Monday, December 29, 2008

Planning for the birth

So, I'm almost 8 months pregnant now and still on the fence about whether to have a c-section or a vaginal birth. I think a vaginal birth would be hard on Faith, judging by the size of her cranial opening. In the front, her skull appears to end a litte bit above her eyelids, at her brow (which is less severe than some cases I've seen) but I can't really tell how it is in the back. In the photos you can also see how her brain protrudes outside of her skull a little bit. If she were to push through the birth canal head-first, it would put pressure directly on her brain. Apparently there are no nerve endings in the brain, but I still think it would cause her more suffering than if I were to have a c-section. I mean it's not easy squeezing through a birth canal for anyone, and being pushed through without a skull to protect your head just doesn't seem fair. I hear mothers talking about how "battered up" their anencephalic babies looked when delivered vaginally. Then again, it would be ideal if Faith was breached and came out bum-first. Even feet-first would not be so bad (she's not expected to be very big). That way I could deliver naturally without putting a lot of pressure on the top of her head.

After weighing the pros and cons, I realize that a vaginal birth is the best thing for me, while a c-section is probably the best thing for Faith. Although I would miss out on the whole natural childbirth experience, it would be so worth it if it meant minimizing Faith's suffering. It's not that I want to prolong her stay with us by having a c-section... not at all. In fact, part of me has hoped that she would be stillborn so that I wouldn't have to watch her suffer. But seeing her stillborn, all purple and bruised up... I don't know if I could handle seeing her like that either. And I do want to have some time with her before she goes, enough time for me to feel her little hand wrap around my finger and enough time to look her in the eyes and tell her that I love her and sing her lullabies. No matter how long she stays with us, I know I'll be holding and kissing her for hours.

I have also been thinking about what kind of care will be given to Faith once she is born. Theoretically, substituting Faith's oxygen could prolong her life for months or years. But she would never "get better" or even grow up. It would probably just prolong her suffering, and only God knows how much I cry over not wanting her to suffer. So unless God performs a miracle and changes everything, only food and comfort measures will be given to her. I am hoping to breastfeed (my colostrum has already come in, so I think I will be able to) but if I can't, I will request a substitute for her. I am also wondering about pain relief, but I haven't decided about whether or not I want to medicate her. No matter what I do to try to help her, I know I will have very little control on that day. That's not going to be easy for me...

Obviously I'm debating a lot of things in my mind right now! I'm meeting with a GP, an OB GYN, and the head pediatrician of the NIC unit soon, to discuss everything and put some kind of a plan in place. I am a little nervous about what kind of opposition I will get for requesting the option of a c-section (actually, I was already turned down before), but hopefully they will see Faith as their "second patient" and will consider her quality of life too.