Matt and I went out on a date night last weekend. It was our first in five months, which is kind of frequent for us, but I still don't think we get enough outside-of-the-house us time. Time when we can eat dinner without trying to feed Abigail hers. Time when we're not taking turns crawling on the ground picking up thrown grilled cheese bites or shifting salt and pepper shakers across the table as we swap Abigail back and forth to try to snag a few bites of food before it gets cold. This growing baby is reminding me that we have a ticking clock until adult-only date-nights become impossible again, so I'm already planning to squeeze in a few more before May.
Over the weekend, I had a lot of turbulent feelings about labor and deliver and I decided to jot them down after Abigail went to bed and Matt barricaded himself behind a stack of papers to get some work done at home. I am going to attempt a VBAC and my OB/GYN seemed supportive of my venture. But I was chalked full of anxiety and my seriously disorganized, tangent-happy writing reflected that fear. After I spilled my guts and re-read what I'd written, I realized how badly I needed more data, more opinions, more options. I commenced a Google research blitz, posted to Facebook about how empowered I felt, and found myself handed a bunch of new resources and stories of VBAC experiences by like-minded friends.
My anxiety is now confidence.
I realize with hindsight bias that my OB/GYN is not very supportive of VBACs, or, at the very least, a person who likes her patients to know very clearly about every single risk possible. She told me about failed VBACs like they were standard and what could happen if my uterus ruptured like she dealt with it on a weekly basis. My morale was crushed by the description of what labor would be like: me laying on my back hooked up to monitors the entire time. I wrote that I was worried another dramatic birth experience would leave me too emotionally scarred to have more kids.
A night and subsequent day of research turned up that a vast majority of VBACs are successful (74-80% was the most common range I found during my research), only .5-1% of uteruses rupture during attempted VBACs, I am an ideal candidate for a VBAC, and the whole "lay on my back hooked up to monitors the entire time" thing is not necessary, not recommended by some organizations, and totally my choice. I honestly didn't know I had that choice.
I'm feeling so much better! I have yet to present my case to my doctor, though, and I have a long history of caving in to medical advice. So I'm arming myself with two supporters. The first is my no-holds-barred, will-debate-anyone-anywhere, lawyer of a husband. He's going to do some research so he is more informed and will go with me to the visit when we talk about my birth plan. The second is (hopefully) going to be a doula to be with me during the birth. I want someone more educated and experienced next to me to help me parse out the doctor's advice when I'm in the throws of labor pain.
It's a fine line to trod, I think, the doctor's advice line. On one hand, she is an educated, experienced professional, and it is in her best interest to do everything she can to keep me and my baby alive. On the other hand, her opinion isn't the only opinion, even among educated, experienced professionals. It's up to me to do get those other opinions, do outside research, and have discussions to figure out what works best for my family.
It can be a lot of work, especially when you already have a child with medical issues that you have to thoroughly research.
But I am going to proceed as best I can.
In the meantime, I'm feeling really good about this whole delivery process.
I feel so blessed to be pregnant again. I felt wildly disconnected from Abigail while I was pregnant. But when she was born, I fell so quickly into a deep, instinctual love, and I felt like such a selfish fool for wasting nine months of kicks and cravings and ultrasounds. I'm not wasting it this time around. The kicks mean more, the indigestion means more, the back pain means more, the freaky ultrasound skeleton face means more.
I also did some research on breastfeeding success and am really looking forward to getting to try again. I hated formula-feeding Abigail and would love to be one of those moms who rarely even pumps. Thankfully the hospital I'll be delivering at is incredibly pro-breastfeeding and has lactation consultants available everyday.
I feel much more confident about bringing home a newborn, mostly just because I know how this baby-stuff works. I know how I want the apartment to be set up for the baby's first few weeks home. I know what carriers I like and how to use them. I know that I can turn down visitors in order to heal. I know what supplies newborns use the most and how handy it is to keep a few receiving blankets in every. single. room. Even though I'm sure the two girls will be different, I know how to change a diaper, that it's okay if baby cries for a minute, and that babies don't break when you pick them up.
In terms of fears, I am worried about how I'll adjust to less me-time. As it stands right now, I usually get 1-2 hours in the afternoon and 2 hours at night. I rarely do chores while Abigail sleeps, partially because she's a light sleeper and partially because my me-time means enough to me to get dishes done and laundry folded while she's awake. I'm going to lose that and I know this. I just don't know how much I'll lose and how to adjust.
I'm super excited to get to re-do the things I fumbled with Abigail. Like the baptism. I had planned to have her baptized at the hospital when she was born (precaution against heart defects), so I didn't have a fancy baptismal gown or a beautiful Rosary or anything. But as I was in labor, the priest changed his mind and decided that we needed to do a baptism at church during Mass (still a bit of a sore spot for me). So we did one when she was 11 days old, but I didn't have enough time to prepare, so I still had nothing. She was baptized naked and dressed in a regular outfit afterward. There was no party afterward, no cake, no celebration. In the Catholic church, baptism is a Big Freakin' Deal and our actions did not reflect it one bit. I feel like I butchered the whole thing.
Lesson learned. This time around, I plan to crochet a gorgeous baptismal gown. I will make a way more awesome blanket to become The Blanket (poor Abigail fell in love with a dinky little thing I whipped up with leftover yarn because her other blankets were too big for her tiny body). I will buy high-quality washcloths and towels because typical baby washcloths and towels are thinner than the things I use for rags to clean the tub. I got a free changing table from my sister-in-law during a garage clean-out, so no more changing babies on the floor once they outgrow the pack n' play attachment. Feeling good about the do-over part.
More positively, I am super-excited to make traditions out of some of the things we did with Abigail. Like a mommy-daughter snow globe with her name etched on it.
The elephants have a special meaning and I'm excited to see what our new little baby's special animal will be.
And newborn photos when she's a few weeks old - I really treasure the ones I have of Abigail. And Big Boy for breakfast our first morning home from the hospital (Big Boy and my family have history - it's a long story). And an engraved Christmas ornament for her first Christmas.
There's a lot to be excited about and sometimes I feel like I can hardly wait. 22 weeks down, about 18 left to go.