Sunday, April 18, 2010

How are Prayers Answered?

Today at church we had a lesson on prayer.

The questions that were brought up by the teacher were "What is prayer?", "How often should you pray?", and most importantly "How are prayers answered?"

We split into groups and each group was assigned different questions. My group was assigned "How are prayers answered?"

Several of the ladies in my group brought up different circumstances in their lives when they received answers to prayers, but also situations where maybe they didn't get an answer to a prayer.

Sometimes prayers are answered through other people. Sometimes you have amazing experiences where you pray for something and whoop there it is. (sorry I just had the 90's rap song come in my head as I typed that). But sometimes you don't get an answer and you just have to move forward and do what you hope is best, or do more searching on your while trying to have an increase in faith.

I didn't share my own experience with my group, but the entire time I couldn't help but think about my own personal trial that I have been going through these past several months, and how I have been in that exact situation where the answer has not been clear to me.

As you know, we are pregnant with baby #2 - due mid August. This pregnancy has sort of been a ticking timebomb for me as it get nearer and nearer to the due date, with the decisions that need to be made about the type of birth that needs to happen.

With our first, Preston, I ended up needing to have a csection after almost 24 hours of labor.

I really did not want to have a csection, nor had I planned for one. At all. But instead had done a ton of reading and preparation well ahead of time for all the aspects of a vaginal birth. I had burned cds of relaxing music to listen to while in labor and had my plan for how I was going to handle everything. I imagined pushing the baby out, Will being there to cut the cord, holding my baby skin to skin for the first time.

But I did absolutely no reading about csections. In fact, my friend Heather loaned me a book about csections, just in case I wanted to read it. I remember putting it aside thinking "I won't need that". Which of course, I ended up scouring and reading over the weeks after I had Preston and was grateful she had loaned it to me.

But of course, sometimes things just don't always happen like you plan them to.

I don't regret the csection because it is what brought Preston to us safely. Yes the recovery was not the funnest, but being that I didn't have any other birth experiences to compare it to, it was just what I dealt with and embraced it.

Even with the surgery, I still remember Preston's birth as a beautiful experience and have very fond memories of it. Yeah...sometimes I have felt a twinge of sorry-for-myself-attitude when I hear about successful and/or easy vaginal labors from other women. I really did want that experience. And when I hear their stories, I never feel as though I can quite understand or connect to them. I never went through that "right of passage". Or at least that us how I have sometimes felt.

Fast forward to the here and now, because I had a csection the first time, now that I am pregnant again, this next birth is not something that is just another casual birth. Well, not that any birth is ever casual. But I can't just wait for labor, head to the hospital, and have a baby.

There are all sorts of rules and complications involved now.

At my first OB appointment for this pregnancy, one of the first things my doctor said was "Well at least this time you won't have to labor at all, we'll just schedule you for the csection and you'll get to skip all the other stuff!"

That was the first time I realized that I was heading for another csection, due to already having had a previous one. And my initial reaction was, what? I don't want another csection!

But then, I started doing a lot of research and talking to other women and found out that it's possible to have a vaginal birth after a csection. So of course, that is what I wanted because who wants to have more surgery right?

Well, for the past 5 months I have been searching for a doctor who will do just that. But they are far and few between up here in this area. I can't tell you how many different doctor offices I have called up to ask if they do VBAC's (vaginal birth after cesarean) and I've received rude responses, almost treating me as if I were asking for some type of illegal procedure. As if it were some granola natural birthing option that I would have to find a hippee doctor for.

I have cried many exhausted and hurt tears after these hours and hours of calling around.

The truth is though, is I really haven't had any clue what was right for me. There are risks involved for me no matter what birthing option I choose. It's a little scary.

I know, women have csections every day, it's very common and you hear about it all the time. And chances are you know several women who have had one or more of them. My sister-in-law has had 4 csections.

But you probably never hear about the other sides of the story because all you hear about is the beautiful birth of the baby. You probably don't know about the risks involved, forget that it's actual major surgery and takes a lot of recovery time afterwards. It also leaves a lot of scar tissue which can make the number of children you were hoping to have a lot smaller.

There are also risks involved with trying to have a vaginal birth after a csection as well, which is why most doctors don't want to run the risk and encourage women to go straight for the csection the 2nd time around. Because of the scar on the uterus, and with going into labor/having contractions and it thinning out the lining...there is a possibility of a uterine rupture while in labor. Which, if happens, can be fatal for both mother and baby if gone undetected during labor and not corrected immediately (corrected, meaning, an emergency csection as fast as possible).

So as you can see, while I have been excited to be having another baby and adding to our family...I've been scared out of my pants about this!

How do you decide what is best for you when you don't know what the outcome will be either way? What if I tried to do a vbac and ended up in the same scenario that I did with Preston and would need a csection anyway? The thought of going through all that labor again in vain....ugh. Not to mention that laboring first and then having a csection is sometimes compared to running a marathon and then getting into a car accident. Recovery sucks. What if I have a uterine rupture?

How do I know that if I just went in and did a planned csection that there wouldn't be complications? Would it also mean that it would lessen the amount of children we could possibly have that were supposed to be in our family?

It's been like trying to choose between two evils. Not that having a baby is evil AT ALL, that is not what I am saying. It's just.either way I have this baby there are risks involved, more than a normal regular birthing experience. Which is the lesser risk? Which is the safer? Yet I won't know until I try? What if I choose wrong?

Over these past several months I have been praying for answers. This situation has not been like any other for me. Usually the things I have to pray about are a little more obvious in their answer. But this time...I have been left answerless.

I suppose it is because, on the one hand, I want Heavenly Father to simply tell me what to do. He can see what is down the road for me, right? He would know what would be the safe thing to do. But I know prayers are not often answered when you ask for a direct answer. You usually have to decide what you want to do first, and then ask God if it is the right thing.

I have often thought, well, since I am having such a hard time finding doctor who does vbac's in this area, it must mean that I am just meant to have a csection afterall. Maybe I am not emotionally strong enough to try for a vbac anyway? My doctor is convinced that if I tried to do a vbac (which she will not do, which is why I have been trying to find another dr to consult with), that I would have a 91% chance of needing a csection again anyway. She is of the strong opinion that it is because of the shape of my pelvis that Preston descended the way that he did and got stuck, and that because of that, any future babies I have will descend the exact same way.

So I do have those thoughts pounding in my head quite often which make me doubt doing anything but a csection.

I actually did finally find a doctor last week, and went in for a consultation with her just to get a 2nd opinion based on my medical records with Preston's birth. I thought, hey, maybe this will be great and she will be able to answer my questions and give me good information to help me make a better decision. Maybe it will be an answer to my prayers.

Sadly, the entire appointment ended up being a complete waste of time, I didn't learn anything new (not because she agreed with my OB, but because she didn't even look at my medical records and instead gave me her opinion based on the general stastics, not having anything to do with my own personal situation), and I'm still back at square one.

I still don't know what to do.

I have 4 months left until my due date. It feels like enough time to figure things out...and yet I've already spent 5 and 1/2 months searching for answers and have come up empty.

Friends have told me "Who cares what you choose, the important thing is that the baby gets here safely."

Well yes that is entirely true. In the end, the important thing is that the baby is safe and unharmed. But...I would like to hope that I would end up safe and unharmed as well. I mean that would suck to deliver a healthy baby and then have a mother who was incapable of caring for him because of complications. And also trying to consider my longterm health, which is affected by this decision.

Ugh. It's just been a lot to think about and pray about. I guess it would be safe to say that this has been a big deal to me, and definitely a situation where I think Heavenly Father is expecting me to do my research and strengthen my faith before I get an answer.

Research? Check. Done LOTS of that.

Faith? Well...maybe there is something there I can work on.

So I guess for now, maybe my prayers about what to do aren't being answered. But one prayer that I can have answered is to ask Him to help me to have faith. Faith in my body, faith in God, faith that things will work out, and faith that, eventually, my prayers will be answered.

P.S. And asking your husband for his advice and opinion is really no help. I asked Will what he would do if he was in my shoes and having the baby. He said "I would do the csection". I asked him why and his answer was "Because there is NO WAY I would want to push a baby out my woo-hoo."

All funny-ness aside though, Will has been very supportive and loving through this decision making process. He has taken time off of work to come to some of my doctor appointments, and also the recent consultation with the other doctor. He wants what is best for me, and I think he also wishes that he just knew what the right answer is.


Lori-ann said...

I know this has been a huge struggle and burden for you and many people have expressed a lot of strong opinions about it. I think you brought up some really good points, especially about YOUR health and what's not only good for your baby but for your body as well. Both are important. I love what you said about faith. Maybe this is something the Lord feels that you need to be tested and strengthened in. I don't know. I wish I had that magic ball and see what will happen and what will be the best decision for you and your family. All I know is that when you give yourself over to the Lord, He will always do what is best because He loves you and always wants what is best for you, even though sometimes it's hard. His love is perfect and He will never let you down. That is something that I had to learn very quickly last September and October, to have total faith and trust in the Lord. It totally changed my outlook on the hard time I have been going through. I totally believe that you will find the answers you are looking for.

Annalea said...

Jenni, I would really urge you to start talking to midwives. You can find a list of local ones at (That's the Midwives' Alliance of North America.) Keep talking to different ones until you find someone that you really click with, who understands your concerns, and can give you really good information. MANA might not have all of the midwives in your area, but you can also look in the phone book and ask the MANA midwives if they know of any more in the area. I found my first midwife in the yellow pages. ;o) Here are another couple I found, too:

Even if you decide that a midwife's care isn't for you, a midwife can give you the information you're looking for. There are also a lot of great books about midwife-assisted birth, and VBACs.

No matter what your situation, birth has risks. There are things you can do to strengthen and heal the scar tissue you have, and allow it to be more flexible and help prevent a rupture. Again, a good midwife can give you information on all options--herbal/alternative as well as conventional. And a good midwife will be completely honest with you about whether or not she'd be willing to offer you care.

This is totally long now, but PLEASE feel free to email me with any questions or responses. I understand very clearly where you're coming from--I didn't have a C-section my first time, but my hospital experience was such that I felt I simply couldn't do the same thing again . . . and yet was really afraid of homebirth. It took quite a few weeks (or maybe even months?) to figure out what to do, and I did a ton of learning during that time. The book that helped me to make the best decision for me was Birthing From Within by Pam England. It's not a book on homebirth--it's a book on how to address your fears and have the best birth you can, regardless of what eventually happens. It's beautiful and awesome, and if you can't get a copy let me know, and I'll let you borrow mine. :o)

Hang in there, Jenni . . . you've got a lot of women who love you and who are willing to pull for you, in whatever direction you choose!

Rachel Goodwin Williams said...

Keep the faith. Sometimes I think that HF wants us to use our agency and make a decision ourselves and go forward with faith. I know to you it might feel like such a big decision, but to the Lord it may not matter one way or the other and He will be there and with you whichever option you choose. There's a really good talk I like by Elder Hales about personal revelation that he gave in Oct 2007 general conference.

I've already given you my opinion about what I would do, but if you do decide to go the vbac route I would really try and find a good midwife. There are a lot of doctors out there that can perform great csection, but you will need a very supportive birth attendant to get you through the vbac. A midwife will be there the whole time, not just to check progress and catch a baby. Good luck in your decision.

Aby Runyan said...


Continue to pray. More importantly, listen. Really stay on your knees and try to HEAR the Lord. But yeah, more than likely you need to go to him with a choice and ask if it's right. More than likely, you already know what you want to do. Just ask yourself in a moment of true quiet "What do I want?" Go to the Lord with the FIRST thing that comes to your mind. And then tell Him, that no matter what He says - that is what you will do.

I kid you not, my experience with my first was EXACTLY the same as yours. And I struggled with if I should have a VBAC JUST as much as you have.

In the end, I knew. I just knew that it wasn't going to happen. This wasn't till maybe a month or so before my due date. It was a feeling I'd been denying myself, I'm sure the Lord had been telling me - and I just didn't want to hear it.

I can understand more than you know how much it SUCKS to not get the "normal" birth experience.

But I'll tell you this. I decided that I'd rather have a c-section than face wearing adult diapers the rest of my life. For ya know, number 1 AND number 2.

No they are NOT easy. Recovery sucks. I'm nervous about this fourth c-section I'm going to have. I feel pretty certain my body couldn't do a fifth. But I do feel like the Lord has been preparing me for some time with the notion that 4 kids is gonna be it for me. And in the end, if that's what He wants - than it's what I want too.

luvs, aby

Lori-ann said...

I know this is a bit late, but I wanted to share anyway. Yesterday this quote was on the front of the bulletin for our Sacrament Meeting and I thought of you.

"Father in Heaven knew you would face challenges and be required to make some decisions that would be beyond your own ability to decide correctly. In His plan of happiness, He included a provision for you to receive help with such challenges and decisions during your mortal life. That assistance will come to you through the Holy Ghost as spiritual guidance. It is a power, beyond your own capability, that a loving Heavenly Father wants you to use consistently for your peace and happiness."
-Richard G Scott, 2009

What a wonderful promise and reminder! You aren't left alone to make this upcoming decision. Just remember that.

Karen said... 100 miles or push a baby out my woo-hoo???? Both of Will's options would leave my body feeling the same way..... But you do have to love the visual!! Sorry to make fun of a serious issue. I just couldn't resist!
I think the most important thing about having babies is that you trust the doc or midwife that you prayerfully choose, because things can change in a heartbeat no matter what you plan. Make your best plan but recognize "flexibility" must be your middle name.

Roemhildt Family Fun said...

I want you to know I cried reading your blog. Gosh, why is life so challenging sometimes? You have prayed and worked so hard to do your part in fulfilling your part of the bargain. All your asking for is an answer I"m sure the Lord could give that to you so why hasn't he already. That I don't know. Sometimes i think we are given challenges that stretch us past the point of exhaustion, just to we can gain a little more faith. I feel your struggle, your courage, and I can see your faith through your actions. You will somehow be blessed for your faith.

You and Will, will be in our prayers.