Sunday, March 15, 2009

What did I do wrong?

I have 2 good friends who’s VBACs turned to repeat cesareans for "no good reason" that anyone can figure out....yes, the babies were likely (subtly) malpositioned, even after prenatal chiropractic care and great attention to optimal fetal positioning and they hired midwives who knew many tricks to straighten out babies...and the tricks didn't work. They labored for many many hours...they did "everything right"....and still ended up back in the is heart breaking. And both have asked, many times “What did I do wrong?”

What did I do wrong?

And I have to say that the "answer" I have is two-fold....first, the baby is an independent player in the whole labor and we can't always predict or dictate what the baby will do. Second, there is a very real element of "luck". Just plain bad luck. It is SO much easier if we find something that looks like a cause. A reason gives some closure, some sense of "if I'd just" to help it NOT mean that you really don't have control over the outcome....but the truth is, for those women who make all the plans, "do everything right" and end up with a VBAC? They were lucky too. We almost automatically take credit for "doing it right" being the reason we have our VBACs but we are fooling ourselves if we think we have that kind of control. The flip side of believing you have that control is to then believe an unwanted outcome means you didn't do something you could have or should have. I'm convinced, after a decade of hearing stories, that this just isn't true. Sometimes you do everything you can and it doesn't work. I don't know why.

When the labor is done and you are in that soul searching place, the compulsion to second guess decisions made during labor is overwhelming...because we forget the intensity and immediacy of labor. My friends had good and patient midwives. There was a reason they trusted them -- with the labor and when the decision was made to transfer to the hospital. Whatever that something was that led them to decide on transfer and ultimately to agree to the repeat c/s, it was real. And since no one can recreate that inarguable something now, its compelling to say "if I'd only"....but there *was* a real reason they didn't just keep laboring, even if no one could put it into conscious thought or words then or now. It is SO tempting to think "if I'd just labored for another x hours, I would have had my VBAC" but we have no idea if that is true or not...maybe yes, they would have. Or maybe they would have transferred later. Or maybe the baby would have been in a lot of trouble by then. Or maybe the baby would have been fine but nothing else would have changed. Or maybe something else would have happened...we just have no idea.

I don’t tell women to stop asking questions or to stop trying to understand what happened. I don't think they can stop, I know I couldn't when I was trying to figure out why I made the decisions I did around my c/s. But the advice I do give is to consider that the answers you may get through your searching may have more to do with your understanding yourself rather than you understanding that birth. There are answers there but they may be to a question that you don't yet realize you are asking. They likely will come later than you hope and slower than you think you can handle, but you will.

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