Friday, October 17, 2014

My VBAC Journey

**I wrote this out a couple weeks before sharing Lincoln's birth story but am just now finishing and publishing**

I've decided that writing out a birth story is one of the most therapeutic things in the world. It's wonderful to take this thing that only you have ever, ever experienced and get it out of your brain.

Having gone "overdue" with Harrison and then having a failed induction leading to a cesarean section led me to adjust my expectations for pregnancy and birth. I knew that I wanted to avoid another c-section. 

I can't even attempt to get Lincoln's birth story out of my brain without unloading some other things first. If you know me, you know that I'm not really capable of telling a short story. I love details and find stories without them unfulfilling and boring. But if I said all I want to say regarding the end of my pregnancy, labor, and birth...well, I could write a book. But I won't! I'll just break it up into pieces for my sanity and anyone interested can pick and choose which parts they want to read. Best part? This isn't even really about sharing the story so much as preserving my thoughts for myself. So I'm opening up but mostly for myself and my journey.

So I'm starting off here. VBAC. With Harrison I had a failed induction which led to a cesarean when I was "overdue". I have peace about that experience but no desire to repeat it. Months before we decided to start thinking about having another baby I began to read everything I could about vaginal birth after cesarean. I talked to a doctor, a midwife, doulas, and many women who had VBACs themselves. It gave me hope! Kris and I spent a lot of time in prayer about it and knew that God was leading us to make this decision. We were so excited to see our family grow and hoped that God would use a VBAC as one of the means of continuing that growth.
Complications and risk factors increase greatly with each cesarean. We've always felt God calling us to a bigger family and we knew that after 3-4 cesareans I'd very likely need to stop having children. We'd love to adopt, so that's ok! But medically and emotionally we knew that VBAC was the best and safest option for our family.

After my second miscarriage I started struggling more with anxiety over pregnancy. God was teaching me and mending my heart but I did find myself with a different perspective on how to approach my next pregnancy. Once I found out I was expecting again I started my care with my local ObGyn. She is wonderful and I have nothing bad to say about her. But the morning of my second appointment with her (at 12 weeks) everything shifted. We woke up to a phone call from Kris's parents letting us know that his brother had been killed. He stayed at home with Harrison while I went alone to my appointment to find that the baby and I were very healthy. I no longer had as much fear about losing the pregnancy but grief of a whole new level filled our family. It's impossible to describe those next few weeks. We hadn't announced our pregnancy to anyone outside of immediate family yet and I'm glad for that. We were able to move through that first week with a glimmer of hope in our hearts but nothing was distracting from our need to grieve.

So here we were with all this grief and change and, at the same time, hope. I believe that only God can give hope in the middle of that kind of overwhelming sadness. Suddenly, though, I needed some change in the plan. I wanted to have this baby at home. I had considered it before but, for many reasons, decided against it. But, when I'm being really honest and raw, I have to admit that I struggled my entire pregnancy with a lot of anxiety. There was so, so much going on in our family's life and I was suddenly overwhelmed with simple, everyday life. I went into survival mode and lost most of the fight in me. I didn't want to fight the hospital system for a vaginal birth during a time in my life when I needed serenity. I didn't want to relive my previous experience and the fear overwhelmed me. I know that some people think that homebirth is scary or dangerous but it seems so incredibly natural to me. What I can say is that for me and my family homebirth was anything but scary. It calmed Kris and I to think of being in the comfort of our own home during something so sacred and healing. I've already told the story of Lincoln being born in the hospital after laboring at home. But knowing what I know now, would I go back and change my plan to birth at home? Absolutely not. I never would have been allowed by a hospital to go into labor on my own that late into my pregnancy and, just like with Harrison, I was a terrible candidate for induction.

I am so thankful that God led us to our midwife and answered our prayer for healing and a vaginal birth! Kris and I have both had much more peace in relation to everything that happened to me at the hospital because we have that victory to cling to. After my c-section I worked incredibly hard at making breastfeeding a success and found healing in that even though it was a long, tiring journey. Now, in the wake of a uterine inversion and physical and emotional healing, I am thankful that I have that incredible victory to remember when I feel overwhelmed by everything else. My pregnancy with Lincoln fell during the most tumultuous time in our family's life and I retreated emotionally out of an intense survival instinct. I am not proud of how I handled so much of this journey but in the wake of it all I am praying more than ever for physical, emotional, and relationship healing.

I believed throughout my pregnancy that God would heal me and allow me to birth Lincoln in the way he promised. I am so blessed by Him answering that prayer and teaching me that He never makes an empty promise.

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