so worth it
i'm to the point in pregnancy where i'm seeing the obgyn every two weeks. how did that even happen? my last appointment was the wednesday before christmas and i go again tomorrow. i saw a female doctor from the practice whom i had not met before at my last appointment. i came equipped with my list of questions after the hypnobirthing class. it could have been a much longer list, but i whittled it down to the essentials:
(1) does the hospital have peanut and birthing balls available?
i was happy to hear that the hospital i will be at has peanut and birthing balls, so i don't have to bring my own.
(2) how long would they let me go as a vaginal birth after cesarean (vbac) candidate?
as a vbac candidate, they recommend i be induced by 39 weeks. the doctor stated of course the decision is ultimately mine (whether to go longer or not) and they won't force me to do anything. they make this recommendation because studies have shown that induction by 39 weeks results in greater vbac success and better outcomes for baby. i found a nih study to support this and was satisfied with the answer. and honestly i've been over being pregnant since like 20 weeks so a 39 week eviction notice sounded a-okay with me. however, i'm hoping i go into labor on my own before that point!
(3) can i choose my laboring and delivering position?
turns out i can do whatever i want position-wise as long as i haven't had an epidural. there's a shower chair in the shower. no bath available. but i'm not really a bath girl. the shower is my jam. however, david, bina and i went to the indoor pool at lifetime yesterday and i have to admit it was quite pleasant being weightless in the water. i felt like an elephant emerging when i had to get out. so i do kind of see the appeal of that during labor.
(4) how long can i labor at home?
this was the only answer with which i was truly disappointed. typically they want you to come to the hospital when your contractions are five minutes apart. my plan, after attending the hypnobirthing class and listening to a multitude of birth stories on the birth hour podcast, was to labor at home for as long as possible. unfortunately i found out that because of the increased risk of uterine rupture after a previous c-section, my obgyn practice doesn’t want me to labor at home and wants me to head to the hospital when contractions have been 10 minutes apart for an hour.
i have a birth photographer lined up and had discussed with her the possibility of her coming to our home to start and then following us to the hospital. this way bina would be in photos too before we left for the hospital. contractions 10 minutes apart is way too early for the birth photographer to come, so that plan won’t work the way i had hoped. the risk of uterine rupture is really really low; it increases a bit with induction via pitocin yet still remains really really low overall. however if i get to the 39 week mark without starting labor on my own, then this will be a moot point! there will be no laboring at home in that case either way. we will just have to wait and see.
i asked the doctor if she could check and see what position baby was in. bina’s head was camped out straight up. i thought it was her butt. silly me. her breech position did not allow me to attempt a vaginal birth. i knew this time good positioning would be key to being able to attempt a vbac and i didn’t trust myself to judge baby’s position after thinking a head was a butt. i laid on the exam table and the doctor was able to feel that baby was head down at that point, with her little rear hanging out on my right side and legs in a karate kick position. this is what i thought this time around, so my intuition is getting a little better round two! her head wasn’t engaged yet, so it’s still possible she could move. but just to hear baby was head down at all was huge for me! it gave me hope that i will be able to attempt this vbac.
the last thing the doctor discussed with me at the appointment was my weight gain. i am gaining weight at a faster rate than i did with bina. which is kind of funny just because i sat at a desk all day when pregnant with bina. now i’m doing weight training twice a week for an hour, prenatal yoga, and chasing an energetic toddler around. i spend way more time on my feet this pregnancy than last. which also has made me hungrier… and my appetite has been hit or miss. most of the time i just try to eat what sounds good. this had resulted in me gaining 25 pounds at the time of my 31 week appointment the wednesday before christmas. for better chances at vbac success, it’s best to keep that weight gain down. i’ve been gaining five pounds every four weeks for the last several appointments. dang it all. so if i keep this rate up, by the time i hit 39 weeks i’ll have gained 35 pounds, five over the recommended 25-30 for my bmi. the solution? reduce sugars and carbs. at christmas. HAHAHA. you know what i did? went home depressed about my weight gain and ate cookies. because. i’m pregnant.
the weight gain thing REALLY bothered me. i felt quite defeated by it. i spent several days moping around wanting to eat sugar and carbs even more than before. how is it that i’m doing all this exercise and moving around and yet gaining faster than i did during my sedentary desk job first pregnancy? it’s not fair. the saturday before christmas i had prenatal yoga. and oh was it a lifesaver. at the beginning of each class, we sit in a half circle and share our name, how many weeks we are, and any news on the pregnancy. i shared about my appointment and the weigh gain. the mama next to me (currently preggo with baby number five) told me that she ate brownies and chocolate milk every day of her first pregnancy and gained 25 pounds, gained 35 with the second pregnancy, 45 with the third and fourth. and she craved salads for the last two! ha. she’s had four vaginal births thus far. and it sounds like, at least from the women in my class who are on baby two or more, that women tend to gain more weight in subsequent pregnancies. that news made me feel a little better. still doesn’t help the fact that more weight gain is not ideal for vbac attempts. but i didn’t feel like such a failure for my weight gain despite making better choices round two.
at the end of prenatal yoga class we finish with a resting pose. i prefer to lie on my left side with a yoga bolster propping up my right leg and a yoga block and blanket cushioning my head. it’s very peaceful, the resting pose. i have this problem with wandering thoughts at times, but this time they were extremely helpful. i had started to feel like i was doomed not to have a successful vbac. maybe i couldn’t do this after all. nothing seems to go to plan with childbirth and motherhood for me. why would this? i was scared to have another c-section after my last post partum experience. scared to endure the pain of childbirth during my trial of labor. scared for the changes that are coming. scared for my mental health. just scared. but suddenly a thought occurred to me: i ADORE bina.
i absolutely love bina with all of my heart. she is such a joy; i delight in her. and yes, my post-partum experience with her totally sucked. i struggled in ways i had not anticipated and it killed me, shot my confidence as a mother. but we made it through. and when i tanked again after moving back to michigan and then two subsequent times since then (the last just over a year ago), it was really really hard. but again, we made it through. i have grown so much in the last three and a half years since bina’s birth — i’ve grown the most during the hardest times in my motherhood journey. and i would do it all over again to have bina in my life. she is worth it a million times over. so however this birth goes — whether its the birth of my dreams, mediocre, as bad as it was last time, or worse — it will be so worth it. and if it is as bad as it was or worse, the trauma will fade in time. eventually what will remain is my great love for this tiny human being.
i’ve been practicing meditation to prepare for childbirth as instructed in the hypnobirthing class. i continue to weight train twice a week. yoga class resumes this saturday after a week break between christmas and new year’s. in mid january i’ll meet with my doula to discuss how this thing is going to go down. i’ll also meet with the birth photographer to further discuss our preferences and get to know her more. i don’t know how this birth is going to go. i don’t know if i’ll go into labor on my own or be induced at the 39 week mark. i don’t know if i’ll be able to have a successful vbac or if i’ll end up with another c-section. there’s so much unknown. and that has to be okay. there’s no resisting it. i can’t tell the future. all i can do is continue to take care of my body and my mind in preparation and hope for the best. when i do that, i can return to being excited to meet my little pinball machine in just under six weeks (i'm 33 weeks as of monday!).
one thing i know for sure, this baby’s going to turn our lives upside down again — just like bina did. and the other thing i know for sure — it will be so worth it.