Part 2 of 3
Birth can be a completely a beautiful, uplifting, empowering experience. Bringing a baby into the world is breathtaking. It is an honor to attend a birth and be a part of that experience. There are so many pieces that link together to form a birth story: the anticipation of this new life... the nervous excitement brought on by early labor signs... the power of an active labor contraction... the strength and beauty of a woman as she surrenders to her body and her baby... the concentration and force used to bring this baby earth-side... and the beautiful connection when mom meets her baby for the first time. It's nothing short of amazing.
However, if there is one thing predictable about birth, it's that it's unpredictable. Things can get tense, contractions can feel too hard, babies can go into distress, interventions can escalate, labor can slow, births can become emergencies, mom can feel alone, and plans can change. For any mom who wanted an calm, memorable, and empowering birth, but feel shortchanged by the less-than-amazing birth she got, I want to sat this...
First, I won't pretend to know how your labor went. Maybe one small piece of labor just didn't go how you planned or maybe the entire thing turned up-side-down. You might feel slightly irked or completely disappointed, angry, frustrated, and alone. When you think about your birth story, if part of it feels raw, or something just keeps pulling at you... your heart deserves to heal. Not everyone has a smooth and happy birth and you aren't alone if yours wasn't.
That sweet baby makes any trial worthwhile, but a healthy baby doesn't mean you don't deserve time and space to heal your heart if your birth was hard. Moms are often brushed off if they are left feeling less-than-thrilled about their birth. It's not wrong or selfish to have feelings that aren't rainbows-and-butterflies surrounding your birth. It's normal.
When you push those emotions aside, they will resurface. They will resurface again and again:
"Why did that happen?" "Why couldn't I..." "How didn't I see that coming?" "Why do I feel like this?" "What did I do wrong?" "But maybe if I..." "Could I have..."
They. will. nag. So what do you do with those feelings?
Welcome them in. "Come in, feelings. Have a sit-down. What's your beef? Let's discuss."
Bring them to the forefront, give them attention, space, and time. Validate their existence. Let them be processed so they can then be laid to rest. Think over what happened. Think over possibly why it happened. Think about how you feel about the things that happened. Let the pain come back a little... let it sting. Spend time with those thoughts. Be polite, welcome them in, let them have their time, and then politely excuse them. (kinda like an unwanted house guest)
Then, think on the positives. I think the key is recognizing the negative, while still seeing the good. "Ok, I see you, negative feelings. I know you are there, but you aren't the be-all-end-all. There is more than you here!" Then I like to sum it up like this: "Ok, fine. I didn't like this, this, this, and this. In fact, I didn't want that to happen at all."
"But it did happen."
Let that wash over you. You can't change your story. You can mentally kick and scream and protest how you wanted it to go, but you can't change it. However, you can heal and be at peace with your birth. Here's what will happen... you will realize that you did your best, you did nothing wrong, and you are likely stronger because of it. If you don't feel stronger, you likely gained understanding and compassion due to your birth experience and can now relate to another's struggles if a similar situation happens to them.
You don't have to leave this a completely inner process either. If you are a talker... talk it out! - your friend - your mom - your sister - your doula ... You have at least one of the four... text, call, or meet and talk about it. Lay it out there.
Give those feelings their time and then, when you are ready, set them into the back of your mind. They will stay there. They won't leave all together, but they won't sting. They will be the facts of what happened. The facts that brought your baby into the world. Your heart will heal, just as your body did, and that trauma will become strength and beauty in a way you didn't anticipate.
In one way or another, birth is always beautiful. Sometimes it just takes a little bit more processing to see the beauty in all situations. Give yourself time and permission to grieve a bit over the birth you wanted and the birth you had. Give yourself grace too. Be gentle with yourself... you did bring a whole human into the world, after all.
Part One: Dear Unplanned, Unexpected C-section Mom
Part Three: Journey to a VBAC
Part 1 of 3
Dear Unplanned, Unexpected C-Section Mom,
I know things didn't go the way you planned. I know you worked hard to have a healthy pregnancy. I know you worked hard to set yourself up for a beautiful birth. You learned. You asked questions. You did things "right." I know that things went askew ended up with a birth you didn't anticipate. Your emotions are raw and your body is healing. You heart has some healing too...
I've seen the stigma that is sometimes tossed your way... that a surgical birth is somehow less. I have seen you fight for validation of your birth and struggle with acceptance of lost plans. I've seen your bravery. Your isolation. Your pure love for your baby that was put to the test by birthing in a way that left you weak, with a road of recovery ahead while managing new motherhood.
I want to tell you something today. I haven't been in your position, but I have seen you and I want to tell you that absolutely, without a doubt, that your birth mattered. It didn't matter because you got a healthy baby in exchange. While that certainly holds so much merit, it is just a piece of the puzzle. Your birth mattered because it takes bravery to undergo a major surgery for the sake of your baby. It takes bravery to swallow your birth plan and forge ahead. It takes bravery to wake up each morning, while recovering, and reach for your tiny helpless baby with a smile on your face. It takes so much bravery to say that, if you had to do a section again for the sake of your baby, you would in a heartbeat. Your birth was sacrificial and so very real.
You took the path less traveled. You took a path that you didn't want to take. You gave up your vision of the perfect birth and bravely took a path that meant more pain, more courage, and more recovery. I have also seen beautiful vaginal births, but you deserve the pedestal, my friend. You deserve the praise. You likely didn't feel triumphant when your baby emerged, but scared. However, your baby's birth was valid, real, raw, and beautiful and here is why...
First and foremost, birth is birth. Regardless of how your baby came into the world, you became a mother, therefore, you gave birth to your child. Period. Secondly, there is beauty in dying to self for the sake of the greater good and you did just that. I applaud you and I admire you. That is not easy. You will always carry the scar. It's your battle wound; your sign of sacrifice and commitment and love. You will always remember your story and those memories will always be inscribed in your heart. Time will pass and all types of scars can slowly heal. In the future, you may not have more children. You may decide to have repeat C-sections. You may decide to walk the path to a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean). Regardless of how many children you have and what each birth looks like, I wanted to write this for one reason, in this precise moment:
I want to say thank you. Thank you for your birth and bravery. Thank you for your recovery, handled with grace as you learned to mother your new baby. Thank you for being a part of the motherhood tribe. Thank you for your deep sacrifice for your child before you ever looked into your child's eyes. Undergoing a C-section and healing from one is not easy.
I respect you and I admire you.
A doula with a dose of perspective
Part 2: Dear Mom Whose Birth Wasn't Rainbows and Butterflies
Part 3: Journey to a VBAC
Baby Love Blog
Here lies a stream of consciousness regarding, pregnancy, birth, babies, and my doula business...