Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Deep Thoughts

...not by Jack Handey

I didn't think that my 50th post would be so heavy but I just finished reading an article that put me in tears and I have to write about it. Just a warning...this is very long but I need to get some of this out.

My mother-in-law recently passed on the July issue of Self magazine to me and there is an article in it called "Who Controls Childbirth?" It's an article about a woman who is pregnant with her 2nd child and she struggles with how the 2nd childbirth is going to go. Her first experience didn't turn out as she had hoped and she's hoping for a VBAC this time around (vaginal birth after cesarian for those who don't know the term). It's hard for me not to just go through and quote paragraphs of the article because some of it could have been said by me.
I know I've written my birth experiences before, but I haven't here. I feel the need to explain the backstory and maybe even talk about some things most people don't know about.

I had a great pregnancy with Nora. I really did. I can't complain much at all about it. I only gained 29 pounds, didn't have major swelling or other high risk pregnancy issues. The last month was a bit of a bear, but anyone who says the last month isn't rough needs to be slapped.
I went into spontanious labor with her 4 days before her due date. Contractions were about 5 minutes apart when we went off to the hospital. Without making this toooo terribly long of a story, it took me 26 hours (in the hospital...not counting my time laboring at home) to get to 10cm. I pushed and nothing happened...she wouldn't budge. After being in labor so long, and watching Nora's heart rate on the monitors, we decided that a c-section was needed. She was delivered and was beautiful and healthy. As the doctor was checking everything before sewing me back up he realized that my bladder tore during the delivery. Nora was taken to the nursery and Jim along with her. I was put under and had 3 more hours of surgery to repair my bladder.

Needless to say, my post-partum experience was not that great. I was dealing with a normal c-section recovery as well as recovery from a torn bladder. I had a cathetar in for 2 weeks, had a blood transfusion 3 days after the birth because I became anemic, and had rediculous amounts of swelling in my legs.

Although I will NEVER complain about the fact that I had a great pregnancy and ended up with a beautiful healthy baby girl, I have always been a bit disappointed over how everything went. To quote the Self magazine article "Everyone is allowed her own sense of loss." Amen to that. I know that many people have had it worse than me, but that doesn't discount that I had a difficult time as well. "I have stopped judging women who take extra precautions as defensive and started to understand that everyone has to find her way, " she continues on.
What a lot of people don't know is that I did go see a psychologist some time after Nora was born. I was having a tough time and knew that I was dealing with some post partum depression. I needed to talk to someone. Unfortunatly, during our second visit, she commented to me that she felt I could have ADHD. Now, I know that I have some mental issues but I do NOT feel I have ADHD and I was irritated that she wanted to pursue diagnosing me...that's not why I was there. I called and cancelled our 3rd visit and never saw anyone else again.

When I was pregnant with Emmett I felt that I definatly wanted to have a VBAC. I really, really wanted to try and go for the birth experience that I wanted the first time around. As the pregnancy went on, after talking to multiple nurses and doctors, talking with my husband and family and listening to my heart, I realized that trying for a VBAC could be just as tramatic (if not more) than my first experience. If I ended up in the same senario with Emmett as I did with Nora, doing another c-section after laboring puts me at high risk for complications. I know that many, many women have successful VBAC's but risking my own health and the health of my son was not something I was willing to well as my crushing disappointment if something went wrong. We decided to schedule a c-section, and as I sat on the operating table, getting ready for them to numb me up I looked at Jim, through tear-filled eyes, and asked, "This is the right choice, right?"

I will never know if I could have had a successful VBAC. Tears are falling down my cheeks as I write this, so I know that it's still a difficult subject for me. What I do know is that my 2nd experience, although not what I ideally hoped for, was MUCH better. My recovery, although still tough, (what c-section recovery isn't?) was easier. I was actually able to walk in the halls of the hospital the next day (I didn't walk for 2 days after Nora was born). My cathetar came out after a day (praise the Lord). I got to be with my son for the first few hours of his life (something I didn't have with Nora) and the hospital staff was amazing. I had such wonderful people. I was so blessed...and still AM blessed. I am blessed with my health and the health of my son and my daughter. I thank God for them every day.

I will end this by quoting the last paragraph of the article and you'll understand why it touched me so much (the article was written before her 2nd birth occured)
"I hope there will be a moment when the noise of the nurses and the doctors and the doula will fall into the background. I will look down at my baby -whether he is handed to me on my belly or from behind a curtain as my body is sewn shut - and I will remember what I've known from the beginning, when I looked down at that plus sign and we were alone together for the first time....I will know that I am his mother and he is my son. And maybe, in that moment, I will be ready to say that the only success and failure is the outcome of the birth, that we are healthy. I hope I mean it."

I hope she does mean it.


  1. Thanks for sharing that, Stephanie. I am sorry you have struggled. I love you dearly and I am always here for you. Sometimes I feel bad for being induced both I am not strong enough to let things happen when they are meant to happen. Love you!

  2. Thanks Robin. I think many women end up carrying a little guilt, or disappointment, on their birth experiences. What we need to try and do is ever so thankful for the huge blessing we have recieved. It's hard...I know. :) I love you too.

  3. I'm glad you pointed me to this post, buddy. I don't have to tell you how horrific my birth experience (the only one I will ever have) was. And any decent, well-educated psychologist will tell you that you have every right to feel cheated or guilty regarding a not-so-perfect scenario. What could you have done differently? What made certain things happen? Those questions haunt me still...almost two years later. I can go on and on about how I know I didn't do anything to deserve the experience I had, but I would be lying through my teeth if I believed that 100%.

    The doc you saw? WHACKJOB. ADHD? Where she pulled that out of I have no idea (I only have a bachelor's degree in psych, and *I* would never equate PPD with ADHD - like at all). I know this isn't your style, and it's beside the point now, years later, but you really should have told that psychologist WHY you weren't seeing her again. What a ding dong.

    Wish I could have found this article online, but I guess maybe it's better that I didn't. The last paragraph you quoted contained the following (partial) sentence...

    "I will look down at my baby -whether he is handed to me on my belly or from behind a curtain as my body is sewn shut"

    ...yeah, that kind of stung. I've never been "handed" a baby. And I never will be. My babies were briefly shown to me (in a tear-filled stupor, and I only know this because there are photos) before they had breathing tubes shoved down their throats and were whisked off to the NICU.

    Like you said, we need to be thankful for the huge blessing(s) we have received. I really, really, really need to work on that.

    Thanks for sharing!

  4. Thanks for sharing Kerry. I know you understand and had a much more difficult time than I ever did.
    As for the "handed a baby"...ya, that's a tough one. That's one I will never know either. It's one of the many reasons why we aren't having any more children. We were told that after having 2 c-sections we would not have the option to do a VBAC ever again. Any more children would come via scheduled c-section. Just knowing that I would go through that surgery (and recovery) again wasn't something I was going to look forward to. I ENVY the women who had vaginal births. My heart aches to have been able to push out my child and have them lay on my belly.
    After almost 3 years, it's still something I have to work on. I guess we all have our demons. :)