By Jessica Tiderman
On June 1st, 2000, I walked into a hospital for a scheduled repeat cesarean for breech at 39 weeks and 3 days, more than a week earlier than my first two babies chose to be born. Unfortunately, I did not have the foresight to have them check my baby’s position before they started the surgery. I was watching in the rim of the OR light when the OB opened my uterus and I saw my daughter’s little hand pop out. My first reaction was “Hi baby!” to be quickly followed by “That’s not going to work.”
The OB did everything she could to try to turn my daughter so that she could be born through the low transverse incision that she started with. She paged the on call doc several times in a panic, but he was busy with another delivery. Finally, I watched as she made the vertical incision and I knew that there would be no more vaginal births for me. Luckily, my daughter was fine, she and I both had bruising from all the maneuvering, but that was all. When the OB came to talk to me later that day she did tell me that she had to use an Inverted T incision and that if she were to attend me again she would insist on a repeat cesarean at 38 weeks. The 38 week part bothered me the most, my kids like to come late, 38 weeks for one of my kids could mean a stay in the NICU.
It was 7 years before I got pregnant again. As soon as I found out, I warned my new husband what had happened with my last pregnancy and cesarean and that any doctor I talked to now would insist on an early repeat cesarean. I also told him that I would try to convince whatever doctor that I ended up with to let me trade bed rest for a later scheduled cesarean date. Then, I joined the national ICAN yahoo group trying to find a way to have a better cesarean, how to talk the doctor into letting me go later. I got so much more. I was confronted with the idea that I didn’t HAVE to have another scheduled repeat cesarean! I thought surely these women must be crazy, they had no idea what sort of incision I had and what it meant. A few of them sent me personal messages asking me if I would like to talk to a friend of theirs who had another odd incision and VBAC’d. Yes, please! I wanted to talk to whomever I could about the possibility of having a vaginal birth. There were only a few who had, but it was enough to set me on the road.
Naturally, the CNM/OB group that I was seeing was planning on that scheduled repeat cesarean at 38 weeks. I started calling any home birth midwife I could find. I started with the few in my city, none would take me – on top of my scar, I also had an anterior placenta. I started circling out farther and farther until I finally found 2 midwives about an hour away. One had been practicing since the 70’s when nearly all of the cesareans were verticals and the other not so long, but had a VBAC herself and didn’t think my scar should disqualify me for trying. I fired the CNM/OB group and transferred to the midwives. They were amazing, the rest of my pregnancy was amazing, my VBAC was amazing!
After my VBAC, I found a few other women who had unusual cesarean incisions who also could not find anyone to talk to about having a VBAC. I wanted to shout from the rooftops that it WAS possible! I started my own Yahoo group, Life After Inv T. There were just a few members at first, but it steadily grew. After a while I realized that I needed to change the name of the group because there were more than just Inverted Ts, but classicals, low verticals, Js, and new ones all the time. I changed it to Special Scars ~ Special Women and Katie Perez started helping me with new members. We added a Facebook group and have continued to grow. However, I know we are still only touching a very small percentage of the women who have unusual scars.
I realized early in 2011 that we needed a more formal organization to our groups and that I had good board members right in front of me at just the perfect moment. On June 24th, 2011, our application for Non-Profit Organization was accepted by the state of Ohio. June 24th happens to be my first VBAC baby’s birthday, the birth that started all of this to begin with, how poetic. We have 6 board members at the moment, I am the Executive Director, Amy Fuller is our Treasurer (Inv T for face presentation), Jade Sanford is our Secretary (Preterm Classical for a baby with SCT), Katie Perez is our Membership Director (Preterm Inv T for breech), Christie Collbran is our Events Coordinator (Plus Sign for breech), and Mandy Williams is our Marketing Director (Inv T for malposition). Our mission is to promote the awareness and understanding of unusual cesarean incisions and to support the women that have them. We are in the midst of planning our first SS Family Getaway for late this summer/early fall for sharing and support. We also plan to collect medical records to have studies done to get more accurate statistics. Women with Special Scars need support; they need to know they have options. People everywhere need to know that an unusual cesarean or other uterine incision does not equal mandatory cesareans, a limit on the number of kids one can carry, a predetermined number of weeks they will be allowed to gestate.
This quote was so eloquently stated from one of our members:
We are still birthing women. We still have opinions, fears, and most of all, voices. A different scar isn’t going to suddenly determine where we go and what we do. ~ Bronwyn F.