Originally Posted by JTA Mom
I struggle with this too. Dh is Catholic and I am Greek Orthodox. I think a lot of my PPD has to do with this. Honestly, surgery terrifies me. And the thought of going through it multiple times? *shudder* This last time, I literally thought I would die while being wheeled into surgery. No idea where this fear comes from, but it is there. :(
I'm also terrified of all the complications like hemorrage, and especially hysterectomy. I don't want that. The lack of control that I would feel.....
It is interesting too, that several of the posters here said that having a c/s, and especially 2 c/s has changed their desired family size. It's not really talked about either. It's like a secret or something. Doctors don't talk about it, magazines, etc.
There was actually at least one study done. I remember reading the comments in the conclusion and the doctors in question seemed to feel that the reduced fertility of women who had children by c/s didn't count, because that decreased fertility was voluntary, not biological. I'm not sure how one even copes with a mindset like that.
For those who will be having more children through c/s...what did you do to come to terms with it? For those who changed their minds on number of children, what were your thoughts? Was/is there any healing around this topic of more children? If you have come to a place of peace on this issue, how did you go about getting there?
I decided when I was 18 that I wanted four chlidren. I had ds1 by c/s after about 21 hours of labour, at full dilation, after I said "no" and was completely ignored. (FWIW, I've never had a doctor since look at my files and be able to explain exactly why I was sectioned - ds1 was breech, but our hospital did do vaginal breeches in 1993, and he was frank breech. Personally, I think they panicked when they realized that he was a "missed" breech and that was that.)
So, I was devastated. I was a c-section baby, myself, and I've had a lot of "stuff" about that, too. Anyway...everybody felt that I'd VBAC next time, as breech doesn't tend to recur, I'd laboured well, etc. etc. etc. Then, as per my backstory above, it took me 10 years and 3 m/c to have my second baby, with a failed marriage and a divorce thrown in for good measure. Just to add insult to injury, my brother, who didn't want kids, had had four children since I'd had ds1. My sister, who also hadn't wanted kids, got pregnant with what turned out to be twins, right after I got pregnant with my second, and those twins made her third and fourth children, as well. While part of my brain was saying, "it doesn't matter what other people have", the other part of my brain was saying, "WTF??? I've wanted four children for 16 years and both of my siblings have them, while I've had nothing but infertility issues and miscarriages and an effing c-section". It was really, really, really hard to take, and I think it's part of what pushed my desire for four chlidren to - and over - the point of obsession.
So, I finally got pregnant with dd1, and actually cried that Halloween, becuase it was the 12 week mark, and I'd miscarried the previous two just a day or two before that. I felt as though a 10 year curse had finally lifted, and my life was back on track. The pregnancy went well - not quite the amazing, glowing Earth Mother experience I had with my first, mostly because I was incredibly exhausted, but still a very good pregnancy. I was active, healthy, etc. and was finally going to have my VBAC! At my 39 week checkup, we discovered that dd1 was footling breech (confirmed by u/s - she looked like she was dancing a jig). I got a call the next morning from the OB's office, informing me that I was having my c-section the next day (39w, 2d). I argued, and I yelled and I cried...and I caved. I didn't agree with anything they were saying (eg. "the baby can't turn at this point - it's too big"...even though she had evidently been vertex a week earlier and my first turned in labour!), but I was also freaked out in a way I can't really describe. I'd started to feel as though reproduction was out to get me, and it was all happening again, and I was so freaked out about losing another one. I just couldn't stand up for myself. DH hadn't been with me through the whole nightmare - only the last couple of years figuring out when to ttc (didn't want our baby to have any potential legal issue with my crack-addicted ex) - do he didn't really understand the psychological ramifications of me going back on the table. Anyway...it went okay, I guess. I found the experience of being awake for a c-section to be disgustingly gruesome - much, much, much worse than the general anesthesia - and was shocked by how much I could feel, and the whole experience just sucked in every possible way. Then, I got sent to the main post-op recovery room, while dd1 went to nursery with dh. DD1 didn't nurse well, and my supply took a lot longer to come in than usual. She also had breathing problems - would just...stop. It didn't happen a lot, and she always started on her own again- it was almost as if she skipped breaths, but it was absolutely terrifying. We mentioned it to the night nurse, and she said, "yes - breathing issues like that are common with c-section babies". I felt as though I'd been kicked in the head...and I was really, really scared that something would hapepn to her.
Then, ds2. I decided that, as much as I hated everything about having a c-section, if I wasn't going to get support for a VBA2C, i'd still have another baby, and I got pregnant with ds. As soon as I knew I was pregnant, and had seen my doctor, I started having nightmares, for the first time in my life. They happened every night, and they were all about OR, and they were ugly. So, I knew I wasn't really okay with another c-section, and told my doctors I wasn't having it, and wanted a VBA2C. They were amazingly unsupportive, and argued with me the entire pregnancy. I tried to get a licensed midwife, only to be told that I'd have to have a consulting OB...and I already knew how that was going to go. So, I fought with my care providers through another pregnancy, and ds2 stayed vertex!!! Success! I was finally going to have this work. DS2 stayed vertex. He also went post-dates. By then, I'd done a lot more research, and also knew that dh and his brothers were all late, big, vaginally birthed babies. So, I fought with the OB some more, and refused the July 4th c-section they wanted me to have (that was before my "due date" of the 14th...and I have no idea why they wanted me to have him so early!). At my OB appointment at 41w, 4d, after my first NST (all good), the OB told me that it would be malpractice to "let" me go any further in this pregnancy, and if I didn't show up for the c-section the next day, he'd drop me from care. And, I caved again.
This is really getting long - sorry, but it's all emotionally complicated. Long story short, I went into labour the night before the surgery, and they didn't care, so I had c/s number three, but at least ds2 picked his own birthday. The surgery itself went pretty well, and my initial recovery was good. Unfortunately, I had fairly serious nerve damage in my pelvis (couldn't feel my bladder - still don't have normal sensation - couldn't feel my clitoris for months, and sexual sensation was totally messed up - it never did return to "normal", but I've learned to compensate...and I still have trouble doing kegels and other abdominal/pelvis muscle work), and a staple tore in my incision, which resulted in an infection. It took over a month before my incision fully closed. My hospital stay was awful, and the breastfeeding experience while at the hospital was pretty rough, because of their interference, even though ds2 had the best initial latch of any of my kids and was a really great nurser right from the beginning. I did get to hold and nurse him in recovery, which was good. So...short term was pretty good, but the longer term recovery wasn't. That c-section effed me up for life, I suspect.
This one's hard to talk about - but I went underground for my next baby, because I really, really needed to feel that I'd fought my hardest possible fight for a real birth, and I couldn't face another hospital stay, and I really, really wanted another baby. And, I was 38 when I got pregnant with him - had wanted all my kids by my early 30s! - and felt the clock ticking awfully fast. The pregnancy went well, although I was having a really hard time coping with my then 4 year old dd1 and 2 year old ds2. Anyway...long gestation (43+ weeks), big baby (10lbs. 14oz.), long labour, developing temperature, etc. resulted in an eventual hospital transfer (there was nothing really wrong, but things weren't right, either, yk?). I really didn't want to go, and I put it off longer than I should have. OMG - this is still so hard to talk about...Aaron's heart stopped - no decels, no anything - just stopped, and they rushed me in for a stat c/s. I came out of general anesthesia, and held my dead son, while I was still so out of it that I barely even understood that he was gone. I wished I'd gone with him (remember my mom saying "it could have been worse - it could have been both of you" and thinking "and, that would have been worse...why?"). I was absolutely devastated, and my physical recovery was a nightmare. I had horrible pain, and my incision was infected again, and I was pretty severely anemic - not quite at the transfusion point, but I suspect I was really close. I couldn't get off the couch without help for almost two weeks. I kept ending up in excruciating pain, because my bladder would get full without my realizing it (remember that nerve damage?) until it was so full that it was pressing against the incision. It was an absolute nightmare..and it broke me in almost every possible way. It's been 3.5 years, and I'm still not even remotely put back together.
So...the "how many children?" thing. DH didn't really want another baby - he'd been hesitant about Aaron. But, he knew that the only thing I really wanted out of life was a family of four children. In the long run, he and I both felt that my mental health would be slightly better with four living children and five c-sections than with three living children and four c-sections. The way I framed it to myself was that, no matter how many children I had, I wasn't ever going to give birth to any of them, and I'd rather live with my four children and the memory of one extra c-section, because the "births" all sucked, anyway. And...after everything, as hard as it was to end my reproductive life on another c-section, it would have been even harder to end it on a c-section and stillbirth. So, I had dd2 by scheduled, elective (truly elective) c-section in June of 2009. She's the light of my life, and one of the most truly happy, adorable, cuddly babies little ones I've ever known. I wouldn't be at all surprised to see her go into some form of counseling or health care or nursing - something, because I believe she's a healer. She's been an amazingly positive thing for our family. And, the c-section itself was a lot better than the rest of them - got to nurse her on the OR table, and dh was there for the terrifying spinal, and things like that.
I'm done. I had a tubal while I was on the table with dd2. I can't even describe how good it feels to look at pictures of all my kids or to watch the three younger ones dogpile ds1 on the living room floor, or whatever. But, I also know that the "how many children will I have?" question is one that I haven't been rational about for a very, very long time. If I had it all to do over, once ds1 was here, I'd probably do it again. But, if I'd known what was coming before I started having kids, I'm not sure I'd have ever had any. I feel like a crappy person even saying that, because I love my kids, but I don't like what it did to me to get them here...not even a little bit. I don't like how much of my gutlessness was exposed to me by the whole journey, and I don't like the person I am now. My reproductive life broke me. People think I'm overstating it, but I'm not. Someone told me that I'd finally learned "acceptance" when I went in for my last section without any fuss...but it wasn't "acceptance"...it was a total lack of any ability to give a crap about what happened to me..and I think part of me was hoping I'd die on the table. And, there are no words that adequately describe how I felt being wheeled out of OR that last time, knowing that my tubes were tied, and that I'm never, ever, ever having another c-section. Relief doesn't even come close.
I'm not sure how useful any of that is, for discussion purposes. I went ahead and had all the children I wanted, but I really, really understand why some women who've had a c-section stop afterwards. Aside from anything else, the relative risks for certain complications start getting scary after a while.