Better Hands than Mine

Better Hands than Mine January 28, 2013

My Experience with Vaginal Birth after C-Section

I had just arrived at my obstetrician’s office after finishing the five-month ultrasound at the hospital. I was expecting a quick visit since I was gearing up to switch doctors. It was time to make the first all-important decision of my pregnancy: who will delivery me via VBAC (Vaginal Birth after Cesarean). My current doctor doesn’t do VBACs, but isn’t against them. That did not console me much. I had spent five-months searching for her replacement and had yet to find the perfect candidate.

Oddly, she called me into her office instead of a patient room this time. We sit down across her desk from each other. She quickly gets to the point, “Did they explain the ultrasound to you at the hospital?” I didn’t know what she was talking about. “Well it showed a slight complication that the doctor should have spoken to you about. He is in his office and has agreed to consult with you if you walk over there right now.” Agonizingly, she won’t tell me anymore. I tried to pick up my heart from my stomach and walk over to my next appointment.

I met with the doctor, a mild-tempered man. With my ultrasound results in his hand, he explained that they had a few concerns. Alhamdullilah, nothing life shattering. Just a few recommended precautions for the remainder of my pregnancy. So I went back to worrying about how I am going to achieve my sought-after VBAC. I had already spent months researching doctors and certified nurse midwives. However, with time passing quickly, I still hadn’t found a candidate that fit all my requirements. It seemed like I needed to make a compromise. With no more time to waste, I had told myself I would make the tough decision by this day, the day of my five-month ultrasound.

My ideal candidate would have been an experienced midwife practicing under an obstetrician, who delivered at a nearby hospital, and accepted my insurance. Not much to ask for, but so far impossible to find.

“You mentioned a VBAC,” he said, pulling me out of my thoughts.

I tiredly nodded in the affirmative, thinking how little he knows about my motivation to make the VBAC happen. With my first child, I was not given an option and rushed into a C-section.  I vowed to give myself more options with this pregnancy. Unfortunately, trying for a VBAC was starting to resemble winning the lottery. Both involved incredible odds stacked against you.

“Well I do those,” he said.

I looked at him for a minute. He’s obviously male, wearing a yarmulke and glasses. His demeanor was amenable, but frank. Almost the antithesis of what I had been looking for. I started to peel away at the exterior with my oft-rehearsed interview questions. Surprisingly, every answer he gave brought him closer to exactly what I wanted in a doctor.

My heart was suddenly at ease. I now see the hand of Allah directing this day. Despite having just met, I decided to switch to this doctor, at that very moment fully understanding that Allah had guided me here.

I thought of the verse: And you threw not, [O Muhammad], when you threw, but it was Allah who threw that He might test the believers with a good test. Indeed, Allah is Hearing and Knowing. (8:17)

I chose not, when I chose my doctor, but it was Allah who chose for me. I had stressed about the decision, thinking the outcome was largely in the doctors’ hands, forgetting  momentarily about Allah.

From that day forward, we would assess my chances of VBAC success at every appointment. The odds would work in my favor if the baby’s weight was kept low, if I didn’t go over my due date, if she was head-down, if…if…if. The week before my due date, the baby’s weight was beautifully on track, I was already dilated and contracting, but she was stubbornly breech! SubhanAllah, I did not let the news dishearten me. I was content knowing I did everything in my hands to achieve my goal, and it was just a matter of time to find out what Allah planned all along. I agreed to a risky procedure to have her turned, which worked out and led to a difficult but successful vaginal delivery, Alhamdullilah!

Decision-making has a way of giving us a false sense of control over our lives. Sometimes our decisions have direct consequences that we may see immediately, so it’s easy to land in that pitfall. As mothers, we make decisions for ourselves and our families day in and day out. Do I choose private school or public? How will my food choices affect their health long term? Is it the right time to have another baby? The consequences of these decisions may not be seen or evaluated for many years to come.  It puts my heart at ease knowing that, with the right intention, my decisions are being guided by a better hand than mine.

For more detailed pointers on how to start your journey toward a VBAC, see VBACing_Support.

 Dalal Kanan

Dalal is a newly minted mother of two. She is a chemistry graduate student who enjoys her passions for healthy cooking, connecting with like-minded moms, bargain-shopping, and obsessively keeping up with current events.


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