Emotional Recovery From a 2nd C-Section

Friday, July 8, 2011
For the past several weeks I’ve been trying to process all of the emotions I’ve been feeling after having my second C-section. Let me warn you, there have been a lot of emotions and they’re not all good. Part of me feels guilty for even having these negative feelings towards my birth experience. I know plenty of women would give anything, including a difficult labor and eventual C-section, just to have a baby in their arms. And my baby is healthy, so really, who am I to complain? I chastise myself that I need to just get over it. But the other part of me realizes that I need to allow myself to feel these emotions, to deal with them before I can move on. I think writing about what I’m feeling will help me and perhaps any other women recovering from an unplanned C-section.

(I want to add a disclaimer before I begin that C-sections are not these horrific surgeries they are sometimes made out to be. I know our childbirth instructor terrified us with the idea of a C-section, but when Hannah was born we realized, “hey, that wasn’t that bad.” My intention in writing about my feelings is not to frighten anyone about the prospect of a c-section, but to simply process my thoughts and emotions surrounding the birth.)

To preface, I want to say that we had planned to have a homebirth. We felt (and still do) that in order to have a successful VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) a homebirth would provide the greatest likelihood of that happening. We wanted to avoid all the interventions of a hospital birth. We’re both pretty crunchy and believe wholeheartedly in natural childbirth. So with that in mind, I had emotionally set myself up to have a peaceful homebirth. Therefore, when I once again was faced with a C-section it was that much more disheartening. It was not at all what I wanted for myself, my baby or my family.

Because we really, really did not want a hospital birth and certainly did not want another C-section, I can’t help but feel like I failed. Everyone has been telling me that I did not fail, that my long labor was heroic. And indeed, I suppose it was. But I can’t help but believe that I did fail to do what millions of women since the beginning of time have done and that is to birth my baby. And because I wasn’t able to do that I feel less somehow. I feel as if I haven’t succeeded in going through that ultimate rite of passage for a woman. Yes, I am a mother, but I’ve never experienced pushing my baby out of my body.

I cannot help but wonder if I had labored for just one more day, or given Abby more time to better position herself whether I would have eventually birthed her at home. Perhaps if I had been tougher. Part of me feels like a wimp. Rationally, I know I’m not, but emotionally I feel like I was weak.

And I have pity parties for myself. So many other women get to experience a natural childbirth and I don’t. Countless women get to have normal and quick labors, why are mine so endless? I don’t see the point to my marathon labors. Perhaps it was to ensure that the intentions for which I was offering up my labor pains would be heard, but even if that was the case God could still have allowed me to birth naturally at home. I don’t get it.

And I’m embarrassed. I don’t like having to tell people or people knowing that I had a C-section. Isn’t that weird? I’m not entirely sure where the embarrassment comes from, but I think it goes back to the failure aspect and assuming that people will think I was a wimp and couldn’t handle the pain of labor. I always want to tell them, “but I had probably 70+ hours of labor before the C-section, I’m not a wimp.” (Of course I don’t say this, but I’m tempted to.)

And I’m fearful. I’ll admit I’m afraid for my next pregnancy and birth. A second C-section is a game changer for many hospitals and obstetricians. Many hospitals don’t allow VBACs after two C-sections, so that would mean possibly a third and fourth c-section. I’ll admit, I’m worried about the strength of my uterus and withstanding and healing properly from yet another c-section. Despite what many doctors would have you believe, a C-section is no small thing. Being cut wide open and sewn back together is not something to be taken lightly.

And that fear leads to doubt. Maybe we shouldn’t have more or many more children. Maybe my body is simply not cut out for this. Perhaps, despite what Ina May says, my body is a lemon.

And that thought leads to sadness because I wish I didn’t have this anxiety surrounding pregnancy and birth. I wish I could have absolutely no apprehension towards the whole thing and just keep having babies.

So ultimately, I’m dealing with feelings of failure, embarrassment, fear, doubt and sadness, mixed in with a little bit of anger too that things didn’t work out how I wanted. To be honest, it’s a lot to process, but I’m sure in time I’ll come to terms with it all and eventually be able to let it go, but for now, it is what it is. And there you have it.

5 comments:

  1. I just wanted to commend you for putting this out there and not being afraid to share your emotions. I understand what you are feeling! I hate it when I have all these plans in my head and then they don't turn out the way I want them to...but you just have to remember that God has His own plans. :) Congrats on your baby!

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  2. Thanks, Rachel. Thanks for your comment and for stopping by:)

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  3. I'm emailing you now...

    :)
    Love you!

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  4. We are using a birth center and have a great natural birth in mind for our baby, but I have to keep reminding myself that if it doesn't go as planned, if I need a c-section or other "unwanted" interventions, it's not a failure. But if it does happen, I'm sure I will be feeling similar to how you do. While I think it's great that there is a movement promoting natural childbirth, home birth, etc., I also think it is damaging to women because anything but the "perfect birth" seems to point to something wrong with the woman. The goal should aways be a healthy baby and mama, and how that comes about can change!

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  5. I found this page because I just googled, "I'm embarrassed to have a cesarian" and I'm glad I did. I am about two weeks away from having one because my baby is in the frank breech position and vaginal deliveries are not allowed here (when the baby is in that position). I chastise myself as well because I know how many people would live to have a healthy baby, but I cannot help but feel like my body, or maybe even my baby, has failed me, which breaks my heart to admit. I am embarrassed to even tell anyone that I am preparing for & scheduling the surgery. I am hopeful that she will turn at the last minute, but doubtful. Anytime I try to tell people how I feel, their responses upset me more. There is no empathy in regard to my emotions, just vague sympathy and responses like, "she still has time to turn". I KNOW this, it doesn't change my feelings. Anyway, I am sure it was not easy to post your feelings publicly, but I am glad you shared them.

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