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It's time for me to get past my c-sections, please send your words of wisdom

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 

Hi Ladies,

I love that there is a group so specific to include the c-section AFTER a long labor...because that's an important part!  I had my first c-section over 4 years ago, and I find myself still thinking about it every day.  And when I'm laying awake at night I also find myself thinking of my c-section, and running the events over in my mind, and finding ways to defend myself to people who don't understand--people who make thoughtless comments that continue to run through my mind.

 

I'll try to summarize my long birth story into a short one.  I was very excited to go into labor, and decided I would try to labor as long as I could naturally, but if I needed some intervention I was OK with that, too.  I labored for 36 hours total, which includes the 3-3.5 hours of pushing.  I had contractions every 5 minutes for about 15-25 of those hours.  At hour 20 I took shots and labored through the night with the help of some pain meds, but my labor slowed in progress and at hour 30 they said they needed to induce, since my water had broken 30 hours before.  I was at 6.5 cm, they recommended pitocin and epidural if I needed.  At that point I took them up on the epidural offer--since I couldn't endure much more, and my DH was falling asleep.  I slept for a bit, dilated to 10cm, and pushed like a champ for 3 hours.  I believe most of the epidural had worn off, because I was able to squat on my own (but the nurses and DH held me anyway).  I insisted on using the squat bar, and every few minutes with a contraction I would push and push.  My DH kept telling me he could see my son's head getting closer.  At hour 36 the doctors tried turning him--he was in OP.  The pain from that was the most unimaginable horror--I went from being a champ to screaming my head off.  THey tried this 3 times, and each time my son's head turned back to OP position.  At this point they recommended c-section (a thought that hadn't occurred to me) because he was stuck. The doctor said his body was still in negative station, and if I just laid there and hadn't pushed he should be further than what he was.  I felt I had done everything humanly possible, and was starting to get nervous, and agreed to c-section.  They left me on the bed for a good 30+ minutes in pain of death while they prepped for c-section and anethesiologist came.  I had the c-section, my son came out beautiful and healthy.  He did have a serious cone head from being lodged in my birth canal, and they did need 2 doctors to pull hiim out of my birth canal (something the pediatorician in the room said he had never seen). I got to kiss him and see him and mostly I was happy to have a baby. 

 

I tried to tell myself to not be disappointed.  And I really thought I would have died, and my baby would have died if it weren't for modern medicine. And I still believe this is likely what our outcome would have been.  Though as time goes by, I start to forget the pain and how hard I pushed, and I start to doubt myself more. I start to wonder if I really did do a good job pushing, and I have to remind myself that I'm a really strong woman...much stronger than average, and I"m flexible.  And I let all sorts of doubts creep into my head--what if I had hired a doula?  Maybe a doula could helped.

 

In speaking with my doctors after--one doctor said she thought his shoulder was stuck, that he has broad shoulders.  And other doctor said that my chances for VBAC are not as ideal, because I likely have a narrow birth canal. 

 

Fast forward 2 years and I'm pregnant with my daughter.  I very much want a VBAC, and I have a supportive hospital and doctor for VBAC.  I live in a different state at this point, so I'm dealing with different doctors, but good ones that have highest reputation in the medical community, and the hostpital has high VBAC rate.  I decide that I have to trust my doctors opinion--and she said she would wait until towrad the end to see the size of the baby, etc... to decide to VBAC or not.  At 38 weeks I ask her more about my hips, and how they compare to the size of the baby.  And I ask her to measure the baby, and measure my birth canal.  She said I have an 'android' pelvis (higher c-section rates, a squashed circle shape), and that it is 8 cm at the widest part. YIKES!  And she felt my daughters head and said she thinks she would get stuck, but that I can go for it.  She said she thought she would be the same size as my son.  AT that point, when I realized I really had a small pelvis I started to think that maybe going for a VBAC was more about me--it was more about me having a birth I wanted (and bragging rights with all those other vaginal birthers) than it was about my baby.  I was very nervous she would be lodged in my birth canal, or my uterus would rupture, or I would labor again followed by an emergency c-section.  I suffered through 4 miscarriages before having my first child, and mostly I just wanted my baby out alive in the safest way possible.

 

I was 39 weeks pregnant and I had to decide the next day to be induced, or to thave a c-section.  I was walking up and down the street talking on the phone to my DH at work for over an hour, trying to figure what to do.  I called friends.  They all seemed to agree that maybe a c-section was best, even if it wasn't what I wanted. But that it would be safest for the baby. And if something went wrong witha VBAC,  I wouldn't forgive myself.

 

I had the repeat c-section, and my beautiful daughter was born.  She was healthy...and tiny.  5lbs 12oz. The doctor said she would be the same size as my son 7lb, 3oz.  That's a really different size!  Had I known she was small I probably would have VBAC'd.  So I guess that's part of what troubles me.  It's 2.5 years later and I'm still a bit frustrated by that. 

 

BUT the truth is, and I've just come to this conclusion: If I hadn't encountered so many judgemental people, and judgemental comments about having a c-section, and let so many people let me think I'm a failure, I think I'd be ok with it.  But because people have made comments, and I"ve let them make me feel bad, I live in this sea of regret.

 

But how can I have regrets?  I have 2 beautiful children!  I had 4 miscarriages before I had my kids--you would think that I would know better than anyone to be happy and grateful for my children.  And I remind myself of this constantly.  I do believe that I sufferred some sort of PTSD from my first birth, and that is why the events continue to swirl in my head.  I'm an optimistic person, and I feel well balanced and healthy, but I need to find a way to let go.

 

I need to find a way to tell myself that it's OK. That I did the right thing, and that what matters are my children...not the fact that I have friends that homebirth who judge me.  And I don't need to justify my birth, because only people who listen will understand, and only people who have gone though this can understand.

 

If you have found ways to get past your c-sections, and you have mantras and things you tell yourself, please pass them my way!

 

Thank you!

post #2 of 5

Welcome to our group, Mama! I'm glad you found us.

 

My story has a lot of similarities to your first birth. I labored for 33 hours, had strong, regular contractions for probably 20 of those hours, then things petered out. I couldn't sleep or eat, so as exhaustion & depletion kicked in, I agreed to pitocin. Then the pain became completely un-doable, so I got an epidural. Then after 3 hours of pushing, there was no progress & I just didn't have anything left to work with, plus baby's heart rates were no longer reassuring. So, into the ER with me.

 

I've also been through many rounds of second guessing every minute of my labor, wondering if I'd only done x, y or z differently, would that have helped? I had a doula, but was she experienced enough? Should I have worked with a midwife instead of an OB? Should I have tried for a homebirth, even though there were a million obstacles? Etc. That kind of thinking is really a bottomless pit for me.

 

I don't think there's any magic formula for healing from such an experience, but here are some things that have made a big difference for me:

 

1) Connecting with and sharing stories with other moms who can relate because they've been through similar things. This has been huge. I think if you read through all the threads in this group, you'll find a lot of resonance.

 

2) Getting sleep. Seems simple, but I was so sleep deprived for 2.5 years after DD was born, I really couldn't fully recover physically or emotionally. Now that she & I both sleep well, that has made a huge difference.

 

3) Finding spiritual meaning in my experience. This has been really hard, because I live in a community where I'm surrounded by messages that women can birth the way they want to if they only try, birth should be an amazing empowering journey for all women, and women who have c-sections are basically either victims of horrid medical brutality or are ignorant and should have known better. No one has said anything hurtful directly to me (well...at least not on purpose...I think...) but the messages are there nonetheless and none of them help me make meaning of my own experience.

Over time I've come to realize that humility is one of the great gifts of my experience, though that wasn't at all what I was expecting or aiming for. I've also had to reach deeper into myself to find strength and courage than I thought was possible. So I've found some "grit" that I didn't know that I had. My experience has led me to seek ways to ease my mental suffering, and now I meditate on a regular basis, which has been great for me. I'm very grateful for the things in my life that hold me together and connect me to community, in a much deeper way than I was before my birth experience.

 

4) Doing difficult things with my body. When DD was 9 months old, I bought a bike and started commuting everywhere with it. I was 30 pounds overweight and sleep deprived and I often felt like the oldest, fattest, slowest thing on the road. But over time I lost weight, got faster, gained endurance, and now I bike year-round in all kinds of weather & get a lot of pleasure from it. Trusting my body to do something difficult has been very healing. I take a lot of pride in being able to bike everywhere.

 

Those are just a few thoughts...I'm sure others will also chime in!

 

Just keep sharing with us & letting us know how you're doing!

post #3 of 5

Oh mama. You have pain and regrets because even though your children are here and healthy, your dreams of the way you wanted to enter motherhood were lost. That is sad and a real grief. I'm sorry that happened twice to you. You are truly a warrior.

 

I second everything CI Mama said. Talking, sharing, sleeping, finding meaning, and physical trauma healing. All so important. Massage was a huge help in allowing me to return to my body, a place I had felt was no longer safe or secure. 

You will process these experiences for a long time. Healing for me is like peeling an onion. There is always another layer. And sometimes I'm crying! But like onions, the flavor of this healing journey is rich and earthy- essential to my living. 

You did what must be done. That's what mothers do. To let go of your dreams of the way you wanted to birth in order to bring your babes here? That to me is making the ultimate sacrifice, and that is incredibly powerful and motherly. 

post #4 of 5

Your pelvis story sounds the same as mine, my midwife asked me if I was ever in a car wreck or fell off a horse, she asked while I was in labor pushing! I had no clue what she was talking about. After I all I had an 8 pound baby near vaginal birth, vacuum assist didn't work, so I got a c-section. My second baby, was even harder, she was stuck higher up. She was only 6 pounds! I think it is all the way the baby is positioned (for the pelvis thing, I was told there was not enough room for them to turn when coming out because of how narrow I am) but I digress. I am just surprised to find someone with the same issue. (after all, I was told your pelvis moves to allow the baby through, you know <sarcasm> sorry, but I was told that is why the "baby too big" line is a myth. It is not a myth if you have a narrow pelvis!) My uterus did rupture too, slowly, it was before I started pushing, before I took pitocin and epidural to get through the birth. I know it, my doula knew it, I said this pain is not right. As I go back to your post, it sounds very much like we had some of the same experiences, even with the first birth.

 

I wish I could add something...I am still having issues myself. My oldest is almost 6 and my youngest is over 2. My physical incision for the second birth got infected, so the scar is deformed, ugly, huge, and pitted. I look at it every day and think about what has happened and it is hard because I hear the judgement of other people.

 

But I like this mentioned above "3) Finding spiritual meaning in my experience. "  I think I am going to try that.

 

I remembering mentioned to someone my experience and they said "wow how did you get through it?" and I said I just did what I had to do, still thinking to myself - maybe I didn't trust my body, maybe I didn't choose the right midwife, maybe I didn't move in the right position, maybe it was all me. And here this woman was concentrating on how strong I was, and I was thinking how "weak" I was. So just reading those words "Finding spiritual meaning in my experience" kind of just hit me.

post #5 of 5

We have very similar stories! With my dd1 I wanted to go natural but was willing to do meds if I just couldn't go on- I mean with my first kid I didn't know what to expect, right?  And I'm a naturally anxious person when it comes to medical stuff.  I was on and off medical interventions and after being in labor at the hospital from Wednesday night, finally had a c-section on Friday morning.  It still blows my mind that I went through that for that long!  Of course I had a c-section!  I was exhausted by then.  But I felt so guilty because I had read all the homebirth/natural labor books and joined all the groups and lived online in the mothering communities.  I felt bad.  And so guilty.  But my brain knew that this procedure had saved my daughter's life and maybe mine!  So I understand your conflicted emotions and thoughts.  I totally get it.

 

Unlike with you, my doc had no idea why my daughter didn't come out on her own the first time.  So after much thought and prayer I chose a VBAC.  If I had your situation, I think I would have chosen the exact same thing.  I mean, your doctor made it sound like the odds were stacked heavily in favor of needing an emergency c-section-- and who wants to put their baby in a state of needing emergency medical care, or put their baby at risk?  It makes total sense that you chose the c-section!  

 

I think part of what helped me was grieving the loss of what I wanted.  I needed to accept that I didn't reach my ideal.  I think I've been able to do that more as my parenting journey has gone on and I've seen how much real life is different from our ideals! :)  I never what to expect with these kids!  I'm constantly adjusting my sails and learning more.  Sometimes I think my birth experience was just my shocking entrance in the knowledge that parenting is always an adventure and will have interesting turns despite our best laid plans.

 

As for the comments from friends...how about this for a reply, "How wonderful that you had the birth experience you hoped for.  For years, I will grieve that I didn't get that.  It would mean the world to me to have your support without judgment.  That would definitely help me heal." 

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