Do you feel a visceral passion to have a VBAC?
Yet don't want to admit, even to yourself, how scared you are to get your hopes up?
You are a warrior around your midwife, your friends, your mother in law, and even with your other half. Proudly correcting them ‘I’m HAVING not trying for a VBAC’. But it can be lonely up there slaying, right?
What if you spend all this time, money, and energy, and you never get the birth you want? What if you dream the dream and don't get the super glittery unicorn happy ending? Not to mention vindicating those who patted your hand and told you it was 'Just as well you had a caesarean because birth shreds your fanny like an old leccy bill, dear''.
Then there’s your secret which lurks deeper than your yearning to birth vaginally. It is the feeling that no matter what you do SOMETHING awful will happen and you’ll need a caesarean to rescue you. Or birth will be so torturous you’ll be begging for a caesarean to rescue you. Even though you want a VBAC with a burning desire, under all those other fears is the fear of VBAC itself. And admitting that to yourself makes you think 'Woah I'm fucked up'.
But what do I know about it?
I could of posted a posed picture of myself surrounded by my children, maybe in a fittingly pretentious meadow. That seems hypnobirthing-y.
But instead this is me having barely slept. Overwhelmed with feelings of joy and love for my first child. In shock from what I had been through. Still with a catheter inserted, bleeding onto a mat on the bed. Relieved to see Ben who had been sent home. That night I had felt so alone, left with baby on my chest nappy-less, unable to move enough to reach my changing bag.
It felt odd to be the caesarean mum. Why me? I sat with the mums at the groups and talk of birth was everywhere. How good it was. How bad it was. I felt excluded. If I offered anything about my birth it made me sad. Sad I didn't hold him for so long. Sad my story wasn't like the other mums. Sad I would forever have an overhang. Mostly though it just felt unfair.
The thing is I’d never chosen my caesarean. I been induced to 5cm when they realised there was a bum not a head stretching my cervix and I was rushed down. On my own, surrounded by strangers, full of contractions which felt like they’d tore my back apart. This was a shock as they hadn't hurt before I was made to lay on my back, when I got up I was panicky told to lay back down. I was so disorientated by the sea of faces in the bright room. The closest I got to having a conversation about my options was ‘You don’t want to have this baby naturally do you’ and the room laughed. I signed the consent form. But I feel my consent was presumed in a conveyor belt of breech equals caesarean.
Even after all the inner work I’ve done, writing that moment still causes the tears to fall on my cheeks.
This unfair feeling grew when I got pregnant. I soon realised how much difference this scar made to the conversations I had. I wasn't birthing I was a VeeBack. Now I wasn’t a pregnant woman anymore I was a high risk walking catastrophe. Did I really have to choose between a good experience and the safety of my baby?
I've spent the last four years exploring the birth world forever asking the question 'How does this relate to VBAC'? First for myself and then for others. Reading book upon book, where we are not mentioned sometimes given a chapter, sometimes only a paragraph. Training as a hypnobirthing teacher and then as a doula. Asking 'How does this relate to VBAC' and 'How can I help mums who want to VBAC'? Peer supporting in real life and hearing the stories of how women have been treated as vessels not humans and hearing the triumphs of women who birthed positively by VBAC and caesarean. But most of all I listened and I'm still listening.
And I have been asked for help. What to recommend? Is VBAC safe? How to move past the feelings of impending doom and move to literally any other mental state? What meditation to practice? How do you have a VBAC? What happens at consultant appointments? How to have a water birth? And I've worked real hard to bring it to you. Because you deserve to be more than a PS in birth preparation dearest, loveliest caesarean mum.