A while back, I blogged about how I’ve come to terms with the fact that my last birth, in 2007, ended in a c-section, and about how I’ve finally realized that despite my best intentions, I am not ever going to be someone who wants to give birth without drugs for pain. After four births and plenty of education and knowledge, I know now that I am always going to have the epidural, no matter how I give birth.
However, although I’ve had pain medication in all my births, each of which took place in a hospital, only the last one ended in a c-section. The three prior to the c-section were relatively easy affairs, with fast recoveries (my c-section recovery was also pretty easy). So while I’ve finally accepted the fact that I am just not a homebirth or even a birth center kind of girl, I have yet to decide whether I am the kind of girl who after one c-section just throws in the towel and has a repeat surgical birth instead of trying to give birth the old-fashioned way, as I did successfully three times in the past. And now that I am in the second trimester of this pregnancy, I’ve realized that I need to start thinking this through, so that I can make a decision. My last two babies came 4 weeks and 3 weeks early, so I can’t really wait until the very last minute to decide.
I have not yet discussed this issue at all with my doctor, but I feel relatively certain of what he will say. I think he will tell me that he’ll support whichever decision I make, but that I should not feel guilty if I decide to go for the repeat c-section. And I have to tell you that that’s how I am leaning at this point – my inclination is to just wait until the baby is fully cooked, and schedule the c-section on or around her due date (which also happens to be C’s 3rd birthday). If I go into labor earlier, I’m inclined to just tell them to go ahead and slice me open and get it over with. Because if I am likely to end up with a c-section anyway – and my specific variables indicate a high likelihood – wouldn’t it be easier to have some planning in place for childcare and my job, etc instead of having to do things on the fly? Plus, I honestly dread the idea of going through what I went through the last time again if I am going to end up in surgery anyway.
My last labor – the one that ended with the c-section – was absolute hell. Three days of terrible pain, TWO epidurals (one to relax the uterus to flip the baby, who went breech suddenly on the day contractions started and then a second one two days later when I decided I could no longer labor another hour without significant pain relief) and a lot of angst and exhaustion for both Jon and me. The c-section, when it finally came, was blessed relief. It was over in only ten minutes, and finally, we could rest and enjoy our baby and stop worrying about why nothing was going right, and wondering what would go wrong next.
When C was born in 2007, our total medical bills for several days of labor, numerous checks of my progress at both the birth center and later, at the hospital, a manual version (flipping the baby), two epidurals, two hospital admissions (admitted then sent home when labor slowed then admitted again when things picked back up), followed by a c-section was probably double what it would have been if we had just had the damn c-section the first time anyone suggested it. Yes, we had “good” health insurance, but even the best health insurance doesn’t pay for everything and when you are talking about days and days of various procedures and visits and admissions and medications, followed by major surgery, the out of pocket expense to us was in more than 4k. We were paying that baby off for more than a year! My insurance this time is still good by general standards, but it actually covers less than the insurance I had when C was born. So whether it’s right or wrong, we have to do whatever we can to keep our out of pocket costs down. If a scheduled c-section without trial of labor would minimize costs, that’s a factor I have to consider because it impacts our whole family, as well as my general stress level. We are currently paying off the more than 8K in out of pocket expenses that accrued on top of insurance coverage from my October virus + hospitalization, and I really don’t want to slap a few thousand more in money we owe on top of that.
So yeah, I am leaning strongly toward just having the c-section, even though I feel kind of conflicted about it. I don’t really care about missing out on a “regular” birth; been there, done that. My main concerns about a repeat c-section are the fact that it’s major surgery, and something can ALWAYS go very wrong in major surgery, and my dread of getting the epidural. I am petrified of epidurals, and I find getting them in my back one of the most unpleasant experiences I’ve ever had. Plus, the epidural I had when I gave birth to E went awry – I am pretty sure the dude hit a nerve in my back when he put it in – and I suffered debilitating back pain for several years following E’s birth.
I know I would have an epidural even if I DON’T have a c-section, but at least by that time in my labor I’d be so grateful for the pain relief that I’d be less freaked out about the thought of a needle being inserted into my back. With the c-section, the epidural would go in when I was fully aware of my fears and the discomfort. And that sounds hellish. I asked a good friend who is a high risk obstetrics nurse whether I could choose to be totally knocked out for a repeat c-section, and she informed me that doctors don’t do that anymore. Bummer. The idea of just getting an IV and drifting off to sleep and then waking up 20 minutes later to see Jon handing me our baby to nurse sounds really appealing, actually – at least compared to the apparent alternatives. (Go ahead and flog me for this backward opinion; I’m just being honest!)
So there you have it – my c-section dilemma. I know I will go back and forth on this in the next few months as Jon and I figure out what makes the most sense. I’d love to hear from any of you blog readers who have faced the same decision. What did you decide and how? Were you happy with your choice? Share your experiences in the comments below.
Thanks! – Katie