Birth. It ain’t what you think it’s going to be is it? A sudden pang, a clutch of ones perfectly rounded bump. Oh what’s that? Have you wet yourself? Oh no silly girl it’s just your waters breaking! In the supermarket? How comical! Now that’s a story for the bitches at baby yoga…
A mad dash in the car, fucking traffic lights. Christ you could give birth on the back seat! Quick turn that twat Ed Sheeran off, where’s the birth CD? This baby needs Enya! A few screams of pain but only when you push mind. Contractions aren’t that bad, a bit like constipation really. Yes it’s all just like pushing out a stubborn turd, you’ll be fine.
Clutch your husbands hand, break that fuckers fingers. Call him a wanker, call the midwife a wanker, call the woman in the bed next door a wanker – why not? It’s all part of the course. Out shoots that baby, full head of hair, a splodge of blood on it’s forehead. That baby already looks two months old and didn’t split your difference! Oh and there’s no such thing as a placenta, you don’t have to deal with that. You can do your weird laugh-cry face now, clutch that spotless babe to your bra-clad breasts and kiss your husband passionately. Don’t worry, no one’s stitching up your vajayjay and you definitely didn’t shit yourself…
Ignorance is bliss.
My first birth was a meconium water break, a lengthy failed induction and finally an emergency cesarean. My first birth could have been anything, anyhow. Everything was a possibility. With this second birth I can make a choice and in a way is that worse? Ignorance certainly was bliss the first time around.
I suppose the first thing I should say is that I don’t have any hang ups about my C-section. I never felt like a failure, I never felt like I’d done something wrong or that my body had failed me. In all honesty I felt a bit liberated by it, I feel quite brave – you know having willingly allowed myself to be paralysed, sliced open whilst conscious and have another human being literally ripped out from my abdomen. And of course, it’s always a bonus when the mother and baby live to tell the tale, so I cesarean births can’t be all that bad can they?
Better the devil you know?
What I don’t want, is a repeat performance. I don’t want to go overdue by three days and waddle up to the Doctors for the Midwife’s ceremonial fisting. I don’t want to go ten days overdue and wake up to green gunge in my knickers. I don’t want to rush up to the antenatal ward at midnight, get strapped to a machine and wait for eight hours before anyone tells me what’s going to happen.
I don’t want to be induced. It doesn’t work. Well not for me anyway. My cervix can’t be swayed by gel. My cervix wont be told what to do. Syntocinon is a bitch and my body already knows it. She will make me think I’m in labour, agonising labour for the best part of a day but I wont be progressing. I wont even make it to 3cm. It will all be pointless and exhausting and excruciating.
And then just before midnight, when I’m well and truly beaten that’s when I’ll get to the actual birthing thing. I’ll be given an emergency C-section. And then afterwards I’ll be so wired, so tired, so utterly strung out and manic that I wont sleep for four more days.
No. I don’t want that, definitely not. I want to be calm and informed and well rested. I want to feel capable and awake and be able to enjoy that first week.
Except my Consultant assured me that most VBACs are successful. He gave me the pre-rehearsed speech, the one he’s said a thousand times before. The one I’d already read on the NHS website and I do believe it. Three out of four VBACs are successful and do not result in sections. I’ve got no qualms about pushing a baby out of my hoo-hah, before you start on that nonsense. Birth’s going to hurt no matter which way I do it. I don’t see an easy option here, not in terms of pain.
So what’s best for the baby?
There are lists of risks for both vaginal births and c-sections, some the same in both cases. But a vaginal birth must be better for the baby, because a vaginal birth is a natural birth. On paper, I don’t think anyone would deny that. On perfect paper, a perfect vaginal birth is best for everyone. So if I could guarantee a successful, straight forward VBAC that would be the ideal. But I can’t, I can’t guarantee it. All I can do is way up the pro’s and cons, way up my feelings and my intuitions and ultimately make a choice.
A choice that luckily I am entitled to make. A choice that I have been given. A choice that I hold as my own. Thank goodness I am so lucky to have had the dumb luck to be in such a situation and to have access to the NHS. I think that’s the real issue here.