If you’ve been following us for a while, you’ll know my first birth didn’t quite go to plan. I was really excited for labour the first time around – perhaps a sign of my innocence and naivety at the time. I was open minded about what would need to be done and didn’t have a stringent birth plan in place as I knew with my existing hypertension, there was a chance things would slip out of my control. I felt strong and positive.
After a failed induction, an 84 hour labour, nil by mouth for over 48 hours and it all ending in an emergency section, becoming unresponsive straight after and not meeting my precious baby till he was 4 hours old, it’s safe to say I felt pretty low. As excited as I’d been for labour, was as disappointed as I was by the whole experience at the time. I feel like my labour had a knock on effect on my feelings straight after as it definitely hindered my ability to be the best mother I could be to Arjun – I didn’t change his first nappy till he was 2 weeks old! As difficult as my emotional and physical struggle was at the time, I was so grateful for all the support I received during that time – especially from my husband and sisters.
In hindsight, it didn’t go to plan but the main thing is both Arjun and I were ok. I had a rough time but I know it’s nothing compared to what many mothers go through – what I was so super grateful for was the loving and caring staff at Hillingdon hospital who treated me as their own during my whole stay there.
As time went on, and we created beautiful memories with Arjun, labour became a distant memory. My only reminder was my thick blotchy keloid scar as a result from my c section and the frequent tinges I felt and also the constant creeping of self doubt which often consumes me.
Being pregnant with baby number two, I’m faced with the dreaded decision of my preferred birth choice. What a stark difference my attitude, feelings and approach are this time. I’ve gone from being obliviously excited the first time around to being absolutely terrified. Why though? I have to deliver the baby whichever method and I’m strong enough to deal with the aftermath – I’ve done it once and I’ll do it again. The choice between a VBAC and a planned section is weighing so heavy on me – I wish someone would make the decision for me and tell me everything is going to be ok!
Here are my feelings around both:
Food!: I genuinely believe that because I was starved for so long before my section the last time, that contributed to my slow recovery and low mood post birth massively. This time, there is an enhanced recovery programme in place for planned c sections which means you have a carb fest the night before your section and you’re encouraged to eat soon after you’ve delivered. I’m hoping this would help aid in a faster recovery so perhaps a c section this time around wouldn’t be as bad as the first time? With a VBAC there would be no starving period …!
Emergency vs Planned Section: The first time around I had an emergency section, I’ve been told a planned section is a more pleasant experience while delivering however the aftermath can be just as painful. Though I’ve heard mixed stories – I also know some mummies that were able to drive within two weeks by ensuring they took regular pain relief as directed by the hospital. But would I really be able to manage with a demanding toddler who wants to be picked up all the time? How would I cope with the pain? I remember the last time I had staples and stitches, any movement meant I could feel the little pieces of metal inside me. It was excruciating.
Keloid Scar: If I was to have a c section, they could fix my keloid scar. It’s not high up in the list of reasons to have one by any means but it’s definitely a pro given how much discomfort the scar has caused me.
Order: Given how chaotic our life is at the moment, it would be nice to have something planned.
Expectations: I know more what to expect with a section than I do with natural labour!
Current State: Given my recent health, I’m not sure I’d be able to cope with natural labour – the same concern the doctors have which is why I’ve been put on steroids to strengthen my lungs. Though I’m feeling much better, I’ve never felt so exhausted before. This worries me given I’ll soon be introduced to sleepless nights outside of my control with a toddler in tow and not the four extra pairs of hands that I’ve become used to the last few months!
Anxiety: I’m worried something will go wrong during the section – what if they accidentally cut the baby? I know it’s a risk (albeit a very small one) as it’s something you consent to. The truth is, if they rushed it would only be in an emergency and a small cut on the baby vs saving their life really isn’t even something to ponder over when I think about it rationally. Plus, I’ve already had an emergency section and everything was fine. But equally what if something goes wrong during a VBAC?
Help/Support: Last time, I was dependent on Preetam for two/three weeks post surgery. He had to help me shower, go to the bathroom and assist me with walking. What if I’m in the same state this time? How would he manage with two kids in tow? I am so lucky to have such a hands on father to our kids – he literally took over last time.
Recovery: A VBAC would mean there’d be a faster recovery provided all went ok. I’d be able to manage with Arjun and a newborn more so than I would be with physical limitations post a c section.
History Repeating Itself?: However there is no guarantee that a VBAC would actually work – my consultant has mentioned that I may have a small pelvis which is why Arjun wasn’t able to come out vaginally the last time. It isn’t something that can be confirmed and it would be a risk I’d have to take. What if I ended up having an emergency section again this time?
The Future: If I was to have a section this time, I’ll have no choice with what method of delivery I’d have if we decided to (and were blessed) have a third. I feel uncomfortable with something being so definitive and final.
Manageable Pain: having dealt with a fractured skull, my pain threshold was pretty high prior to delivering Arjun. After that, I’ve turned in to the biggest wimp! The pain from my last c section while carrying this baby has been unmanageable at times and I worry that opening me up again will make my abdomen weaker and cause me even more problems later.
I really do wish I had a glass ball and could see in to the future – if someone could guarantee that a VBAC would work, as terrified as I’d be and as weak as I currently feel, I’d find the fight in me. I’m so confused and on a daily basis I sway between the two and what my preference would be. But weighing up both, I feel right now the best thing for me, the baby and our little family would a planned section and if I do happen to go in to natural labour before then, give a VBAC a go. If there are any signs of history repeating itself with this labour, then I’d ask for a decision to be made about opting for a section without failing to progress and it resulting in an emergency one again.
I’m so grateful to have such a supportive consultant who has been a huge help in determining the best course of action for me.
Of course we have no idea how things are going to unravel, especially with my creeping blood pressure. Here’s to hoping and praying that we all have smooth sailing labours!x