A Tale of Two Cesareans, Part II

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.


6 Responses to “A Tale of Two Cesareans, Part II”

  1. Not on Fire Says:

    I am sorry that you are suffering. Your friend deserves a thunk to the head for a thoughtless comment. I hope that you can forgive your body. You deserve forgiveness.

  2. tara Says:

    o those off-handed comments that make us judge ourselves so harshly. I don’t think meds or c-sections make a birth any less worthy yet I can see how in the ‘earth mother competition’ that seems to prevail these days that it would be easy to look at these things as failures. I’m sorry you’re feeling this way and hope that you can begin tell yourself this tale in another way. You know, instead of the worst of times… the best of times?

  3. Rachel Says:

    I’m so sorry you are feeling this way. I think we all go through periods when we find ourselves difficult to love.

    Despite how they made their entrance into this world, your children were only created because of you. They are beautiful and wonderful and that is because of you.

  4. Caro Says:

    Probably she was just lucky and wouldn’t have had pre-e whatever she did.

    Sorry you’re feeling bad, it’s amazing how many different thoughtless comments can absolutely floor us.

    Hope you are feeling better soon.

  5. Laine Says:

    oh, sweetie. I have been thinking of you, worried when you took so long to post again. It is so painful to have our babymoons clouded with a deep feeling of failure. I love what you wrote about being 1cm dilated. You are right, your body was trying to finish it’s work. What a difficult work it has been to grow your baby. But you did it. And that baby was designed by God, chosen to be your little boy and no one elses. The more years that pass since my cesarean, I see what a role it has played in teaching me the lessons about control, letting go, holding on to faith and mothering this boy who was born in this challenging way. I am learning that just as God selects our blessings just for us, he chooses our trials for us with just as much love, because it is only through those trials that we can become the people he designed us to be. He will make miracles through you because of this trial in your life.

    Hang on to your knowledge of who you are. Hugs.

  6. Mrs. Spit Says:

    I’m seriously late to the party, I’m sorry. Your friend did not a thing to prevent pre-e. I’m so glad that she thinks she did, but she’s wrong. Think about this factually – if any of those things worked, every doctor and specialist would be insisting all women do them. They don’t, and the specialists don’t recommend them.

    Your friend got lucky and that’s a great thing. It’s not wise to brag about luck. It’s really not wise to be arrogant about it.

    I’m so sorry you had to put up with this.

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