Your Birth Story Does Matter

As my family and I are getting close to celebrating my son’s second birthday I am filled with so much pride and joy. I have a wonderful, happy, healthy and growing baby boy. Yes, I still call him my baby. I cannot believe how fast time flies. It seems like just yesterday he was born, and I was just starting to fall in love with this beautiful new person. I’m not sure if other women think of their children’s actual birth on their birthday, but it is something that I did last year, and those feelings are creeping back again this year.

 

I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on my birth experience since Liam was born. It’s no secret to many friends and family of mine that I was deeply affected by my birth experience.

 

I wanted more than anything to have a natural labor and normal vaginal delivery. I wanted that magic moment when you’ve worked so hard and then all of a sudden with one last force of energy that you didn’t think you had in you, you are left holding the precious life you created in your arms, finally. Well that is how I pictured it. That is what they show on the baby story and that is the experience that so many friends that I know had. It is what I envisioned, it is what I deserved, it is what I worked so hard throughout my pregnancy to achieve. It is what didn’t happen.

 

When that didn’t happen for me, I was DEVASTATED. The meaning of the word devastation actually doesn’t even begin to explain the feelings that I had after my birth. I was induced at 42 weeks when my baby didn’t want to budge. I tried absolutely everything to go into labor on my own and scheduling an induction was the first check mark on the list of medical interventions that would eventually create the exact birth experience I was trying to avoid. After a long induction and labor that ended in hours and hours of pushing, out of utter exhaustion and the beginnings of an infection, a cesarean was necessary.

Liamsbirth 2

This is my husband Andrew holding Liam for the first time after his birth. Such a proud and happy daddy!

I then proceeded to have continued complications in the operating room losing almost half of my blood volume, requiring numerous transfusions, and continued medical interventions. My husband was scared to death.  This was not the experience that I fantasized about.  After  I made it to my recovery room I was out of it, weak, and had no energy left in me. The whole experience had turned into a horrible nightmare that I instantly felt I wanted a chance to do over.

 

I was determined to stay awake and be present for my son’s first hours of life. With the help of 2 people I was able get my son to latch on for the first time and he nursed. Out of everything we had been through, I was going to breastfeed and we were going to make it work.  I will say that moment was beautiful even though it wasn’t what I had envisioned. Even if I was drugged up, in pain, and exhausted almost to the point of hallucination, it was my moment and no one could take that from me.

 Liams birth2Our first family picture together

 

 

After 3 days recovering the in hospital and much longer at home recovering from the surgery I had a lot of time to reflect on my experience. I had this beautiful baby boy that I was sharing this amazing bond with, but I was consumed with thoughts of his birth. I was emotional, upset, and just plain pissed about it. One nurse even said to me before I left the hospital  that I shouldn’t worry because my experience was probably the worst that it can possibly get and that next time I have a child it can’t possibly be that bad. WOW, okay. I’m not sure if that was supposed to make me feel better or worse. I knew it was bad. I was mourning the loss of the birth that I had wanted and felt that as woman and mother I deserved.

 

Liam's birth1

 

So let’s fast forward to 22 months later. Am I still upset about my birth experience? Damn right I am. I’ve gone through a lot of emotions and thought a lot about my feelings and been through different stages of grieving.

 

People have said to me, “It doesn’t really matter how your child came into the world, but just that he/she is healthy.” I cannot tell you how infuriating this statement makes me. Am I happy that my son is healthy and safe? Yes. But I’m allowed to be upset about my birth experience, even 22 months later. Those are my feelings, and I’m allowed to own them. When someone says that to me, it’s like they are saying that my feelings don’t matter. That I shouldn’t feel that way. I understand that some people may have gone through a similar experience and been totally fine with it, but that just isn’t me.

 

I am still healing. I’ve accepted the circumstances that have surrounded my son’s birth, but I’m still wounded. My first birth experience will forever be a part of who I am and while over time I’m sure the scars will fade, they will always be there.

 

My birth story does matter. It matter’s to me.

 

~Barb

Did you have a similar experience or maybe the complete opposite feelings after a cesarean was necessary? I’d love to hear your  comments and stories, so please share!

 

Comments

  1. Melinda says

    Barb thank you for your story, I never knew how you really felt. I am not sure if you know that I had a “C” section with Paul oh 32 years ago. It was decided after 24 hours of labor I a had no choice. We lived out of state and oh how I wanted my mom, because Uncle Brian was worried. It was different back then but the feelings are the same. I still think back to how it was not how I planned. With Joe it was so easy and joyful time. I thought it was always like that. I to miss the experience even 32 years later. Back then you were alone in the room Uncle Brian was not aloud in with me. I remember them holding Paul up across the room and then off he went without his mommy or daddy to hold him. Thank you for letting me feel so many years later that my feelings were real and not just some crazy young 23 year old girl. You are one great mom and we are all so proud of you and how Liam is being raised. Hugs Aunt Melinda

    • Barb says

      Thank you for your story Melinda. I think many people think that since birth is supposed to be a joyous event and when you have a negative experience that it is shameful or wrong to speak the truth about your feelings. Although birth is only a small part of a person’s life experience, it can have such a major impact on someone. I’m glad I was able to make you feel that your feelings were not crazy and you are/were not alone!

  2. Rhonda says

    I am so glad that you shared this story with all your true raw feelings. I know how it has bothered you, and I agree that you have every right to still feel upset about what you went through. It was EXTREME and just as your friend I remember being worried sick because it was clear that things were not going smooth during your labor. I am so glad that you are working through those feelings and that you are a great mom to Liam.

    • Barb says

      Thank you Rhonda! Yes, I am still working through those feelings and while I still have a lot of pain associated with his birth, I know I am so blessed to have such a happy and healthy boy. It’s great to have friends like you Rhonda who are always there to support me. A once in a lifetime friend you are!

  3. Amy says

    Barb, I very much understand these feelings and this happened twice for me. As you know I had a very similar experience with Owen in the sense that I went into labor, after a very long labor, then running a fever I had to have a C-section. I naturally was very upset and had a hard time nursing. When my lactation consultant came into the room to help me a day later she said…deary dont be so upset, the lady next store to your room just had twins…one via csection, one via vaginal delivery, imagine how she is feeling. I wanted to throw something at her!!!

    As with Hayden I planned and prayed for a vaginal delivery (VBAC). My water broke on it’s own and I was thrilled!! After 6 hours I was only dilated at…0! After 8 hours and a csection I was barely dilated at 1. Its hard to think about all of the emotions that i felt during this time.

    Knowing that I do not want another csection, not because of the recovery but because of the feeling of loss and anxiety it is tremendously hard to accept. I do not know that it will get better. But, I do know that it is ok that we feel this way.

    • Barb says

      Thank you Amy. It is something that I am still working through. Will I ever feel great about what happened? Probably not, but I am working through it. I cannot imagine this happening twice. That is why I am so nervous about doing it again someday. I do feel that I would go through everything again a second time just to have the chance to have a VBAC because at least then I know I tried and did everything I could. Just like you did. Thank you so much for sharing!

  4. says

    I totally understand your feelings! I honestly could see myself feeling the exact same way if that were to have happened to me. And it’s wrong for people to try to push your very valid feelings aside with comments like, “Just so long as you get a healthy baby, it doesn’t matter how he came into the world” — while that may be true in one sense (I mean, what mom wouldn’t choose the best and safest way to get her baby OUT when things aren’t progressing as they should? I don’t know any mother who would risk her baby’s life by insisting on doing it natural in a time of crisis.) the emotions that you have about it are very real. There is a loss; the loss of what you envisioned your birth to be. As mothers we picture in our minds what “that moment” will be like long before any baby is even conceived! So of course when it doesn’t go that way, and in fact goes the exact opposite of what we wanted, there is a sense of loss. I get it. I think people who give out those comments aren’t trying to be insensitive – they think they are “cheering you up” or helping you to see the positive side of things. People really just need to learn to LISTEN and to just be there, and sometimes just saying, “I understand how you feel.” or “I’m sorry you are going through this” or just something like that is far more helpful than the other stuff they say. You know, I have a 20 year old daughter who suffered a severe brain injury at the age of four. She changed in an instant, going from perfectly healthy 4-year-old to a severely disabled child. I had to adjust to that. It was horribly hard on me. I missed my little 4 year old so much! But the comments I got…oh boy. “You need to just be thankful that she didn’t die. At least she is still here with you.” was the most common one that I heard. Also, “God has his plans. It’s all in God’s plan.” (how in the heck was THAT supposed to comfort me? to think that God did this to my little girl on purpose? That is supposed to make me feel better? Oh brother!) Anyway, all I ever wanted was for someone to hold me, listen to my cries, and simply say, “I’m so sorry this happened.” or to just agree with whatever I felt at the time instead of trying to talk me out of my feelings! Ugh! Even to this day, I have to keep quiet about my true feelings about my daughter. I can still get down. She’s improved so much but I can still get down about things she isn’t able to do. For instance, she’s 20 now and still needs me to drive her around everywhere because she cannot drive. Her disabilities keep her from driving. And logically I know this isn’t the end of the world or the worse thing, but all her friends drive, her little sister is driving, and she hates that she cannot drive. It hurts her, therefore it hurts ME. I wish it weren’t this way. I wish she had never been hurt in that car accident. Sometimes I wish I could have been the one to be hurt instead of her. All my old feelings come to the surface (because time does have it’s way of pushing them to the wayside…but they are still there, lurking…just waiting to jump when something triggers them!) But if I were to express my sorrow about this driving issue, ugh…the comments I would get. The people in my life don’t really want to hear me or deal with my pain – they just want to fix it. There is NO fixing it, lol. Just listen to me and just be there. Is that so hard? Apparently so. Ah well.

    Anyways, I know this is long and here I am a perfect stranger, but I just wanted to tell you that I understand your feelings, they are very real and valid, and I wish you THE BEST BIRTH EVER!! with your next child — it’s very, very possible!! I’ve had quite a few friends who had a similar birth experience with their first baby, and then went on to have VBACS with their second and third babies! You can do it, too!

    • Barb says

      Thank you so much for sharing this with me! I am actually a pediatric nurse and I take care of patients with patients that have a traumatic brain injury quite often and I can understand how hard that is, and must have been for you. Sometimes, we just want to know that our feelings are valid. We don’t want a fix, we don’t want to be talked out of our feelings, and I know most people mean well. I think for many people it makes them uncomfortable when they don’t know how to respond to someones feelings so they do they best they can and try to make them feel better not always knowing that what they are saying is devaluing the other person’s actual feelings about something. You get it, thank you. Also, I am very optimistic about my next birth experience if god chooses to bless us with another child. THank you.

  5. says

    After taking a fairly intensive, 10-week birth class with a doula, my husband and I both agreed we’d like to try for a natural birth in the alternative birthing room in the hospital. We also envisioned immediate skin on skin time, breastfeeding, attachment parenting and so on. At 31 weeks, I had an emergency c-section; my son was too young to breastfeed; he had to stay in the NICU for 5 weeks before coming home; and, during that time, I had little to no supply, despite weeks of pumping. I found peace with my birth experience and not being able to breastfeed rather quickly, but had a hard time wrapping my head around not being able to pump and offer my little guy breast milk. It was in my sixth week, the week after he came home, that I finally opted out of pumping in favor of 100% formula. I cannot begin to describe what a huge wave of relief came over me. It’s one of the hardest, but most rewarding decisions I have ever made as a mother. I think every mother has a unique experience regarding labor, birth and motherhood. To appreciate and support each other as we go through these experiences is far more important than judging each other on our differences.

    • Barb says

      Thank you for sharing. That is so very true. Support is invaluable to someone when they are going through something tough. Being a pediatric nurse, I take care of premature babies and I am always so inspired by the strength that I see in the mothers of those babies. Thanks again for sharing.

  6. cindy says

    I am with you 100%! I also wanted to have natural birth ….long story to short, couldn’t.

    I’m not gonna lie, I’m still not ready to have a second baby as much asI like my baby son.

  7. Anna says

    I was relieved to read about your birth story as I had my son about 3 1/2 months ago and it also did not go anywhere near to planned, especially after a high-risk pregnancy, so he was born via C-Section early (scheduled for 37 weeks 1 day) as they did not want me to go into labor due to complications earlier in the pregnancy, and we had an awful time trying to establish the milk supply, let down, and also had some pretty upsetting nurses and some family drama. Thankfully he didn’t have to go into NICU, but it was still hard on my husband and I and I appreciate reading your story to know that we weren’t the only ones to have a birth story like that. Who knows at this point if we’ll have more kids, since our 3 1/2 month old son is our first, but regardless, we’ll continue to heal from that experience, I just hope to not base wanting or not wanting another based on our son’s birth story. It grieves my heart that it had to happen that way, but we are so thankful for him and that makes his presence that much more joyful to us!

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