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.

 

 

 

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