Recently, a friend of mine was feeling particularly low because of the caesearean she had had almost a year ago now. This didn’t surprise me, however, as many of the women I know who had unplanned caeseareans often feel the same or similar feelings. The other morning wasn’t the first time I’d heard it, nor will it be the last. I, too, still struggle with it from time to time and my son is now almost a year and a half. So, I felt compelled to write a little something, the story of my struggle, but also a story of love…
As expected, the birth of my son didn’t go as planned. I was huge, he was overdue, and my husband (who works out of town) was missing work to stay close to home. I agreed to induction (originally not in my birth plan) and five days and 24 hours of labour later, my son was born via caesearean.
I felt pressured. Not by my husband, not by my doctors even, but by the circumstances of life being what they were. Get out, son! It would be most convenient for you to come now. He was very happy, and doing fabulously in my belly, but we needed him to arrive. And, thanks to modern medicine we could force him out. Two rounds of Cervadil accomplished nothing more than to create a leak in the amniotic fluid. So, Pitocin was heavily suggested. I started contractions on my own in the early morning hours before going to the hospital for the pitocin induction to begin, but they still wanted to use it to augment my labour. It was awful, the contractions were never ending. Just when they would start leveling off, time to up the dose! Horrid. The doctor came in and broke my water (I suspect because he didn’t want to stay too late). After pushing for what was around 3 hours, I was told baby boy was not in a good position (which he had been up until sometime before my water was broken) and caesearean was the answer. I was so tired, I didn’t care. I was more worried about how it made my husband feel. He was scared. I was exhausted.
It wasn’t until getting home and after being alone, lurching around, watching every move as to prevent my insides from bursting forth from my scar (I imagined this happening a few times) that I began to feel it. The guilt, the failure. Why did I let it happen? I said yes to every option that (what I believe) inevitably led to my caesearean.
We moved to a new town midway through my pregnancy, and although our original plan was to get a midwife (maybe even have a home birth), there were only so many in town and they were all booked up. So, I decided to at least get a doula. My doula, Cindy Black was amazing. She was very open and easy to talk to. We discussed all the usual fears and apprehensions a soon to be new mom (and dad) could have. We went through want I wanted in my birth plan and we talked about what I wanted in the case of a caesearean, but to be honest, I thought it would never happen. She prepared me though. For all possibilities. And she was there, through it all – she even sat next to me while they sewed me up.
So, what happened? I prepared myself, I had support, I was always given a choice. It’s not my fault, but it feels that way. It feels like my body let me down, and in turn I let my body down. I did it a disservice by not giving it the chance to do what it was made to do. I feel guilty. I feel sad. It wasn’t postpartum depression (thankfully), I just felt like I had failed in some way. Given the chance to do it again, my decisions would be quite different.
But that’s the point, isn’t it? Hindsight is 20/20. I can’t do it over again, so why do I continue to beat myself up over it? My son is 16 months old now and I STILL think about it from time to time. People say all that matters is we are both here, happy and healthy. Of course this is true, but rarely is it comforting. My doula says that it is my birth story, unique to me. And, if I have another child, his or her story will be different from my son’s. But still, the feeling lingers. No one can make me feel ok with it, but me. I have to let it go. I have to forgive. I have to move on. How though?
I find myself feeling less and less guilty as time passes. I think about it less. Thankfully, my ob-gyn did an AMAZING job and my scar is hardly noticeable even by me, which helps. When I find myself talking to other women who have had unplanned caeseareans and how they feel the same sort of feelings it makes me feel better, for many reasons. I feel better knowing I’m not alone. It seems to be normal to feel that way. But then, I’m angry! Angry that it’s normal to feel this way! It’s not ok! We don’t deserve to treat ourselves like this! And that makes me feel unashamed. I am not guilty of anything! And that, is the truth!
My doula is right, it is my son and mine’s unique birth story. It is my memory of our first meeting. I can not sully it with feelings of inadequacy. I must remember it with love, and respect. For myself and what I have championed over. And, this is what I will remember…
– Written by Nicole