To C-Section or not to C-Section, Is that the Only Question?

4 May

Yesterday, I reached my 35th week of my pregnancy, and I was expected to have a decision ready for my doctor.  We were supposed to decide if we would schedule a repeat C-Section for Kasen’s birth, or if I will attempt a VBAC (Vaginal Birth after Caesarean) through a trial of labor.  Despite already knowing most of the information concerning either route, in the two weeks I had between appointments, I devoured all the resources available from my “What to Expect” book, the web, and friends and family.  As my appointment drew nearer I wavered back and forth.  I just didn’t feel settled.  No sense of peace could be found about a decision.

During my first OB appointment this was one of the topics we discussed, and my doctor’s answer at the time was that we had time to make a final decision, but he was willing to let me try a VBAC.  Since that first appointment, way back in October 2011, I have been pretty set on going the VBAC route for a number of reasons.

  • Vaginal birth is generally considered to be a better delivery for mom and baby.
  • Recovering from a C-Section takes longer, can be more painful, and typically has more restrictions.
  • One of the restrictions is not lifting anything over 15lbs for anywhere from 4-8 wks. (from experience and what I had read.)  This would include my son Micah.  How can I not pick him up for that long?
  • Shorter hospital stay with a vaginal birth.
  • Able to bond sooner with the baby after a vaginal birth, as opposed to waiting an hour or more in recovery after a C-Section.
  • Wanting to experience and be successful at a “natural” delivery.

There are also reasons I should consider a repeat C-Section.

  • Risk of uterine rupture with a VBAC.  While a low risk at between 1-3%, if a rupture were to occur, it could quickly be life-threatening for me or the baby.
  • I could attempt a trial of labor, labor for hours, be unsuccessful and still end up with an emergency C-Section.  The risks of a C-Section increase slightly after an unsuccessful VBAC as well.
  • There is a higher chance of fetal distress and possible neurological damage during a VBAC as opposed to a scheduled C-Section.
  • Risk of tearing or needing an episiotomy.  Yes, down there ladies.
  • Being able to schedule the arrival of the baby. (Though there can always be surprises!)
  • I know what to expect from a C-Section, having gone through one before.

Right after Micah was delivered via C-Section in 2009.
I know, incredibly flattering! Isn’t Micah so tiny and adorable?

(These lists are in no way exhaustive, expert, or meant to replace a doctor’s advice or opinion.  For more information I encourage you to consult a doctor.  You can also find more information at

As Aaron and I discussed and weighed the options, we knew we wanted to make the best and safest decision for Kasen and myself.  Aaron ultimately left the decision up to me, but he made his opinion clear, and he wanted the lowest risk possible.  We talked, discussed, and we prayed…some.

We knew that we needed to submit this decision to God because He is the one in control.  The decision made its way into our prayers a few times.  For some reason, though, we did not pursue God’s guidance as much as we should have.  Why?  I’m not sure.  Maybe because there was a tight deadline.  Maybe because we never felt settled.  Maybe because we didn’t trust enough and wanted to feel in control.

Whatever the reason, it happened.  Thursday came and so did the appointment.  I went with more questions than I had answers and no solid decision.  Thankfully, we have an incredible doctor, who actually spends some time with us during the visit.  He sat down and patiently answered our questions honestly and helped lay out the risks and benefits as they specifically applied to me, not just a random percentage.   He gave us two more weeks to make a final decision.

After talking some more and yes, praying, we feel we have come up with our best decision.  One of my questions was what truly caused my C-Section last time.  If it was Micah’s head size or just general lack of progression in labor, there was a good chance I could successfully deliver Kasen by VBAC.  However, if it was due to my pelvic size, the likelihood of a successful VBAC drops significantly.  We felt we had never really been told the actual reason last time.  After consulting my notes, my doctor confirmed my suspicion.  Micah’s lack of true descent in labor last time was due to my pelvic size.  Despite always having what many consider “child-bearing hips”, it turns out my pelvis is just not conducive to labor.

Hmmm.  Lots of emotions went through me; relief, frustration, grief, and acceptance.  I was relieved that we finally had a solid answer as to what caused the problems with my last labor.  I was frustrated that I would have to endure another C-Section and recovery.  I felt like I wasn’t “normal” or good enough because I couldn’t deliver a baby naturally.  It grieved my heart.  Finally, after uttering a silent and heartfelt prayer, I was able to accept this decision.  We knew that it would be best and safest for Kasen and me if we scheduled a C-Section.

So this morning we have a new tentative due date: June 1st.

So soon!

I went to bed feeling pretty good about the decision.  I woke up this morning wondering if there was still a chance.  Then I did my devotional, and God gently reminded me that no matter what, He is the one in control of my life, and that includes the lives of my children.

From Sharon Jaynes on  Girlfriends in God:

“Everything is possible for him who believes,” (Mark 9:23 NIV)

“As mothers, aunts, grandmothers, and a host of other caretakers, at times we find ourselves at the end of our mental and emotional resources. We feel we have done everything humanly possible and don’t know the best action to take with our children. That’s exactly where God wants us every day, not depending on our human capabilities but on His unlimited abilities, not depending on our own impotence but on His potent power, not depending on our limited knowledge but on His unlimited wisdom.  When we realize that we do not have and never will have all the child-rearing answers, we can find peace in giving our children to the One who does.

S.D. Gordon, in Quiet Talks on Prayer, said, “You can do more than pray, after you have prayed. But you cannot do more than pray until you have prayed.”

The prayer at the end:

(For those who have children still at home)

Dear God, today, I once again bring my child to you. Please show me how to parent this precious gift that you have given me. Help me to be the best mother (or caregiver) that I can be. I pray that Your Holy Spirit will teach me, Your wisdom will guide me, and Your love will move me. Most of all, Lord, I give this child to You. Please make him (her) a child after Your own heart.

In Jesus’ Name,  Amen.”

My heart lifted at this scripture and the reminder that not only are all things possible in Christ, but that God is ultimately the one we need to trust to be in control.  Our best interests and those of our family and children are in His hands and heart.  Let them be.

So I did it.  I prayed, turned over control, and felt the peace I’d been seeking ever since confronted with needing to make a decision.

We will schedule the C-Section and we will trust that God is in control.  That may mean we meet Kasen by C-Section on June 1st, or God may decide he needs to come earlier.  Whatever happens, I know God is guiding my journey, and that of my children.  That sounds like a very good decision to me.

Have you had to make a tough decision about your own labor experience?  What about one of your children?  Who are you relying on to help guide that decision?


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