In honour of April being C-Section awareness month I am going to share with your what I learned after my third C-Section. For the sake of brevity this is the shortest version of the events I can write but someday I will share my full birth stories. They are all so powerful and different from one another.
I was that soon to be Mom that would have given birth un-medicated under a waterfall if I was allowed to. By “allowed to” I mean, if my husband allowed me to because he thought I was crazy. Of course, reality had much different plans.
With my first child, I was 3 weeks overdue when my doctor threatened to remove care if I didn’t agree to induction. So, March 21st 2007 I woke at the crack of dawn and set out to give birth. I was set up in the hospital with an IV, a monitor and a steady supply of Pitocin. For 18 hours I laboured un-medicated and nothing happened. She didn’t drop, I didn’t open up like the flower I thought I was. I just laid there is mind blowing agony. Suddenly everything changed and before I knew what was what; I had an epidural and was in the operating room for an emergency c-section.
Unfortunately, I had a rare response to the epidural and felt parts of my surgery. I can’t explain how painful that was because of the shock I was in but I know it hurt a lot. I woke up several hours later in a room alone – no baby, no nurse, no husband and was terrified. Turns out everyone was with the new baby in the nursery and everything was fine. Well, the baby was fine. I was not so fine.
The trauma of that birth haunted me for years. I felt robbed and like I had failed myself. The memory of the pain and confusion set me into a panic if I thought too much about it. I can reasonably state that the safe arrival of my baby was the only important part of the whole day but in my heart, I didn’t feel it. This feeling fueled post-partum depression and sadness.
I struggled with secondary infertility. After 6 losses and 7 years later I was pregnant with my second child. I walked into the doctor’s office and confidently stated I would be giving birth by VBAC (vaginal birth after caesarean). My doctor whole-hearted agreed as long as I didn’t go overdue and I began to prepare for a natural birth.
I was so happy when my water broke within a week of my due date. I was going to get the natural birth I thought I needed! It was about to happen.
Fast forward 24 hours later – no baby and no progress I was taken to the operating room. I was totally gutted. Once again, I felt like I had failed. Whenever I spoke of the birth afterwards, I felt like I needed to explain why I had not given birth “normally”. I explained that I had laboured for 24 hours, that my baby was stuck in my pelvis and no matter how hard I tried I could not get her out. I explained that the doctor told us I would have died if it was 100 years ago. I tried so hard to explain it away…..but it never went away.
Three years later pregnant with my third child my (amazing) doctor told me that it is my baby and my body so I got to decide it I wanted to try another VBAC but she didn’t feel confident I would be successful. She believed I had cephalopelvic disproportion which caused my babies to not descend properly and prevented progression of labour.
I said I would think about it and since I had nine months I just sat on it. My husband, mother, mother-in-law, friends, co-workers, doctors, nurses, and anyone else I spoke to all agreed I should schedule the repeat c-section but I just said “I will think about it”.
Eight months later I brought it up again. I told my doctor my fears and what I really wanted from my birth. She agreed to a “gentle caesarean” if I choose to do it. She promised, as long as everyone was ok, I could have my baby immediately in the operating room. That we would never be separated and I could nurse in recovery.
This was very intriguing. The way she described this experience seemed so much calmer than another emergency. The idea of not recovering from surgery and labour seemed very appealing. Having my baby safely in my arms immediately sounded heavenly.
So, I agreed. On March 1st 2017 I walked myself into the hospital and had a “gentle caesarean”. My entire operating room team introduced themselves to me. We all talked about what music to listen to and guessed the baby’s gender. Within 15 minutes my beautiful baby boy was placed on my chest and left me only briefly to be weighed.
After two traumatic and painful birth experiences, I was able to make an educated decision this time. No, it is not what I wanted completely. No, I didn’t get to push my baby out. But I did participate in this birth unlike the others. I made the decisions, set the boundaries and was in control. It turns out that what was missing from my other birth experiences, not the pushing.
Thanks for letting me share my story and I hope you are not afraid to share yours if you want to.
Other posts you may be interested in:
- Motherhood and Loneliness
- Surviving Sleep Deprivation with a Newborn
- Four baby items I love for the first four weeks