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C-section mamas having a hard time getting past it?

post #1 of 76
Thread Starter 
I have been anxiously avoiding this forum since DD was born 8.5 months ago. I have a loooooong history of depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and PPD was one of my worst fears throughout my pregnancy.

I'm not even sure that you can call what I am feeling PPD, although I am post-partum and I am depressed. It all centers around DD's birth, which was a scheduled c-section after 8 months of planning a homebirth. No, make that 17 years . . . I decided at age 9 that I was going to become a midwife, and have planned to birth my babies at home ever since.

I don't regret the c-section, per se . . . I don't feel as if I was pushed or trapped into it by medical mismanagement of labor; I didn't even get to experience labor, as concerns over DD's well-being in utero convinced the doctors and my midwives that a c-section at 37 weeks was the best option.

Mostly I am just ANGRY . . . angry that I didn't get to experience contractions, pushing, the birth experience I had visualized for so long (or anything even close to it). Angry that things went the way that they did. Sometimes I think it would be easier if I had someone to blame for how everything unfolded, but there was no one at fault; it was just the way it was. Other times I think it is fate trying to make me eat my words; when asked about my choice to homebirth (even long before I was pregnant), I always said that I believed that home was the best, safest place for a low-risk labor and birth. That obstetricians and hospitals and c-sections (although overused, IMO) are great for those situations where they are truly necessary . . . and that of course, if I were in a situation where a hospital birth or a c-section was medically necessary, I would do it.

Now I find myself in a constant state of grieving. I love my daughter, and am very thankful that the depression has not impacted my ability to bond with or care for her. However, every mention of birth (home or otherwise) makes me choke up. I had to drive to the birth center where I received my prenatal care today, and was near tears for hours afterwards. Listening to other people's labor and birth stories just reminds me of what I missed, and I am unable to read about a birth or watch one on tv without crying. I used to read about birth constantly, watch every birth I could find on television (even when the programs made me shout at the tv in anger!), study it with passion. Now I find myself avoiding the subject, because of the sadness it brings out in me.

I just don't know what to do, how to get past it. I wonder sometimes if anything will help me heal.
post #2 of 76

I can relate.

I am finding these helpful:

You Should Be Grateful - an essay by Gretchen Humphries

Emotional Recovery From A Cesarean
post #3 of 76

I am finding it difficult too...

I had a c-section after the baby got stuck, and I am still pretty sad about it. I can't watch those "baby stories" on tv without crying. I feel so frustrated that some women can go in, take no classes/research, have all the drugs, and push the baby out. I am hoping for a vbac.
post #4 of 76
This is so hard...one of the hardest things about becoming a mother. And yet so rarely are we, as women, prepared for this sort of situation and the intense feelings afterwards.

When our expectations are not met (during pregnancy, birth, or postpartum)...expectations of ourselves, our baby, our partner, our care providers, then of course we feel disappointed, angry, sad, guilty, etc.

There is absolutely no other possible way to feel when we grieve a loss of something. And it is a loss--a real one--the loss of a dream, perhaps, for those of us planning a home birth and had to change plans mid-stream. I know what that feels like. It feels shitty. And, yes, it can feel worse when it is just random chance (the "birth fairy") rather than someone's fault. Some people find it easier to be angry AT someone.

I hope I am not treading on any toes. I know this is a sensitive and highly personal subect. But I feel a call to go deeper into this.

I want you to know that you are being heard and validated. I am not trying to make you not feel a certain way, or change the situation, or in any way create judgments.

Can you go with me on this?

Sometimes, when our fantasy, our dream, dies a hard, sudden death, we suffer. Of course we do. It is an important part, that grieving and rage. Those of us who have a strong belief that birth is natural and instinctual, well, the belief in normal birth is so strong that it may not actually seem like a fantasy.

But in a way it is, in that we can NEVER know in advance how OUR birth will unfold. Built into every waking moment of our pregnancy, we may SEE, hear, feel our natural birth in every cell of our being. We create positive affirmations and visualizations so that this fantasy (expectation) of natural birth becomes more likely. And it works. Every one of these things that we do DOES make it more likely that we will birth normally. But there are absolutely NO guarantees in life or in birth.

Pam England, author of "Birthing From Within", experienced a similar situation--a planned home birth unfolding into a very unexpected and unprepared-for cesarean birth. Her birth, her 8 years of emotional and spiritual recovery, led to the writing of that book. Her story is moving. And so very human. One of the intentions of her BFW classes is to expand the realm of birth fantasies/expectations, so that no matter how birth/postpartum unfolds, women (and those with them) can stay present, mindful, and resourceful through the twists and turns of the LabOrinth of birth.

Be gentle with yourself...love yourself for who you are becoming as you recover. You are a changed woman--a Birth Warrior who returns with an unwanted, unexpected scar.

It can take a while to emerge from the postpartum LabOrinth--to emerge from that grieving foggy place of broken dreams.

Please know that you are absolutely not alone. There are more of us out there than you can even imagine. Most of us are too ashamed to even speak of it, and carry around the weight of self-hate, self-judgment, self-blame...carrying that into how we see ourselves and others for the rest of our lives. Never fully healed.

Thank you for coming here--you and everyone else on this thread--to speak for yourself, and for those who cannot yet speak.

We also remember the partners, babies, and care providers whose experience is rarely validated either.

Loving your baby is one form of self-love. Do you see already how well you are doing that?
Your capacity for self-love is limitless.
Breathe that in...
Move in it....
Live it.

With love,
post #5 of 76
i can entirely relate. it's so hard being right in the middle of the grief, when it is so fresh and so raw. my first year postpartum, i spent hours up at night, crying, sobbing about how i'd somehow "failed." i felt envious and angry (and still sometimes do) at those women who had "succeeded" in giving birth. i felt like i wasn't a real woman. that somehow i was lacking a fundamental element that the "real women" had.

then somewhere along the line i decided to quit beating myself up about it so much. i'm not sure exactly why... but i attribute alot of it to my hormone levels balancing out a bit. feeling more like myself (around her 1st birthday).

i heard in the pioneer days, (something like) 1/2 of the women died during childbirth. so i figure i'm lucky to be alive... i could have been one of those women whom had it not been for modern medicine, may have died, or my baby may not have survived. "natural childbirth" is just that.... nature taking its course. and nature is not always pretty and blissful and perfect. nature also serves out death and loss and pain. sure, alot of moms-to-be (including myself) idealize natural childbirth, but i have found that to be unrealistic.

in my birthing plan i wanted a natural waterbirth at a birthing center, but my INNER KNOWING told me to prepare to go to the hospital (the hospital also had a waterbirth option). i knew i needed to be at the hospital. i did not at all expect the c-section, but in hindsight i realized my intuition knew my baby and i would need medical care.

so give yourself some credit, mama. you are a wise, wonderful mama... you made the decision that you needed to make at that time. trust yourself... the decision you made WAS the right one for you and your baby, because you made it.

you are so loved... and never alone in this.
post #6 of 76
It has been almost 3 years and still very sad when I think about my csection. I am pregnant with my second, and planning a homebirth. I know how important it is for me to be in a good place emotionally. I decided to see a birth trauma therapist and it is helping.
post #7 of 76
Originally Posted by ~pi View Post
I just read the you should be grateful essay.

She described my feelings perfectly.

Thanks for sharing :
post #8 of 76
You Should Be Grateful - an essay by Gretchen Humphries

Now, when you tell me that I should be grateful, I realize that you are showing me how frightened you are. That you are afraid to look at my pain. That you are afraid to admit that maybe I have good reason to be angry, that maybe women are truly assaulted in the name of birth. You are telling me that it's okay for women to have birth ripped from them, that it isn't acceptable to look for a better way or to mourn what was lost. I know you now. You may not know yourself, but I do. And I pity you.

My PPD peaked around nine months after my daughter's birth (breech, c-sec). Ultimately, I went the antidepressant route. Some where in the Silet Knife book was a poem that started with words like "It's just the same really..." It is amazing the level of denial you're supposed to sustain when you have a c-sec.

I likened the experience of not having a vaginal birth to studying for the MCAT's or LSAT's and then the day of the test being told- oh, you know enough, let's just say you passed. Sure, you get what you want, but you're left with this unfinished, unjustified feeling.

Personally, I wonder if having a c-sec without labor sends your body signals that the baby was lost, but I don't know of any research in that area.

I can tell you, that with time, as with most grief, you find a way to live with it.
post #9 of 76

I'm so sorry you're hurting. I had a similar experience and have found a lot of support from the ICAN email list.
post #10 of 76
i hear ya. i'll just share a tiny story of my own path to healing (note-- i'm not reading the other replies).... for what it's worth.

i actually had a traumatic birth therapist, and i really dont know how i would have survived without her.... i recomend it!

some people will point you in certain directions... tell you talking about it with other moms will help.... for me, that was the opposite of true. ICAN was too angry a place imo for healing. mdc, in fact, was as well. for me, i finally realized that my own internal process was most important.... so i kind of shut myself off from the "noise".... birth stories, other moms, anyone with "good intentions"... etc.

DS was born in april. i did my shut-down/healing this summer..... he's almost 8 months now, and i never imagined i'd feel this ok with it all.

i'm not suggesting that what worked for me is a good idea for other people-- you know you best. i'm just saying that all the things OTHER people thought would help me made it worse for me...... and when i finally shut the noise out and let myself tell me how to heal from it.... well, the process went much more smoothly.

anyhow. HUGS to you!!!!!!
post #11 of 76
It is so nice to hear other people with this problem! After planning and wanting a natural childbirth, I had the C-section. It was unavoidable, she wouldn't descend due to a short cord wrapped twice around her neck. I was also induced because the docs flipped out that she wasn't kicking when they wanted her too. (she had been kicking me non-stop for the previous hour, so she was obviously resting!) So I was hooked up to an IV etc for all of my labor, which was thankfully short. My natural birth ended up having every intervention known to man from pitocin to using a cathader (sp?) to help my labor to get going. Eventually I also had an epidural because they needed me to stop pushing and I couldn't. At this point I knew that something was wrong, and it wasn't working. I didn't object too much to the epidural because I knew somehow that I would end up with a section, and this way maybe I'd get to be awake for the procedure. That didn't happen either, the epidural didn't work, and they had to put me under! The worst part of all this is that people keep telling me that it's just as hard, it's just the same etc. It's not the same, and now I have less confidence in my ability to have a natural birth. I used to want home births, but now I am afraid. Hopefully that will go away, but everyone else out there, you aren't alone, and I love the advice and other stories on this site! Thanks so much!
post #12 of 76
I had a traumatic c-section with my dd just about a year ago. the anniversary has been a really significant time for me. I am so sorry for what you have gone through. I am so deeply sorry that you were robbed of the birth you wanted. At the anniversary of my section 4 girlfriends of mine created a healing ritual for me. It was very therapuetic. They created an alter and offered me images and stories to help restore my faith in my body and in the birth process. They gave me affirmations about my mothering. I had a chance to tell the birthstory for maybe the second time ever and feel how different it felt to tell it from this new point in my healing. At the end they each put a hand on me and told me "you birthed your baby." I just cried and took it all in. I feel a lot better. Something about the anniversary, the ritual, and getting my period for the first time all around her birthday helped me feel like I had finally exited the post-partum labyrinth. I never thought it would get better and I almost couldn't post b/c I was crying from reading the other posts, but I am feeling stronger. I still don't know if I want more children, but I am coming to terms with how the first one got here. I wish for you that you have people around you who can witness your grief and not shy away from it.
post #13 of 76
Originally Posted by veebee;

Sometimes, when our fantasy, our dream, dies a hard, sudden death, we suffer. Of course we do. It is an important part, that grieving and rage. Those of us who have a strong belief that birth is natural and instinctual, well, the belief in normal birth is so strong that it may not actually seem like a fantasy.

But in a way it is, in that we can NEVER know in advance how OUR birth will unfold. Built into every waking moment of our pregnancy, we may SEE, hear, feel our natural birth in every cell of our being. We create positive affirmations and visualizations so that this fantasy (expectation) of natural birth becomes more likely. And it works. Every one of these things that we do DOES make it more likely that we will birth normally. But there are absolutely NO guarantees in life or in birth.

Thank you for your post! It moved me. I am still coming to terms, in yet another way with the birthing of my daughter... to us all.
post #14 of 76
My son was born by c/s (breech) 15 months ago. I had planned a HB, and when I was 9 cm the MW checked me and discovered the breech. After much deliberation I chose to go to the hospital for the c/s. I have had a very very hard time dealing with it, even though I think I made the right decision, I'll never know for sure. I feel like I did it to myself, and I have hated myself for it. Most of the time I'm sure I did the right thing but I'm angry anyway that it happened. WHY? I want to know WHY that happened to me. Why was he breech? Why did he tell me he couldn't be delivered that way? What if I had stayed home and he died? What if I stayed home and he lived? WHY.

I'm sorry you had to go through that Mama. I'm sorry so many of us have had to go through this.
post #15 of 76
Thread Starter 
Thank you all for your kind and wonderful posts. I don't really know where to go from here . . . often I think that the only route to healing for me will come through a successful HBAC. DH and I aren't planning baby #2 for at least a couple more years, though. And even then, I wonder if the HBAC might just make things worse, by making me FULLY realize what I missed the first time around. :
post #16 of 76

i completely feel your pain and sorrow. i will never fully heal from my c-section almost 2 years ago...even after having a hbac, though an inner-peace has replaced the 'what-ifs' and regrets.

thinking of you-
faye fay
post #17 of 76
I was thinking about the pain from c-sections recently. I was lucky to not suffer much physical pain from my c-section, other than high discomfort for 4-6 weeks. My real pain from my c/s was emotional. It's been 3.5 years and the pain has subsided to a great degree but I will always have some regret over my son's lost birth.

I feel for the mama's who are beginning the journey of recovering from their c-sections. When my PPD hit me like a truck, 7 weeks post-partum, I found counseling helped for a short while. After that I needed to talk with people who felt the same way I did. Going to meetings of my local ICAN chapter helped immeasurably. I am where I am today (mostly healed from the c/s and planning my first HBAC) because of the generosity of the ICAN women.
post #18 of 76
Didn't have time to read all replies...

Add me in too - plus having to EP... I grieve the birth and breastfeeding so much. I felt so wounded and victimized. (We were in a car crash while I was pg.) I felt cut in half for ages like energy was leaking out of my incision constantly. It was hypnosis that cleared that problem up.

It really sux. I will read the articles when I get a chance.

post #19 of 76
I completely relate. Completely. I've attended many births in my past both as a doula and as a midwife, had always planned on having a homebirth, was active in promoting homebirths and UCs, spent hours visualizing the beautiful birth that I was convinced that I was going to have, and I ended up with a c-section that was an emergency. I too feel that it was necessary and that there is really nothing to blame but I feel empty nonetheless. I have also wondered if this is somehow punishment for being so vocal about homebirths in my past, silly I know. Having to transport to the hospital was my absolute #1 fear for my birth and not only did I get that, but I got just about every single intervention in the book.
post #20 of 76
Its also important to let our partners mourn too. I asked DH if it was the happiest day of his life, and he told me it was...when he found out that I and the baby were ok.

An aquantince (sp) mentioned they knew someone who planned a natural waterbirth recently that ended in csection. I felt so bad for this mama, and I hoped that the people around her understood how difficult it is to change plans.
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