Wow, 100 posts already!? Craziness.
Some of my really close buddies have already heard this story, so if you have, just go find something productive to do. Or watch this little piece of hilarity. It sure made my week the first (and second...and twenty-third) time I watched it! Obviously the child's name isn't really Jose Luis, but his parents sure come up with funny nicknames for the offspring in their videos!
Anyway, while some of you are watching that, I'll get to my point.
I recently had my very last counseling session!
Well, for now at least. Hopefully I don't need it again for this issue, but my counselor is there for us as long as we're in Rexburg!
I have gone to counseling almost every week for 3 months. Let me just repeat that.
I went from diagnosis to acceptance to peace of mind in just 3 months!
It feels like forever ago when we were laying in bed, me sobbing my eyes out for the umpteenth time, and Mitch saying, "Honey, it's been ten months (since Nathan was born)...maybe you should get some help."
My counselor, Jeff Elder (psychologist at the BYU-Idaho Student Counseling Center, whom I highly recommend), has been working with me to diffuse the experiences and possible situations that make me super anxious. The first one was Nathan's birth and emergency c-section. I just couldn't drop it and be grateful for my perfectly healthy baby for the longest time! I think I found peace of mind and acceptance in what happened just by going over every grueling detail in my counseling sessions. I would suddenly remember things I had repressed and we eventually came to the point where all the trauma was more the doctor's fault than just an accident. I'll never see him again.
(He was the doctor that came and took over after my midwife decided the situation had strayed from normal. He was very patient and professional, and really didn't want to do a c-section, but led me to believe, very bluntly, that everything was my fault. In this situation, absolutely none of it was!)
Better yet, a formal complaint has been filed with him through their practice (by me, the girl who is severely allergic to confrontation!), and even if he is the on-call doctor for the practice, I will never have to see him again for anything. I'll just take whatever other doctor is on call.
Anyway, I was proud of the formal complaint thing so I thought I'd say it. It took me about a month and a half to make that phone call.
The second situation that had me all up in arms about never having another baby was the mystery of what will happen next. It was very important to plan the next baby, and through lots of thought and prayer, we decided we should have our next one while we still live in Rexburg. The hospital and practice is just a perfect fit for our circumstances and situation (except that one doctor, but there are three more there...), and except for the c-section, we had a wonderful experience with the appointments and hospital. We're in a bigger place where we can bring a baby home, which also gives us (me) peace of mind.
Yes, we know when we will start trying for #2. No I'm not going to tell people. I'm open, but that's just too much information to tell the Internet. And no, it's not right now.
Here's the Reader's Digest version of what happened with diffusing the mystery behind baby #2's future arrival:
1) I watched the documentary The Business of Being Born, which is available instantly on Netflix. It is a very one-sided film which I didn't quite finish (I didn't agree with several parts of it), but it was exactly what I needed to watch to get me thinking. I am in control of many more aspects of future deliveries than I originally thought. My VBAC status does not mean I'm damaged goods. I did not fail the first time around, and the first experience doesn't need to have a negative effect on my future deliveries.
2) I researched options close to home for a second delivery. There are two hospitals within half an hour of each other, with a birth center in between. In researching the birth center (Agape Birth Center in Rigby, ID, if anyone's interested), I discovered something vital for me to know, in questioning whether my first c-section was really necessary, or if it was because of interventions I'd had: had I been in that birth center, I would have been one of their 3% of patients that gets transported by ambulance to a hospital. From there, I doubt I would have had the oh-so-patient treatment and attempts at a normal birth by the staff that I received.
3) I found a tremendous network of c-section patients that is very, very positive. Here is their website. They provided a checklist of what to look for in an attempted VBAC, and a list of things you can and cannot control. The best news? Our hospital fits ALL of that! This was really the home run I was looking for, and my entire perspective changed completely.
4) The birth center is not for me, but the practice I went to with Nathan is. I plan to use one of their midwives, who, because I'm a VBAC patient, will treat me under a physician's care. My insurance will cover all of this. I will deliver #2 at the same hospital Nathan was born at. I am going to use hypnosis mp3 tracks, not solely for pain management (although I will take that aspect, since it has been shown to help!), but also for my emotional control. When Nathan's heart rate started dropping so fast, my blood pressure shot up and I immediately (within an hour) had every sign of preeclampsia. Enter the nurse's worries about seizures, etc. If things go south in the second delivery, I need some place to go mentally, so I don't end up freaking out. What I have learned through my anxiety issues is that where my mind goes, my body follows. My mind and body are connected much stronger than I thought they were!
5) If I can't handle the VBAC or the baby starts to have issues like Nathan did (or if I start to have issues), I can have all the nurses leave the room and Mitch and I can make a quick, prayerful decision about a repeat c-section. In our religion, this can also include a Priesthood Blessing, which we consider to be very special. I will also receive a Priesthood Blessing from Mitch before we leave for the hospital, which we didn't even consider doing before. This will be a strength of peace and help me to know that whatever happens is supposed to happened, because I will control as much of the situation as I can.
If I decide to have a second c-section, I have the opportunity to make that decision between Mitch and I, after we have advised with our doctors. Then, I will know exactly what to expect. I will have done it before, and it won't be the unknown, so it won't be as scary.
(Can you believe this is the reader's digest version? It's more for me than you, so whatever!)
6) If I have a repeat c-section and the situation is not treated as an emergency (which my doctors have assured me is fully possible, and more common among VBAC patients), the baby can stay in the operating room, and I can even have help holding him/her on my chest with Mitch's or a nurse's help. I won't have the hours of separation I had with Nathan. All 3 of us will be (and stay) together. This was one of the most traumatic parts of my experience, and the midwives in this practice have been known to make special arrangements for patients who are re-creating a once traumatic experience. The midwife would come to the OR with me, like mine did with Nathan, and be the surgical assistant, but also my advocate until I'm wheeled off to recovery.
All in all, I know this isn't a fairy tale birth plan. I have seen how the situation can spiral out of control and the things you once thought you could control are suddenly out of your hands. I know what to do and what not to do for next time, just based on my physical, emotional, and mental preparation.
This little birth plan was my key to recovery. Now I can DROP the issue. The only reason I think about having another baby nowadays is because I'm in the habit of it. Once those habits die off, I will just be able to sit back and enjoy Nathan, more fully than I have ever been able to.
I am so grateful for my husband who has stuck by me through everything. He has come to counseling sessions with me to find out how he can help me best during a breakdown, and has tried his very, very best these last 13 months. My counselor has also been amazing. I am so (eternally!) grateful for the counseling services on campus. They are FREE to students, which means that there was no pressure or guilt from racking up a bill. (MUCH unlike the practice I visited 3 times for counseling sessions with an ob/gyn, a nurse practitioner, and 2 midwives, which left us with a hefty bill!) I am so grateful for family and friends who have sent prayers and advice my way. I have appreciated everything.
Well, that was my 100th post. I feel like it was worth writing, especially for the personal documentation and journaling it provides. I can also (almost) laugh about the lines my dr/surgeon said, so I'll share them:
During labor, trying to prevent a c-section:
Midwife: "Can she sit up? She's so close! She could get this baby out if she could sit up a bit."
Doctor: "No, this way is much easier for me."
(ARE YOU KIDDING!? I'm the one pushing at an 8 with an epidural that hasn't kicked in yet, trying to save my baby who you say may not survive another hour...I really should have kicked him in the nose at this point!)
Pushing in the OR, trying even harder to prevent a c-section:
Me: "any progress? Should I keep pushing?"
Midwife: "Yes, you're doing great. Keep going!"
Doctor: (pulls arm out of me...gross!) "Well, you can't do it. (pushes me backwards to make me lay down) Guess we have to do a c-section."
(Really!? One of the most common feelings that plagues a post-op mother is the feeling of failure. He just GAVE it to me.)
And one last one, this time two days later when he came to see me in recovery:
Me: "How does everything look?"
Doctor: "Great. You're already healing very nicely.
Listen, we could have done a normal birth with no problem, but I just thought this would be easier on you.
I'd prefer an easy c-section to a panicky mom any day."
(Well, doc, thanks for the consideration. I'm glad this was apparently the easier option. Now don't mind my foot coming straight at your nose, just stay put...)
The biggest lesson I learned?
Our little ones are SOOO worth it, no matter what it takes to get them here.