Please Help: Dear Friend Grieving Over C/S - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 30 Old 03-10-2011, 09:08 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Hello Mamas,

 

Not sure how to start out this post so I guess I'll just jump in.  I've read about many of your experiences with c sections and the sadness, depression and, in some cases, PTSD that manifested itself afterward.

 

A close friend had an emergency c section and is distraught afterward.  She will not go into detail when I try to talk to her; just says that the birth experience was terrible and she wants to forget it.  I'll never forget her MIL announcing that she should just be grateful for a healthy baby.  I want so badly to help my friend but I have no idea how.   

 

If you feel comfortable discussing, would you please tell (if you know) what it was about the c section that brought on these feelings?  Was it painful?  The long recovery?  Disappointment about not giving birth vaginally?  Were you not treated well?

 

I am sad for the mamas who have been through something that has badly affected them so much and I feel like I can emphasize better if I understand the situation more.

 

Thank you so much for reading.


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#2 of 30 Old 03-10-2011, 03:31 PM
 
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i initially felt upset by my first c-section. i don't want to say traumatized, because it wasn't that bad. it was 5 years ago now, so i have a much better perspective on it. the most upsetting part of my c-section was that it was an emergency, and for the very few minutes between my daughter's heartrate crashing and her out, i was afraid she could die. it was so much to deal with--the potential for a devastating loss is something that's totally new when you become a mother, and having a close call is very scary.

 

for me it was complicated because my daughter then got sick at 12 days old, and i was afraid i was going to lose her then too. that was traumatic, and it somehow made my feelings about the c-section worse. also, i read a lot of natural childbirth literature before i had my daughter, and it certainly sets you up to feel awful about a c-section. and the VBAC literature! downright poisonous. i don't know to what extent your friend bought into it before her child was born, but the more you buy into it, the harder the fall if you do have a c-section. i felt much better about my c-section when i realized how much of what i'd bought into before DD was born was total bull.

 

so, those were my issues. if you can find out exactly what caused your friend's trauma, you'll be in a better position to help. i luckily had the easiest recovery in the world, and now after 2 c-sections i feel like i hit the jackpot by having them! i have the pelvic floor of a woman who's never had children, and i don't have any friend who had vaginal deliveries that can say the same thing. i think one thing you can do is keep an eye out to see if the way she's focusing on her c-section is actually a symptom of PPD. c-sections in and of themselves don't cause baby blues or PPD, so if she seems unreasonably down for more than a few days, she might need help. if she's really distraught about it, like you said, then i'd be worried about PPD. you're obviously a caring friend, so i'm sure you'll be a great help to her no matter what. 

 

edit: i thought you'd put this in birth and beyond, not PPD. are you thinking it's PPD then, or just trying to figure out what's the difference/if there's a difference between a traumatic birth experience and PPD? i have no idea there, but i'm sure the other women on this board have a lot more info. i know there's a timeline to look out for, as in if symptoms don't improve by X weeks, she might need more help.

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#3 of 30 Old 03-10-2011, 03:57 PM
 
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My issues with my first c-section were A)I was under a general and didn't get to hold my son until he was 2 hours old.  Now, my DH guarded him fearcely and didn't let anyone else hold him but himself, but still, this was very difficult.  I didn't hear his first cry, I missed two hours that I can never get back.  This was initially the most difficult part.  B) I felt like a failure.  I still do not feel like I have ever "given birth".  I know that sounds illogical, but it's how I feel.  After my second son was born via c-section after four days of labor and hours of pushing, I still felt like a failure, and I grieve that fact that I will most likely never be able to deliver naturally.  As much as I know it isn't true, I feel like less of a woman because of it.  

 

Those two issues are the biggies for me.  The surgery, the pain, the fear, it all goes to the wayside next to those issues. 


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#4 of 30 Old 03-10-2011, 04:40 PM
 
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For the birth of my DS, I had planned a natural, unmedicated, vaginal birth in a dimly lit, comfortable room, with only a couple close friends, my midwife, and one nurse (whom I would have liked to have done without, but was willing to give in on). I was looking forward to pulling DS out myself and being the first to touch him, to nursing him immediately, to going directly from birth to bonding. I'd dreamed about it. It was going to be beautiful and as perfect as a birth can be in a hospital setting.

 

Instead, my happy event got hijacked and I ended up sprawled on a table in bright, sterile operating room numb from the neck down with god knows how many complete strangers. At one point I ended up having a panic attack. He wasn't breathing at first. Everyone got quiet but no one would tell me what was going on. I wasn't the first to touch my son, nor was I the second, third or fourth. They gave him to my friend before they even let me look at him. The first time I saw him was when I caught a glimpse of him while she was walking around with him, cooing at him. If I'd been able at that precise moment, I would have killed her. Mind you, I'm in no way mad at her now, nor do I feel that she did anything wrong. But at that point, I was very emotional and someone else was bonding with my baby. I wanted to go take him so bad but of course I couldn't feel my legs, so that wasn't happening. I was devastated. It felt like an eternity before I was finally able to touch him. I kept asking and kept getting an exasperated sigh and a "Not yet" from one of the nurses. Every single hope I'd had for his birth had been dashed. It was terrifying, uncomfortable, infuriating, and heartbreaking.

 

Then the recovery was painful, and I couldn't even get out of bed the first day. When my daughter was born, I was on my feet within minutes of her birth, and I felt great. Tending to a newborn is so much easier when you feel good. Between the pain and the drugs, I felt like I wasn't as attentive to DS as I should have been (as I wanted to be) the first few days. Basically everything about the experience (aside from my happy, healthy baby, of course) was the complete opposite of what I wanted. I felt robbed. He's 7 months old now, and I've mostly put it out of my mind, but I still feel the same when I think about it. I don't imagine I'll ever be able to look at the experience in a positive light. 

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#5 of 30 Old 03-10-2011, 05:05 PM
 
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First, I want to say that your friend is blessed to have you.

 

I had a traumatic c-section that was complete with hallucinations, abdominal and uterine tearing and medical intervention for my son who was not breathing at birth.  I have no recollection of my son being born.  I only remember my hallucinations which were very negative (involving the death of my son).  If your friend's birth experience was anything like this it is likely that it will take her awhile to be able to talk about it especially since her MIL has told her that she should just be grateful for having a healthy baby.  After that comment she probably feels guilty for how she feels about her birth.

 

I have definitely struggled with post-partum issues since I delivered.  Certain things will trigger me but, more often than not, it is just a simple glance at my son that will remind me of the hallucinations and will start the tears flowing.  

 

One thing that has helped greatly is a strong support network.  My husband and family members don't often ask me how I am processing things but they are very open to letting me talk and ask questions when I need to.  Just last week I asked my husband for clarification about why our son needed intervention when he was born.  It was only then that I found out he wasn't breathing at birth.

 

All in all, I wasn't disappointed about having a c-section because I knew it was a possibility all along.  I was disappointed that the whole process (induction and labour included) went so poorly. 

 

I hope this helps. :)


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#6 of 30 Old 03-10-2011, 08:24 PM
 
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Going back to my first one (been a looonnng time):

 

I said "no" and was ignored. That was huge all by itself...just being taken off to OR by a bunch of people talking over my head and pretending I wasn't even there. I felt bullied and invisible and just utterly uninvolved in the arrival of my own baby. (That was doubly true as I was under general anesthesia.)

 

I saw ds1 for a couple of seconds while being taken from post-op to my bed on the maternity ward, then they took him away, gave me sleeping pills (while I was still under the influence of anesthesia and morphine and had no idea why I was opening my mouth and I didn't see him again until the next morning - 14 hours after he was born.

 

I was weak as a kitten afterwards, from lack of food during labour (not hospital protocol, as I'd laboured at home for almost all of it - I just had no appetite, and had been violently ill when I started labour), from the anesthetic, the sleeping pills, and whatever else they gave me. The nurses never stopped getting on my case about getting out of bed and walking and I couldn't do it. It was bad enough feeling so incredibly helpless, when I had this new little person depending on me, but basically being told that I was exaggerating made it that much worse. It was three full days before I could walk to the bathroom (in my room!) without my ex or a nurse helping me walk, and it was a huge effort just to get off the toilet aftewards. It also made breastfeeding extremely difficult, because I could barely hold him and was in too much pain to shift positions easily.

 

The pain. I know some women have pain-free c-sections and/or manage to completely control it with medication. I've never been able to. It's just...there...all the time. It hurts to laugh or cry, and it really sucks to be going through something devastating, and have to keep it inside, because the physical pain is so bad if you don't. Getting in and out of bed is hard. I got physically stuck on the couch, because the pain and weakness in my abs was so bad (20 minutes of trying to haul myself ot my feet with my arms, while my son cried for milk in his bassinet....almost 18 years ago, and I've never forgotten how utterly helpless I felt). When I rolled over, I felt as though my guts were going to fall out, and it hurt. And, I just want to make clear that this was a good recovery - I walked uphill 15 blocks to get home from my 6 week checkup, and I was fine, aside from being slower on my feet than usual.

 

Five days in the hospital. I can't even begin to say how much the whole thing sucked. I hated being there. I hated not being allowed to eat for 3.5 days, because I hadn't passed gas. I hated being put on antibiotics for an infection they'd never verified the existence of (blood work was clean, but I had a "fever"). I hated the fact that my arm had two huge IV bruises and another in my hand...and just when I thought I was done with that, they sunk a new needle for a hep-lock for the antibiotics. I hated that when I finally got something other than clear fluids, it was mushroom soup, because the taste (and smell) of mushrooms makes me gag. I hated being nagged to get up when I couldn't do it (and then, when I was able to walk around, getting bawled out for "overdoing it", by the same nurse who had been pushing me for 3.5 days!) I just hated everything about the place.

 

And, yeah...feelings of failure. It had nothing to do with anything anyone else said about it. Actually, for years, I only knew one woman who didn't look at me like I was nuts if I even mentioned feeling that way. It was just me. I hated it. I'd loved being pregnant - totally fulfilling. I'd been soooo excited to go into labour, and had just stayed home for about 20 hours, before I went over to the hospital. I was just high on the whole thing...but then I couldn't finish the job. Either I had a necessary section, in which case my body failed me. Or, I had an unnecessary c-section, in which case, I failed to protect myself and my son. Either way...I failed. Lots of people have tried to change my perspective on that, but four more c-sections later, it hasn't changed.

 

And...she may also be grieving the "low-risk" label. Once you've had a c-section, the obstetrical profession, as a whole, looks at you like a ticking time bomb. It's very, very stressful.

 

 

 


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#7 of 30 Old 03-11-2011, 11:44 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Mamas, thank you so much for being willing to open up and share what sound like terribly experiences with me.  I was almost brought to tears while reading your posts not only because I could feel the pain, frustration and feeling of helplessness you described but also because I was so touched that you were willing to bare yourselves to help a woman you've never met.

 

 


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#8 of 30 Old 03-11-2011, 12:55 PM
 
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It makes me feel sooo good to read , that I am not the only one , who feels like some of you guys .

My first was a cesarean and he was positioned really badly , so in his case , I know , it was necessary .

But number 2 was different , I was induced , because the doctor felt "it was time" (for who?) and after my body was fighting the labor-inducing meds for 4 days , I was finally at 7 cm and transition hit me like a lead curtain , I had such an urge to move and they kept making me stay on my back "to rest" , so he got stuck .

And instead of trying to change position , they wheeled me into the operating room , before I knew , what happened .

3 and 4 were born at a different hospital , totally unmedicated , uneventful births , without any induction , labor - enhancing meds or any other interference , I think I was not even hooked up to the fetal monitor for more than a few minutes at a time .

Painful , wonderful , self-powered births , I thought , THOSE BABIES WERE BORN BY ME !!!

My last , overdue , but otherwise fine , no heart problems or anything else like that , yet , the doctor , when checking me during an exam , breaks my water "to get things going" (without asking me first , of course ) hopmad.gif

Needless to say , the only thing , that was going , is , that my NOT-READY body was fihgting the meds they had to give me after my opened membranes and the baby had so much stress , that after 3 days in labor , I ended up with another c/s because her heart rate went down to 50 .

So , to this day , 10 months later , I am mad , and upset , every time , I hear of somebody giving birth naturally , I want to hop up and down and scream or punch something or someone (preferably the doctor biglaugh.gif) , and cry at the same time , it makes me so  ANGRY

And even though , I love my kids , all of them , more than I could ever put in words , I only delivered two .

The others , I was pregnant with , then they got cut out of me and that was it , but I did not give birth .

And hearing those stories , like , that I should be happy , that I have a healthy baby , well BLABLABLA ...

Of course I am , but I am not healthy anymore , I am scarred , I was dominated and violated , my wishes were completely ignored , I was treated like some uninanimate object , not a living person with feelings and rights .

In the Bill of Human Rights , it says , that every person´s dignity is untouchable , oh really , that must end at the door to the delivery room , because nobody seemed to give a damn about my dignity . 

Sorry , this is so long , but the truth is , I really believe , the only thing , that will help your SIL heal once and for all and come to terms with her grief , will be a successful vbac .

At least , that´s how it was for me .

And as you can tell , it is still a very sore spot for me .

 

 


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#9 of 30 Old 03-11-2011, 09:44 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lamashtu View Post

....If you feel comfortable discussing, would you please tell (if you know) what it was about the c section that brought on these feelings?  Was it painful?  The long recovery?  Disappointment about not giving birth vaginally?  Were you not treated well?...

@Lamashtu:  Thank you so much for being such a good friend as to truly try to understand her situation and be supportive.  I also have a hard time with the statement that "a healthy baby is all that matters".  Of course it's important, but for me (and other women it seems) the experience of birth is/was important too.  I had a c/s and was lucky in the sense that at least I was able to have a spinal, and be aware during my baby's birth.  Nothing went particularly badly with the c/s.  Despite that, I am still deeply disappointed and saddened and wished the whole experience could have been different.  Some of the stupid comments that the OB made will probably stay with me forever.  I feel I had a "just in case" cesarean - things weren't going as well as they could have been and the doctor felt it would be best if I had a cesarean, and I finally agreed.  I didn't want to put my baby in danger.  I still resent that I had to trade my body and our birth, for a healthy baby; I wish I didn't have to compromise.  I wish that I could have had that immediate skin-to-skin with a new, wet baby, not having my baby handed to me like a gift-wrapped package.  I hate that I couldn't eat for almost a day afterwards (after having hardly eaten for the day during labour, and what I ate didn't stay down).  I hate that the spinal made me itch for two days, so badly that I couldn't sleep.  I was in a lot of pain post-op, although I have a high pain tolerance and was taking medication.  I was in so much pain, someone had to bring my baby to me for feedings; I couldn't pick her up from the basinette, although it was within reach, but too high up (from the bed).  I felt guilty for taking medication while breastfeeding.  The breastfeeding went badly due to all the IV fluids I had in labour.  I felt guilty and disappointed that my husband had to take care of me and a baby, when I should have been able to take care of her. 

 

I will never know if the c/s was truly necessary; maybe that's a good thing, because a vaginal birth could have turned out badly.  But now I have a scarred uterus, and I will always be considered "higher risk" if I ever decide to get pregnant again.  I am blessed to have a healthy baby.  I still feel so much loss around the experience.  I know that that sounds selfish.  I also feel the sting of failure.  Did my body fail me?  Did the medical system fail me?  Did I fail by giving up / giving in to pressure for a c/s?  Right now, I feel that one of these must be true; they all suck.

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#10 of 30 Old 03-11-2011, 10:07 PM
 
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Originally Posted by tonttu View Post

 

Sorry , this is so long , but the truth is , I really believe , the only thing , that will help your SIL heal once and for all and come to terms with her grief , will be a successful vbac .

At least , that´s how it was for me .

And as you can tell , it is still a very sore spot for me .

 

 

I'm so sorry for all that you went through.

 

I just wanted to offer my perspective.

 

I had one vaginal birth, one un-neccesarean and one necessary cesarean. (It was only necessary due to complications caused from the first c-section, but, whaddayagonna do?)

 

After my initial cesarean, I felt violated. I felt robbed. I felt sad, depressed, angry, scared, pissed off and confused. I felt like a failure. I thought "I refuse to allow myself to go through that again."

 

Then I slowly realized that the only 100% way to guarantee that I wouldn't have to go through that again would be to not have any more children. That wasn't something I wanted.

 

So then I changed my mindset to focus on what I would need to be different in the process if it DID happen again. What I realized was that although the surgery, recovery, hospital stay, blood transfusions and trauma was all pretty sucky stuff to deal with, it was the fact that I felt that my doctor did not care how my baby was born that was the most painful part. She didn't care whether my baby was born vaginally or was surgically removed. She didn't care about me. She didn't care about my experience. She wanted to get home by dinner. She gave me a time limit to push him out and if I didn't meet it I was headed to the OR. She cut me open, sewed me up (quite sloppily, as I learned later) and checked in on me ONCE afterwards during the 7 days I was in the hospital. I didn't believe her when she said I needed a c-section. I didn't trust her. Not being heard. Not being validated. Not being treated like a human being with feelings was what hurt the most.

 

So if I got pregnant again, and ended up with another c-section, how could I be ok with that? 

 

My answer was that I needed the person caring for me to want a vbac for me and my baby as badly as I did. I needed to know that the person with whom I had entrusted my care believed that a vbac was the best thing for me and my baby. I needed to believe her if she had to look at me at some point during labor and say "You need a cesarean." 

 

So I surrounded myself with a midwife and doula who had my best interest at heart. I trusted them. And when I was laboring at home with my midwife, going for a HBAC, and she looked at me and said "We need to go to the hospital." I believed her. 

 

And when my pain turned from labor pain to something else at the hospital and she said "I think you should let them do a cesarean." I believed her.

 

And then they took me in for an emergency c-section with only a spinal, only to find out that my uterus and bladder had ruptured, which resulted in a 5 hour surgery and me needing to be put under general so they could repair everything that tore. Another long recovery and hospital stay. For all accounts, it should have been WAY more traumatic than my first cesarean. But it wasn't, because I did everything I possibly could to deliver naturally and so did everyone around me. And I am WAY more ok with my second c-section than my first. I have no regrets, PTS or otherwise in regard to my second c-section. The first one still haunts me.

 

So, you just never know what the cause of the pain is for someone. Every story is different. OP, your friend is lucky to have someone in her life who cares so much. :)

 

 

 

 

 

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#11 of 30 Old 03-12-2011, 04:53 AM
 
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For me it was the loss of the experience of having a normal birth. I don't feel traumatised or violated just very, very sad. I made the decision to progress to c/s. I felt well informed and, at the time at least, I felt like we had exhausted all our other options. Even now, I'm still not sure I would do it differently. But I still mourn the loss of what I wanted.

 

As well as the loss of the experience for me I feel sad that my precious girl didn't get the benefits of a vaginal birth either. And, even if I get my perfect birth next time, I still can't give her that. I can try again, she can't.

 

Those are the two big issues for me.


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#12 of 30 Old 03-14-2011, 01:31 PM
 
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A healthy baby is really important.  I just don't think we have to trade *everything* for that healthy baby.  Surely, we can have healthy babies, even in emergencies, and still have people be kind to us.  Doctors and nurses will not hurt the baby by explaining things to us as clearly as possible, calling us the names we prefer to be called, looking us in the eye, apologizing when they need to violate our dignity, and respecting our privacy as much as they can.  I was treated very well during my surgery, and I think that plays very much into my feelings about it (I wish I hadn't needed surgery, but there was no question that I did, and the surgery wasn't painful or frightening, so I barely think of it at all).  No one should have to clutch her healthy baby and remind herself to be grateful.  We can be delighted by our healthy babies and still be ticked as hell about being treated badly.

 

Sometimes filing formal complaints helps.

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#13 of 30 Old 03-14-2011, 02:06 PM
 
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Quote:

Originally Posted by Lamashtu View Post

Hello Mamas,

 

Not sure how to start out this post so I guess I'll just jump in.  I've read about many of your experiences with c sections and the sadness, depression and, in some cases, PTSD that manifested itself afterward.

 

A close friend had an emergency c section and is distraught afterward.  She will not go into detail when I try to talk to her; just says that the birth experience was terrible and she wants to forget it.  I'll never forget her MIL announcing that she should just be grateful for a healthy baby.  I want so badly to help my friend but I have no idea how.   

 

 

Your friend is blessed to have you in her life.   I'll tell you my story but I strongly believe most important part in "coming to grips" with what happened is not to force or turn the conversation to the c/section, just be there and offer her a safe, supported space to process what has happened.

 

I'm a mother who birthed both her babies via emergency c/sections.  My first was well "eye-opening" for me.  I consider myself a pretty well-educated woman, I work in research so I know the ins/outs of informed consent and thought - I can do this! Well with just my DH and a wonderful hospital staff (who tried to support my original plan to go natural) I turned the tables on them.  I had terrible back labor and instantly I consented & got an epi.  Everything was painful, but then it wasn't.  I did just fine, laboring - got all the way to 10 and pushed for 3 hours. My kiddo was not budging.  So after thoughtful consideration - I consented to the c/section. 

 

I wasn't traumized - I was more disappointed with myself to fail to give birth just like millions of women before me did. I questioned everything I did -  What made me different? Why didn't I "trust" my body? If I couldn't make a "good" decision with the birth of my child - was I failing them now? 

 

Fast forward 2 years - and now I'm getting ready for a VBAC.  All I heard since I had my first c/section was that a successful VBAC would heal my emotional wounds, would restore my confidence in myself and my body.  I just had to trust my body.  My ob/gyn was great - we had spirited debates about VBACs & UR rates and everything I included in my birth plan. I exercised all pregnancy, watched my weight (I was overweight already prior to being pregnant 2nd time), I found a doula, I made my DH do Bradley classes with me again.  I was ready to wage war for this birth.

 

After going to 42 weeks, I consented to a foley bulb for a gentle induction.  I walked with my doula all night long, we rested, chatted and felt good.  Labor kicked right along and while in the tub in transition, I got out and felt "pushy".  water broke and back to the room.  I was at 9.5 and then shortly 10.  I pushed for 7 hours and kiddo 2 was not coming out.  I consented to an epi to give myself a bit of a rest (my hips felt like MUSH) and I constantly questioned my doc - what are my options, what are my choices, give me more time and he did.  Until there was no more options to give - he knew it and I knew it. I consented again to a c/section. 

 

That second c/section process healed me so much that I don't need a VBAC (but it sure would be nice) to show me how strong I am in making choices, I was surrounded by complete and total support (from the nurses, to my doctor, to my doula and especially my DH). that I am respected as a patient, and how much my doctor cared & supported greatly for my desire for a VBAC, but it wasn't in the cards.   I am now no longer afraid of how my birth experience will be for #3 when we choose to go down that road.


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#14 of 30 Old 03-15-2011, 06:09 AM
 
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As you have seen, each woman's trauma is different.  My first c-section went "very smoothly" according to my doctor and I got to hold my daughter for a few minutes in recovery before they took her to the nursery for bath and observation.  DH went with her and videotaped the whole thing and nothing "bad" happened to either one of us, but it was all very wrong.  She didn't nurse well, so she had low blood sugar, supplemented with formula, she wouldn't latch, I had to pump, yadda yadda.  I wasn't treated badly, but rather like a child and I still hate that I didn't stand up for myself.  We got it all worked out in the end and from the outside it doesn't seem like a big deal but I was devastated.  The shoulda/couldas still catch me sometimes.  My awesome HBAC 23 months later actually made it worse in some ways because it confirmed how it should have been and everything I missed those first few weeks with DD1.  I ended up having a c-section again 2 years ago with my son and it was a billion times better despite the fact that I was worried about my son's health (he was born at 37 weeks after several weeks of bedrest at home and in the hospital for pre-eclampsia), bad jaundice and a horribly painful physical recovery.  I was very open with my doctor and nurses about what was important to me after my first c-section and they were wonderfully accommodating wherever they could.

 

Your friend is lucky to have you.  She may not be ready to talk or she may come to a point where she needs to talk about it endlessly for a while to process.  Just being open to her feelings is such a gift.  So few people understand that of course she loves her baby more than anything on earth, but that doesn't take away the trauma of his arrival, whatever that trauma is.  A healthy baby is tremendously important, but too many people forget that a healthy mom - physically and mentally - is also very important.

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#15 of 30 Old 03-15-2011, 07:00 AM
 
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I have had two csecs.  The first was bc of the not knowing how to stop the cascade of interventions and the second one happened when I went to the hospital for a few minutes of monitoring before driving over 3 hours to the BC for my VBAC.  I encountered a doctor with a raging god complex who called the police, CPS, and the staff shrink.  My options were have an ERC or have my baby taken by the state and spend 72 hrs in a psych hold.

 

For me, csec #1 wasn't too traumactic bc I really believed them when they told me I needed it.  I was 17 and had been pg for 42 wks and in labor for 44 hrs when ds was extracted.  I had wanted a natural vaginal delviery, but just accepted that something went wrong and I was lucky that they saved my baby (He never was in distress.  I was told it had been long enough and time was up.  I walked all over the ward until about 6 or 7 hrs before the birth when I had an epi and was put flat on my back.  That's what did me in I see in retrospect.)

 

One day a few months later I was perusing the parenting section in the library and found all the VBAC books.  I had never even heard the term "VBAC" before that day.  I took home as many books as I could carry, read them all in quick succession, and found myself more pissed off than I had ever been in my entire life!  That was in 1995.

 

Your friend gave birth in the internet age.  Chances are good that she was much better informed than I was in 1994-95.  Is it possible that she was perfectly healthy and was overcome by the cascade of interventions?  I have a friend who had 4 natural hospital births and then for #5 had a csec.  Why?  She expected another 3 hr labor like the 1st 4 had been so she ran straight to the hospital at the first contraction.  Well, this baby decided to take his time and she ended up with an on-call OB who threw every intervention at her.  She relaized that she had only lucked out with births 1-4 bc they were fast and blamed herself for allowing the OB to railroad her.  She planned a HBAC for #6 but had some major PTS emerge during labor and asked the MW to call an ambulance so she could go in for an ERC. 

 

Maybe your friend (who is super lucky to have you, BTW!) feels like she should have known better but got weak in the moment and agreed to things that lead to the csec.  Or maybe it was truly an emergency, I didn't get that from your OP.  Sometimes, though, the "emergency" is in fact iatrogenic, meaning it's the care providers fault that certain things happened which created an emergency situation when there otherwise would have been no emergency at all.

 

I would suggest that you write your friend a lovely note telling her that you understand she is going through some dfficulty processing her birth experience and that you are willing to listen anytime she feels ready to talk.  Tell her you asked for advice on a message board so that you could better understand how she feels.  Tell her honestly that you don't know what to say but that if she ever feels like no one in her life understands, you will be there to listen without judgement.  She may never take you up on it, but just knowing how much you care will make her feel better.  Best wishes!


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#16 of 30 Old 03-15-2011, 10:24 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I have a small update but, unfortunately, it is not a good thing.

 

I was running in the park Sunday and I ran into my friend's husband.  I don't know him as well as I do her, but nonetheless always thought he was a nice guy.  While we were stretching afterward, I decided to bring up my friend's unhappiness to gauge what he knew and see if he had any insights.  Here is the verbatim conversation (or as closely as I can recollect, anyway):

 

Me:  "(BFF) has seemed so out of sort since (BABY) was born.  Is everything okay with her?"

Him:  "We're pretty upset about how the delivery went down.  We really wanted to keep things natural and that c section was like a slap in the face."

Me:  "I understand.  I just worry because she hasn't been herself."

Him:  "I know I shouldn't feel this way, but I'm disappointed in her.  I think she gave up too easily and I honestly don't know when I'll be able to forgive her."

 

WHAT. THE. HECK?!?!?!?

 

Okay, I am officially speechless and I have no idea where to go from here.  Actually, I'd like to kidnap her and the baby,  but that's probably not very feasible.  As wonderful as your answers were to my question, they sure didn't prepare me for THIS. 


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#17 of 30 Old 03-15-2011, 11:35 AM
 
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I have a small update but, unfortunately, it is not a good thing.

 

I was running in the park Sunday and I ran into my friend's husband.  I don't know him as well as I do her, but nonetheless always thought he was a nice guy.  While we were stretching afterward, I decided to bring up my friend's unhappiness to gauge what he knew and see if he had any insights.  Here is the verbatim conversation (or as closely as I can recollect, anyway):

 

Me:  "(BFF) has seemed so out of sort since (BABY) was born.  Is everything okay with her?"

Him:  "We're pretty upset about how the delivery went down.  We really wanted to keep things natural and that c section was like a slap in the face."

Me:  "I understand.  I just worry because she hasn't been herself."

Him:  "I know I shouldn't feel this way, but I'm disappointed in her.  I think she gave up too easily and I honestly don't know when I'll be able to forgive her."

 

WHAT. THE. HECK?!?!?!?

 

Okay, I am officially speechless and I have no idea where to go from here.  Actually, I'd like to kidnap her and the baby,  but that's probably not very feasible.  As wonderful as your answers were to my question, they sure didn't prepare me for THIS. 


umm...wow. I can't even say what I'm thinking, or I'll get kicked off MDC.

 

IME, c-sections can create a lot of difficulties in a marriage, but this one's new to me. I don't really have any advice on this one, except that it's probably even more important than it would have otherwise been that you let her know you're there to listen.

 

Unreal. He can't forgive her for being cut open. Wow.

 


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#18 of 30 Old 03-15-2011, 12:28 PM
 
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I think with the update - yes I do feel "WOW that's soooo unsupportive" . But if you look at his words carefully - your friend's DH knows he shouldn't be feeling this way, but he does.  He has a right to those feelings and I'll be the first to say that while I disagree with his disappointment, and he should let it go and see all the wonderful things his wife did do during the labor, it might take time for him to see that. 

 

I think a tough thing to understand is that a c/section - especially an unexpected one affects both parents and they both need to "grieve" or process this event.  I personally make myself open to the DH as well as someone who could listen or point him in the direction of supportive fathers who can help him process what happened to set him on the right path emotionally of supporting his wife.  Also if they asked and were open to it, I would recommend some counseling or just talking over the birth (together -without the baby- i.e. you could provide some babysitting) with their doula if they had one and if she was open & understanding to just listen.

 

 


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#19 of 30 Old 03-15-2011, 12:57 PM
 
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I think with the update - yes I do feel "WOW that's soooo unsupportive" . But if you look at his words carefully - your friend's DH knows he shouldn't be feeling this way, but he does.  He has a right to those feelings and I'll be the first to say that while I disagree with his disappointment, and he should let it go and see all the wonderful things his wife did do during the labor, it might take time for him to see that. 

 

I think a tough thing to understand is that a c/section - especially an unexpected one affects both parents and they both need to "grieve" or process this event.  I personally make myself open to the DH as well as someone who could listen or point him in the direction of supportive fathers who can help him process what happened to set him on the right path emotionally of supporting his wife.  Also if they asked and were open to it, I would recommend some counseling or just talking over the birth (together -without the baby- i.e. you could provide some babysitting) with their doula if they had one and if she was open & understanding to just listen.

 

 


These are all good ideas. I will say that if it were my dh, and I found out he was feeling that way, I wouldn't do any of it. I'd kick him to the curb. The disappointment? Yeah - I can get that. It would be hard to take, but I can get it. The "don't know when I'll be able to forgive her" thing? No way in this world. Hopefully, he's got enough compassion to not beat his wife up with that one.

 


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#20 of 30 Old 03-15-2011, 02:04 PM - Thread Starter
 
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DH and I have a small cottage out on Long Island where we like to spend weekends in the summer.  I was thinking of opening it up early (it has heat and stuff :) ) and asking my friend if she and the baby would like to join Leda and me for a few days.  Maybe being able to walk on the beach or read or sleep without feeling judged would be helpful for her.  Or at least a start?


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#21 of 30 Old 03-15-2011, 02:44 PM
 
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How long ago was the c-section, OP? As much as that would have sounded lovely to me, I wouldn't have wanted to ride any real distance in a car or do anything that felt like traveling in the early weeks. It's just too hard.


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#22 of 30 Old 03-15-2011, 02:59 PM
 
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These are all good ideas. I will say that if it were my dh, and I found out he was feeling that way, I wouldn't do any of it. I'd kick him to the curb. The disappointment? Yeah - I can get that. It would be hard to take, but I can get it. The "don't know when I'll be able to forgive her" thing? No way in this world. Hopefully, he's got enough compassion to not beat his wife up with that one.

 


The forgive thing has me stuck as a part of me wants to believe perhaps the DH was just venting and it was poor choice of words because he might have been heavily invested emotionally into a vaginal birth. 

The other part of me is concerned about his choice of wording because it seems to reflect a lack of accepting responsibility in the informed decision making process which happened in that L&D room.  I mean literally unless that mother was all by herself and didn't ask her partner for input, thoughts (which I think many of us do when faced with that decision), he made the decision right along with his wife for the c/section.

 

Me with my rosy glasses on, I want to believe it is the first part and not the second because I think the second speaks to a lack of respect & support with regards to their  relationship.

 

OP- re: the trip I think that would sound wonderful but like StormBride mentioned & I agree car rides were not the most fun soon after a c/section.  Again - You sound like an amazing friend for trying to support her through this situation. 
 

 


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#23 of 30 Old 03-15-2011, 03:25 PM
 
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I had this thought before I read your update: if she was in labor for a long time prior to c-section (and if she was working for a natural birth, she probably was....), I can speak to that experience because I was exhausted beyond exhaustion by the time my c-section happened, and that made recovery so incredibly difficult. I don't know if I had PPD, but I think the depth of exhaustion, depletion, and post-partum sleep deprivation that I experienced created the symptoms of PPD, if not causing PPD outright.

 

As I continue coming to terms with my c-section, I realize that I just wasn't prepared for the prolonged misery of feeling like crap for months & months, which is what my labor & subsequent c-section set me up for. (I thought I'd have a "baby moon"! HA!) Who knows, if I'd labored that hard & that long and still managed a vaginal birth, perhaps I still would have felt awful for a long time. But having major abdominal surgery on top of everything just sort of sealed my fate. I was barely feeling normal again after a year. It took me two years to get enough regular sleep to feel like "myself" most of the time.

 

Your offer to whisk her away to a retreat is very kind. I know that I would have felt totally overwhelmed if someone had offered to do that with me. Not that I didn't desperately want to get away! But I was working so hard to bond with my baby & establish breastfeeding & try to figure out the sleep thing, that any new variables would have short-circuited my system. I would have heartily welcomed someone who would clean my house, do my laundry, cook good food for me, and/or keep my company during those long & lonely hours at home when I was stuck in a chair trying to figure out how to nurse.

 

The issue with the hubby's response is really hard. I have always been afraid that my DP secretly thinks this about me, though she has never said that she does. So perhaps I just can't get past my own fear about that reaction.

 

Your protective impulse towards your friend is very touching. She is lucky to have you!


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#24 of 30 Old 03-15-2011, 03:42 PM
 
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I understand how he feels.  I feel the same way about my baby sister.  She had two older sisters helping her learn about natural birthing (she was the first to bring up csec when she announced her BFP and she told us she did NOT want one!) but in the end she gave in, got induced, and took an epidural that nearly killed her dd.  Her csec was emergent, although it was an iatrogenic emergency.  She told everyone she was planning a VBAC for #2 but we found out later she had lied and planned an ERC for 38 wks.  I only found out when I bumped into her SIL the day before and she asked me if I was excited.  I am disappointed in her (her own birth was a completely uncomplicated and unplanned UC) and sad for my nephew who had some minor issues at birth due to his forced prematurity.  I don't feel like I need to actually forgive my sister, but am most certainly disappointed in her.  So I can totoally relate to how he feels.  I only hope he realizes his wife most likely feels the exact same way about herself!


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#25 of 30 Old 03-15-2011, 05:42 PM
 
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I understand how he feels.  I feel the same way about my baby sister.  She had two older sisters helping her learn about natural birthing (she was the first to bring up csec when she announced her BFP and she told us she did NOT want one!) but in the end she gave in, got induced, and took an epidural that nearly killed her dd.  Her csec was emergent, although it was an iatrogenic emergency.  She told everyone she was planning a VBAC for #2 but we found out later she had lied and planned an ERC for 38 wks.  I only found out when I bumped into her SIL the day before and she asked me if I was excited.  I am disappointed in her (her own birth was a completely uncomplicated and unplanned UC) and sad for my nephew who had some minor issues at birth due to his forced prematurity.  I don't feel like I need to actually forgive my sister, but am most certainly disappointed in her.  So I can totoally relate to how he feels.  I only hope he realizes his wife most likely feels the exact same way about herself!



But...there's absolutely nothing in the OP to suggest that the OP's friend made any of those choices. Nothing. I don't know how I'd feel if someone close to me chose an early induction and/or early ERCS, but it doesn't sound like this was anything like that. And, if this was a case of either believing her baby was in danger, or simply being too exhausted from labour to continue functioning (something that can be very much aggravated by the environment in the hospital), then were does anybody - especially someone who knows full well that he's never going to experience labour himself - get off being "disappointed" in her, or wondering how long it will take to "forgive" her?

 

Honestly, the more I think about his comments, the more my blood boils. It's extremely difficult to deal with teh emotional aftermath of having a c-section when you really, truly, emphatically did not want one. Having someone else - even someone who was there - decide that you gave up too easily or whatever, is just so amazingly unfair. And, I have trouble believing that he's thinking of her in so negative a fashion without her picking up on any of it.

 

And, I'll be honest. A man being that invested in how his child is born kind of creeps me out. I'm totally pro natural birth, but the bottom line is that it's her body that's been permanently altered. He could be hit by a bus tomorrow, and she'll still be dealing with this for the reest of her life. I really think he should talk to a professional - and sooner, not later.


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#26 of 30 Old 03-16-2011, 02:19 AM - Thread Starter
 
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How long ago was the c-section, OP? As much as that would have sounded lovely to me, I wouldn't have wanted to ride any real distance in a car or do anything that felt like traveling in the early weeks. It's just too hard.


Good point, Storm Bride!  I hadn't even thought of it from that angle.  The baby was born in early January; do you think she'd be comfortable with a 2 hour car trip?
 

 


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#27 of 30 Old 03-16-2011, 07:26 AM
 
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Good point, Storm Bride!  I hadn't even thought of it from that angle.  The baby was born in early January; do you think she'd be comfortable with a 2 hour car trip?
 

 

 

It really depends - if she's been taking it easy and healing well, maybe.  MAYBE.  If she's been pushing it (and I'm sorry to say that the spousal attitude you describe makes it awfully likely that she's been pushing it), not as likely.

 

But call her.  Tell her that you remember how things were around the 2-3 month mark, when all those hovering friends and relatives went home and the baby was changing so fast.  Ask if there's anything you can do for her.  Tell her that you'd love to have her and the baby up to the cottage - is she feeling up to the drive?  If not, you'll just have to have lots of brunches.

 

I'm with Storm Bride about the husband here.  As far as I'm concerned, the person in labor is the one who has the right to make the decisions about when to ask for anesthesia, when to move to c/s, and how to manage the situation.  Spouses are there for support.  Anyone who thinks he has to "forgive" his wife for bringing his baby into the world had better be prepared to go through labor his own self if he ever wants another one. 

 

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#28 of 30 Old 03-16-2011, 07:52 AM
 
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I'm enraged for your friend. Having had a traumatic c-section, what helped me heal was partly the kindness and care of the team at the hospital but PRIMARILY the love and support of my husband. OP, you sound like a good friend. I think offering her a refuge (your cottage) is a lovely, thoughtful idea. Especially if her husband is holding the c-section against her, having some space and time alone to process might be perfect.

 

It sounds to me like he thinks she "caved". Perhaps there were some other interventions first that failed. But no matter what happened or what choices she made, *she* was the one giving birth, not him. I hope he has the grace to accept that and manages to find some compassion and empathy for her. Poor thing.

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#29 of 30 Old 03-17-2011, 06:51 AM
 
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I really hope that her husband has a good friend to talk to as well.  It sounds like he is grieving the birth experience and maybe doesn't know how to process it.

 

For me, having the support of my husband has been crucial to my recovery.  Hopefully he will come around soon.


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#30 of 30 Old 03-25-2011, 01:07 PM
 
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I think it really has to do with your thoughts and ideas about birth and about yourself as a person, and so when your experience has a certain 'devastating' meaning for you, then it can really crush you and make you feel bad about yourself, blaming yourself etc.

 

I found a technique called EFT (emotional freedom technique) to be the seriously easiest way to deal with these traumatic feelings.

 

*hugs* to everyone experiencing this. While I didn't have a c-section, I had 2 traumatic births that I have healed from and gone on to have an amazing birth. Hang in there, it's possible!

 


Helping women overcome postpartum depression and birth trauma. http://www.postmommyhood.com

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