The first time, I would have had labor induced at 37 weeks except that V. was breech and would not turn. We learned at her delivery that her cord was very short, and that’s probably why she stayed put regardless of all the tricks we tried (barring external version and acupuncture, because of my pre-e and hospitalization). So I had a scheduled cesarean. I was terrified. But I had the support of our lovely doula, who helped me be able to stay present and focused during the whole process and to find meaning and sweetness and connection through it all.
This time we didn’t have a doula. Ironically, G. was head down and at zero station and perfectly positioned to exit through the birth canal, but because of my hypertension we weren’t given the chance to wait it out and let me go into labor on my own. Because of my previous cesarean, induction wasn’t an option either. I was one fingertip dilated at the time of the surgery. For some reason knowing this fact breaks my heart. My body wanted to do it’s job, but wasn’t permitted.
The second time, I didn’t have a doula, and I wasn’t nearly as scared. I felt much more prepared and I knew – in general terms at least – what to expect. Some things were quite different, having to do with the two hospitals’ internal policies, which we had no control over; other differences had to do with the team of medical staff who worked with us. In general, I liked the first hospital’s policies better and the second hospital’s staff (especially the anesthesiologist) better. I experienced much less pain post-partum and a quicker recovery. Breast-feeding also came much more easily and with MUCH less pain the second time.
What is making me sad right now is knowing that that’s it for me. That is the sum of my birth experiences. Two cesareans. And I feel like a failure.
This all came to the surface for me today when I got an e-mail from a long-ago friend who has a toddler about V’s age and is about to birth her second child. She’d heard from a mutual friend who lives in her city that I’d had pre-eclampsia again, and then went to my public/family blog and read what I’d written there about our journey. I don’t write a whole lot there about my real feelings about things – I tend to make it a bit shiny for the grandparents – so she couldn’t know all my angst about the cesarean thing. Anyway, she wrote to me about how she’d had pre-eclampsia with her first pregnancy but had an unmedicated (apart from the induction) birth, and with the second pregnancy she worked really hard to prevent pre-eclampsia again by exercising, drinking lots of water, and eating 90 grams of protein a day, and now at 38 weeks her blood pressure is normal and she’s planning a home water birth with her team of midwives.
Yay for her, but you know, this just made me feel like such an enormous, colossal failure. I know that ultimately many things are not in our control, but I also know that I didn’t do all those things. I didn’t exercise, other than playing with my toddler. I didn’t eat a lot of protein. I did try to drink a lot of water, but I feel like I just didn’t try hard enough – especially with the diet aspect of it. I’ve been crying about this off and on all day, I guess I just had to get it out.
I was going through some old file boxes in preparation for moving and found all the stuff from my master’s thesis which I completed in 2001. It’s so freaking organized! Every detail accounted for and in its place. I compare this to my haphazardness now and I wonder what the hell happened? When did I lose that focus? Was it when V. was born? It actually goes back earlier than that – it goes back to the start of our TTC days. I feel old, I feel scattered, I feel ineffectual.
I love my children. I’m having a hard time right now loving myself.