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.
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.
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.
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.
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!