Sunday, March 6, 2011

Physical Healing. Check. Emotional Healing........

I feel the same way Ginny.
Here I am six weeks postpartum.  Feeling depressed as ever.  The only connection I've felt with my child is through breastfeeding.  Thank God I was able to breastfeed.  I can't imagine how hard the depression would be without that.  I knew having a baby would be hard, but I didn't expect to go through the worst depression of my life six weeks in.  Crying every time I take a shower, every commercial I see, crying at just about everything.  I realize I need to talk about this.  With everyone.

Talking has to help.

The craziest thing to me was that no one seemed to notice.  I told my mom that I was upset, and she said she thought something was up.  I talked to her about it for a little bit, and she said she felt the same way (at least a bit) when me and my brother were born.  We were both via c-section.  That got me thinking, I didn't think any less of my mother for having a c-section.  Not one iota.  Why did I feel like such a failure?

Me and my standing 8 week old
I hate that when someone asks about my baby, they also ask about her birth.  And then I say that I had a c-section, they immediately ask how big she was, and say "at least you didn't mess up your vagina".  Yeah, THANK GOODNESS for that.  Because this giant scar isn't a scarlet letter.  And people say "at least you have a healthy baby".  Do you think I'm not thankful for that?  But as my friend Stephanie said, "your birth and your baby are two different things.  You can be ecstatic for your baby and traumatized by your birth."

I was reading everything my husband could find on c-section depression.  It made me feel a little better.  I told my other sister in law (who was also pregnant) that I had read that I needed to mourn the loss of my birth.  I over heard my brother in law saying that he was mourning the loss of his Friday night.  I cried about that when I got home.  This road to healing was going to be harder than expected.

I started researching VBAC.  (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean)  Then I started to look up to see if my OB did VBAC.  Of course not.  I thought I hit a wall.  Then I thought, WHY would I even think of going back to that doctor in the first place??? The doctor that made me feel like we had a c-section because it was supper time. I fired him.  He didn't know it, but he was fired.

Someone had great neck control for an 8wk old.
I was spending my maternity leave with my sister in law Sharon and her newborn.  We talked and shared emotions.  She didn't have a c-section but she was so supportive and non judging of my feelings.  On Sept. 7th my other SIL Ruth gave birth (vaginally) to my beautiful niece.  One week later my best friend gave birth (vaginally) to her precious baby girl.  I really broke down.  Why could EVERYONE do this but me?  This was the first time I cried in front of my baby.  She cried too.  Then I really felt like crap.  I just wanted a do-over.  Another chance.  I wanted to give birth again right then and there.  I wanted to stand up for my self and say "no, don't induce me until 42 weeks.  Don't break my water.  Don't rush this babies birth.  Let me get up and walk around to move this baby down. Don't lie to me and tell me its time to push when its obviously not time."  My husband had been dong even more research and found the ICAN network.  I read story after story.  None were the same as mine, but a couple were close.  I joined the local group on facebook and nervously awaited the first meeting.

The first meeting was in November.  I almost didn't go.  I'm not good with groups, and I get so nervous that my stomach gets upset.  My SIL was supposed to go with me, but couldn't, and I forgot my phone at home.  I almost turned around.  There were a few more people there than I expected, about 12 I think.  We did introductions and the people who had successfully had VBACs shared their stories.  They were great to hear.  Two of them were hospital births, two were at home.  It was great to be around people that felt similar to me.  Not all the same.  But similar.  Some were more traumatized by the actual surgery, the interventions, and the loss of their births.  This meeting opened up my eyes to choices.  Choices I didn't know I had.  I didn't feel like I was stuck anymore.

My tattoo/scar 5 days post op.  Not a pretty
picture but that's what it looked like.
I researched doctors for weeks and finally found one that I'm happy with.  That being said I'm no where close to being pregnant yet.  But at least I have a game plan now.  The worst thing is that I'm not the best candidate for a VBAC.  I got to the pushing stage, and she didn't come out.  So its all unknown from here.  Is my pelvis too small to birth a baby?  Because I feel like my body will only create a child that is able to fit through the birth canal.  I don't think it will be easy, but I also don't think it's impossible.  I have a tattoo that reads, "fear less, hope more."  I used to follow those rules, but now its hard to do.


  1. I too felt cheated out of a "normal" childbirth, and reading your blog rekindled those thoughts I used to have. I of course got over it, at my age, I've had many, many years to let it go. I'm sorry that you have to go through this, but I love you and know that nothing I say will make you feel any better, but that hopefully some day you will find peace. I never knew how much love a grandchild could raise up inside of me, and I thank you and Dan for that. I love you....... ♥ MOM

  2. You are amazing and I feel like many people will relate to your story and grow from it. Of course I cried. I love you and support you 100000%...let's make babies together...ok not together, but lets have babies at the same time again. Although you are 4 years younger than me I felt like you were the older sister with all the advise. I feel better now that its all on paper and I hope you do too!

  3. Jesse,
    You are the strongest person I know, the best mommy, and a true friend. I have never experienced anything like what you had to go through, but I can relate to feelings, depression, and hopelessness. One thing that I have found that helps is researching the "Book" (Bible). I want to know why I feel the way I do, what brings on these feelings, and what I have to do to cure them. I hate to be a preachy-preacherton, but doing this has helped me tremendously.
    You and Dan have brought so much joy (Ginny) to many people (family). Sean longs to see Ginny and you guys every day. Keep your head up Jesse. Ginny has the best mom in the world.

  4. I love that you made this blog and are sharing your journey. I was the same way after I had my twins and I started my own blog to document things ( and just express those disappointments in their birth. It's amazing how writing it all out can help in healing and validating your feelings.
    I am so glad that you found ICAN and support for women who can relate to your hopes and fears. You are obviously a strong and determined woman, and all your hard work and preparation will pay off!

  5. Thanks so much for sharing Jesse! It's always good to just get it out there, and you never know who you're helping just by speaking up. Finding ICAN and hearing that I wasn't alone in feeling that way was my saving grace because for so long no one could understand what I was going through. I'm so excited for you on your road to a VBAC, however close or far off it may be!

  6. Jesse,

    Thank you for sharing your birth/non-birth story. I am pregnant with our third baby and I'm due at the end of April/beginning of May. I am two for two for being cheated out of a natural birth. After a lot of research, I have found out that both of my c/s were unnecessary. In addition to that, my first one was horribly botched when I was used as a lab rat without my consent or even notifying me. I can completely relate with the cesarean depression. Rather than feeling like a failure, however, I felt my baby had let me down and had resentment toward him for being breech.
    We're going for a VBA2C and, let me tell you, we've had to do a lot of research to find a doctor who'd entertain the thought. He's an hour away. We're not sure yet if we'll just stay home or go in yet. We'll figure all that out when I'm in labor. We have plans for both.

    Thanks again!


  7. Thank you for sharing your story!!! And thank you for taking care of yourself too. ICAN is a wonderful wonderful resource. Please do continue to talk about your feelings, and also consider consulting a care provider if you might need more help than talking provides.

    I had a cesarean birth after pushing for 900 hours (give or take). I then went on to have two VBACs!

    And as a doula, I just attended an amazing VBA2C with a mom who also had a cesarean birth for second stage arrest. So don't forget -- every birth is different!

    I hope that when the time is right you will have a healing birth of your second child!

  8. All I can say is simply, thank you for this. xo

  9. I was crying all the time and depressed too. Also had friends that had babies vaginally at the same time (one 6 days earlier and one 2 days later). I also got to the pushing stage. Our stories are different, but a lot the same.
    The emotional healing takes time. Lots of time. I rehashed all of my emotions when I was pregnant with my 2nd child especially near the end.
    I was able to have a successful hospital VBAC, but the read redemption came from reading all I could and coming to terms with the possibility of another c-section and that being OK because I will know that I did everything I could to prevent it. [ok, so having the VBAC was great, but I did come to a place of being okay with the outcome]
    Pregnant with my 3rd and hoping for the same outcome!
    Thank you for sharing your story and how you are feeling. You will help a lot of women who are in the same place.

  10. Dear Jesse,
    Thanks for sharing your journey. I just had a beautiful homebirth/waterbirth after my first which was a c-sect for 'failure to progress' and my son never descended. I just submitted my story to a book coming out called 'victorious surrender' I believe its all stories of vbac's. I'd love for you to read it as I went though so much emotionally, just as we all do with this. Its supposed to be posted soon on the 'bring birth home' page on facebook =) I have no doubt your pelivs is perfect. There are SO many factors both physical and emotional that can contribute to having problems pushing a baby out, esp since you were induced.The stat's show for first time mom's it raises the c-sect risk by 50%. Your body and baby just probably weren't ready yet..and it sounds like you were in a very unsupportive atmosphere to open up to let a baby out. I had a real problem with that too. Warm wishes and thanks so much again! You definitely aren't alone!!!! Your baby is gorgous =)

  11. Thank you for sharing. I was diagnosed with CPD after my first baby got stuck in the birth canal. He came via cesarean. For my second baby I was all ready to VBAC, only to be thwarted by a last minute change in hospital policy. I stupidly let them rule my body and my second son came via cesarean as well. I've fired them now too. (Right now working towards a HBA2C!)

    Don't let anyone tell you you're not a good candidate for VBAC. Yeah, if someone makes you lie flat on your back and refuses to allow you to get in a position where your pelvis can actually OPEN, you're more likely to have trouble, but it doesn't have to be that way. You're not broken. They are.

    If you haven't been there yet, I think you would really benefit from visiting Solace for Mothers ( There are lots of women there who feel what you feel. You're not alone.

    I love your tattoo.

  12. Thank you so much for sharing! I can relate! I was induced because everyone said my baby would be huge. She was 8 lbs 4 oz (I was 8 lbs 6 oz when born). I was induced and told that was my best bet to avoid a c-section since the baby would only get bigger. I dialted and pushed for 2 hours, of and on. The entire day, the doctor (whom I'd never met) kept saying c-section to me and saying things like, "you may have a 4th degree tear" and "I may have to break your baby's collar bone".

    After feeling lonely ad confused as to why she wasn't coming down the birth canal, I conceeded (to my later regret) to a c-section. Both myself and the baby were doing fine. Since the, I've felt like I gave in to that doctor and what she wanted instead of what I wanted.

    I've had an extremely hard time recovering emotionally even after a year and a half. I'm now expecting again and have switched OBs to a vbac friendly practice and hospital. I've educated myself this time (no more blindly assuming the OBs care about my well-being first and foremost) and am nervously looking forward to this birth.

    Best wishes for you in your next pregnancy. We CAN do this!!

  13. Jesse,

    Thanks for posting this. I was induced, too, and against my will. They started pushing induction on me at 38 weeks, and I held out until at 41 weeks, they said my baby would probably be stillborn, even though all the tests said he was absolutely fine. They knew I had miscarried already and that my baby dying was my biggest fear. I caved to the induction even though my intuition was screaming no.

    Then they broke my water (again, against my protests), called me crazy when I said I wanted to end the induction, told me I would have to have a hysterectomy if I didn't have the baby in a few hours, took the Pitocin up to 4 above the hospital limit, forced me to lie flat on my back, and then "allowed" me 2 1/2 hours to push out a posterior baby. He was at -3 (almost crowning) when the doctor said, "I can't in good conscience *allow* you to push anymore." I very much suspect that they never had any intention of letting me birth vaginally. I believe that they wanted the extra $$ from the insurance company for the c-section. They lied to me at every turn about my state of health and that of my baby's, and the lies are all there in black and white in the hospital reports. (In hospital: You have an inadequate pelvis. In report: Clinically adequate pelvis. In hospital: Your baby is in distress. In report: Reassuring fetal heart tones. On and on.)

    I'm going to the Farm to give birth with one of Ina May Gaskin's midwives in late September/early October. I'm traveling about 1200 miles for this, uprooting my family for a month, spending thousands of dollars out of pocket that we don't really have to spend - all because I was a victim once and won't be again. And I will protect this baby the way I didn't with my son. I'm nervous that everything will happen all over again. But I'm hopeful, too. And I believe in myself, my husband and my baby, even if I don't believe in anyone else.

    Good luck to you, Jesse. You're not broken. As someone else said, *they* are.

  14. I see so much of myself in this post. Except you are much more brave than I in writing about it. My son was born 2 years ago, and in those 2 years, I've tried twice to write about his birth on my blog and failed miserably. Birth aside, I can't even write about the aftermath.

    attempt 1:
    attempt 2:

    We are close to starting for baby #2, like you I'm determined to have a better experience this time around. But man, the fear can be crippling.

    Thank you for starting to share your story. I am now following you, and hope to start sharing my own story soon. Can't wait to join you on your journey.


  15. you are doing the exactly right thing. arming yourself with knowledge, and learning about your rights. there are some great facebook pages like Birth without fear. I was pushed into an induction and even though I'm also no where near ready for another baby, I am already writing my birth plan and doing my research. I want a healing birth at home.

  16. i just came across your blog while researching vbacs. my son is 6 months old and not a day goes by that i don't spend (what seems like) hours revisiting the events of his c-section "birth" and literally mourning that experience. i cannot tell you how comforting it is to read that someone else has these feelings. i have welled up reading each of your posts. i am not alone. how incredible to know that we can make a change for our future, and how devastating to know that we can never change the past...

    eager to keep up with your posts now! i am fervently researching for and planning our next pregnancy. thank you, thank you, thank you for your candid blog.

  17. If its easier molly, you can follow me on facebook.
    We have been planning baby #2 since we had baby #1 as well! I'm glad that this blog has comforted in any way. Thank you for your kind words!


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