By Kristi U.
Being a women with a “special scar” puts us in a different category than most women thinking about having a baby or another baby. We women with special scars are confronted with fears long before we ever even decide to conceive a child (if we’re willing to take that risk.) The questions we ask are many… Should we take our doctor’s advice and schedule a c-section (sometimes recommended as early as 36 weeks)? Should we try for a vaginal birth even though our risks are generally much higher than those women who have “normal” c-section scars or no scars at all? Should we even get pregnant again and risk the loss of a baby or our own lives? Many mainstream MD’s will feed us every fear they can think of so that we go with the easiest route for them which is almost always early c-section IF we even decide to get pregnant. Some doctors will even go so far as to tell us not to get pregnant at all.
Though I’m still in the midst of conquering my fears, I think I can boil down how I face these fears to three things. 1) Knowledge is Power, 2) Find your Peace, and 3) Fear Can’t Make Decisions
Knowledge is Power – I used to believe everything my OB/GYN told me. But as soon as I was made to feel broken after being given my special scar, that all started to change. I just couldn’t accept the fact that any baby I might decide to have in the future would have to be a preemie and would have to be born by c-section. So I began researching. I read articles. I read medical journals. I read book after book after book. And I found the Special Scars group of women. Before I ever talked to another physician about the possibility of a VBAC, I made sure I knew the accurate statistics and true percentages of my risks. I also became extremely aware of the fact that it would be very hard to find a provider who would be willing to help me if I decided for a VBAC, so I prepared myself emotionally. I knew a pregnancy would likely mean I would have a battle on my hands, and I had to be prepared for that before I could get pregnant again. Knowledge was key for me as I faced the idea of getting pregnant again. I needed more than the fear-based stats that my OB gave me. I needed to hear success stories. I needed to find the true statistics. And that’s what I did. And it was very empowering.
Find Your Peace – All of my research and thinking about having another baby and praying and pondering left me very discontent for a long time. After I had waited long enough after my surgery and it was technically “safe” for me to be pregnant, there were a few months when I took a pregnancy test and actually prayed that it not be positive. I just wasn’t ready. I didn’t have peace. I didn’t know if I could face another pregnancy filled with worry and angst. After five or six months of this, I finally started to feel more peaceful about being pregnant again. All the knowledge I had gained in research, and my desire to have another child finally started to win over the fears. And the day I got my BFP, a wave of peace washed over me. I still hadn’t found a supportive provider. And it wasn’t as though I had put to rest all my worries of being pregnant. But something greater than me took over. A profound peace washed over me with that positive pregnancy test, and I’ve relied on that peace to carry me through the pregnancy. I am currently 35 weeks pregnant and planning to VBAC, and I have peace with that decision. But there have been times during this pregnancy that I’ve felt peace with an RCS as well. I really think each SS momma needs to dig deep into herself and find out where her peace is. Sit with the idea of a repeat c-section for a couple of weeks. Do you have peace? Then sit with the idea of a VBAC for awhile. Maybe that gives you peace. It’s possible that you won’t have true peace with either decision until you’ve really sat with the idea of both for a few months. I’m trusting that I will know the correct decision for this baby one way or another, and until baby’s birth day comes around I have to stay with the decision that gives me the most peace.
Fear Can’t Make Decisions – Fear can be paralyzing. We can sit in it. Dwell on it. Live with it. But we can’t function as women and especially as mothers when we let it control us. I finally came to the conclusion that fear could not make my decision for me when it came to getting pregnant again or how I would birth. I realized that I could do everything by the book – eat right, exercise, maintain optimal health – and still I was not in ultimate control over the outcome of my pregnancy, whether it be vaginally or by c-section. So while it might be wise to consider the possible outcomes of a pregnancy, dwelling on the bad stuff that could happen won’t get you anywhere. It will leave you paralyzed. That being said, our bodies are amazing creations. They are capable of so much more than many doctors and even we ourselves think they are. We are meant to birth our children. And our bodies are built to heal when they are injured. This doesn’t mean things always work out as we wish, but it does mean that we have positives to focus on rather than the fears that paralyze.
And here I sit… almost 35 weeks pregnant with baby number four. I’m looking so forward to this baby’s birth and I’m hoping and praying it will be a vaginal delivery. Do I still carry fears with me? I guess it depends on the day and moment you ask me. Every now and then I have a moment that gives me pause about my choice to VBAC. Sometimes it’s brought on by a friend or family member questioning my decision. Sometimes it’s brought on by a twinge of pain around my scar site that makes me wonder how things are going in there. Other times the fears just pop up out of nowhere. But then I go back to my three tools in facing these fears. I know the research, I still have peace, and I won’t let fear control me. I don’t know where I will be for sure at the end of this pregnancy. Will I have had a healing and conquering VBAC? Will I end up with another c-section? I can’t predict the future, but I can trust that things will be just as they should. The only thing I know for sure that I will have at the end of this journey is the knowledge that I took on a fear that I didn’t know if I could conquer. I told the fear of pregnancy, the fear of rupture, the fear of c-section to take a hike. They no longer hold power over me the way they did just after I received my special scar, and that is an accomplishment in and of itself.
About the author: Kristi U. has been a member of Special Scars for almost two years. She has four children – one of which is still in-utero. Her first was an augmented vaginal birth with epidural. The second was another augmented vaginal birth – but more natural, despite being in the hospital and having to deal with the pitocin that her doctor used to “speed things up.” Her third pregnancy ended in a special scar. She was left with a preterm vertical scar due to complete placenta previa that was suspected to be accreta. She was left with the instruction that she could never again have a vaginal birth. Not only that, the doctors insisted that any future pregnancies would need to end in c-section at 36 weeks gestation. At the writing of this article Kristi is currently in her third trimester with baby number four. She is hoping to VBAC sometime in July of 2013.