You read every pregnancy book and blog you could, you attended birth classes, you hired a doula and a midwife, you attended gentle yoga and got adjusted by your prenatal chiropractor, you spent countless hours eagerly anticipating that beautiful moment when, after pushing with all your might, your screaming baby would be placed skin to skin on your chest and the world would stand still. Except it didn’t happen that way… your baby was pulled from your womb by blue gloved hands into a bright operating room while you were either exhausted and full of guilt, hopelessness and fear or perhaps even knocked out completely- your last thought a brief prayer that your baby would be ok…
To the mother of a baby born via an unplanned C-section, I know. I know how you feel, I know the fear you felt as you entered the operating room. I know the pain you felt as you gave up the hopes of your birth plan. I know the guilt you felt and still feel when you look at your wee one and wonder if any little thing “wrong” with your baby is because you “gave in”. I know that despite being told you did the best thing for your and your baby’s safety, you will always wonder if you could have done something better or differently. I know how you will wipe away your tears as your reach for you infant in the middle of the night to meet his or her needs while wincing in pain. I know you, because I was you.
I am a crunchy chiropractor. I planned a birth center un-medicated birth. I did everything I know how to do to have the healthiest baby and birth possible- things I have seen work countless times with my very own pregnant patients, patients that go on to have empowering vaginal births. But my story turned out quite differently:
Four o’clock in the morning my water broke; two short hours later we were on our way to the birth center after talking to our midwife, who realized I was in transition. The contractions became stronger and closer together. Around eight o’clock I began experiencing back labor and the pain made me throw up. I got in the pool, my husband and doula applying constant pressure to my pelvis. Despite constant back labor from then on out, my labor progressed beautifully. By ten thirty I was pushing. After a moment of completely doubting myself, I suddenly realized how close we were to meeting out daughter and began to push harder. Then all hell broke loose…the midwife checked me, looked up concerned and said, “We have a surprise breech and her foot is coming out- we have to transfer to the hospital.”
Eighteen minutes later, after a horrible ambulance ride, rush to the OR (pushing the whole time), a quick discussion with the surgeon, our baby girl was born via emergency C-section while I lay unconscious on the operating table.
I do not know your story- if it is similar or very different from mine. But I do know your scar. I know your sacrifice. I know you are a hero. I know you read this most likely in the early hours of the morning while nursing, or silently crying on the toilet, quietly searching for some comfort, some validation that you are not a failure. Let me be the first to tell you: YOU ARE NOT A FAILURE, YOU ARE A STRONG WOMAN, A LOVING MOTHER, A BIRTH HERO. And you are not alone. There are many resources out there for you- ways to heal your scar: both physically and emotionally. Do not be afraid to ask for help if you are struggling, even heroes lean on other’s shoulders from time to time.
In hope and health,