Friday, September 27, 2013

Emotional Recovery After a C-Section

I have wanted to experience natural childbirth for a long time. My mother delivered all eleven of her children naturally so that is what I grew up wanting. Once I got married and started thinking about having children I had to decide for myself if a natural birth was really the birth experience I wanted. So I began to research and still decided that this was the way I wanted to go. Race thought I was pretty crazy at first but after he researched he also decided that this was the experience we wanted to have. On a Sunday a few weeks before Holland was born my dad had all of the kids at home write 100+ life dreams down just for a fun family activity. Right after my number one dream {to be a good mother} I wrote that I wanted to experience natural childbirth. So we prepared. We read Hypnobirthing (by Marie Mongan, M.Ed., M.Hy), we wrote our birth plan together, and we prayed for everything to work out. I was so ready to have my baby. I wasn’t nervous to experience contractions and birth--I was excited! I was excited to come closer to Race through this experience. I was excited for my mother to be able to see a birth because although she has had eleven children she has only been at one birth before. I was so ready for all of it! I never expected that things wouldn’t go the way I desired. I knew that I would do anything necessary to get my baby here safe and sound but I was not emotionally prepared to have a c-section {not that I think women usually are prepared for that}.

I waited almost two full weeks after my due date for my body to kick into gear and things to start naturally. I could have been induced two days after my due date like my midwife had tried to get me to do but that is not how I wanted things to happen. So I waited. And it was hard. But after almost two weeks I was awarded with my water breaking on its own. And I was thrilled!  But then the contractions didn’t start. So I waited a little bit longer. And when the contractions started I was THRILLED {again}! Yes, they hurt but I was just so excited! I breathed through my contractions and was handling them fine. They were not unbearable. {I don’t want this to be a repeat of my birth story which you can read here so I’ll skip most of the details} I was excited for throughout the day but it was so hard to hear that I wasn’t progressing when the nurses checked me and after 24 hours I got an epidural. About 5 hours later I was 10 cm and started to push. Again, I was thrilled to be pushing! So far I had gotten an epidural which I had not wanted but I had not been put on Pitocin and I did not have a c-section so some of my birthing desires were being met! After two hours of pushing my midwife and doctor came in to talk to me. They explained that because of Holland’s position {posterior/sunnyside up} and because of the presence of meconium they thought it would be best to do a c-section. In that moment I felt peace with my decision and I know that was a gift from my Heavenly Father.

Over the next few days, weeks and months the grief of having a c-section hit me. As I heard about other people’s birthing experiences I was jealous and sad. Now I often cry when I read people’s beautiful, natural birth stories. I sometimes feel like a failure even though I know I did all that I could and I am so happy to have my baby here. I am sad that Race and I did not have the experience that we wanted and that Race looks back on our birthing experience as a bit scary. I am sad that my mother was not able to be there for the birth and I’m afraid {jealous already?} that she’ll get to witness someone else’s baby being born before she gets to witness her oldest daughter having a baby. I am scared to get pregnant again because I am not ready to deal with all the stress surrounding trying a V-BAC and then possibly ending up with another c-section. I cried when my parents told me that I was the inspiration for a family friend birthing naturally. I didn’t {still don’t exactly} understand how my “failure” at having a natural birth would be inspiring to someone. There have been so many different emotions that I did not know I would be dealing with.

There were many blessings surrounding Holland’s birth as well and I would like to take note of those here because I think it is important to recognize that although things didn't go the way I was expecting there were still so many good things I was able to experience. 
I was blessed to go into labor on my own and to be able to experience labor so I’m not quite so nervous for next time.  I was blessed with a very loving and supportive family and medical staff--I did not feel like I was pushed into having a c-section, it was my decision. I was blessed to have no problems bonding with and breastfeeding my baby. I was blessed with a pretty quick and easy physical recovery {or so I’ve been told--this is my first baby} after having major surgery. And ultimately I was blessed with a beautiful, healthy baby who I am absolutely in love with.

I have cried a lot about my c-section and that is okay. It is also something I didn’t realize would be so hard. So I started researching and found other people’s stories and realized that I’m not the only one {who knew?!} who had to recover emotionally as well as physically after their c-section. I wanted to add my story to theirs because I hope that it can help someone out there to know that they are normal in their feelings. It is okay to be sad, angry, jealous and scared. And it will get better over time.

Here are a couple of other articles that I found helpful:

And now I'll leave you with a couple of pictures of my adorable daughter!