Wednesday, November 3, 2010

I've decided to have my baby in an igloo with three fish as midwives. Oh, and a leprechaun as an anesthesiologist. Are you happy now?

I can’t remember if I blogged about my labor and delivery with Junior. Oh right, I did. I shared how, after 6,000 hours of Pitocin, 547 epidurals and indescribable pain, Chuck told me to picture my happy place and I dreamed about being flattened by a Mulletville transit bus.

That’s how my labor went.

Now here we are again. Another pregnancy; this time, the vexing question: How will this child enter the world? Had my first labor not ended with an emergency C-section—which saved my life and Junior’s—I wouldn’t be sitting here trying to decide what the hell to do. I’m one of the few whose doctors will support a VBAC (vaginal birth after Cesarean), but—but—she also scheduled a C-section just in case.

Cue Jeopardy music. Pan in on Mrs. Mullet biting her lips, nails and Chuck trying to decide which option is best.

I realize in writing this post and approaching it in an I’m-not-sure-what-to-do manner I’m putting myself out there for possible judgment and criticism, but I want to go there because the topic fascinates me. Women have strong (sometimes frighteningly so) opinions about how babies should be labored. There are some, like Blossom star Mayim Bialik , who heartily judge women who’ve experienced medically-aided, non homebirths.

Others have such a low opinion of how delivery is handled by hospitals they’ve coined terms like “birth rape.” According to an article on, “The term is being used to describe cases where a woman feels that her rights are violated by doctors, nurses or midwives.” Writer and activist Amity Reed feels that "Fingers, hands, suction cups, forceps, needles and scissors ... are the tools of birth rape and they are wielded with as much force and as little consent as if a stranger grabbed a passer-by off the street and tied her up before having his way with her.”

Wow, birth rape.

The prejudice is even appearing in cutesy parenting magazines. A woman I'll call "Sphincter" recently responded to an article about a homebirth with "How sad that micromanaged hospital births are now the norm."

Sniffle, sniffle.

Get the feeling that unless you deliver your kid at home while the neighbors rub nectar on your cooch and everyone hums Kumbaya, you’re pond scum? Kind of feels like that. Hospital births seem to have become the enemy. I concede that the medical system is imperfect (C-section rates in the United States are at an all-time high), but what system is perfect? And is the answer to a few horrific deliveries by overzealous, unsympathetic doctors really a showdown between mothers?

I continue to hope not. The idea of a natural delivery is so built up and so acutely affixed to our idea of womanhood and motherhood it cuts at the soul when the delivery experience fails miserably; no one needs judgy shit from other moms on top of that.

But there it is: the "how sad" bullshit. The pity and shame.

Which brings me back to my dilemma. After I had Junior, I heard myself tell people I’d had a C-section “because I had to/we would have died.” The urgency absolved me; I found comfort in that. Even worse, I added, “And I have a beautiful baby boy!” as if Junior were a consolation prize. As if the labor journey mattered more than the end result.

I promised myself I wouldn’t care this time, but every time I ask Chuck what we should do, I hear a nagging voice. This time, if I choose a C-section, I’ll have a dirty little secret. My surgery will have been by choice. I will have chosen to fail at labor. Even though a VBAC might mean laboring again for 24+ hours and never dilating. Or possibly losing kid #2 because of the stress of a 24+ labor that doesn’t go anywhere. Or taking a month to heal from another emergency C-section because of all the trauma my body endured leading up to it.

Even though.

Is being able to fly the “My kid was 100% naturally vagged!” banner really worth it? A big part of me thinks not. Just like being able to fly the “My kid was 100% breastfed!” banner was overrated. At some point the banners come down and your kid is either healthy and happy or you’ve royally fucked up—regardless of which body cavity he came from and how you fed him.




The Captain's Wife said...

no matter what you decide in the end, I would never call it failure! Bringing your child into the world in the safeest way possible is the goal (IMO).
Is your C section scheduled post due date? If that is the case, I suppose I would "wait and see" if I go into labor on my own, and if I got up to my c section date, then I would go with that plan of action....
But this would be my thought process....I've heard lots a great stories about VBAC and also some not so great. It is a tough choice, but how lucky are we to have that as a choice...
GL with your decision

tootertotz said...

My experience is all I can offer...had an emergency c with Bug and my doctor felt more comfortable going with a planned c for Bub's delivery.

I got on board with her b/c it was nice to have a plan with a kid already at home. I preferred the cushion that the planning provided b/c we had no one to take Bug if I went into labor unexpectedly. Having a date and time helped us plan for him.

Also the few days of recovery in the hospital before coming home to life with 2 kids and no other help besides the hubs. We have no family in town and hubs travels for work.

You do whatever feels best for your family...nobody else matters worth a damn anyway. And heaven forbid anyone judge you...they deserve an unbearable itch in their lady bits for eternity.

Good luck with your decision!

NHGirl said...

I had an emergency c-section with my first, too, and opted to have a planned one with my second. From experience, I can tell you that the second is WAY easier to recover from. And I proudly tell people I've had two- if it's the best for mom and baby, who's to judge me, right? No feeling of failure here. I actually feel more responsible than those people that "deliver your kid at home while the neighbors rub nectar on your cooch and everyone hums Kumbaya" (btw, laughed out loud at that)- going through physical hell (aka, c-section) for the best interest of someone else (aka, the baby) tops anything those hippies think is best. Good luck! :)

Getrealmommy said...

I am a proud mama of two boys by c-section. My first son was breach, and we could not turn him-so there you have it c-section. My second son I decided to have a c-section and not do a VBAC. There are *some* risks involved with VBAC, and I a worrier, and I thought labor would be scary without the burden of worrying about my uterus rupturing. My babyies are healthy, and I have no guilt what-so-ever for my choices!! Do what is right for you, and don't think twice!

Anonymous said...

I was fortunate enough to have a natural birth after three hours of labour. Note the use of the word 'fortunate'. I don't believe it was due to any special skill or preparation on my part - I was lucky. Surgery brings other risks, but it sounds to me like a 'natural' birth in your case already poses plenty of risks - and in your shoes, I'd have no guilt whatsoever about choosing the C section. As the Captain's Wife said: it's about bringing your baby in to the world in the safest way possible. You and your doctor are the best judge of that.

Frogs in my formula said...

Thanks for sharing your experiences. It's so incredibly helpful.

Tootertotz, you make some really good points.

Julie C. said...

Obviously, it's nobody's business why/where/how you choose to birth your baby (hospital, birthing center, home, bathtub, field of daisies, Mulletville Rite-Aid). As long as you're happy and not putting yourself/baby at undue risk, you'll make the right decision.
I had my two babies in the hospital with long labors and then epidurals after it became clear I wasn't going to make it without (with the second baby, about 5 minutes after contractions got nasty). There are people I shared this with who reacted with different degrees of disdain/disapproval. I tried not to give a crap, but motherhood/childbirth is one of those hot-button issues for all of us. We don't want to do it "wrong" and unfortunately, there are plenty of mothers who are happy to tell us when we do. (I witnessed a woman, after hearing that a colleague had a c-section, ask her: "Do you feel like less of a woman because you didn't give birth the right way?" Nice. Enlightened!)
Good luck with your decision, and good luck to all of us trying to dodge the strident judment some women are capable of.

The Mother said...

Does nobody read my history of obstetrics posts???


Say what you will about the medicalization of childbirth--that medicalization has dropped our maternal mortality from 7/1000 to 0.1/1000 in 50 years.

The infant mortality drops are even higher, but I don't have those numbers in front of me.

Human deliveries are fraught with hazards. Evolution has not caught up with head size. Bad things HAPPEN--often too fast for transport to medical facilities.

Sure, it would be grand if we could all deliver at home in privacy and comfort. But it's too, too much of a risk with your baby's life. And the studies on homebirths are beginning to show that.

Mama Badger said...

No matter what you do, someone will judge you. You either endangered your kids like to try to have the "happy hippy" birth YOU wanted, or you gave in to the man because YOU wanted the easy hospital option. Damned if you do, damned if you don't.

Having had one of each, I will say it was easier to recover from the "natural" delivery. I avoid having people interfere with my guts when ever possible, though.

Just a thought though (which sometimes escapes people with planned c-sections)- the kid comes when they want. I had a scheduled c for little o, and he wanted out three days before that. Welcome to the emergency C! Ugh.

Anonymous said...

I think that some people with all their "back to natural birth" nonsense forget that back when natural birth was all the rage mothers and babies died. Why do we think it's our job to dictate how other women give birth of all things? Everybody alive? 10 finger and toes? Great job mom!

I too had an emergency c-section the first time around after 36 hours of hard labor (the last 18 with Pitocin) and no epidurals because the hospital didn't offer them, followed by 4 1/2 hours of pushing in which the baby didn't move. When they finally decided to do the c-section they got angry with me because I wasn't focusing on their liability statement that I needed to sign. I was like look, you could tell me you needed to lop of my head to make this stop, and I'd sign in permanent ink. I had post birth nightmares for years.

I was strongly encouraged to have a VBAC the second time around. I said no dice, and took a lot of flack at every OB appointment for having an "elective c-section". I had absolutely no reason to believe (like a breach or wrapped cord) that a second attempt at the holy grail of "natural" child birth would be successful.

During my second c-section, my surgeon praised my decision. He told me that the scar tissue from my first was spread so thin if I would have had even one good contraction my uterus would have ruptured. Thus c-sections saved my life twice, and the lives of each of my daughters.

I also had a neighbor who had 3 vaginal births, one c-section, then a VBAC -- no problem.

Do what is best for you. The second c-section was scarier than the 1st because I had plenty of time to think about it, but there was no way I was going through all that again. Make your decisions based on your body, the reasons for the first section, and just what you can tolerate. If the hospital is well staffed for emergencies, and you want to try the VBAC, got for it. If you really can't stand the thought of becoming an emergency again (and a statically speaking a scheduled c-section is much safer than an emergency one), take the "elective c-section".

Anonymous said...

It's pretty crazy how judgmental our society is, isn't it? I feel where you're coming from. My son was a c-section baby that wasn't 100% medically necessary - I had gestational diabetes and they didn't want me to go much past his due date. So they did a failed induction and after about 12-18 hours offered me the option of trying another 12-18 hours (possibly for nothing) or go ahead with a C-section. Hell yes I chose C-section! What gives anyone else the right to judge me for that? My baby came into this world just as healthily and loved and nurtured as any other, and I didn't have to squish his poor little head through my hoo ha to get him here.

Whatever you decide to do - that's the right decision for you. And everyone else can suck it.

Anonymous said...

The best birthing method is the one that gets the baby born safely and keeps the mama safe. The end.

Nanc Twop said...

I vote with Julie - have'm at the Mulletville Rite-Aid. Lots of pain relief & junk food at hand - you rem they never let you self-medicate or eat during labor at a hospital.

Plus you'll get a birth video from several angles. All the proof you need to show he was born in the U.S. (Very important for his 2050 Prez campaign) Not to mention there'll be no need to send out pesky birth announcements once this hits the 10 pm news... Go for it.


*Seriously, either way make sure you keep up your perineal massage, to help things go smoother. Good Luck!

Unknown said...

Huh. I didn’t even realize bullying based on birthing choice was an issue. I know my friends and I have talked about it some (none of us have actually spawned anything yet though, so it’s all academic at this point) and I know some of them would prefer to have control over the whole thing. Personally, I wanna go in with my bear face on and greet the battle head-on and drugless. But I say that without child in my womb, so I’m sure I’ll feel differently when my time comes.

Regardless though, I don’t get it…why is that even a thing to be snarky about? Personally, I give props to ladies who are OK with having their stomachs sliced open. Blech blech blech. And seriously…if your kid comes out of you like something from Alien, well…props to him/her too. Maybe that’s what you should tell people…don’t say you had a C section, ask them if they’ve seen Alien (or Spaceballs) and leave it to their imagination. You’ll be the toughest momma on the block. :-D

PseudoWifey said...

Personally, I think your parting thoughts sum it up nicely. As a mother who both fully vagged it up with the first kid, and did the breastfeeding thing to boot, I have to say that neither of those aspects of her life really seem to matter now. She is now nearly 4-years-old with a sibling due in February, and I just can't seem to drudge up the energy to care about my "birthing plan" for my second-born. It seems that the way my eldest was born has very little to do with who she is now, or who she will become.
Well, unless vaggy births tend to spawn obnoxiously adorable and prematurely self-righteous toddlers...

MaryBeth said...

birthplan: living.

fuck everyone else. it's your body.

Frogs in my formula said...

So it's official? I'll drop trou at the Mulletville Rite-Aid and try to make the Mulletville Herald?

You guys rock!

JoAnna said...

I have to wonder: Pan in on Mrs. Mullet biting her lips, nails and Chuck trying to decide which option is best. Were you also biting Chuck?

Keely said...

I do think doctors are a little quick on the C-section button (not in your case, obviously, it was completely necessary...I mean it seems like they ship you off to get cut open if they're impatient. Or have a golf game.) but "birth rape" is a ridiculously extreme term.

Advocate for yourself and your baby. Do what's best for survival. Fuck the rest of them.

Jenni said...

I'm kind of surprised that you feel like there is public pressure to birth at home. I had my kids at home and I felt exactly the opposite - like there was a lot of pressure for me to just have them in the hospital like a "normal" person.

The only people who's opinions on your birth that are of any consequence are yours, Chucks, and your midwife/docs. That's it. Don't carry around other people's baggage. Do what you feel in your heart is right, what you feel is safest for you and your baby. I think you are smart to not take the decision lightly.

And, just for the record, no studies on home birth are beginning to show that they are more dangerous than hospital births. The studies that show this include unplanned, accidental home births and those are just not the same as a planned home birth attended by a medical professional. The most recent study on home birth done in 2009 showed that for low-risk women, birth outcomes and mother and infant mortality rates are nearly identical to hospital births. (see, people say crap like, "oh, it is so unsafe" and I get all defensive.) And that study was done in fucking Canada and you know Canadians don't lie.

Good luck, woman. He's coming out one way or another :)

Lisa @ Boondock Ramblings said...

Yeah, that whole natural birth thing sucks anyhow. I did it. 23 hours of labor with no pain killers. I don't feel better for it...I feel dumb for not taking the drugs

jo said...

Stay off forums that even discuss birthing, don't listen to any one except your Dr. I don't want to hear other peoples labour stories, good or bad so I don't discuss mine (which were all good). Go for what is safe for you & your bambino...marybt summed it up perfectly. Good luck

Julia said...

Well it seems things are moving along splendidly on the pregnancy front. Ha.

Had the scheduled C-section for #1. Breech, no turning room, no other option except taking kid out in pieces. NO BRAINER C-section.

No VBAC Dr. #2 baby = C-section. No guilt. Why not? I don't know. OK maybe I do.

Maybe not having my vagina split open by a babies head was a good thing. And all those hands and tubes and stuff shoved around down there would have been a huge downer. Or would have freaked me out significantly.

Yeah, maybe it was just that I was not so regretful of the c-section after I had a healthy live baby #2 in my arms. That could be a big part of it.

Pollyanna said...

I had and emergency c-section with Cupie. I didn't have any surgery complications and felt great afterward. So great, I was looking forward to a c-section with Stinkles.

I don't think it's a badge of honor or shame. Regardless of how they got here, I brought two beautiful girls into this world and I'm proud to be their mother.

Stephanie said...

I wish I understood all the drama about natural vs. C section. I think that all that truly should matter is that both Momma and Baby are safe and healthy!

Anonymous said...

Ooooh, I feel your pain. I have had 3 c-sections. I have never experienced labor. After my 1st section I really wanted a vbac but really was scared about the whole uterus rupturing chance!

But for my 3rd child I got to pick a really cool birth date 03-04-05, how cool is that to be able to choose when baby comes into this world!!

Nanc Twop said...

Look, they're waiting for you!

* Had to come back here and
post this after I saw it
... ;-)

Mrsbear said...

I had a c-section with my first and three VBACs followed it. The first VBAC, the one that followed the initial c-section was a nightmare that involved a post delivery look-see with all the interns so they could get a close gander at how I'd ripped apart my nethers...the other two VBACs were a breeze compared to that.

With that said, I never once felt violated by the medical staff. I was glad to have them. And the safety of you and your baby is the priority.

You really don't get a special badge for squeezing a baby out of your hoo-ha. But after a bad delivery, you want to go in to this second experience not terrified about what's going to happen. So if choosing a c-section is peace of mind, you should opt for it without worrying about judgment from anyone.

Our Crazy Life said...

I also had an emergency C-section to save my life and the life of my 10 pound son who was stuck as he could be under my pelvic bone.
My next baby weighed in a 4.5 pounds and the doctor gave me the option. I decided I like pretty pink babies with round heads and no laboring for hours, had them all that way and wouldn't change a thing. Don't let what someone else thinks change your mind, do what is right for you and your baby!

Our Crazy Life said...

Oh yea, I forogt, I love the idea of a leprechaun as a anesthesiologist, they might not charge as much!!

Gretchen said...

At the end of the day, the hospital doesn't give out blue ribbons for vag births and red ribbons for c-sections, and gold medals for unmedicated.

It's funny, when I think about women being "birth raped". I mean, who is the adult here? Can they not just stand up for themselves and say, I DO NOT WANT YOU TO TREAT ME THAT WAY??? I mean, the women who say that hospitals are micromanaging births, aren't birthing their babies in their hospitals. And if the mothers in those hospitals cared so much, why wouldn't they go somewhere else?

My point is, it's easy for women to point at choices that contradict their own and say "THAT CHOICE IS BAD". But if the baby is born healthy, I'd say that the choice was a good one, no matter what the choice was.

I hope you have a successful birth and tell everyone who has an opinion to just f**k off. You & Chuck are the only ones who really matter in this situation. Good luck and stay healthy.

Judy said...

Have the c-section and don't worry about it. It's no ones business HOW you gave birth--just that you have a new, beautiful boy. I liked it back in the day when we didn't feel we had to discuss with everyone HOW we birthed, or HOW long labor was, or HOW anything--and no one ever came up to us and touched our pregnant belly. Ain't nobody's biz!!

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