When my husband and I found out we were expecting baby # 2 this past October, we were beyond thrilled. When Tatum was about one, we started discussing the idea of adding another member to our family. We weighed the pros and cons, and did this for the next three years until we decided the time was right to have another baby. Finally last August we decided to go ahead and try, and were so happy (and somewhat surprised! We were fully expecting it to take a while!) to find that we were having a second child that would arrive sometime in early July. I immediately started my research (I am the master of Google) and dove into preparing myself for pregnancy and baby number two.
The year before we officially started trying for our second baby, I immersed myself in research about how to keep myself in good health while trying to conceive, and what I could do to prepare my body for pregnancy, labor and delivery. My pregnancy with Tatum went very smoothly — but my labor and delivery was less than ideal. We are lucky enough to not have had to deal with any life-threatening complications or emergencies, but because of (what I feel) was a lack of knowledge on my part, I ended up having a c-section after my labor was deemed a “failure to progress.” I was young, went with what my doctor thought was appropriate and didn’t realize that I had options or could question what was happening. I was very unhappy with how everything played out, and even worse I was left with the feeling that there was something I could have done to prevent it. This is not to say that I don’t believe that c-sections are a valuable tool; they are lifesavers for women and babies in many cases. But it is also true that they are over-performed, and for reasons that can be avoided. I know in my heart that I can trust my body to give birth naturally, and I formed my “plan of attack” for my VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) accordingly!
Nearly five years later, after my first pregnancy and birth experience, I strongly feel that most women can birth the way so many women before us have. I’ve been taking a prenatal yoga class regularly (part of my “plan of attack” ), and one thing that I’ve learned that has been so helpful is to think of labor pain as a purposeful pain. In this day and age, we’re not taught that labor and delivery and the pain and discomfort that comes with it is something sacred and transformative — we’re made to feel that we should avoid it at any costs and that it can be scary and harmful. Yes, there are risks, as there is with anything. But our bodies know (for the most part, there are always exceptions) what they’re doing. It’s up to us to inform ourselves about our options as birthing women.
Tatum’s birth was not completely disappointing — of course I was given the sweetest gift that is my daughter. But it also changed me drastically as a mother, woman, and birthing woman. While talking to my doula about Tatum’s birth, I had a moment of clarity. I realized that if Tatum’s birth had gone smoothly and I had delivered naturally, I wouldn’t have thrown myself into this whole other realm of pregnancy, mothering, and life in general. I would never have become the advocate for birthing women and gentle parenting that I am. With Tatum’s birth I was able to discover what was really important to me, and I’m grateful that I was able to turn it into a positive experience rather than being unable to move forward from it.
There are several things I’m doing differently this time around to help my body prepare for labor and delivery both physically and mentally, and I hope you all keep checking back as I share my journey to a successful VBAC with all of you. I also hope that I can possibly inspire women to question routine policies and procedure surrounding birth, as well as inspire them to feel confident in their bodies and what they can do.
How did your pregnancy, labor & delivery play out? Was it a positive experience for you, or were you left feeling disappointed?