It’s been over a year since I went through having an unexpected C-Section with my son. I have known that I wanted to write this post for a long time, but just haven’t gotten around to it. Since I have hit that year mark I wanted to be sure to sit down and write it while everything is still fresh in my mind.
Having a C-Section isn’t the worst or the most scary thing that could happen. It’s not exactly wanted by the majority of women, but it really isn’t a bad experience. There is a lot of emotion and recovery that comes with a C-Section that many women who birthed their child vaginally have not experienced though. I wanted to preface by saying, this isn’t to scare women who are getting ready to have their first child and praying they don’t experience a C-Section. This is for those women who have experienced a C-Section, and may experience one in the future, so that they may know that the emotions they feel and the things they have to process afterwards are completely normal.
There are a lot of unknowns as you prepare to bring your first child into the world. You’ve never experienced bringing a baby into the world, so you don’t know what to expect when it comes to contractions, when labor is going to start, how the process is going to go, etc. You cannot exactly predict how the process is going to go.
When I was in the hospital with Jase, the day was pretty eventful. His heart rate didn’t respond to labor very well and would drop at every contraction. My body also did not want to progress at all. You can read the full birth story here. When the Doctor made the decision to perform a C-Section I was relieved. I just wanted my baby out and I wanted him safe and healthy. I didn’t want to risk things worsening, or being rushed into an emergency surgery. I was exhausted and didn’t know how I would make it another hour. All I cared about was holding my little baby boy.
When they wheeled me into the Operating Room it hit me that this was a surgery. I was wheeled into a bright, white, sterile room with doctors everywhere. One by one they introduced themselves to me and told me what they would be doing. There was at least a dozen doctors. It was overwhelming and I was shaking uncontrollably. My doctor walks in and comes over to me and grabs my hand and apologizes for the stressful day. I was immediately comforted at the sound of his familiar voice, knowing the doctor who carried us through these ten months was the one going to bring our little man into the world. My husband walks in and grabs my hand and they perform the surgery. Before I know it my little man is out and crying and I am overwhelmed with joy seeing my healthy baby boy.
I wanted to hold him so bad, but my arms were tied down to a table and I wasn’t sure what I could do and what I couldn’t. So I laid there trying to see him as best as I could while my husband held him and showed me his beautiful little face. Then they have my husband take our son to the recovery room so they can stitch me up. It felt like forever before they finally wheeled me into the recovery room. I saw my husband in a rocking chair holding our son and it was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen, I don’t think I will ever forget that moment. I went to sit up so I could hold my little man, but the room was spinning from all the drugs so I had to wait. When I finally got to hold him, I fell in love all over again. It didn’t matter how he came into this world, I was just so happy to meet him.
I was exhausted and the night seemed long, but I never once thought anything of the C-Section after that. When I woke up the next morning, and the nurses asked me to walk to the bathroom, I was quickly reminded of the fact that I had a surgery the night before. I couldn’t sit up, I couldn’t stand, my stomach muscles had forgotten how to work and trying to make them remember hurt more than anything. That’s when it hit me, this recovery was going to be pretty difficult.
When I was sent home from the hospital I was told I couldn’t go up and down stairs, I couldn’t lift the baby out of his crib, I couldn’t do laundry, I couldn’t hold anything heavier than him, including him in his car seat. I was told to walk every day at least ten minutes, and a long laundry list of things you have to keep in mind after an abdominal surgery on top of the no-no list of birthing a baby. I quickly realized I wasn’t going to be able to be super mom, and because of that I felt like a failure. My husband, mom, and sister changed every diaper those first few days to keep me from lifting, putting down, bending over and all the other things I was supposed to stay clear of. My husband had to bring the baby to me when he woke to nurse every night, because it took me long enough to get myself to sit up in bed, yet alone I wasn’t supposed to bend over in his crib to grab him. I felt like a failure.
All the feelings of failure sweeped over me. I couldn’t give birth to my baby the way I was supposed to. I didn’t push out a child the way I was supposed to. I couldn’t change my son’s diapers like his mom was supposed to. I couldn’t even get up to nurse throughout the night like a mom was supposed to. I could barely sit down and stand back up on my own, so forget about trying to do that with a baby in my arms. I felt like less of a woman. What was wrong with me? Why couldn’t I do what my body was supposed to do?
I found myself apologizing to my husband for the lack of woman I was. I am sorry I couldn’t bring our baby into the world in a less stressful way. I am sorry I need your help so much. I am sorry I cannot do this on my own. I was fully expectant to be sore and hurt after giving birth. But in no way was I prepared for the way my body would need to recover after having a baby through surgery.
Over the course of the year, I found myself wondering if my friend’s would have a C-Section when they went into labor. I wasn’t wishing it upon them in any way, but I wanted to know I wasn’t alone. I wanted to have someone to identify with, to relate to, to say I know what that’s like. When my friend’s had near perfect experiences I found myself wondering why I couldn’t have experienced that myself, why did it have to go all wrong for me? These were thoughts I felt ashamed of having, thoughts I wish I never had. But any time someone else went through it, my heart was equally broken for them as it was uplifted that I wasn’t alone and I could understand what they were going through. When they told me they felt like they failed, I could say I had been there to. I could say I knew what it felt like to feel the sting of hurt when someone did what you couldn’t. I could identify with them immediately, and it reminded me I wasn’t alone.
Then at the same time I felt ridiculous. My child is healthy! My child is alive! I was able to have a child! I shouldn’t feel this way at all. But the truth is I did, and I can’t stop the way I felt. Even more truth is that many women who have a C-Section feel the same things and feel just as alone as I did because we are all afraid to admit this is how we feel.
But over the course of the year here is what I have found to be true. It’s normal to feel cheated or like you’ve failed…but it isn’t true. You carried a child for forty weeks, your body provided the nutrients that baby needed to survive and grow. It doesn’t matter how that baby came out of you, whether you pushed that baby out, or you offered your body to be cut open baring that forever scar, you birthed that baby. You went through labor for that child. You aren’t less of a woman. You aren’t less of a mother. Even more, you aren’t alone. When it stings because you didn’t have the perfect birth story, it stings for others too. You don’t have to feel bad for feeling that way. You don’t have to feel guilty for how you decide to bring your future children into the world now that you have a choice. Giving birth, no matter how it happens, is the most beautiful, super woman, powerful thing that you can do. You are one incredible mama.