My doctor gave me the all clear for a natural birth last week. We opted for an in-depth ultrasound to check the placenta and baby as he was measuring a little too small, which given my conditions could be sign if a problem. Alhamduillah, both baby and I are healthy – we were able to count his fingers and toes, see the chambers of his heart and watch as he lay and scratched his head. All’s healthy she said, let’s get ready for a natural vaginal birth. To understand how amazing,y beautiful it is to hear those words coming from an OB in Turkey, you need to understand the 75% caesarean rate for births in this country and the reluctance, more oft refusal, of doctors to oversee a VBAC (vaginal birth after caesarean section). I’m so grateful for this doctor, thankful she still believes in my body, and me, after the complications with M’s birth, and so hopeful she’ll see us through a successful VBAC. I’m also terrified of that.
I’m not sure how i want this baby to come out. I’m sure i don’t want a scheduled c-section; i also don’t want a repeat of last time. This time around, I have to be totally ok. Regardless of the process of Bump’s birth, I’ll have a little man waiting at home for me, a little man who’ll need his Mum to pick him up and be present,who’ll need me healthy the instant he sees me. This time around, there is no room for risk – M needs his Mummy right here.
The rate of C-section here’s high, but in my hospital,under my doctor, those stats fall much lower. She, and the hospital, are affiliated with the diyanet, or Islamic governing body for Istanbul. The ethics and code of practise fits in line with Islamic moral codes, supporting natural births, breastfeeding and minimal separation of the mother from the child. Every effort will be made to give us a drug free, unassisted birth and I know this, I trust this, and yet.. Yet i fear their fear of a repeat. I fear them fearing for baby, or me, or for both. I fear them cutting me open, or not doing so. I fear my uterus rupturing under pressure of a second birth in two years, I fear splitting the stitches from the first of those births. I fear the birth of my second preventing me being the best mother to my first.
But also i fear how it will feel, to hold this child, if we’re granted the birth i desire. The first time I held M was with my eyes and not my arms, for they were still strapped to a table. He was cleaned ad wrapped up, a nurse holding his head to my breast. As precious a moment as ever I’ve felt, yet sterile, not ours, missing G. I wonder how it will feel if this birth goes to plan, if a vbac is successful and my husband and baby meet there. How will it differ? Will I mourn M’s even more?
At 24 weeks my son’s movements are markedly more pronounced than his sibling’s were at this age. We sit and we feel and we watch as he moves, as he turns, as he kicks and explores. M falls asleep with his head nestled onto the growing mound of my stomach and is lulled by the movements of his brother. The one thing the past year has taught me, as I’ve processed the events of M’s birth and watched my firstborn grow strong, is that the journey doesn’t end with a birth, it begins. The pregnancy is precious, those movements to be treasured, but they’re not a guarantee, not at all. Friends around me miscarry, loose babies at this gestation and mourn their children born far too early: whatever our birth is, however it happens, we have to be thankful for that. I fear this birth as much as I welcome this birth and I know however it happens, however he comes, the fear will expire when we breathe in his scent, when M meets his new brother and G holds us all close. Fear comes, fear goes; it keeps us grounded, keeps us safe, and ultimately, is the stem that joy branches from. We give our fears to Allah and trust in Him to keep us safe. And there is nothing more to it than that.