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!