Road to VBAC: Letting Go

A few weeks ago my mom asked me why I was still so upset about my C-section.  She asked why I was still carrying around so much anger.  I instantly knew why, but it was never something I had thought of one single bit until she asked.

Because I’m afraid to let it go.

Later that evening, Alex asked me a similar question, what if you let the anger go?

What?

I carry anger around like a weapon.  It’s a high power emotion, it’s easy to access, easy to feel, and easy to hold up in front of everyone and everything and say, SEE THIS IS WHY I DON’T WANT ANOTHER C-SECTION.  Easy to hang over a doctor’s head.  Easy to hang over my own damn head to remind me to never ever do that again.

Anger is my safety net.  Without it, I’m vulnerable.  If I was no longer angry about my C-section, angry at the doctors who did it, angry at myself…. what… what would possibly be left of me?  Calm? Peace? Happiness? I can’t possibly!

I know.

In the midst of trying to vehemently and hysterically defend wanting to be angry to my sweet husband… I kind of got it.  I sounded like a nut.

What if I let the anger go? Then what?

I’ve been using my anger to drive me – so far it’s been a pretty intense motivator.  It’s driven me to research VBAC, read medical studies and books, join groups, book appointments with doctors, ask the right questions.  It’s helped keep me on track.  But it’s also dragging me down a little, as I’m sure you know if you’ve had a conversation with me in the past 7 months (sidenote: my child is 7 months old?! How!).  I wasn’t giving myself a break.  If I wasn’t spending nap time researching, I was thinking about my next VBAC move, thinking about how I still can’t dang use my abs, feeling resentful of people who had normal births.  I didn’t have any breathing space.

If I let that go…. then would that mean I had accepted my birth? Would that mean I would let another doctor run me over and cut me open? Would that mean I would abandon my convictions again?  Would the bottom fall out from beneath my very feet?!

I asked those very questions to Alex… in a more hand-wringing, whiney, edge of my seat type mumbo jumbo of words.  Poor guy.  He puts up with a lot.

After nodding and smiling during my hysteria, he calmly told me that no, letting go of the anger in no way meant I was implying everything was OK or justified or that I would forget what I was fighting for.  The man is right.  I was letting my anger with my C-section rule my thoughts, my conversations, my world.  It was hard for me to have a conversation with anyone without mentioning it.

I was afraid that if I didn’t keep mentioning how much it sucked to people that they might think I was OK.  I was afraid that if I didn’t constantly research VBAC that I was letting myself down.  I was afraid that if I stopped thinking about it every day that I would forget how much I want a different experience (VBAC? What’s a VBAC? What C-section?).  I was afraid of being OK.  What if I made peace with it? Then what?

I’ve been reading a few different books related to C-sections/VBAC and they have been immeasurably helpful.  Ironically, shortly after having the conversation about anger related to my C-section, I hit a section in my book about thought patterns.  The book “Silent Knife” by Lois Estner & Nancy Cohen basically walks you through every aspect of VBAC from the history of C-sections & VBAC to preparing for a VBAC.  It has a massive quantity of scientific research behind it and it’s perfectly written to cater to my scientific (& highly skeptical) side but also my vulnerable, emotional side.  Anyway, this book has a chapter in it about how our beliefs influence our births.  At first I kind of brushed it off because I’m tired of hearing this crap about if you just think positive it will all come true! Bullshit.  Been there.  Tried that.  Didn’t happen.

But this chapter was different.  It talked about how in our lives, we have certain scripts that tend to play out and become self-fulfilling prophecies and unless we learn to change those, our birth outcomes won’t likely change.  They give an example of a woman who realized she viewed hospitals as a place where people got sicker not better after watching multiple relatives enter a hospital seemingly healthy and come out visibly ill or dying.  This script started when she was a child and she realized that those people were sick when they went into the hospital but to her child eyes, the hospital is what made them sick.  This belief subconsciously influenced her birth when she herself needed to leave the hospital feeling sick (after a C-section) to fulfill that script in her head.  I have similar scripts in my head that seem to play out and honestly, I am 100,000% sure they influenced my birth experience.

I have two major scripts: {I get sick during major life events} + {my body is little so my body can’t do things}.  See now, there have been times in my life when major events have occurred and I would get sick – for example, when I was little and we would travel to Alabama in the winter to see family, I usually had a cold.  More likely than not it was just coincidental because kids get sick, especially in the winter.  However, over the years, this translated to a pattern of thought for me so whenever I knew there was a big event coming up, I essentially made my body acquire an illness!  It was a self-fulfilling prophecy!  This stuff happened for big sports games, parties, tests, you name it.  It was a sense of comfort and control during a major event, in a very twisted form.  So shocker, at 39 weeks pregnant, I acquired a major cold that took me a whole week and some change to really get over.  But this is my script.

Script number 2 is that since I am a petite person, my body can’t do things the way “normal” people can.  I mean, to some extent that’s mildly accurate, but overall I’d say it should be bogus.  I know my fair share of petite women and they are not only kick ass but they have birthed (naturally) many children between them.  When I got pregnant I was convinced I would have the baby early because in my head I thought there’s no way my little body can hang onto this baby for so long!  That script absolutely didn’t pan out because, hello, I went to 41 weeks.  When that part of my script didn’t play out I kind of panicked.  I felt like I was losing control over something ridiculous but that I thought I knew for sure.  So when my initial inkling of going early didn’t happen, I had to fall back on well your body is little so you probably can’t give birth.  That one… played out. Whew!

See where I’m going with this?  I have to change my scripts.  I have to let go of the anger.  By the time you’re reading this post, it’s been weeks since I started writing, so I can now tell you the anger doesn’t rule me anymore.  I’m changing my scripts.  I’m letting myself know, in my times of sadness, fear, and doubt, that I can do hard things.  I have already done hard things.

I now understand I don’t need to carry anger like a weapon against the world.  Instead, I look at Ben’s birth as the strongest thing I’ve ever done.  How badass am I to feel myself get cut open and then proceed to care for & feed a very small, very needy person?  Ben’s birth taught me so much about myself and instead of looking at how weak I was, and everything I regret, I need to see how strong I was.  How resilient I was.  How lovingly I felt toward my child and my new life in the face of all that happened.  That.  Is my new script.

 

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