About this post: This post was the reason I started blogging. Though, now I mainly write about simplifying and living on purpose – I need to keep this post here because of how many women have told me they needed it. I wrote this about the birth of my first child (who is now six!). I wrote it because I had so many hard emotions about the c-section delivery and I couldn’t find a place to process them. I tried talking to friends, but they didn’t have this type of experience. I searched online for support groups, there weren’t any at that time. I talked to my local nurse and she recommended I write about it. So I did. Now six years and three kids later I have kept writing and learning and finding community centered around ‘telling the hard truths’. So, thank you for stopping by. I hope this story helps you find some comfort that you aren’t alone in motherhood.
The first thing the doctor says to me after looking at me and my 6-month-old was “Did you deliver him vaginally?” I said no and he replied, “That’s what I thought, I looked at his head and your hips and thought ‘there is no way this lady had that baby vaginally’!” Though I felt a little violated that my pelvis was just ogled, I also felt that sting of shame I had felt after having a C-Section.
I’m going to share a lengthy post with you about C-Sections, and what nobody tells you. I will share with you the feelings I was ashamed to have and tell others about. Please don’t hesitate to add your comments below and share your story.
|The Day Before Labour Started|
My Experience in a Nutshell
I won’t go into all the details of my labour and delivery but in a nutshell, it went somewhat like this:
- 4am Contractions Started
- 4pm At hospital, 4 cm dilated, baby was posterior (not cool baby, not cool), back labour
- 12am Baby is still posterior, had a couple morphine shots, labour not progressing
- 12 pm Epidural, finally had some sleep, baby’s heart can’t handle the contractions and is having trouble recovering, push for over an hour, baby not descending & still posterior
- 4 pm C-Section – It’s A BOY!
- 9pm Met & held my son for the first time
Many of us took prenatal class and learned about C-Sections. Most of us perhaps tuned it out thinking “I don’t need to know this”. We probably learned some common facts such as the following:
- Caesarean sections and hysterectomies are the most common surgical procedures performed on Canadian women (Source: CIHI)
- Rates of C-Sections vary from province to province as there are currently no agreed-upon benchmarks for the appropriate use of these procedures
- Here is the most recent data I could find on C-Section rates in Canada:
Primary Caesarean Section Rates, by Province and Territory, Canada, 2002–2003, 2005–2006 and 2008–2009 Source: CIHI
Then there are the things that nobody talks about, or teaches moms expecting their first baby:
- You may feel disappointed with the delivery or embarrassed by your feelings
- You’ll feel like those who had their baby ‘naturally’ ‘don’t get it’
- The recovery time can feel like forever and you will be in pain
- You may feel less satisfied than those who had a vaginal delivery
- A study of Taiwanese and British mothers concluded that those who had a C-Section delivery had the lowest overall maternal satisfaction (Haung & Matthews, 2000)
The World For This Post C-Section Mom
Dad Can Do It
From the second our son was born my husband was by his side, seeing him weighed, cutting the cord, taking him to meet our family. Then he was the one who went to the nursery to learn how to give him a bath, change his diaper, etc – he would come back to the hospital room and teach me what he learned. I felt proud to see the man I love being a Dad but so ‘unmotherly’ that I wasn’t there alongside learning all these things, cause I thought it was ‘my job’
I’m Wasn’t Woman Enough
The thoughts would cross my mind, what if this was 100 years ago. What would have happened to me? To our son? Would I have died in childbirth? Would Levi? Knowing that me and my child are together and healthy due to modern medicine lead me down the dark and windy path of ‘maybe I wasn’t meant to bear children’ ‘ maybe I’m not woman enough to have a child’. Maybe it would have been a different story 100 years ago, but I don’t live in 1911 – I live in a wonderful age of modern medicine, iPhones, tampons and frozen pizza!
I Just Want to Hold Him
I saw a flash of Levi once he was ‘delivered’ – I was so groggy that all I remember the doctor holding him up by a leg and an arm saying ‘IT’S A BOY!’ and all I could see were my son’s piercing eyes and my husband said ‘It’s Levi’ It wasn’t hours later til that I woke up from the surgery and I got to meet him. He had met his new family and hung out with his Dad, I was worried he wouldn’t connect with me. It wasn’t like in the movies where the lay the baby on the mom’s chest and it is this magical moment. I did feel a little cheated of that experience
My Body Won’t Let Me Out Of Bed
Even when we got home I was still in a lot of pain and of course tired. There were helping hands all around doing my laundry, cleaning my floors, heating up meals – I felt guilty that I wasn’t doing that, angry at my body that it couldn’t. I would push myself and then suffer the pain later
How Do I Love You More?
You hear moms talking about the day they met their child, how they just stared at their baby, how they’ve never felt such love and joy. You rarely hear the moms who don’t feel this way – cause it’s embarrassing. I was one of them. I was majorly confused by this little guy who needed me to be his world, what could I do for him from a hospital bed? I felt more chaos and fog than joy and adoration. I saw how my husband was so in love with our son and I felt utterly ashamed that I didn’t feel the same. I lay in bed at night praying that God would fill my heart with such a love for our son, one so strong it would overshadow my current ambivalence
The Breaking Point
I guess C-Section babies have a lot of mucous in their lungs causing them to cough and spit up a lot – the mucous is usually squeezed out of the lungs during a vaginally delivery. We spent the 4 days in hospital constantly waking up to make sure he wasn’t going to choke each time we heard him cough. It was the third night in when I broke down in the middle of the night, sobbing to my husband telling him I was responsible for our son having a traumatic entrance into this world, my lack of ability was the reason he’s choking on mucous, that I’m so confused why I don’t love him like he does, that I’m in so much pain, that my body couldn’t do it, etc. Poor guy just listened, hugged me and said ‘ I’m sorry, I don’t know what to say, should I get the nurse?’
What I Have Taken Away From It All
Though our feelings can be irrational, especially after having a baby, it is important to acknowledge them and how they are affecting your life. When I told our prenatal nurse about the delivery she suggested I write out my story so I could process it. It was important for me to process this and then share my honest feelings with those closest to me. Even if they couldn’t ‘fix’ them at least my truth was heard and acknowledged.
Put It Into Context
There are people who will respond with ‘it’s still the miracle of life’ or ‘at least he’s here’ when you tell them how you feel disappointed about the C-Section. This compounds the guilt! Of course those people are correct, after all, you have your healthy child and some births end tragically. Feeling upset over a C-Section pales in comparison to the pain some parents endure, we can’t underestimate that. But we can still talk about our experiences and how they have shaped us
Understand When It Is Necessary
Of course I went into the hospital with a vaginal delivery in mind – but after being in labour for so long and pushing with no progress, knowing it was stressing the baby more with each contraction, there wasn’t a doubt in my mind I had to get a C-Section – it was the right choice for us
Understand the Trauma and Pain Your Body Endured
You were cut open, enough said. It’s okay to take the pain killers – you need to manage the pain or it will get the best of you – trying to be a hero will just eat away at your body when its already weak
Any other time I would be mortified that my mother in law is doing my laundry, or tell my wonderful neighbour it’s not necessary bring over delicious soup. Don’t be crazy! Take all the help you can! For as long as you can milk it, lady!!
Some Just Won’t Get It
Maybe you have that friend who sneezed and their baby popped out, maybe a stitch or two was necessary. Don’t try to make them understand why you feel like this isn’t something you can relate to them on.
Let It Go
When you are pregnant it seems that every woman who ever gave birth wants to tell you about her delivery. Some of these women did not have their ideal experience and though it may have been decades ago you can still pick up the acid tone in their memories. It is so important for our health and happiness to let ourselves move on and not let it tether us back to a place of regret and pain
If You Feel Depressed, Seek Help
If you ever are feeling like you are alone, unhappy, overwhelmed or depressed make sure you talk to a health professional. Most health clinics have a Post-Natal Support Services center where you can get free counseling. The Canadian Mental Health Association has some great info on postpartum depression and baby blues.
When I reflect back on this experience, here are my thoughts three kids later…..