By Stephanie Roles
Growing up I always thought I wanted a scheduled c-section. If you asked me in my early 20’s, I would have said that I “couldn’t survive traditional labor” (it is amazing what we, as women truly can survive!). Sitting in prenatal class pregnant with our first child is when I finally grasped how major the procedure itself is. They spoke about how lengthy and painful recovery can be, needing full-time support and how much of your freedom you truly lose in those early weeks with your newborn. The biggest thing that stood out to me was how reliant everyone said you were going to need to be on your partner/others. This reality immediately changed my mind.
When I first found out I was pregnant with our second back in November, my anxiety immediately shot through the roof. My mind jumped right to “how am I going to get another one out”? Both my son and I suffered serious complications in delivery, looking back the experience doesn’t even feel real. Not to mention the mere anxiety that surrounded experiencing a pregnancy during lockdown in a global pandemic. My first trimester in this second pregnancy was a struggle: my best friend tragically lost her husband days after I found out, I felt severe guilt/shame surrounding that timing, my body was running on empty and unlike my first pregnancy, I was diagnosed with prenatal depression (something no one really prepares you for in contrast to postpartum depression). This pregnancy was proving to be much harder than my first and it was only the beginning.
As you can imagine, ‘caesarean section’ were the two words I was not prepared to hear in a routine chat following my 19-week anatomy scan from which I was diagnosed with Placenta Previa. Fear, anxiety and disappointment immediately rushed through my body. This wasn’t how my second birth plan was supposed to go. Everyone had told me up until then the second delivery “would be easier”. Especially after having to fight so hard with my first to make it through complications for both mom and baby without a c-section. Then I thought, what is complete previa? Will the baby be ok? How is there nothing I can do to fix this? This was all running through my head as my midwife spoke to me.
I was now deemed a “high-risk” pregnancy and as I sat listening to the number of restrictions placed on the rest of my pregnancy and the less than 10% chance I had for this to correct, I felt completely hopeless. No exercise, no lifting (even my own toddler), no sex, along with a high chance I could start experiencing bleeding throughout the rest of my pregnancy, I felt my chest tighten. My mental health was already suffering, a consistent exercise routine and home renos were the only things that seemed to help manage my prenatal depression.
Ten weeks has passed since I first received this news. My 28 week follow up confirmed no change and I am still complete previa. As the percentages slip further and further away, I have turned to the community of moms around me to try to come to terms with this new reality. The anxiety comes in waves, not only surrounding the c-section itself but the interim risk of severe bleeding, the possibility of full bed rest, the chance of preterm complications and even late pregnancy loss. I also fear everything involved with the postpartum recovery: from breastfeeding to the chance of experiencing postpartum depression, caring for a newborn while supporting my toddler through this transition, and even a little selfishly how my body will bounce back from this. Additionally, my partner’s parents in Australia will not be able to be here in those early weeks due to the pandemic.
However, this amazing community of women around me has offered nothing but support in sharing their own similar experiences. I am hoping that sharing my journey though this will also help other moms. Pregnancy is scary, things don’t go as planned, and all we can do is try and find beauty in the chaos.
Follow along with the rest of our journey @StephanieRoles on Instagram.