I had my first son when I was 18. He was posterior, which made labour long and hard, there was meconium in the waters, dilation was going up and down, and then he went in to fetal distress. He was born by emergency caesarean at 4.45 kgs. No wonder I couldn't birth him, they said.
My second son came along two years later and was booked in for a caesarean by the doctor. It was considered an 'elective' c-section, but it was certainly not what I would have elected for. The epidural failed and I felt them cutting me open, which resulted in me being knocked out. He was also 4.45 kgs. For a while after that, every time I went to sleep I relived the pain all over again.
So, again, two years later, when I found out I was pregnant with my third son, I decided to try for a VBA2C (vaginal birth after two caesarean sections). I found a midwife who was supportive, and luckily, my hospital had just changed their policy concerning mothers who wanted to try for a natural birth after c-sections.
I went to my hospital appointments and got told all the risks and the time limit they would give me for getting a c-section if I wasn't progressing. But, to me, there was no other way. He was going to come out naturally.
I thought that if I was prepared enough, and did all my homework, then it would happen, because women's bodies are made to have have babies. I thought that last time I did not try hard enough, I was young and didn't know what I was in for, but this time I'd make sure I did the walking around and would stay home for as long as possible.
Three days after my due date, labour started with very mild, irregular contractions, which took almost two days to ramp up. Finally they did, and then my waters broke. My heart sank to find that again, there was meconium in the waters.
We went to the hospital where I was put on the trace, and then an electrode was put on the baby's scalp to keep track of his heart beat. They checked to find I was only 3cms. The contractions got a lot stronger over time and I was allowed some pain relief. During the rest of the labour I was checked a few times and found I was 6cms, but come morning time I was back down to 3cms.
They decided my time was up and I was to be taken for a caesarean, and at that point because of the pain relief, and knowing they had my baby's safety as their main concern, I agreed. I opted to be knocked out straight away, due to the trauma of the last time.
When I came to I was in a lot of pain and was given a mixture of drugs to combat this. I found out baby was down in SCBU but doing fine. Three or four hours after he was born, I held my new son for the first time. They told me he was 4.3 kgs, my smallest baby, but said my pelvis seemed to be too small for my babies.
Since then, every time I hear of someone giving birth naturally, or watch a programme like One Born Every Minute, I feel like I in some way failed. I feel that my body failed my baby and by not giving birth naturally that somehow makes me less of a woman. I feel I failed by not trying hard enough, although I know there was nothing more I could do.
VBA2C was my last chance and now if I have more children, I won't have a choice in how they are born. Instead of being happy for my friends that seem to birth so easily, I'm jealous. Why can they do so easily what my body refuses to do at all?
I know I am extremely lucky to have three happy and healthy boys, and to be upset about their births seems silly as their safety is the main thing. But I know I'm always going to be wondering, what if?
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