On Thursday I had my 6-week postpartum check. It was great to have the chance to show Tanner off to the people who helped get us to the finish line. They all seemed genuinely happy for us, and Tanner's full head of hair was quite the topic of discussion.
Dr. VBAC and I did not see eye-to-eye on everything during my pregnancy. For awhile, I think he had some trouble deciding whether to be irritated or amused by me, but by the end of our journey I think we had developed a good rapport. He visited my hospital room 3 or 4 times a day and would sit and talk for much longer than necessary, frequently about non-medical things. He has a nurse practitioner who works for him named Nancy who I absolutely adored. Either Dr. VBAC or Nancy has called to check on me weekly since Tanner was born. These are people that I am eternally grateful to.
One of the issues Dr. VBAC and I had was whether or not I should have a VBAC. As you know, I chose to have a c-section with Roo. I had a wonderful peri, Dr. M, who delivered her safely and on-time. He passed away a year after she was born, and was thus unavailable as a resource to me during this pregnancy.
I didn't know it when I wrote this post, but Dr. VBAC likes to travel the country encouraging rural hospitals to allow more women to attempt VBACs. At nearly every appointment either he or the nurses would mention it to me as an option. I ended up feeling like he was pushing his own personal agenda on me, and I really resented it.
At the same time, I felt very conflicted. Obviously, I wish with all my heart that I had been able to give birth vaginally with Matthew. No one would be trying to limit the number of children I have. I wouldn't have to live in fear of uterine rupture or another horrifyingly painful recovery. And I love witnessing childbirth. In my nursing career so far, women and babies have been what most fascinates me. I wish I had the chance to have a vaginal birth. I wish it was that simple.
So my internal conflict raged throughout Tanner's pregnancy. Dr. M had said no, but Dr. VBAC was saying yes. A VBAC wasn't something I had known I wanted, but the more times it was offered, the more tempting the option became. In the end, fear kept me from trying. Fear and the knowledge that if I tried it and something were to go wrong, I could lose not only another little boy, but also a chance at future pregnancies. As any woman who has experienced infertility or the loss of a child knows, the chance of a future child can be priceless. I was more frightened during this pregnancy than I have ever been in my life. The premature labor and being hospitalized in the same places where Matthew and I were 7 years ago was emotional torture. Having a baby boy stirred some old feelings up that I had thought were long buried. Being separated from Jerry during the week caused some extra anxiety. I was....terrified the entire time.
Here I am now. Safely on the other side of all that. After Tanner's birth, I spoke with Dr. VBAC about the possibility of another pregnancy in a few years and I was glad to hear him say that I can attempt one in the future. He also casually mentioned that he felt the "VBAC ship had sailed."
But at my check-up, Nancy gave me a gift. Without any provocation whatsoever--we were talking about birth control--she paused, looked me in the eye, and said, "Reese, I want you to know that although we think you are ok to attempt another pregnancy, your uterine wall was thinner than Dr. VBAC thought it would be. We wouldn't let you labor in the future because we wouldn't want your uterus contracting. Dr. VBAC was actually very glad that you chose to have a c-section."
I didn't know what to say. Nancy knew that I had struggled with my decision, and she was handing me absolution. I looked at her, and I knew she understood exactly what she was giving me. I barely held back my tears.
I felt a weight lift. There was a part of me that worried that perhaps I had limited myself unnecessarily. There was a part of me that felt I had wimped out because I was afraid to try. I am so relieved that I followed my instincts and trusted that Dr. M, the peri who had actually seen my uterus, knew what he was talking about.
I don't know if I'll ever get another baby, but I know I haven't given up on the idea. In my heart, I really want to do it one more time. In my heart I want to hear that precious new heartbeat and feel those first tiny kicks one more time. And now I know for sure that the choices I made during Tanner's pregnancy just might make it possible for me to do it one more time. For right now, though, it's time to focus on enjoying the two wonderful babies I have here on this earth. It's time to put that tiny little flame of hope that is my fourth child away until the time comes to take it out again.