I delivered my daughter by c-section because of a condition called Placenta Previa.
What is Placenta Previa?
It's when your placenta covers your cervix, so if you were to deliver vaginally, you would basically bleed out and die. Totally dramatic, I know, but that's what I swear I heard when the doctor diagnosed me.
Think of your placenta is a big giant jelly-fish style mass of blood that is connected to you and your uterus. If your placenta were to come out ahead of the baby, your placenta could tear apart, you would lose a lot of blood quickly, and you and the baby would be at risk. Overall, the result could be horrible.
The more accurate description as to why you are at risk for bleeding is that as you get closer to your delivery, the lining of the bottom of your uterus near the cervix starts to thin out prepping for labor. If the placenta is attached there, then as the uterus thins, it could tear the fragile placenta, and then you could bleed. The more placenta was covering the cervix, the worse it could be.
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor; this is based on my experience, and none of what I am writing should be considered medical advice.
I was first told that I had Previa at my first anatomical ultrasound at 24 weeks. I was devastated, of course, because that meant that I would need a c-section. I wanted to have my baby vaginally. We had been taking the baby prep classes that taught us all about the glory of vaginal birth. We had hired a Doula (a birth coach to help you in the delivery room so that you can stick to your birth plan, and they can help support you and your husband (for more info on my experience hiring a Doula, check out my blog).
Anyway, I had seen all the movies and heard all the tales, and I wanted the vaginal experience. I was preparing in my head about how much of a hero I was going to be. As crazy as it sounds, I wanted to be in that club of moms who understand the pain, the breathing, a real contraction, etc.
I wanted to look at my husband knowingly while rubbing my belly, and angelically say, "Honey, it's time, the baby is coming." I also wanted to flip the switch and be the one who yelled profanities in the delivery room. Screaming at my husband shouting, "You did this to me, you asshole!!" I wanted to one day be able to hang this over my child's head when they were a teenager, waggling a finger at them, saying, "I spent 24 hours in labor pushing you out, now don't talk back to me, I am your mother."
I may have glorified giving birth vaginally, umm just a little.
I had convinced myself that because I only had a Partial Previa (meaning, it wasn't entirely blocking my cervix), so my placenta could potentially move. I was told that if my placenta had not moved by 34 weeks, then I was going under the knife. I thought there was still hope for me.
They also told me to not do any exercise, take it easy, and not stress. In hindsight, I should have been way more cautious and freaked out than I was. The majority of people with Previa have spotting or bleed, so require bed rest for the latter part of their pregnancy. That means no exercise, no sex, no orgasms, no significant activity at all! But, because I was not bleeding, I was not too concerned, and I went along my very merry way. I was happy to have an excuse not to go to the gym anymore, but I didn't really slow down all that much. I still did a ton of walking, I lifted things I probably should not have, I flew to and from Toronto and Atlanta, and scurried around visiting family. Ultimately, I am so grateful that it all worked out, and I had a healthy pregnancy. I had my next ultrasound at 32 weeks, and my placenta still had not shifted. Come 34 weeks, my placenta had not moved. It was confirmed, I was having a C-section.
To be honest, at that point, I was not that upset anymore. The closer I got to that ultrasound, and the more I learned about the random mixed bag that you could get with vaginal delivery, and the more baby classes and birth videos I saw, I decided that I was a-ok with a c-section. As the saying goes, it's either the devil you know or the devil you don't, which would you prefer. With a vaginal birth, you have no idea what you are going to get; will it take 2 hours or 24 hours? Will it be in the backseat of an Uber or at the hospital? Will it be with your existing doctor or some random? Will you be able to get an epidural, or will there be no time? Will you end up having to be induced and/or after all is said and done, will you end up having a C-section anyway? This is what I mean by the mixed-bag of birthing outcomes.
The only concern I had is that with Placenta Previa, you have to deliver the baby early. At our 34 week appointment, one of the doctors told us we should prep for having the baby in a week, which put us into panic mode. 35 weeks! We were not ready! The baby was not ready! Every day your baby spends in your belly is so essential for development.
I started to panic about all the issues associated with pre-term babies, and I would need to have two steroid shots to boost lung development. Turns out, for an uncomplicated case of Placenta Previa, there is a window of opportunity to deliver, which is between 36 weeks to 37 weeks plus 6 days (i.e., for someone who hasn't had any bleeding, there is no preeclampsia, fetal growth issues, etc.). So I discussed my options and ended up being able to push it out to 37 weeks and 4 days. This worked with our Ob/Gyn's schedule, and the date we wanted (we wanted to avoid having our baby on Halloween).
What I knew about having a planned c-section made everything easier:
I knew that the baby was coming out on a specific date and that my husband would be right by my side with my hospital bag in hand (not stuck in traffic somewhere).
I knew that I would get to pick my baby's birthday!
I knew the list of 101 possible vaginal birth scenarios was not top of mind.
I knew I would need a spinal (basically the same thing as an epidural, but they go a little deeper).
I knew that it would take approximately 30 mins to deliver my baby (pending no complications).
I knew that a potential complication could be bleeding and that they may have to put me under.
I knew that there would be a team of Doctors and Nurses there to assist in minimizing any issues.
I knew that I felt excited and scared, knowing that I had planned for this.
I knew that this was the way it was meant to be for my delivery because, in the end, it was all about the right way to meet Adeline.
Now, I understand there are multiple ways to have your baby, and when she was in my arms, how she got there didn't matter at all.
Here are a few website resources that I used to learn more about Placenta Previa: