Ruminations on Sir’s birth

Earlier this year, I finally caved to spousal pressure and started reading Robert Jordan’s epic fantasy series, The Wheel of Time.  Relatively early in the series, the main character, Rand al’Thor receives a wound that, at least as of the sixth book, never heals.  A wound that never quite heals often feels like an apt descriptor of the emotional and mental scar I carry from Sir’s unplanned cesarean birth.*

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Sunday will mark my third year of celebrating Mother’s Day as a mother.  Time — to process, to grieve, to heal — has helped, but there’s still something there, a nagging thing that won’t quite go away.  Usually, I don’t allow myself to go down the “what-if” path, because “what-if” is not what was, or what is.  But I do believe in learning from the past, and I’m intrigued by the whole birth process.

I covered the whole “should have had an ultrasound to determine baby’s position with certainty” / “could have tried any number of methods to turn him if I’d known he was breech” thing pretty well in the above-linked post.  That is certainly the crux of the matter, but I’ve had a couple of other thoughts recently.

First, when my water broke at 39+1, we (me, Matthew, and my midwife) all assumed that I was going into labor.  However, given what transpired in the next 24-hours, I rather suspect I had premature rupture of membranes (PROM), meaning that, yes, my water had broken, but neither my body nor my baby were really ready for labor: weak, erratic “contractions,” that really felt mostly like unpleasant cramps; never dilating past 2-3cm; and, in general, a complete lack of signs of active labor.

Second, and I would have to do more research on this, I wonder if we could have tried some of the methods for turning a baby after my water broke.  I’ve read a couple of stories about breech babies flipping to head down during labor, which makes me think it might have been possible, though maybe that was before the membranes ruptured (?).  At any rate, I don’t really remember even exploring this with the midwife once we were at the hospital.

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Finally, I’m a bit conflicted about the whole idea of a birth plan.  On the one hand, if you want to have a natural birth, in this day and age of over-medicalized, intervention-heavy births, you have to research and plan.  On the other hand, all of the planning and visualizing my “ideal” birth were, at least in part, what made it so hard when things took a 180° turn.

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I’m glad that I was informed and knew about my birth options, but how much did that contribute to the aftermath — the weeks and months of grieving my planned homebirth and the post-partum depression that lingered long enough to probably not really count as “post-partum” anymore?

That said, were I not rather set on sticking to having just one child, I would almost certainly be researching and planning a VBAC (and perhaps an HBAC), and I often give in to the temptation to read the wonderful VBAC birth stories shared by the International Cesarean Awareness Network (ICAN).

*Writing can often be cathartic and healing, but I wonder if this writing is more like picking at a scab.