I never understood why VBAC moms were so adamant that VBAC was the way to go. I never understood why they were so hung up on having a VBAC at almost any cost. It seemed as though they were getting almost militant over something that admittedly isn't small, but in the grand scheme of things, wasn't the most important goal. The goal is, after all for Mom and baby to both be healthy after the birth.
Now that I've had my VBAC, I think I can begin to understand some of what these moms are thinking. My overall goal is still the healthy mom and baby, but it seems that there really is some intrinsic value in having a successful VBAC. My VBAC provided me with more than just a vaginal birth of a healthy baby. Both my husband and I gained MUCH more than just our lovely Maggie.
To state the obvious, healing from a VBAC is miles easier than a C section. I don't care what people say about second C sections being easier than first C sections. There is only so much a repeated experience can do to decrease the fact that your abdomen has been cut open and stitched or stapled back together. It's major surgery and comes with a certain amount of necessary healing time afterwards.
Healing from my VBAC has involved mostly healing from the tears I received when Maggie was born. Additionally, I had to have a blood patch done to seal the hole in my spine that was steadily leaking Cerebral Spinal Fluid. The headaches that come with a CSF leak are not to be sneezed at and the blood patch, while wonderfully effective, was scary and not comfortable in the slightest. I counted up the number of times I was stabbed with needles last week, and it was kind of scary. 6 in the back, 2 IVs, 3 blood draws, 1 pitocin shot, 1 rhogam shot, unknown injections of local anesthetic for the repair work, and then the untold number of stitches holding my parts together right now. DESPITE all of this, I'm recovering faster! I'm off the hydrocodone and only taking Ibuprofen today. It was more than 2 weeks after my C section that I was down to only ibuprofen!
But more than just the physical healing, I think the VBAC healed something inside me that I didn't realize was still broken. After my older daughter's birth, I was down-right traumatized. I was depressed and couldn't bond with her as I had wanted to. I spent time crying over the fact that I had this lovely newborn and didn't feel the utter love for her that I knew was inside me. Over time I healed from the shock of the unplanned C section and the PPD that came with it and couldn't love my daughter more. I had thought that I was over that experience and ready to move on with this new birth that was rapidly approaching. It's only now, after Maggie is here that I really understand how much that C section affected me and how much not having one this time means to me.
Additionally, I walked into Maggie's birth with a different perspective on my birth plan. For Abby, I wanted the natural birth with no meds for pain and no interventions and was devestated when after laboring to 10cm and pushing for two hours I had to have the C section. For Maggie, I walked into the birth suites with one goal: Take it easy and as it comes. I decided that I would take the epidural if it would allow me to stay calm in the face of what might turn out to be another full labor followed by a C section. I decided that if the docs wanted me to have an IV just as a precaution, I would take it. If I had to be monitored, then so be it.
My attitude towards Maggie's birth allowed both Chad and I to really enjoy the experience, if one can be said to enjoy labor and delivery. I was in pain, even with the faulty epidural, but my attitude to take it easy and accept it all allowed me to accept what pain relief the epidural COULD give me and be a more interactive and active participant in Maggie's birth. Chad and I were able to bond over the shared experience of our youngest daughter's birth in a way that I wasn't open to with Abby's birth. My world wasn't so swallowed up in the pain of back labor that I couldn't let him in this time. We were in it together and that made a HUGE difference.
As the end of my labor drew nearer I found that I was actually afraid of feeling the urge to push, even though I knew that making it that far meant I was all the more likely to reach my goal of a successful VBAC. I was simply scared of the unknown. In the end, I didn't need to be. I was asked to take a practice push to see if my body was ready for that stage and found out that it was more than ready to bring Maggie out. It happened as it should have and I never should have feared that moment.
Maggie's birth, although more medicalized that I once would have wanted, was really everything I could ever have wished for. I brought her into the world with tears of joy not for having overcome anything but for having created such a beautiful child. I had no thoughts in my head of succeeding in my VBAC. I was wrapped up in the moment of her birth. It was wonderful and everything a mother could ask for.
So for me, the VBAC I succeeded in having means so much more than having "beat the odds" or "beat the system" as some mothers who VBAC seem to talk about. The VBAC was something I needed to do for myself and for my family and for those reasons I am eternally grateful for the support of family, friends and the medical staff who never stopped believing it could happen.