This week, I passed the gestational point with this pregnancy—32 weeks and 4 days—at which Stella was born. Throughout the day on Monday, I thought: this is the point that day when they started the Pitocin; this is the point when Stella became distressed; this is when they said I’d need a C-section; this is when they put me on oxygen; this is when she was born; this is when I lay in bed, alone, without her inside me.
Often in September, the details of my pregnancy with Stella and her traumatic birth pop unexpectedly into my mind. The heat or the light or the leaves beginning to turn yellow will suddenly remind me of those days of fear and the trying months that followed. But it was different to live the whole day of 32 weeks and 4 days over again this week. I alternated between feeling weepy and anxious and feeling utterly relieved. It was as if I was in two time zones, living two lives, at once.
Tuesday morning I woke up more pregnant than I have ever been. How many people did I say that to throughout the day? More than were actually interested, I’m sure.
Now, I am 33 weeks pregnant. I didn’t really think I’d make it this far, but I told myself that if I did, I would start thinking about birth options—a VBAC versus another C-section. So here I am, worrying about something new.
I know there are plenty of people out there who are militantly pro-VBAC, and I understand why. I understand that the U.S. has obscenely high Cesarean rates. I understand the benefits to a baby’s respiratory system when it is born vaginally. But I also understand the 1-2% chance of uterine rupture with VBACs, and though I could read this as 98-99% success rate, I just can’t. There is a 1-2% chance of catastrophic results. And if I insisted on a VBAC, and then the baby died or was injured, could I live with myself? I couldn’t.
On the other side: I don’t want to be sliced open again. Spinal anesthesia scares me, even though I had it when Stella was born. (There is always that slight chance of paralysis, looming.) And I hate the thought of a long recovery period.
Maybe the question I need to answer is how important is to me that I have a vaginal birth. Do I feel I need to experience this? I’m not sure that I do.
The truth is that I still have post-traumatic stress surrounding Stella’s birth. I haven’t even let myself think of the actual birth of this baby, and now that I am thinking about it, I can’t stop the flood of images from my labor and ultimate C-section with Stella. I can’t stop the images of the NICU, of my baby with tubes and wires snaking from her body. I can’t stop the image of me, rubbing antiseptic foam in my hands under bright light, the numbers on the monitor up and down, up and down.
So here I am, going back and forth, worrying again, still. Here I am with a decision to make. But making a decision means owning the results, and I’m too scared to own anything. I don’t have enough energy left to own anything.