Wow. I've been sitting here, reading through this whole 5 page long thread, often fighting back tears. I am very grateful to find this forum, and other women who have been through similar ordeals.
I had a 36 hour (active) labor, with no meds until we tried pit as a last-ditch effort to give me my dream of a vaginal birth. The whole labor was really wonderful to that point, and I am so glad I went through it.
On the one hand, I am heartbroken at not having done what I set out to do, at not having had those first moments with my precious baby (I had general anesthesia). On the other, I remember the wonderful, empowering (I never knew before what that word really meant!) experience of labor, and don't regret it one bit.
I think one of the hardest things for me was that I was longing for, looking forward to, pushing my baby out. And that's the ONE thing I didn't get to do. (Well, not the only one... all that important stuff like holding him right away didn't happen, either.)
So, like some one else posted, I never know where I really belong. Obviously, I had a c-section, but I also consider myself to have had a natural birth (ie. drug-free, even though it wasn't *completely*). I hate the feeling that people assume I had a "drugged" birth when they hear I had a c/s, when, in fact, I worked very, very hard at my labor and went through some immense pain in what I believed to be the best interests of my baby. Of course, my friends who had homebirths know that my hospital labor and c-section birth was nothing like theirs, so I don't quite fit in there, either...
As it was, DS was very healthy, alert, and had no problems other than the cord around his arm. They say he screamed when they took him out, but I don't know... DH did hear him, though. Poor DH, sitting in the hall waiting, crying for us. Anyway, making myself cry now...
But it is so important to talk about these things, isn't it? At 10.5 months later, I think I still keep a lot of it bottled up inside me. A few weeks after he was born I regularly had long crying spells because it was so hard to deal with (again, poor DH!). I never really even acknowledged it while we were in the hospital. I dealt with it, did what I had to do, took care of my precious baby, got through it. I kind of "toughed it out," as my way of dealing with it. Then the real dealing came when we were home and there was no more putting it off.
I really hope for a VBAC/HBAC (assuming that's H=home) with future pgs. I have Lyme disease, and we wonder if that had something to do with the problems in delivery. That's part of why I hope to not be pg again until I'm finished with the Lyme treatment. If I do have to have a c-birth again, we'll be more prepared. I have spina bifida occulta (a lesser form), but we didn't have any recent films to show where the "bad" vertebrae is. That, and the Lyme, made me a bad candidate for an epidural. I don't know that I really wanted one, anyway, but I do wish I'd been awake for his birth. As it is, his birth doesn't exist for me, if that makes sense. I fell asleep in great pain, awoke in great pain, and they said, "It's a boy!" What happened in between I don't know. My hope is that if we're better prepared in the future that we can circumvent that by having a different anesthesia. Of course, then I think about the side effects of those, and I think "igh!" Don't know if I want to mess with 'em!
Anyway, I'm sort of rambling on (more than sort of!). I'm very grateful to have this sort of a forum to discuss these issues... and feel like maybe someone else out there understands.
Thanks so much for listening.