I’ve seen so many moms lately talking about what a disappointment their c-sections were. How they feel like they failed or like something was taken from them when they couldn’t give birth how they planned.
As a new mom (for the second time) & c-section deliverer (twice now), I want to share my most recent experience.
This was my second baby, and this time I was sure I knew what I was in for. I planned it out. I hired a doula. I watched documentaries and read books on natural birth. I was going for the golden cup, the apparent holy trail of birthing experiences: the unmediated VBAC. (Ooohhhhhh! Aaawwwwww!)
When I went into labor around 3am on Nov. 1st, I was really excited, mostly because that meant I wouldn’t have to share my body anymore. This pregnancy was much tougher than my first. I gained less weight, but had more pain and issues this time around…maybe the toddler running circles (literally and figuratively) around me had something to do with that. Or maybe it’s my lack of height and torso?
Around 6am I called my doula to let her know it was go time. She came over and we talked, rocked, bounced, and squatted. The contractions were pretty steady and fairly uncomfortable. Around noon I ate some broth and we decided to try getting in the tub. It felt so much better and I relaxed a bit.
I was getting tired- up at 3am, remember?- so I went to lay down for a bit. I took a nap for what seemed like hours. I was later informed it was about 20 minutes. I woke up th a contraction and my water breaking around 2pm. This is when my whole world got flipped around.
When my doula said it was about to get more intense, I felt prepared. I was not. The next hour or so was rough. We waited a bit, then we decided it was time to head to the hospital. I’m not sure exactly how, but I somehow managed to cling to my husband and walk up to Labor & Delivery.
I was greeted by my friend Sandra, an L&D nurse, and taken to triage. I could swear we were there for hours. At this point the pain was tremendous and I couldn’t focus very well. It felt like I sat there for hours while they started a Hep Lock (IV line) and tried to monitor baby.
When I got into the labor and delivery room, I was pretty out of it. The pain was excruciating. I couldn’t get my eyes to focus so I kept them shut. To try and help, my doula had me kneel on the bed (again, not sure how I managed to get up there). This is where I started to really break.
For a while, I had been saying, that I couldn’t take it. Kneeling made the pain more intense and couldn’t handle it anymore. Our next move was to use the birthing ball. What I remember most at this point was crying, screaming, saying “I can’t do it. I’m done. Not another one. Make it stop.” and trying to crawl inside my husband while trying to relay that I had had enough and I was ready for an epidural. This was not easy. Thank goodness for Sandy who helped make it clear I was at the end of my rope.
Once the epidural was finally placed and taking action, I was able to regain some brain function. I sent my doula home to feed her baby because “nothing exciting is going on”.
Within minutes of her leaving the room, a flock of nurses descended on me, rolling me to one side then the other. They asked if I could get on my elbows and knees and as they helped roll me, I heard “no, we’re taking her now as they unlocked the bed and started rolling me to the O.R.. I had a brief second to look at me husband and mutter “we’re fine” beforehand left the room.
I was then put on oxygen and prepped for surgery. Once I was ready, Nick came in and held my hand. I was so scared and nervous, not knowing what had happened. It was all so fast.
They told Nick our baby was about to be born and he stood up to way her come into the world, just as he did for her sister. I held my breath waiting for her the cry, which she did immediately. She was perfect and healthy. As they began to sew me up, Nick and baby went to the NICU to make sure she was alright.
Later, we found out she had a nuchal cord, meaning the umbilical cord had gotten wrapped around her neck. Had I not had the epidural placed, this could have ended very differently. Had the nurses and midwives not acted as quickly as they did, our beautiful little girl may not be here now.
I went into this pregnancy thinking a c-section was the last thing I wanted. Now, I am so very thankful to have had one. I was so afraid of the healing process and being away from Dove for 3 days while I had to stay in the hospital after a c-section. I was worried I would feel like I failed again.
Honestly, I healed faster this time around and the pain has been more manageable than with my first c-section. Dove understood that mommy has a boo-boo on her belly and we have to be gentle. I did finally let her see the incision and she was very understanding and hasn’t tried to touch it (which is huge for someone not quite 2 years old).
I have no feeling of failure this time around. Quite the opposite, actually. I went in and I tried my hardest to give birth naturally. I didn’t fail to do it, I’m just not the kind of person that can do that. I have the utmost respect for the women that can, but I now know, I am not one of them. I gave my very best and in the end, a beautiful, healthy 7 lbs 10 oz baby was born.
My VBAC experience did empower me, just not the way most people probably think of. I now feel more confident to speak up for what I know are my limits. I feel closer to my husband, the man who held me while I was truly at my worst and gave me all the support and strength he could. Above all, I’m proud of myself for trying and not succeeding and for finding peace in the chaos that was our children’s births.
Thank you to all the medical staff that had to deal with my loud, insane self! Your care and quick reactions are what made this whole experience a positive one. A HUGE thank you to my nurse who sat with his shoulder nearly dislocated forever trying to keep the monitor on the baby while I screamed and writhed. Another special thank you to Sandra, for speaking for me when my brain wouldn’t function enough to let me do. You are a godsend!