I was convinced I was having twins because I'm already showing and stretching out my non-maternity tops, but there is only one bean in there! Everyone says you show sooner with your second. I broke down and bought a maternity bathing suit because I knew I would need it this summer as I'm not one to bare my pregnant belly. Pre-pregnancy I was excited to wear my favorite bathing suit this summer (thanks to some awesome pilates), but I have made peace with the maternity bathing suit. Back to the baby. Check out my patient number on the ultrasound: 7777. Seven is a very symbolic number in scripture, meaning both perfection and completion. I don't know if God is speaking through this or not, as I didn't particularly feel the Holy Spirit on it, but I do think it's pretty cool. He has been speaking to me about redemption, though, and I believe he has good things in store for this delivery. Different things. We shall see.
It's true that we are going to see a doctor in Atlanta this time around. Crazy, I know. We didn't expect it to be that way, but it's where we felt God lead us. Without going into the nitty gritty, this delivery is very important. It sets the path for future pregnancies- what and how many I may be able to have. If we have another c-section, it will be c-sections from then on out, bringing with them compounding risk and a possible limit to the number of children we can have. If I have a normal delivery, I will be in good position to have more children that way with little risk and no restrictions on number. It's a moment of truth, you could say.
When I mentioned to various health care professionals (nurses, mid-levels) around here that I wanted to try a VBAC this time (vaginal birth after Cesarean) I was met with unenthusiastic response. I assumed it was because VBACS are very dangerous, and I wasn't about to try something risky just because it's what I wanted. Ben and I looked at the medical research, risk factors, as well as the most recent recommendations from the American College of OB/GYNs. We weighed the information and found that the risks in VBAC, though serious, are actually very small. We concluded that the risks and disadvantages of multiple c-sections (which is major surgery) were not worth it for us. The College recommends that women be counseled on VBACs and not be discouraged from going that route. I have no risk factors for uterine rupture (the biggest risk with a VBAC). Yet when we talked to offices and hospitals, we found that most doctors are either not willing to do them or have little to no experience with them. It made me very sad that we had such limited options. I could tell you a more about it, but the video below describes things better than I could.
We most likely won't be here when I deliver in December, so we decided to pick a doctor based on prayer and what we felt most comfortable with instead of location. We initially wanted to go the family doctor route and thought we found a great one in Greenville (near my in-laws) who came highly recommended, but then we found out he doesn't do c-sections or VBACs. Back to the drawing board. We thought about trying a doctor in Columbia, but then I randomly came across a women saying she was travelling from here to Atlanta to see a guy named Dr. Tate who is an expert in high risk pregnancies and VBACs. I emailed him and asked if he took travelling patients. He said he has patients from both Carolinas and Tennessee, so yes, he would take me. We had a feeling he was 'the one'.
"Doc T" lives only 15 minutes from my step-sister in Atlanta, which has been a huge blessing because we stayed with her for our first appointment. I didn't really know what to expect, but we had such a wonderful experience. This man is like no one I've met before. One minute with him and you realize how incredibly intelligent he is that it's almost intimidating (especially after seeing the Yale med school degree and Emory professorship stuff on his wall), but he emanates this humility and compassion that is truly rare. He spent a long time with us, going over every detail of my history, filling in the blanks himself, and walking us step-by-step through my c-section report. He talked about each step and how he handles that kind of situation, what he looks for, etc...... we were impressed with the complexity of thought he puts into his deliveries. He gave me an official name for Anna's small size yet not a preemie: IUGR (intrauterine growth restriction), and he said I would be getting my glucose test early because of it. He ended in explaining to us each uterine rupture he has seen and the circumstances surrounding each one. I think there were less than eight- two were from women who were overweight and waited until they were 10cm dilated before coming in, three women were on their eighth or ninth pregnancy and didn't rupture at the scar site, suggesting it would have happened whether they had a prior c-section or not. He considered me a good candidate for a VBAC. He does ~150 of them a year. That is amazing, seeing as I couldn't find a doctor in town who did one or two a year! But beyond the statistics and experience and all that stuff, we had this peace about him. You could tell he devoted every fiber of his being to this profession, to serving women. He sees it as his life calling, and when I asked him when he plans to retire (he's 68), he responded, "What else would I do?" This is what he lives for, and you can tell it when you talk to him. Finally, when he found out about Anna's leg, his response was the most compassionate, appropriate, encouraging one I've ever received from anyone in the health care field. It was so touching that I almost started crying right there. Ha ha....
Our choice to see Dr. Tate is not because we think doctors in our town aren't "good enough". Until I've spent 8 years of grueling education and working long hours delivering babies, I would never pass judgment on a doctor or his abilities or motivations. I believe most people do what they think is best for their patients, with integrity, and are deserving of admiration and respect. We just feel like Dr. Tate is the one for us, for this situation. We feel safest trying a VBAC with him. We believe his experience with VBACs puts him in a better position to anticipate complications. Does it guarantee I will have a successful one? No. I could have another C-section. I could end up not even making it to his office in time to deliver. Who knows. All we can do is follow God's lead and trust him. All deliveries come with their risks. Mine just happens to have a little more than usual, whether I have a VBAC or a C-section.
We came across this little PBS spot on Dr. Tate and it describes things much better than I can:
God, my baby is in your hands.