My wife has been asking me to write this for a while, so here goes. This essay is to help all of you because some of you have husbands who are hesitant to read articles. It is my belief that if they choose not to read and educate themselves to your specific scenarios, then there is not much that can be said to them that will change their minds. However, here are some tips on language that I believe may help overcome these obstacles.
One of the major hurdles that you face is that going from a Special Scar to a VBAC takes a little more finesse than typical VBACs. The line to walk is just a tad thinner. Most fathers and husbands don’t have the fortitude to walk the regular one, let alone the thinner line of Special Scar women.
Some of these suggestions may be common knowledge for most of you. My point is not to patronize, but each point leads to the next one and will help you bring your significant others ‘up to speed’ on your personal scenario, so to speak.
1) Explain what a SS is. It still blows my mind to this day how many different types of incisions I have heard or read about. You can guess how much second hand information I get from Jess. My first gut reaction is always “WTF, Why?” One would think that there would be some medical standard for c-section incisions like there are for appendectomies and other surgeries. There is usually no real reasoning as to why the mother has whatever type of incision she has. I am currently doing some research and writing an article that addresses this very issue.
2) Explain why you became a member of this group. It is very critical for them to understand why people feel the need to join this group. Even if they don’t understand the medical specifics, the why is vastly more important. Most women come to this group for support and knowledge, for help with coming to grips with what happened and why, and to seek help on how to not let it happen again to themselves or others. I suspect that a lot of husbands out there may harbor some suspicions that everyone may be part of a secret victim cult like some of the ‘support groups’ that I have witnessed on the internet. Show him a few examples of studies and discussions that won’t violate the privacy and sanctity of the group.
3) Analyze your language when speaking to the group versus speaking to the partner. You must be aware of the language that you use to describe your knowledge, choices, and beliefs. I occasionally read quips here and there, and the group language is almost always absolute because the system is truly pitted against you, I realize that. When speaking amongst yourselves it is easy to talk about the medical system that does not allow you to have the VBAC that you want.
However, if you use that same language with your husband it implies that they have to be either be pro-VBAC and also anti-hospital or vice versa. They may feel that to support your decision to try for a VBAC, they have to completely rule out going to a hospital. Even though we all know that a hospital is most likely to not even let you try for VBAC, you can’t phrase the language in an ‘us against them’ vocabulary when talking about your birth plans and such. Husbands are not usually receptive to reading materials, having discussions, or changing their attitudes when dealing with absolute stances.
I have talked to fathers on the phone, and instead of lecturing or throwing statistics at them, I just ask them what their concerns are. More often than not, most of them fear that the option of the hospital is out of the question. I tell them that the mothers will make every attempt to have their VBAC their way – but they also realize that there are true situations, albeit far less that the medical system would have us believe, that will warrant another c-section. Once I tell them that mothers will transfer if they have to, it is just not their first choice, then they become immensely more accommodating and willing to seek further information.
I wrote an article for Midwifery Today, Sharks and VBACs, that goes into the fear statistics and propaganda that go along with c-section and hospital information. Even though it is on the website, fathers must be in a receptive state to process that information. This mindset can best be influenced around your language when speaking to him about your scenario.
4) Once their guard is down and they are receptive to new beliefs, information, and choices – you can drive home the most important point that will make them want to support you in any choice that you make. When all is said and done, it comes down to this: Just because you have an unusual cesarean scar, that does not mean that you are less of a person. You heal like everyone else, C-section or not.
As a couple, you are both privy to a new and very specialized group of women who are neither just victims or only advocates. The men must be told that Special Scars women want to be recognized for having experienced extraordinary circumstances, but yet want to treated as normal for their next birth. We can all hope that if they see that strength, there won’t truly be much to fear at all.
I am not blaming anyone here for these issues. My goal is to give everyone here some advice from a male’s perspective on how to get through to all prospective fathers in the best and most comprehensive way. If you use these suggestions as guidelines, it may help considerably.