Well, i’ve been meaning to give an update on my VBAC situation for a week or so now, but unfortunately have been pretty busy with Lilly and her chicken pox - which is on the way out now, thank goodness.
Well, first off, we went to see the Supervisor of Midwives at the hospital last week. All in all it was a really helpful experience. She had had a read through my notes from the last labour and shed a bit more light on what happened and why. (My birth story – although it is an epic – is here in case you’re interested).
The main new pieces of information she gave me were as follows. Basically, re the failure to progress, I was stuck at 4cm for the best part of at least 6 hours. We went into hospital at around midnight, I was 3cm dilated. By the time I had my c-section, which was 11am the next day, I was still only 4cm. I can’t help but think the lack of mobility (because of the monitoring and the epidural) won’t have helped that, but to be fair, they can’t be the only reason.
When we went into hospital, at 3cm dilated, the monitor was showing the baby was already a little distressed – her heartrate was dipping with each contraction, but then recovering again. This could have been due to many reasons – even something as daft as her squeezing the cord with each contraction. Because they did not know why, they let me continue in the hope that I would progress quickly before the distress got any more pronounced. Unfortunately, the opposite happened, and the distress worsened at a much quicker pace than the dilation progressed. Therefore, a section was inevitable. And I suppose when the registrar was overenthusiastically breaking my waters very early on without warning me what he was going to go, and when they were hooking me up the drip to speed up my contractions, they were trying to get me to deliver before the distress got worse. Again, this is something I have never had explained to me, and makes me feel a little happier about what happened when and why.
The Supervisor of Midwives put forward a theory – which I’m not quite sure I accept to be honest – that perhaps my pelvis was too small and therefore the baby was never gonna come out naturally. She said there was swelling on the baby’s head, so she had obviously been pressing down on my cervix very hard, but it wasn’t opening enough to let her through. This again was news to us, as we were told at the time that the blood tests taken from the baby’s head at the time had come back “fine”. The first registrar I saw in this pregnancy – who had also read my notes – had suggested that this failture to progress might have been because Lilly’s head was turned slightly in the wrong direction, therefore she wasn’t pressing directly on my cervix and therefore it wasn’t dilating as it should have been. In my totally uneducated opinion, this sounds a more plausable option. I don’t think my pelvis should be particularly small – in fact, I’ll feel very ripped off if I have some kind of unnaturally small pelvis – if I did I’d expect to be a size 6 or something, but I can assure you I am anything but! Also, I kind of think that surely you’d only know if your pelvis was too small if you had dilated to 10cms but then the baby got stuck?!
I asked about how much mobility I can have with the continuous monitoring. She said I can sit on a ball, on a chair, on a stool etc, or sit upright in bed. I don’t have to be lying down. But she said I will have to make some kind of agreement as to how much, and how often, I am monitored with my consultant, who I’m yet to see.
Apparently my consultant – she is a woman (which I am pleased about) and she herself has just returned from maternity leave (which I am also pleased about – she has had a baby herself!) which is why I haven’t seen her in person yet. The Supervisor of Midwives said she is “pro-vbac” so we’ll wait to see what she says. I have another appointment on the 8th of June, and the midwife said she’d make sure I see my actual consultant, and that she’ll also try to come to the appointment as well, now that she knows my case.
The Supervisor of Midwives was positive, but she was also cautious. She really was telling me that my last c-section did happen for a reason, it was unavoidable. Yes, there were things that they could have done better, like communication with us to help us understand what was happening and why. But the outcome was probably pretty inevitable. In a way though, that helps me to come to terms with it and understand it. For a long time after Lilly was born I just couldn’t accept what had happened and why. I felt like it was all unneccessary and needn’t have happened that way. Now, after speaking to people about what actually happened, and why, and weirdly enough, watching One Born Every Minute (a scarily real-life documentary about life on a normal labour ward) I’ve come to realise that these things happen, they’re unavoidable and they happen for a reason. I feel a lot less strongly about the way Lilly was born. I’ve accepted it. I hope this one will be different, but if it isn’t, it isn’t.
One thing which came out of it was this. If I walk into the hospital in labour this time, and i’m put on that monitor, and it shows the same problem trace with the heart rate dipping with each contraction, the wisest option is to ask for a section there and then.
But I still believe that no two labours are the same, and I live in hope that this one might be a bit more straightforward and that maybe I can still achieve the vbac I really want. If I can’t do it this time, I’ll never do it.
Oh, and in other news – baby has turned! I saw the midwife at 36 weeks and she confirmed it. Great relief!
I am now stepping up the raspberry leaf tea and hoping that baby is gearing up for a successful entrance into the world!