The Healing Thread
As natural birthing mamas, each one of us has big plans about what will and won't happen during our births. We have hopes, expectations, and dreams about following our own intuition, letting nature take its course, and learning about our bodies and babies through this primal and life-changing event.
But no matter how educated, strong, and passionate about natural birth a mom is, medical complications can come up. Thank goodness we have doctors, midwives, and hospitals for those situations when it's medically necessary. Or, during labor you may make unexpected decisions about what you want that weren't what you planned. Later on you may have some regret. Labor and delivery is a time when a woman is vulnerable, suggestible, and may need support she didn't plan on. People attending the birth (staff or family and friends) may say or do unhelpful things that lead you to feel hurt physically and emotionally.
Please feel welcome to continue posting on our board even if you had medical interventions or made unexpected decisions during birth. This board is about an attitude towards birth, not what did or didn't happen during a specific birth. And while much of the world may say "who cares, you got a healthy baby, didn't you? Forget it!" Here on Birthing Naturally we are not going to forget it, we understand perhaps more than others that the mom and birthing experience are important and valuable too.
In this thread we invite you to share your healing process with us as you deal with your birth experience in the postpartum days. Despite the arrival of a beautiful baby, you may have anger or grief about the birth itself. Even a good birth can have parts that leave you feeling disappointed. Here is a place to express your feelings, get sympathy, and know that even if your birth wasn't 100% how you envisioned it, that doesn't change that you are a natural birthing mama.
Please only post responses about dealing with your own experience in this thread. Comments to improve it or support someone should go in a separate posting.
Here are some questions to ask yourself:
What happened during your birth?
What went wrong?
How did you feel about it?
What hurt the most?
How did you cope?
Who helped you?
Who was no help at all?
Who would you punch in the face if you could?
Did you have a would've could've should've moment?
What did you do that you're proud of?
What would you tell other women to warn them?
What do you wish you'd known ahead of time?
How can you come out of this feeling that you grew from this experience?
Talk with your doctor or midwife
Talk with supportive friends or family
Keep a journal about your experience, not just what happened but also your feelings
Make some art based on your experience
Sing, chant, or say prayers to aid your deep processing
Make an affirmation towards your healing
Take action within your community
A friend in Samuel's birth forum PM'd me the other day. Although she had had 3 c/s herself and had no problem with that, a RLF of hers just went through the same experience I had had and she wanted to know how to help, what to say, what NOT to say...
Why do we not all have a friend like that? It seems they're so few and so far between. My friend Tanya (you gals know as scarecrow) has been great for me. Because she's part of my online community as well, she followed my lodge and all the aftermath, and is the only one of my rlfs who actually understands what I went through and how I'm still feeling. The only one who understands that despite the fact that Miriam is 5 months old, the birth robbery is still present for me, right at the front of my mind in every otherwise-unoccupied moment. And I know how priviledged I am to have a close rlf who I can call and say, "I need to talk" and am not going to hear the words, "About what?"
DH asked the other day at what point he should start to worry - at what point he should be suggesting that I get some professional "help" with this. After talking with the ICAN list, I told him it could well be a long time - if he wanted a "deadline" it could be this time next year.
The thought-loop is always there, playing in the background of everything I do. sometimes I'm distracted enough by life that I don't notice it, but it's there instantly as soon as I'm quiet. It's as if somehow, my brain thinks that by going over it enough times, by mentally playing out every choice I didn't make, that somehow I will find out that this didn't happen to me. Somehow I'll find out that the truth is really that I DID have Miriam normally - that the OB didn't chicken out in that moment where she almost let it go; that the anesthetist said more than "somebody's PUSHING" and I actually pushed Miriam out in the OR despite all odds; that labour didn't start until 8 the next morning; that I hadn't felt so defeated and made them call the provincial emergency service to try to find me a different OB at another hospital; that I wasn't too scared to call the MW I knew who would've come to my house to catch her. somehow if I go over it enough, one of those things will be what DID Happen. I"ll find out that the haziness and confusion of my memory is because it wasn't real. That there was an out, and I took it.
I have so much trouble just really believing that it happened at all, why does it make me so angry and so sad?
I do hurt less than I did. It's like the hurt is getting a bit washed around the edges, like the soft-focus on a film-noir heroine. I'm resisting it, I confess. I WANT my anger. I was RIGHT.
A huge part of the reason I shied away from this board after Jackson's birth was because I was ashamed at how many interventions I had and how unnatural the whole thing was. I felt - feel - it was all my doing because I couldn't stand it anymore and asked for the induction. If I had been more patient than maybe I would have progressed. If I had been more patient than maybe he would have turned on his own. If I had been more patient than maybe I wouldn't have this scar on my stomach. I think I'm having so much trouble accepting it because I see it every day. I go to the bathroom, BOOM it's there. I get dressed, hi, how are ya. A constant reminder of what I still view as my failure.
I have always tried to live my life w/ no regrets and this is so hard for me to not regret. Of course, I'm happy to have Jackson and we're both alive and healthy. That's not what I mean. What I think I regret is lacking the patience to let my body do it's thing. Oh, it's such a back and forth depending on the day. I remind myself frequently that he was lateral - but if I hadn't rushed him perhaps he would have turned on his own? I remind myself even more frequently that the cord was around his neck - so even if we had let things happen on their own I still may have ended up on that table. So many what ifs, if only I had... It's true, they all end up w/ Jackson here but it seems the majority of them also end up w/ me having the birth I had envisioned for myself.
That's another thing I go over often - it was the birth *I* had envisioned for myself. But you know what? I wasn't the one being born, Jackson was. It was his birth, I was just along for the ride. It was his journey but I f*ucked with it. Yeah, I get mad at myself still. I'm getting better though.
The bright side to all of it is that I'm more determined than ever to let the next baby lead and I will follow. I tell anyone who will listen to not ask for an induction. I try even harder to convince people that recovery from a c/s is a gazillion times worse than normal delivery - physically and emotionally. It's still hard. It's hard to come here and read all these awesome birth stories - I am green w/ envy and get upset all over again. I feel like a failure all over again. But I'm getting better. I've started lurking. I've started soaking up the inspiration, the power that comes from you all. I will be ready next time. I will be patient. I will let my baby take control. I will breathe. I will embrace whatever happens.
I think most of my anger & regret about my c/s comes from me not being vocal enough about the recommendations the docs were making. Certainly I can appreciate the severity and risks of pre-e; however, I truly don't believe I was developing pre-e at the time I was admitted to the hospital. By the time I reached L&D, my blood pressure had returned to normal and at the OB's office prior to that, I had only a trace of protein in my urine. I firmly believe that had I demanded to be released to bedrest, I could have eventually gone into labor naturally and delivered Ashlyn vaginally (and naturally) without any problems for either one of us. I feel that the on-call OB (who admitted me based upon reading my chart, and didn't even come see me before his on-call shift ended - JERK) noted my weight gain and my size and simply took the "CYA" approach.
Just as I expected and had read about on this board time & time again, as soon as they started one intervention it just kept leading to others. First the cervadil, then the pitocin, then the AROM, then the internal monitoring, then the epidural in hopes of relaxing my body and allowing for more dilation - with little to no progress. My body wasn't ready, and she wasn't ready to be born, I guess. It's not so much that I regret the c/s - if it would have been a necessity after unproductive natural laboring, I would feel much more comfortable with the outcome. It's just (like Kamila said) that I feel like I caused the c/s, because I agreed to intervention after intervention.
Now, enjoying my beautiful daughter, I try to get past the regret I have from the experience that I feel was taken away from me. I have already started to talk to people in my life about VBAC, and how it is an important thing for me to work towards. My OB is supportive of VBAC, but if any time during my next pregnancy I start to question their commitment to that, I'll switch to midwife care without a second thought. I can't change the experience I already have had, but I can certainly be stronger with my next pregnancy and make things happen the way I want them to.
Jennie, thanks so much for starting this thread. I think it's important for all of us to have this as a place to put our thoughts and feelings.
Everything went wrong. I had an extremely medicated birth, albeit vaginally, my baby wasn't ready to be born yet but my body was unable to continue to nourish him. And the entire medical staff dismissed my concerns as a crazy pg lady who was giving birth and couldn't handle it.
It made me so mad to be treated so condesendingly. I knew that something was wrong, not childbirth, but something else, and NO one would take me seriously. They didn't take me seriously until a week later when they discovered I was on the operation recovery floor recovering from an EMERGENCY appendectomy. I know that had they taken me seriously while giving birth, and discovered what was wrong. Then they could have done the surgery laprascopically and I wouldn't have been so sick for so long.
I feel like I was robbed not only of my perfect hypnobirth, but also of the first few months of my baby's life. Even when I was well enough to leave the hospital, I still had some major obstacles to overcome healthwise and mentally.
What has helped me the most has been talking about it with friends, family, anyone who will listen. Everytime I go over the whole thing again, though it still makes me cry, I feel a little closer to being at peace. I know that "I" couldn't have done anything different, beyond insisting more that they test me more til they figured out what was wrong. And even then, the pain disappeared when I gave birth because the pressure was released. Aside from my intuition, I had no way of knowing for sure that something was wrong still.
As far as others go, I reassure anyone that hears my story that the liklihood of it happening to them is very slim. The probability of developing appendicitis in pg and especially in the 3rd trimester is very low. I just happened to be one of the unlucky few :(
I also continually tell myself that it can never happen to me again. Because it can't. You only get 1 appendix, and mine is totally gone so I cannot go through this again, and while that's a limited amount of comfort, it does help a little.
I truly believe that the only thing that is going to heal me of this birth experience. Is going to be to have another baby. To experience childbirth once again the way it's supposed to be, and to know that MY body isn't broken anymore. To know that without the additional challenges I had, I can give birth in a beautiful, relaxed, natural way. And that I can establish and have a beautiful breastfeeding relationship when my body isn't overloaded with trying to heal itself.
SO blue today. I'm tired from the holiday weekend and drained - I had a good time but it was crazy. So maybe that's why I'm having a crying day. PLus the Dixie Chicks were on the radio this morning and that song could've been written for me. Miriam's not taking her nap this morning and I'm so frustrated with her, I need alone time so badly right now. I just put her down and she's wailing. bbl.
OK I'm back. Sorry about that.
TMI coming now. It seems every day there's another little insult to my body. Last night DH & I dtd for the 1st time... 2nd attempt, but our 1st "success". i have no libido, but that's not new to post c/s I'm just too busy and tired most of the time to be bothered with staying up an extra hour to dtd. But anyway, we finally played a little last night and I burst into tears because I still have a band of skin about an inch wide above the scar that has no sensation. I had to ask him to be careful not to touch there because it was so disconcerting to have the touch *stop* kwim? And I ended up bawling because it was just so awful to have to say that, to admit that, to ALLOW that into my intimate life. God I wish I didn't care.
I really DON'T care about the look of the scar. That doesn't bother me. But I sure care about that numb area. And I care that the scar is itchy, almost all the time, because i'm developing keloid tissue and so the "healing" that my body thinks it's doing is still going on. It's going to be an incredibly ugly scar - I don't know if anybody is familiar with keloids, but what happens is the scar gets thick and raised instead of getting flat and disappearing. Ultimately it will go silver like any other scar but it will always look like I have a rope on top of my skin. That just irritates me because it's unnecessary though, I don't really care about the *appearance*.
It make me worry about what's going on inside. Am I developing keloid tissue on my uterine scars too? There are 2 layers of stitches on my uterus - do I have a big ropy scar there? THAT I care about. My perfect, beautiful uterus. I had a revelation when I had Samuel, that suddenly I knew what my uterus was FOR... before children it was just kinda functionless and PITA once a month. But I fell in love with those miracle muscles when I birthed him and now they've been damaged. THAT really really upsets me. The idea of my strong, beautiful muscles cut through and scarred. It's awful. I can't express how awful it is to me. And nobody seems to KNOW if you get the keloids on muscle tissue... my chiro said, hmm, I don't know, I guess probably? We have wellbabys with our MD on Friday and I'm going to ask about it. She probably doesn't know either. Maybe I'll call Karen (surgeon) and ask.
on top of it all, a RLF (well, the wife of a friend of mine, I don't really know her that well) was here for T'giving on Monday. She had a c/s, I don't know the reason, for her 1st baby, and is trying to make the decision now about whether or not to vbac. I told her that I wasn't going to say much becuase my experience gave me a real serious bias, but to know that the recovery with a toddler is no picnic, and that having done both kinds of birth myself I would never OPT for a c/s. I thought I showed remarkable restraint LOL. anyway I sent her an email yesterday saying I didn't want to be pushy or anything (I really believe it's HER decision and my place as a friend to support whatever she feels is right for her and her family even if it's not what I would do) but I have a lot of info about c/s and vbac, and if she wanted any of it or if she just needed to hash it out with someone who had been through both kinds of birth and was unilaterally on her side, I was here. She said she wants the research... I'm really glad. So I have to get her hooked up to the ICAN white papers, etc.
anyway I've been musing a long time... thank you for giving us a safe place to cry.
I come to this thread every middle of the night with the intention of posting my story here. It is forming in my head, but I can't yet bring it to the hands or lips.
I am overwhelmed at how close the emotions still are and really struggle with the anger I feel at myself as much as the situation. It is counterproductive to every aspect of my life at the moment and I feel like that puts me in a place where the experience is defining me more than I am defining it. Not really how I want to move forward.
That's all for now. I had to start somewhere.
Of all things... I just ran up against a problem scrapbooking. Yup, scrapbooking. I was organizing the digital files on my 'puter into potential "pages" for Miriam's book. I got as far as my last belly shot - taken between contractions, about 45 minutes before the belly went away. and then I just couldn't go any further. I just can't. I started looking at them and had to stop. Because there's a big gap in the pictures - the gap between me with my belly, and the picture of me on the table with Miriam beside my face. There's no record. It's not there. Nobody took a picture of her in the instant she met the air. I will never know what she looked like in that moment. I guess nobody thought it would be an attreactive picture, seeing as she'd be all covered in gore... we don't have pictures of Samuel in that first instant either. But him, I REMEMBER. I SAW. It was MINE. Her first moments are just lost to me. I couldn't feel it, or see it... I heard her cry, I have that. but why does it have to be THAT? why is THAT my first memory and it's so detached from myself, somebody could've just brought a baby into the room and how would I know - it was just a baby crying. Who shouldn't have had to cry, who should've been gentrly born into a dim warm room. At least it all happened so fast that I'm reasonably sure she didn't get much of the drugs through the placenta. Through nursing after, yeah. But not the heavy shot. you know, I cling to that. It's become so important... it's the one thing I actually did manage to control. I made them be fast. Paltry. But something, at least.
I'm driving DH crazy lately. I've had "baby pangs" lately, and I've been talking about having another one sooner than we had originally planned. But I continue to go on and on about VBAC and how, no matter what, I'm going to let myself go into labor naturally, even if it means going AMA. I don't know if these are great thoughts to be having. I mean, I hate the idea that I might actually put myself and a new babe in harm because I'm considering such stubbornness.
It's just recently that I've started to feel so "robbed" of the birth experience I wanted. I mean, I've been upset about it since she was born, but now I'm starting to get more angry than upset, kwim?
Damn. When does this start to get "better"? Does it ever?