This is part III of my story about birth and mothering.
One day in October 2011, I came home from what I would still call the worst day I have ever had at work. I was emotionally and physically exhausted. David and I were supposed to be leaving Nora with my mom the next day. We were headed to a Zac Brown Band concert in Charleston. I was so looking forward to having a date with my husband. Despite the fact that I had blown through approximately 27 pregnancy tests (can you say money money money?) in the last month or so, David suggested I take a pregnancy test. "Okay, whatever. It will be negative like the rest of them." But in the face of my pessimism, the line turned pink and my frown turned upside down!
I called my old OB office with the news. I had labs done and filled out the paperwork. One day before my first appointment, I called David on the phone. "What am I doing? It is crazy to think that I can repeat the same "experiment" and expect a different outcome." We had to have a conversation about money, since changing place of birth and care provider meant more money for insurance deductibles, co-pays, gas, etc. The conversation wasn't very long, because we talked about the impact that having a couple more c-sections would have on our finances. David and I were in agreement. Things had to be different this go-round if the outcome was to change. So the search began. I felt like I was back at square one, only this time I had experiences and a scar to guide me. I set out on a mission, like a mad woman, to learn as much as I could about natural birth and to surround myself with people who would support me.
I found myself at the doors of Covenant Birth Center, accompanied by my husband and 16 month old. I knew I was not a candidate to birth with these midwives. I knew DHEC regulations. But I didn't know where else to turn, and a "You have not because you ask not" glimmer of hope guided me to this place. I opened the doors, and there stood both of the midwives. I had come unannounced. They were busy preparing for a photo shoot, yet they welcomed us into their beautiful facility, even as my toddler cried and whined to be put down for a nap.
They offered me a quiet place to nurse. The halls were painted with photos-happy photos- of families who had birthed there. I also saw several beautiful plaster forms of pregnant curves hanging on the walls. In the quiet room, there were toys, a Bible, a comfortable chair, a fetoscope, an exam table. Nothing about the room made me feel as though this was a place to handle a medical condition. Instead, there was warmth and joy. I wished I could hide the scar on my torso and be "allowed" to birth here. Regret filled my mind again as I thought back to the phone call I had made to the birth center when I first learned of my pregnancy with Nora. David helped me focus. This was about the future, not the past.
"She was born by Cesarean." Their faces fell. "We cannot. DHEC has said..." "I know. We came here hoping for advice, guidance. Do you have any recommendations?" The initial stiff feel to the conversation gave way to warmth and encouragement as I shared some of my story with these ladies. Out of the blue, one of them explaimed, "Oh! She needs Jennifer!" They wished us well with much sincerity and we were on our way.
Jennifer was a nurse midwife about 45 minutes from my house. According to the licensed midwives I hear about her through, she was very natural birth minded, a professional to whom they referred their mothers who "risked out" during pregnancy. I was able to speak with her on the phone one evening for about half an hour. After listening to my story, she said she believed that I had a great chance of VBAC. I was surprised at how encouraging she was. I felt like I was talking to someone who cared about me and my family. She had faith in me from the get-go. I needed that.
A new place of birth and a new care provider was just the beginning of what was different about this pregnancy. I began reading books. The Birth Partner, Ina May's Guide to Childbirth, The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, to name a few. I watched The Business of Being Born. I looked for a comprehensive natural childbirth education class, but didn't find one in the area. I chose to order the Hypnobabies home study course and started working through it at about six months along. I was also seeing a chiropractor certified in Webster on a weekly basis.
I was bursting with new ideas and information, but I still had doubts. After all, it didn't work the first time. Every time I got down about this, David would say, "Rebekah, everything is different this time." But was I doing enough? I felt the weight of every decision I made.