or VBAC for myself in the future.
I only seek to inform. To relay my birth experience to others who are VBAC-hopeful so they won't go into it with only one side of the story. To offer another point of view.
I don't know why I had a VBAC. I probably shouldn't have. Posterior baby, placental abruption, vacuum extraction. I don't know why my doctor didn't section me at the first sign of blood. I almost wish he had, but I realize what's done is done and there's no good in wishing things had played out differently. You can't go back in time and change the past.
Maybe it was because he'd already been at the hospital for eight hours (hospital VBAC policy) and figured it'd all be a waste if he were to just slice me open in the end. Maybe it was because he genuinely wanted me to deliver vaginally. Maybe it was because he'd seen worse and didn't honestly believe it was that bad.
But oh, it was. It was bad.
My eyes brim with tears as I recall the anguish-filled weeks following Buckwheat's (then Smush) birth. Passing out on the hospital toilet due to the extreme pain caused by trying (and failing) to urinate once my epidural wore off. Hearing the nurse exclaim how "swollen and bruised!" my "bottom" was upon checking me. Being as white as a ghost for an entire day and consequently, very lethargic and weak. Feeling unexcited to have guests because I was in so much pain. Not being able to shift in bed or even walk for the first three days of my baby's life because it was too much to bear. Sobbing my eyes out on Bubby's bed from the unrelenting pain. Practically living in the sitz bath. Having to take a pillow to Buckwheat's first baby appointment because sitting without one was impossible. Crying out for Dill after Buckwheat's mid-night feedings because I couldn't get out of the rocking chair on my own. Taking 600 mg of ibuprofen every few hours and a daily stool softener for three straight weeks. Fearing every trip to the bathroom.
Wondering if I'd ever feel normal again.
Everything HURT. Plain and simple.
And don't forget how Dill and I couldn't have "special marital cuddle time" for 6 MONTHS after the birth. Yeah.
The causes: internal tearing, episiotomy, hemorrhoids and prolapse. Go ahead and Google those. And please don't tell me I had prolapse before the delivery. I didn't, I can assure you.
Basically, I was a hot mess down there, and only time can heal those wounds. To this day, I'm still not quite right. I don't want to be graphic. I'll just leave it at that.
Would it have been so bad if I hadn't been dealing with all the usual difficulties -- sleep deprivation, drastic hormonal fluctuations -- of post-partum life? Maybe not. And don't forget, I also lost two close family members by the time Smush turned a month old. Add in a few common breastfeeding issues and you've got one miserable experience.
One I'd very much like to forget, which is sad considering it was the birth of my child.
Mostly, I felt, and still feel, to some degree ... robbed. Ironic, because "robbed" is the word many women use in reference to their Caesareans: "Oh, I felt so wronged, so violated, so robbed after my C-section. But, I felt empowered after my VBAC! I had energy! I recovered so much quicker! It was a night and day difference!" So, I went into it thinking I'd be parroting the same encouraging phrases once my baby was born.
But I didn't. All I could say when people asked how it went was, "It was really nice to hold him right after he came out." And I did mean that. I mean, look at that picture up there. You can't fake that kind of serenity and joy.
I don't hate VBACs or feel like they should be banned or whatever. I also don't love C-sections. Though easier than the second, my first birth wasn't exactly a walk in the park, either.
Basically, I'm putting off the next kid as long as God will let me, primarily because I'm really, really scared. Scared I will have yet another traumatic, ugly birth. One that will scar me in every sense and make me even more cynical about the process than I already am. I'm terrified that my body will be left broken and battered and useless.
So, if you're wondering where the next baby is, please know I am taking time to heal. Physically, emotionally, mentally. I went through the most excruciating ordeal of my life last time and I am in no hurry to repeat it. I need time to think about my options, consider other methods and pray for guidance. Above all else, pray.
I'd like my children to have siblings. I'd like to dig my elastic-waisted pants out from storage (ok, maybe not so much). I'd like to snuggle another freshly-baked newborn again.
But not right now.
I just need time.