Keeping your 150 year old house at 64 seems like a fantastic, energy-saving idea until the temperatures outside drop precipitously and you realize you’re also freezing in your own house! I’m wearing a hat, curled up under a blanket, and enjoying a short span of alone time while Rick takes Cody grocery shopping. I know these interludes of solitary time are rare now, and will only become more so, yet there is something challenging about seizing them for myself. But, here I’m making my attempt to seize it and document it.
Today I rest at 17 1/2 weeks pregnant with numero dos. We are due in May and very excited about it. Yet, as I did with the first, I find myself lamenting the general challenge of being pregnant in our US society. Many of my complaints are probably a direct result of the fact that I’m a consultant. I guess this is my own failing in the sense that the world of consulting is typically short on time and high on stress. Within that matrix, I find myself as a “pleaser” personality occasionally putting in days that start as early as 3 am and go hours longer than they should. I work my butt off and wait for the pat on the back, but I doubt that’s coming. As a pregnant woman, though scaling back seems natural, I often find myself leaning in – not out of desire, but more our of neurosis. My brain on pregnancy is a touchy, anxious, and sensitive organ. It doesn’t function at its best and I’m left scrambling trying to maintain a sense of being on top of tasks that were previously easy to manage. I oscillate between wanting to prove I can do it all, and wanting to throw in the towel. In these moments, I daydream about starting my own little company and working a schedule that works for my life, and really allowing myself to savor and experience this second pregnancy. And savor and experience I should, but it is hard.
Part of the reason I feel so strongly about giving myself time to focus on this pregnancy is the fact that I’m going to attempt a VBAC. That’s a vaginal birth after cesarean. For those who don’t know, many doctors recommend that after a cesarean subsequent births be planned surgical births. There is plenty of evidence to indicate that vaginal births are often less risky and safer overall for the mother, but that doesn’t change the beliefs of many. So, to plan for and attempt a VBAC is a bit unusual, and certainly mentally challenging. It is really in many ways an attempt to reconcile and heal past trauma, and it opens you up to the risk and vulnerability of re-traumatizing yourself. For that reason, I see why people opt for a second c-section. There is a part of me that gets the appeal. Hell, I’ve had major abdominal surgery once and though it was possibly overall one of the worst and most physically and psychologically scarring moments of my life, it is over and done now. I experienced that trauma, and part of my wonders about the value of opening myself up to the possibility that I will go through the trauma of a difficult labor, and lasting damage to my nether regions on top of the scars and challenges related to my c-section, and then the ultimate possibility that I could end with the same outcome as I did before. It haunts me a bit, but has so far not dissuaded me from setting myself up to try for a vaginal birth.
In the last weeks, the real need to address my previous birth experience, its lasting impacts on me, and my feelings about this birth have come up. My midwife, amidst the clamor of Rick trying to corral Cody in the small check up room, took pains to remind me to take time to focus on this baby and addressing my previous birth experience. Nodding and agreeing and as I gently asked Cody not to climb on the examining table, I momentarily saw this for what it was — and the challenge this midwife must have observed before her.
Hey, I’m trying. I’ve had Rick set up my bike in the future nursery and when I have a spare half hour I head up there and spin while reading Ina May Gaskin’s book Spiritual Midwifery. I do yoga and plan to do chiropractic throughout the second half of my pregnancy. I’m trying to also have an open mind knowing that all the work could still result in an outcome I don’t love. It’s a real test of the buddhist non-attachment study I’ve done in the past.
Today, I met with a doula I really liked. She too, reminded me of the need to address the part of me that feels broken after my c-section. As Rick, Cody, and I walked back t the light rail after meeting her I said something to him about how much I appreciated her acknowledging that feeling, and felt that since Cody’s birth there had been sort of a chip on my shoulder trying to understand what happened and heal my ego. His response told me a lot. He instantly recognized what I said and noted that he saw it too — that I felt broken by the way things happened. He felt that I had not been respected by the nurses we dealt with or my doctor, and felt that I had a lot of real reasons that I was still confronting my feelings about it. That was validating. I think in the rush of working, raising a toddler, and generally trying to re-engage with friends and life postpartum, there was a piece of healing that was pushed to the side. Now, I think it is sitting back here in front of me and over the next months I have much work to do to address it.