Coming to terms with a c-section

Before we ever got pregnant, Luffy and I discussed adoption. Our attempts at conception hadn’t been going well and we were discussing the alternatives. I told Luffy that, much like he considered having children part of the human experience, I considered being pregnant part of the female’s human experience. And indeed, it has been. I am in awe of my body and what it is capable of creating and handling. My distended abdomen bears no resemblance to my once flat stomach and yet, I know I will get back to that place eventually. My son kicks and moves around inside me and the sensation is so unique, it’s indescribable. The sheer physicality involved in being pregnant – in lugging around 30+ extra pounds each and every day – is astounding.  So that part has been absolutely true, for me at least.

However, I’m nearing the end of my first pregnancy and I’m trying to come to terms with the fact that part of that experience for me, arguably the most important part, will be missing. And not only is it missing from this pregnancy, it’s likely to be missing from the rest of my pregnancies. Which means, as a first timer, that it’s highly likely I will never experience it. I’m talking, of course, about labor and delivery.

As y’all know, my little boy is breech and our attempts at turning him haven’t been successful. A breech baby means an automatic c-section for me. At least, for me with my current doctor. Let’s pause for a second here because every time I come across this scenario in online communities I always see someone do a quick drive-by with a you know you don’t HAVE to have a c-section – you can CHOOSE to have a breech baby vaginally. And that’s true. I could absolutely choose to do that. However, I am not choosing to do that for several reasons. First off, it would mean changing my care provider with mere weeks left in my pregnancy. I am comfortable with and trust my doctor and do not want to go on the hunt for a new doctor with literal days left. Additionally, as many pro-low-intervention people seem to gloss over, there are real risks to delivering a breech baby vaginally. With the head being delivered last, the cervix may not open wide enough. Additionally, it’s difficult for the head to navigate the pelvis when it’s the last to be delivered. One of the biggest risks is cord prolapse, where the umbilical cord is squeezed between the birth canal and the baby, thus depriving the baby of oxygen. This could be a huge problem, especially if the baby gets stuck in the birth canal while the head is being delivered.

So no, I really haven’t considered attempting a vaginal delivery of my little boy. Mostly I am hoping that he has decided to turn head down before the date of the surgery.

And yet, I am also finding it challenging to accept a c-section. As I scroll through my pregnancy apps, with all of their suggestions about how to tell false labor from the real thing and how to manage pain during labor. As I remember my coworker bragging on his wife last year that they were in and out of the hospital in under 36 hours. As I read through others having a hard time getting their desired VBAC. As I read through other women’s birth stories… it all weighs heavy on my heart. Labor is not something I will experience. Luffy will not hold my hand and kiss my forehead and stroke my hair as I labor to bring our child into the world. I will never be able to recount something along the lines of well I had no idea that today would be the day or I felt miserable all day but the contractions just would not get into a steady rhythm!

Instead, Luffy and I will wake up on the morning of Tuesday, October 25th knowing full well that we will be parents by the time the sun sets. I’ll make him breakfast while I fast. We’ll give Jas scratches and treats as she (unknowingly) laps up her last morning as an only child. Then we’ll head to the hospital, completely calm and collected. I’ll be stripped and disinfected and anesthetized. Luffy will scrub up. I’ll lay prone and bare on a table as my doctor surgically removes my son from my womb.

It feels so clinical, in comparison to the primal and natural process of vaginal delivery, and I am sad that a vaginal delivery is not in the cards for me.

However, there are pros and cons to both sides (as I keep telling myself and anyone who will listen – oh look you!). For instance, in that little scenario I played out above, my mom will be in town because she knows exactly when to expect Little Dumpling to arrive. In this scenario, my son has a much better chance at arriving safely, of course, but it’s also somewhat safer for me (even with all of the complications involved with a major surgery). True, I’ll need to stay in the hospital longer, but going into labor myself and attempting a vaginal delivery (even if baby boy were in the right position) is no guarantee that I wouldn’t end up on the operating table anyway. Then there’s the fact that we do know exactly when we’re going in and getting him. I won’t be one of the many women who go past their due dates and face medical intervention on the other side. I can count down the number of days I have left (eight full days of pregnancy left!) and can savor them (and also freak out over them).

So pros and cons. Oddly enough, it’s a lot like that rambling, nonsensical post I did the other day – all about the paths of life and how we can’t choose every path. While I would love to have a vaginal delivery and not be facing an automatic c-section, it’s also nice in many, many ways to be working with a scheduled delivery. So I’ll relax this week. No more uncomfortable positions, no more worrying that my heating pad is positioned in a bad way (heat at the bottom of the uterus), no more wallowing on my hands and knees. I’ll simply enjoy my last week of pregnancy and look forward to meeting my little guy next week. That is, of course, unless he decides to flip in the meantime. Then I’ll probably be freaking out about vaginal delivery and missing the dependability of my scheduled c-section.

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