So, here's a question for all you mamas, especially the few who ended up with c-sections or births that did not go as planned in other ways. Does anybody struggle with guilt about the way their birth went?
I planned a hypnobabies natural birth. However, from the beginning we had so many things stacked against us. I was super sick the day I went into labor (sick enough I didn't want to go into the hospital because I just felt crummy and wanted to lay on the couch and forget about it all!). My little girl had been malpositioned through the whole pregnancy, which caused a very very long and stressful labor with lots of complications for us both (super high fevers for me, distress for her from the strength of my contractions and my fevers, etc etc etc) and ended with a baby not descending and a cervix that was swelling closed again. After trying different positioning things to see if the swelling would go down, without having any effect, my OB finally said that he was OK letting me to continue to labor for several more hours but very concerned that my body would not be able to handle the stress of a c-section after several more hours of labor at that intensity (it had already been about 30 hours since my water broke at that point). We ended up calling it an hour later after my cervix was continuing to swell, and had a c-section.
In general, for a bad experience, things went as well as they could have. Every healthcare professional I came in contact with was absolutely amazing. My OB knew from the beginning how much I wanted to avoid a c-section, because we knew that healing would be much harder for me because of my constant cough, and he, the other doctor who was on call, and all of the nurses worked REALLY hard to try to avoid CS, including letting me labor well past the normal 24 hours post water breaking even though I HAD developed an infection. And my sweet little girl was calm, alert, and peaceful after her birth, said my husband.
But as I was thinking and journaling about the experience today, I realized that I have a lot of guilt about how things went, feeling like I should have been able to stop it and do something more to make the outcome better. Like it was "my fault" somehow that things turned out the way they did - my fault because I went with an OB and not a midwife, my fault because maybe I could have done more positioning stuff to help my baby rotate properly, etc. etc. etc. Rationally, I know this is silly... my pregnancy was very high-risk and I really felt led toward choosing the team of care providers that I chose. They were awesome, and like I said, very supportive of my desires and really worked very hard to try to avoid a c-section. And goodness knows, I did EVERY positioning thing I had ever heard of...months of spinning babies stuff, hours and hours of miles circuit stuff at the end when I was trying to kick my prodromal labor into real labor, lots of walking up the stairs, sitting leaning forward, etc. Rationally, I know that there really wasn't anything I can do. But I can tell it is definitely going to take some work to let go of the guilt I didn't even realize I had!
Anyway, it made me wonder - does anyone else feel guilt about the way things went, or didn't go, with your birth?
yep. I think its pretty normal.
Tears were welling up as I read your post. I am sorry things didn't go the way you envisioned. Chapsie had some great advice. I had some major guilt about other motherhood issues (PPD undiagnosed for 2 years, baby rejection, etc) It took me YEARS to get over the guilt those things caused. It really had an impact on my early relationship with my DD1. So in addition to journaling, art, etc, I also wanted to encourage you to see someone (a counselor maybe) if you feel like you might benefit from that. That's what FINALLY helped me put all the guilt behind me and start enjoying mothering my DD1 after years of anxiety/stress/guilt.
Yes, I saw a counselor after my miscarriages and it was so helpful. She gave me very good practical advice (like make sure I'm eating well, have help around the house, etc) and it was good to have someone just listen without inserting mindless platitudes into the conversation.
I also just wanted to say: It is not your fault!! You did everything you could. I know from reading your posts here before Kate was born that you researched so much and put a lot of careful planning and preparation into your pregnancy leading up to birth. You are awesome! You worked so hard during your labor! Its hard to not question: "where did I go wrong?" but you really have to be extra gentle and loving with yourself right now. ::HUG::
cindy, yes absolutely, as an immediate reaction to the birth I had a host of what-ifs and if-onlys and regrets and second guessing and self-directed blame and guilt. I was so exhausted after 60 hours of labour, with the last 10 hours on liquid diet in the hospital, with water broken for 3 days. When my contractions petered out at 10 cms dilation, and baby hadn't descended past zero station in spite of marathon squatting, in spite of my doula pushing to open the pelvic bones through every contraction, double stair walking, etc....I was spent and exhausted and all I could say over and over was, "I need to eat and sleep." When it was clear that I wasn't going to be allowed to eat and sleep and prolong the labour, I just sort of caved. The doc offered Pitocin at that point along with episiotomy and vacuum/forceps delivery which sounded horrifying, so we opted for a repeat c-sec instead.
Now I wish I'd insisted on eating and sleeping even if it pissed the doc off, and given my body a chance to generate contractions later in the day. I wish I'd had a shot at a decent pushing phase. I wish I'd tried that damn Pitocin, who knows it might have worked. I wish I'd hired a different doula who wouldn't have given up on me like this one did. I wish I'd chosen a homebirth in spite of my family. To add to the guilt was the fact that when the doc opened me up she said she couldn't even locate the previous scar - it was so well integrated and healed. Maybe my uterus could have handled the Pitocin even when it was exhausted. But of course we didn't know that then.
I went into the OR crying, I went home from the hospital crying, I never thought I would be one to end up with two cesarean births.
After those intitial reactions though...I have a little peace now. The main source of my grief is "how could it have happened to ME?" and I realize these things can happen to anyone. Life doesn't work out the way we want it to all the time, and there's no choice but to simply accept and allow the imperfection of mortal life. The Buddhist concept of recognizing that suffering is a part of life - to acknowledge and allow impermanence, incompleteness and imperfection inherent in life - to let those be your practice. I'm also focusing on learning what I can from this experience - I now know I ignore my inner guidance and intuition at my own peril, that I need to trust my inner voice more than the voices around me. I'm also grateful for the things that did work - a beautiful easy lovely pregnancy, the chance to experience the full spectrum of labor, and all the little things that the doc obliged us with - putting baby on my chest after he was out so I touched and talked to him first, clamping cord only after it stopped pulsing, packing the placenta/cord for us to bury in our garden. I'm grateful for the healthy peaceful sweet little ball of light we've been blessed with and a smooth recovery for both of us.
Broken dreams, lessons learned, blessings acknowledged - life goes on. And in the end, I embrace all of it. My favourite quote says it best -
"For all that has been — Thanks. For all that shall be — Yes."