When a woman goes into her birth dreaming she allows herself to consider a lot of options. Many of the women I work with are looking for a non interventive, natural birth. One of the things she does not really let herself think about is if the birth ends up being a surgical birth. But it happens sometimes. Less often when she chooses the right location, the right birth team and educates herself to the risks associated with some options she may be given. But it sometimes can not be avoided.
These women sometimes return to her doula or initially contacts a doula in hopes of having a vaginal birth after that previous cesarean. As a doula, I have educated myself in the ways to help her achieve a non surgical birth this next time. I help her to research her options and help her to become empowered with knowledge so she can make the right decision for her. Sometimes women choose to have a repeat cesarean either out of fear or sometimes out of making an informed decision that they feel is right for them. And many times she will fight through her fears, look at the statistics and risks and go for a VBAC.
I have always tried to support women in their decisions. But although I thought I understood what they were feeling- I don’t think I ever really understood the disappointment they felt with their first surgical birth and then the fears they had about not achieving the birth they desired the next time. But… my life’s journey is helping me to understand this disappointment in ways I am not sure I could have before.
My surgery in November of 2007 was to be a two step process- the second phase being optional (adornment of the new breasts). But due to my infection it was not so much the surgery that caused me the problems as it was the five months following the surgery. I got to go home a day early from the surgery. I had issues in my hospitalizations- a fever caused by a UTI- got to love those catheters! And a night of nausea but other than that I did great. I was not on anything more than extra strength Tylenol after two weeks- and the new grafted breasts did great.
What was unexpected were two things- one I went in to have my breasts removed prophylactially and then found out I had undetected cancer . And something I could never have fathomed being possible was my abdominal infection. And now instead of going in for a small adornment, it is another big surgery. And now a third will be following for scar revisions and adornments. So, the best laid plans dissipate quickly.
I face a second surgery in a few weeks. I have been told I have more of a propensity for an infection again since I had one the first time. This reminds me of the doctors telling women that since they did not have a vaginal birth the first time, their odds of having it this time are limited. This may or may not be true! There are times when doctors inflate risks so that a woman will not even try for a vaginal birth. I don’t have the option of not doing this surgery. Nor do I get to make decisions about the type of surgery to have- there are not any options!
I am fighting the fear of that infection risk and the healing after the surgery that means pain as well. If I could avoid this surgery I would in a minute! If I could be assured there would be no complications it would help assuage my fear. I understand how a woman fears the idea of attempting the birth of her child without surgery and being afraid that it would end that way despite her work she has done to prevent it. I am taking supplements to help build my immune system. I am doing the work. And I guess this blog is part of the work I am doing.
This page in my story is helping to make me a more understanding doula. It is not easy working through fear and concerns and anticipated disappointments.