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Saturday, March 21, 2009

"So, when's this baby going to come?"

That's what I heard at my last OB appointment yesterday. I joked, "Well, I've put in my request." "When are we going to do this c-section?" he asked, not at all joking. Now that's just not something you say to a woman hoping to VBAC and expect her to take it lightly or think it's even remotely funny. 
At nearly the 40-week mark we've had some interesting, if not startling, revelations. After my OB appointment I spent more than three hours in the hospital for observation of high blood pressure and moderate ankle swelling, only to find out the baby was transverse. Not exactly what I wanted to hear, and it definitely puts a monkey wrench in the works. 
But the good news: I'm still pregnant. Barely. 
After an animated discussion on the phone with one of my doctors in the hospital, I nearly had to beg and plead with her just to let me remain pregnant until this baby chose it's day, malpositioned or not. Her insincerity and total lack of hesitation to pressure me into an immediate c-section was surreal, considering I had the same complications with even higher BPs and swelling in my last pregnancy and was definitely not admitted for observation. I basically told her this, and was in no way going to let her scare me into making an immediate decision. I wanted to go home and rest, think about it, and do some research. 
I feel lucky, considering the millions of women who seem to get duped into taking their obstetrician's word that it's a definite emergency and worthy of panic. I've also heard women say how their reluctance or outright refusal to follow their doctor's orders can result in being treated harshly or ignored, which is inexcusable. I wanted to ask my male doctor why it's only in obstetrics patients get treated this way - as if their bodies are not their own and they are at the mercy of some stranger to make decisions for them, or are completely incapable of making those educated decisions themselves. I wanted to ask, "If you went for a prostate exam, do you think the doctor would say, 'There's a chance you could get prostate cancer. Let's just remove the prostate, and while we're at it, cut off your genitals, too.'" No way would they say that, and no man would tolerate it. Neither should women!
I'm not blaming my doctors for this baby's position, but I can't help but feel ripped off slightly in the whole process. I'm trusting in God to take care of this baby and allow it to turn if it's His will. But in the meantime, it's hard to get over the anger of being made to feel inferior, like you're an idiot, and can't make your own decisions. The lack of support is overwhelming and does nothing but tear down your confidence and spirit - which is unfortunate, considering I have done this before. One nurse at the hospital told me "Good for you!" when she'd heard I had already had a VBAC, and I told her, "You don't normally hear that when you tell someone you've had one." You find yourself clinging to that one word of encouragement in a world full cynicism, apprehension, fear and indifference: as my labor doula put it, "They don't care what happens to you after the baby is born, especially if you have to come to taking care of three children after a c-section." As I told Dr. Congeniality on the phone, 'if this baby turns, I don't want to have had to go through all that for no reason.' 
My only prayer is that women everywhere else don't have to, either. You can't expect your doctors to fully educate you on the risks and benefits and be your advocate by suggesting, "Hey, why don't you do a VBAC?," or "Let's do what we can to avoid a cesarean." Only you can do that, and you owe it to yourself to keep your rights and stop giving them away to someone who only wants you in and out in order to move on to the next unsuspecting patient.