Coming to Term

The other day, I read that women who have C-sections or whose babies are premature are more likely to suffer from postpartum depression. As a woman who has experienced both, I can understand why. Having a C-section involves more pain after the fact, a longer hospital stay, and a longer recovery. And as I have written more extensively about in previous posts, having a premature baby turns the world upside down. Neither situation allows the new mother to hold her baby within minutes of birth. For these reasons, I had hoped to deliver my third child at term via VBAC (Vaginal Birth after Cesarean). Hatchling cooperated with me on the first of these goals but not on the second.

In the last month of my pregnancy, I developed high blood pressure and had to go on modified bed rest. I went through three rounds of lab tests to make sure I was not going preeclamptic. At one point, my doctor and I discussed delivering early. She told me I was between the proverbial rock and hard place. On the one hand, delivering early could put the baby at risk, but on the other, waiting could put us both at risk. I chose to wait. I was hoping to go into labor at 39 weeks, but when that didn’t happen, I was scheduled for a repeat C-section on the condition that if I were to make significant enough progress before then, we could help things along a little and still try for the VBAC. However, I was not a good candidate for a full induction.

On the morning of the scheduled C-section, the doctor checked me and found that I was only dilated to a 2 and that Hatchling had not made her descent. I laughed as the doctor said something about poetic irony. Then, as she left the room to finish up with another patient, I cried. How unfair it seemed that I would once again be denied the chance to experience childbirth the way nature intended (with modern medicine’s gift of the epidural). But despite the inability of the nurse to get my IV in on the first, second, or third try, I quickly realized how silly it was of me to indulge in self-pity. My child would be born three days past her due date (instead of three months before). She would be at a healthy weight, and she would be able to breathe on her own. I would be bed-ridden but able to nurse her from day one. And she would be in her bassinet right next to me where I could see, hear, and touch her without having to get through a bunch of tubes and wires.

With the exception of some nausea, which was quickly alleviated by the anesthesiologist, the C-section went very smoothly. Much more smoothly than my previous one. That one, the result of a failed induction, had been my first experience with major surgery. This time, I didn’t panic as I had done before. And I didn’t have to wait for my baby to be brought to me in the recovery room. She was already there when I arrived. I was holding and nursing her much sooner than I expected. And my pain level was much lower than expected as well. But most importantly, at 7 lbs 14 oz, Hatchling had arrived safely. The manner of her arrival didn’t matter so much anymore.

The infamous “they” say the third time’s the charm. In my case it’s true. For although I didn’t get the boy I had hoped for and I wasn’t able to deliver the way I had wanted, I was, for the first time, okay with the way things had gone. And that is everything.


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