(Written Feb 7)
The childbirth class we took when I was pregnant with Thora was for parents-to-be planning a homebirth. There were eight or nine couples in the class and half of us ended up at St. Vincent's having a c-section. One of the moms, someone we stayed friendly with, keeps talking about how she wants a do-over when she has a second child. I hadn't thought about it like that because I had trained myself away from resenting how Thora was born. I told myself over and over: She's here. She's healthy. That's all that matters. And now I believe it. But the truth is, none of us in that class who had a c-section wanted to give birth that way, and my friend is right. I want a do-over too!
Today we met with a new midwife, let's call her J. She's hardly new, just new to us. She is the midwife we wanted the first time but couldn't have because she was on vacation in February, the month Thora was born. She delivered half the babies in our childbirth class and every time I heard one of the moms mention her, I was jealous. By then a rift had already developed between my midwife and me so I was cranky thinking there were better choices out there. With that kind of attitude, I should not have been surprised that Thora's birth went the way it did.
We trekked out to J's office in Brooklyn, walking distance from where we used to live. J, her team, Johnny, Thora and I chatted over tea for an hour today. I told her I did not have a good experience with my first midwife (we'll call her L) and that she seemed to have a lot going on at the time Thora was born. She said she knew L professionally and believed her to be a good midwife, but that she heard L had had some serious heart problems and surgery about a year ago. I said that could very well explain her unpredictable and distant behavior but that L had not shared this with us. I told her about my low platelets and that I'd been risked out of a homebirth but that they came back up at the very last moment, high enough for the epidural I did not want. She said "If you had been my patient I would have sent you to a hematologist." I told her about the prodromal labor, the acupuncture before my due date, and so on. Everything I mentioned, she had a very thorough and professional answer: "If you had been my patient, I'd have done..." which impressed me. She said she now has privileges at two hospitals, Wyckoff and Nassau. Nassau is further, she said, but if I was risked out of a homebirth for any reason she said she would want to have me birth there because it has the highest VBAC rate in the country.
She was no nonsense. Professional. She asked her questions point blank and in rapid fire. Then she asked bluntly what we wanted from her. I talked about wanting a homebirth again, this time mostly because I want to keep Thora included. I do not want to go away from my child and come home with another child. I want her to be part of the process, to the extent she can be. At this point she interjected. "You know the old saying: When you're pregnant the first time you worry about your first child. And when you're pregnant the second time, you worry about your first child." It was reassuring to hear that we are not the only ones!
Additionally, J was unfazed that I am still nursing T and she didn't even blink when we told her we are vegan.
I will not be devastated if I can't have a homebirth this time because I know that even a hospital birth like the one I had can have its pleasant moments. But I want to try. And she nodded firmly and pronounced me an excellent candidate for a VBAC and even a homebirth, counting off on her fingers all the things I have in my favor. Healthy, normal pregnancy, healthy baby. I did experience labor. I was fully dilated. I pushed. And so on. She did say that she takes fewer risks with a client who has had a c-section. She doesn't allow them to labor very long with ruptured membranes, she is very careful with blood pressure, etc. But she wanted to give it a shot and we do too. She wrapped up the conversation by giving me a referral to a sonographer for the nuchal traslucency, a test I need to do at 11 - 13 weeks to look for chromosomal abnormalities. (I did it with Thora because of my 'advanced maternal age" and based on the results we opted not to do an amnio or any other testing.) Then she said there wasn't much else to do for now and said she'd see me sometime after that.
I love that. Pregnancy is normal. Healthy. It happens all the time. I am not high-risk just because I had a c-section. I do not want to have an ultrasound every week, or even every month. I do not want people fussing over me or my fetus. With Thora we were so nervous and so excited and so unsure about which practice we wanted to go with that by the time we did the nuchal we'd had two ultrasounds and that test - at 12 weeks - was the third - in three different practices. I am happy to go back to my life, my daughter, my job, and let nature do its job for now.
This non-invasive attitude feels right and it's exactly what I wanted the first time too. This time I do not have the control issues I had. Que sera sera and all of that. Whatever will be, will be. I do hope to deliver vaginally this time. It's weird to me that I am such a mama and I have not experienced that yet. I don't run around feeling like I have missed out on something, just that I didn't have the experience I wanted. So it can't hurt to set things up this time for how I hope they will go.