Time to reopen birth discussion
November 3, 2002
(This letter was originally addressed to Randy Middlebrook, administrator at Aspen Valley Hospital.)
You may not remember me. I was 35 weeks pregnant last spring when Aspen Valley Hospital abruptly decided to end their VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean) procedure.
It has been five months since I delivered my baby, and I wanted to share my experience with you.
The decision by you and the board caught me off guard. Conversations about “What to name the baby?” and “Should we buy a double jogger?” suddenly became heated discussions about childbirth: “Should we do a home birth?”, “Should I stay with my parents in Boston?”, “Should we just cave in and do a repeat C-Section?”
In the end, we made the right decision for our family, and the best decision for the health of our baby. We decided that we would pursue a VBAC at any cost. So, at 38 weeks, after frantically finding a new OB practice and getting insurance approval, we headed to Denver,
Staying in a hotel for a week is pushing it. Staying in a hotel for three weeks is downright insane. Luckily, we were granted the medical rate at a hotel suite, so we had access to a kitchen whereby we could cook up some noodles for our ever-hungry toddler.
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We made the best of our stay, and took advantage of all that the big city has to offer: museums, aquariums and The Cheesecake Factory. We flew my mother-in-law in for two weeks, so that my son would have someone to stay with when I went into labor.
Based on numerous readings, I decided that my best chance for a successful VBAC was to have as little intervention as possible: no inducement, no drugs. That meant that I had to wait to go into labor.
In between acupuncture, acupressure and chiropractor appointments, I walked for miles and ate spicy food. No luck. This baby had its own plan. Finally, four days after my due date, it was time.
I’ll spare you all of the gory details, but on May 23 the sweetest little girl in the world was born vaginally. Although I thought I was going to die from the pain, she took it all in stride, barely batting an eyelash, as if to say, “Babies have been doing this forever, Mom. Get over it!”
I’ve been inundated with everything pink and cute ? booties, hats and sleepers ? but I know I’ve already given her the greatest gift ? a healthy start. That is why it is so heartbreaking that you would routinely deny parents who choose to have a VBAC this special opportunity.
Although my family was blessed with the financial and family resources to do this, not everyone is. And it was still a hardship for us. My husband missed almost three weeks of work and we went through thousands of dollars. But, in the end, it was priceless.
I’m asking you to reopen the VBAC discussion, and to make any further decisions based on sound medical information and the advice of the OB professionals.
For the parents who choose a VBAC, and for their babies who can’t choose, it’s the least you can do. This a decision about health, not politics.