Thoughts on the Birth

When I reflected on the day that Lucky came into the world I used to get very angry and sad and I would always temper those feelings down with “But he’s here and he’s safe and the surgery was perfect”.

This constant internal battle with my feelings was extremely difficult for me in the beginning and I kept it all to myself because I didn’t want to seem ungrateful so I spent a lot of time explaining away my feelings and not dealing with any of them.

Eventually it all came to a hold when my parents left when Lucky was just over 4 months old. I cried for days. A mixture of missing my parents and my family and this nagging voice in the back of my head to talk to someone about how I wasn’t happy with his birth day. At this point I hadn’t even talked to N about it.

In the end I found a therapist and in that first appointment I just bawled and bawled incoherently and I finally got it all out. A few days after that I found the courage to talk to N about it and bawled and bawled some more and it really helped. It helped so much. It was just a tiny sentence with big meaning that immediately after talking about it I felt better. It took me 4 months to say “I wasn’t happy with my birth experience”.

I wanted to write about it as well but I just kept making excuses and blaming myself and I’m really glad to say that I’m done with that now. I’m still very sad that it wasn’t perfect but I’ve let go of a lot of the anger a little I think and that’s a start.

And I don’t think it was PPD. My therapist agrees. It didn’t feel how PPD was described to me. I was just unresolved feelings coupled with hormones and homesickness.

And usually my tagline is “Next time”. We didn’t get it right this time but next time will be different. But we don’t have the guarantee of a next time here. In my mind, this was it and it was ruined. And even if we did there will always be this black mark on my first son’s birth and I hated that feeling. I didn’t want to be angry. I wanted to be okay with it. But for a while there I couldn’t read or hear birth stories. Anything to do with birth made me angry and resentful and I didn’t want to feel like that anymore.

So I guess the simplest way to explain my feelings is to break down the three things that made this experience unpleasant for me and how I dealt with it all in my head. I apologise if this post feels all over the place. My hope here is to help myself heal some more and perhaps if someone else out there is feeling the same to know that they’re not alone and the words “at least your child is here and safe” doesn’t always make it better. Your feelings are valid.

The surgeon

If you read my birth story, you may have noticed that the operating surgeon was fairly non existent in this story. At the time I thought it was par for the course but the more I thought about it the more I realised that this woman failed us. People always make excuses for surgeons. Especially if they’re good at their job. And she was great at her job. As I’ve said, the surgery was perfect. I healed up really quickly and that’s all thanks to her but the way we were treated by her as first time parents going into a very scary situation will always leave a bad taste in my mouth.

First, she never explained anything to us. She did the ultrasound, declared that we would be having a c-section and I didn’t really see her again. I saw her for 2 seconds when she offered me pain meds and I barely even heard her while she was cutting me open. Not once did she explain to us anything about how a c-section works, risks involved, etc. Not once did she even look either of us in the eye to say the words c-section. Not even the nurses talked to us about it. They just came with endless forms to sign.

But D, you might say, maybe it was an emergency and she needed to get in there quickly. Well, I was told in the OR that this wasn’t an emergent situation and the anesthesiologist spent at least 15 minutes explaining what he would be doing. Also, a few years ago I had my appendix removed at this same hospital. I would venture to argue that an almost ruptured appendix is an emergency situation and while I was high on morphine the operating surgeon found a few minutes to come and talk to me and my husband about the procedure. I think the least she could have done for a scared couple was talk to them about what was going to happen. Especially since we had questions regarding the gentle c-section that we had to ask to the nurse.

She was also incredibly rude. She seemed annoyed with me when I wouldn’t relax while she was doing a cervix check and she barked at my husband when he asked if she’d done delayed cord clamping.

But D, you might say again, surgeons aren’t known for their bedside manner. You take what you get as long as you survive. Now, I tend to agree with this. I’d rather you save my life than be a nice person but we were told by the nurse and my OB that this is what the hospital offered and we were told that that’s what we would get. If the surgeon had taken a f*** second to talk to us she could have told us whether this was the case or not but she was nowhere to be seen.

And lastly, I never saw her again. She did no post op check or anything. My OB did the post op which I guess is standard but we wanted to discuss our disappointment with the operating surgeon and it was like she never existed. We spoke to my OB about what happened and all we got was a weak apology and shrugging of the shoulders. What could my OB do? She wasn’t there. We also spoke to my doula about it and she said we should write a letter to the hospital and/or the surgeon. It may not result in anything but may help us somehow. We have yet to write this letter,  however. I should just copy and paste this blog post :).

The doula

Let me preface this by saying the this doula group is fantastic. Doula L who was with us on the night was amazing and both her and my doula came to visit after baby was born and also checked in a few times via text for a few months after. I can’t fault them on their care on the day. However…

This mostly probably me not knowing what a doula’s role is and me not taking the reigns as far as letting her know what I want. I let her narrate what I should expect if I wanted a natural birth. And also, I’m talking about my doula R not L.

First, she wasn’t there. In the contract we signed she said that she would be on call for us 2 weeks before the birth and she went on vacation. I was due the 23rd and my ECV was scheduled for Tuesday the 19th. She said she would be there for the ECV, she would leave her family in Maine and drive to be with me for the ECV. At the time I was grateful that she would cut her vacation short to be there but technically… technically, she should have been available for me since I went into labour on the 18th. Anyway, I guess it was a blessing in disguise because L was incredible in R’s absence.

We were also not really educated on or prepared for a c-section. I understand that doulas advocate for natural birth but in an emergency will assist you through a c-section. I feel like my doula didn’t want to believe that I would need a c-section just because he was breech. That might be true but he was not turning and she kept saying I had time I had time. She never entertained the notion of a c-section so we weren’t adequately prepared and even more shocked. We met with our doula weekly for discussions about all kinds of birth but very rarely did we discuss c-sections. On the day when we were told we were going to have one doula L had to prep me and get me into that mindset in a very short space of time in between painful contractions. I think if we’d had this discussion prior I might have been more at peace.

Anyway, I’m not really angry about this. I just feel a little meh and sad about it.

And lastly,

Me

I’m so disappointed in myself for not advocating better for myself and Lucky. Why didn’t I speak up when I felt we weren’t being looked after properly?

Being wheeled into the OR I remember thinking okay this isn’t the worst, at least they can do the gentle c-section but once the spinal block was in and they were laying me down they put a sheet over me and it wasn’t the clear sheet that my OB mentioned and I just knew, I knew this wasn’t going to be a gentle c-section and I didn’t say anything. I clamped up. What was I afraid of? Why didn’t I just speak up? That green sheet is emblazoned in my mind. The moment I failed. My first mom fail and he wasn’t even here.

I’m telling you, friends. Living with that was killing me. And after he was out and they didn’t give him to me before cleaning him and they didn’t delay the cord clamping and seeing N’s irritation with the way the surgeon spoke to him. It was just awful.

 

Nothing went the way we wanted it to go and no “at least” was making me feel better. It was just crashing wave after crashing wave every time I relived the birth.

The only thing that have helped was talking about it. First to the therapist and then to my husband and now to all of you. And I do feel better about it. I’m not over it. I don’t know if I ever will be but I’m getting there.

Having Lucky in my life is also one of the only things that has brought me some peace. Because even though I feel the way I feel he IS here and he IS safe and being around him makes everything bad disappear.

I’m glad I got this off my chest. N says he doesn’t believe that I did anything wrong. He thinks that even if I did speak up, the surgeon would have done her own thing and not listened anyway. He’s probably right. It seemed like she didn’t want to deal with us. I often wonder if some surgeons have their backs up when they hear that you have a doula with you. That’s the sense I got from her. When we protested a little when we heard about the c-section she probably just wanted to get us the heck outta there.

Anyway, so that’s where I’m at with the birth. It’s not nearly as all consuming as it was, which is a relief.

I just want anyone who’s going through something like this to know that it’s okay to be disappointed. It sucks. Granted my birth had a very happy ending and my issue with it seems superficial when you think of how badly things can go during birth but everybody wants a perfect birth. Perfect for them. Don’t we deserve a happy birth after carrying a child for so long?

My wish is to be able to laugh about this one day. I’ve always wanted my birth to be a funny story and it had some very funny bits. While I’m processing this I’ll just be sure to cling to the funny memories and hopefully they will overshadow the shitty parts.

 

 

 

Advertisements

15 thoughts on “Thoughts on the Birth

  1. Thank you for sharing this. Your feelings absolutely are valid, and I’m so sorry that surgeon in particular failed you so badly. Even if it is “just a day at work” for them, they of all people should understand that this day is absolutely momentous for you and should be treated accordingly, with respect and reverence. It breaks my heart that so many health professionals are so hard-hearted about it. (A nurse once actually told me over the phone, CHEERFULLY, that my beta numbers determined I was going to miscarry my first pregnancy. I’m still not over that. I still want to punch her in the face.)

    My birth went reasonably well until after he was out (even though it was F***ING HARD), but then I was too weak and exhausted to enjoy the moment and ended up in the hospital for 10 hours, forbidden from eating or drinking and unable to rest. I’m still pretty sad that the first 13 hours of my son’s life, I was too out of it to take anything in or be much of a mother at all. My doula had to remind me to let him feed the first time (she helped him latch), and I just kind of lay there and told my husband to do skin to skin afterwards because my arms couldn’t even hold him. There’s a picture with my husband and the baby and me, and Ali is off to the side and it looks like he’s trying to latch by himself.

    Then I was incarcerated in the hospital and hardly got to hold or see him during that time. There’s another photo with our little family in the hospital, and again Ali is just kind of draped over me, I’m not even really holding him, and I remember being in survival mode, glad someone else was dealing with him because I could only focus on getting through each hour as it came. I’m sad whenever I think about it, and whenever I see those pictures. He deserved so much better in his first hours of life, and I want so badly to have a “do over” and properly take in each moment and be fully with him as he entered this big new world.

    (This may be our only birth, too. And now I’m dealing with a prolapse that makes it tougher to do all the fun things I want to do with my boy. Sigh.)

    In short, yeah, childbirth can be brutal, even as it’s also beautiful, and that’s just the truth of the matter. Society likes to sugar-coat it and make moms feel guilty for feeling anything other than ecstatic at all times and wrapped up in a pretty pink bow. But that’s straight bullshit. Incredibly momentous and complicated things can be and often are more than one thing at the same time, and we should acknowledge and honor that.

    He is here and healthy, and that’s wonderful, but it doesn’t erase or negate other complicated realities. At all.

    • Thank you for sharing this. I guess one good thing is that they won’t remember their birth. But childbirth is pretty brutal. I’m sorry the first 13hrs didn’t go that well for you. I hope we can both get to place where it’s a non-issue. xx

  2. I’m so sorry you’ve been struggling so much with this. Sometimes when you’re in the moment and ao much is going on, it’s hard to break through it all and advocate for yourself. I’ve had some horrible drs that have failed me, so I know how that feels. Your feelings absolutely matter!! I’m very happy that you all got through it safely, but it should have been an experience that you cherish, not one you regret. *Hugs*

  3. I can’t relate to the exact birth story feelings obviously, but I do understand that you spend a lot of time imaging the way that things will be on that day and that’s hard to get over sometimes. I do think right now in society there is this big deal made about birth stories and having them be a certain way (which is kind of crazy because you just can’t control that kind of thing!), and that is a lot to live up to whether things go as planned or not.

    I will say, however, that I can kind of relate because my newborn experience was not the way I had wanted it to be. It took us a week to get home because he was born 14 hours away, and then at 2 weeks we had to put our beloved dog down fairly unexpectedly and were consumed by grief at a time that should’ve just been happy. He was a calm, easy baby and then by 3 weeks he was diagnosed with acid reflux that was so bad that he was immediately put on prescription medication and we couldn’t even lay him flat to change him without him throwing up. By 6 weeks he was diagnosed with colic. He would spend at least 4-6 consecutive hours scream-crying inconsolably most days, but some days it was up to 8 hours long. My husband was working and going to school at times that meant that I was the only one in the world who ever witnessed these episodes despite them lasting 4-8 hours most days for his first few months. By the time my husband got home, the baby had settled but I was crying with exhaustion. It was really difficult to accept that I didn’t just get to have that time cuddling and enjoying him because he was so agitated and clearly suffering! At about 3 months he was also diagnosed with milk allergy (of course, almost every formula has cow’s milk in it and that was our only option). It was only after we figured that out that we started to get him some relief, but even then he didn’t really settle until he was 6-7 months. I spent a lot of time angry, resentful, and hurt that all the moms around me who would get to have multiple babies got to enjoy their newborn time, but mine was fraught with doctor’s appointments and prescriptions and trying every single formula in the store and crying while I carried him up and down the hallway for hours knowing that I could not help him through his suffering.

    I say all this because maybe this kind of it’s-not-the-way-I-wanted-it-to-be feeling is more common than we realize, even if it doesn’t look the same for everyone, AND I think it’s further compounded when the conception part was already something you had to accept and compromise on. These feelings about the birth could also really still be rooted in that. And, I wanted to say that, while I am still sometimes sad about the time that was lost (mostly just when I think about it or look at pictures from that time), it has faded away for the most part. There have been many joys and struggles in the nearly 2 1/2 years since and many more to come. I am hopeful that someday you will look back and see that it has nearly faded away for you as well.

    • Oh gosh. I’m so sorry you had to deal with all of that but I’m glad you’re all in a better place. I’m sure I’ll get there soon but I’m glad I was able to share and get support. Thank you!

  4. While I’m a non-mama and can’t fully relate, I absolutely get how deeply this entire experience affected you. I mean, we go through SO much just to get pregnant… then to have your dream birth essentially stolen from you is like the icing on a shit cake. I’m so sorry things went this way for you. You’re right that consolation of “at least he’s here” doesn’t make the suckiness of how things went down FOR YOU any less sucky.

    I’m truly frightened when my time to give birth ever comes about c-sections. Not frightened of the surgery itself, more like frightened about how c-section rates have risen like a zillion percent over the years and I guess we all need to prepare for maybe having one at that rate. Not a welcome feeling for those who are into natural birth. So your post kind of scared me! I’m sure that your being unprepared for the likelihood of c-section made it that much worse and traumatizing.

    Anyway, this is turning into its own blog post! Glad to see you blogging again, friend! ❤

    • Icing on a shit cake for sure. C-section rates are quite scary yes but maybe the “good thing” is that since they’re so common, complications are less prevalent because surgeons have a lot of practice? And the actual surgery isn’t as scary as people make it out to be if you’re prepared. My advice would be to search for positive c-section birth stories (not mine lol). They’re out there!

  5. I’m sorry that things didn’t work out the way you had hoped. I think because women for time immortal have been giving birth, we tend to shrug off how special and important it is to a woman. It’s hard to process when it didn’t go how you had envisioned, especially when there was so much going on.
    My daughter’s birth was fine. Not everything I hoped for but not awful either. However, her dad and I were in a terrible relationship and he was horrible to me the entire time I was pregnant, and whilst he loved his daughter he was horrible to me when she was a baby too. I want to experience it all again, ‘properly’ this time, and I’m so sad and mad that there is every chance I may not have that opportunity, so your feelings resonate with me somewhat. It’s very hard to process, even though it seems like we should be able to just “get over it”.

    • Whoops pressed send accidentally. What I was getting at is that you should have been heard by your medical team and if you want to say something you can still do it afterward. Maybe it’ll do nothing but maybe it’ll change for the better another persons experience. I hope you’re continuing to work through these difficult emotions and I wish you all the best while doing that. Hugs.

  6. It’s okay to be disappointed in your experience. Even after a good end outcome that you have been waiting for. I am still dealing with tough feelings from mine too. I do feel like it was ruined, even though I have a perfectly healthy little boy.

    You aren’t alone in feeling this. I’m sorry it wasn’t a better experience for you.

    I’m disappointed for you. You definitely deserved a better experience.

    I hope you and Baby boy are well!

  7. So sorry to hear you have such bad memories of what should be a positive time. It does sound like the treatment was not professional. I don’t know how to move past it either but I’m glad you’re getting some help. There are aspects to the days after I gave birth that weigh on me in different ways to you and I know how hard it is to let go of these feelings. All the power to you, mamma for being so self aware. xx

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s