February 9, 2011 1:00 pm

Cesarean

As most of you know, my pregnancy with Wesley ended in an emergency cesarean section due to pre-eclampsia. My kidneys had more or less stopped working, so despite feeling fine, I was told that it was time for things to get a move on. (Delivery is the only cure for pre-eclampsia.)

Initially

I was very, very upset. I started bawling as soon as they told me it had to happen. They presented it to me like it was a choice, but it wasn’t, and I signed the consent form through tearful sobs.

Weeks Later

I cried anytime anybody brought it up. I’m still not 100% sure why; I think it had to do with how I envisioned my birth going and how very different it ended up, as well as the fact that the midwife on call was someone I did not know well and her attitude rankled me. She was the person conducting my two-week postpartum appointment as well, and after asking “So, how do you feel about the c-section?” was baffled by my tears.

She then wrote a totally silly note in my chart that the midwife at my six-week postpartum appointment read out loud to me because she thought it was so weird. It said something to the effect of, “Patient is very touchy; best to not bring up the c-section.” The midwife who performed my 6-week checkup was like, “Um, I don’t know what she’s talking about. You seem fine. It’s clearly not how you wanted things to go, but I think you are handling it very well.”

Once I could talk about it without crying, I mostly just gave the stock answer of “at least we are both healthy, that is what matters.” Which… yes. But. I think that minimized a lot of the feelings I had regarding the whole procedure and what it will mean for me in the future.

Now

I’m not sure why, but this subject keeps coming up for me lately and I wanted to get my thoughts out of my head as it helps me process the information.

I often feel like my entire reproductive future is ruined. Whether or not this is true, I think about it a lot and it bothers me. I’d love to have a waterbirth, or a homebirth (or both!) and I’m frustrated that the most I can hope for is doing a “trial of labor” and it’ll have to be in a hospital so they can perform an emergency c-section if necessary.

I know I gave birth to a baby, but I didn’t give birth to a baby – he was removed from me, and I played basically no part in his delivery. I was strapped to a table and he was cut out of me. THAT IS WEIRD, YOU GUYS. I was just sort of presented with a freshly washed and swaddled baby. I didn’t get that moment of seeing my new baby for the first time, allowing him to try to nurse right away, seeing more than just a sliver of his face between the tightly swaddled hospital blanket and the pink-and-blue striped hat they put on the newborns.

And that bums me out! Since I had a c-section with no prior vaginal births, my rate of success for a VBAC is lower than it would be otherwise, so I have to live with the idea that I may never get to experience those things.

If, for some reason, I end up uninsured in the future, I don’t think we would be able to have any more kids. My prenatal care + c-section + hospital stay cost THIRTY THOUSAND DOLLARS before insurance. If we were uninsured, we would not have thirty thousand dollars to spend on delivery if I had to have another emergency c-section. We just wouldn’t. We could bring the costs down a LOT by having a homebirth with midwives, but hey! I can’t! Because I already had a c-section!

I get that it was medically necessary. I do. But I feel like all my options have been removed. I’m jealous of people that got the sort of birth they wanted. I’m sad that the size of my family will have been dictated by some stupid condition I came down with that nobody understands and that caused me to have major abdominal surgery to resolve it.

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7 Comments

  • Audrey says:

    I was a Cesarean birth in 1985; I was flipped the wrong way and would not turn; my mother was 31 at the time. Nearly 8 years later my mother birthed my sister vaginally (seems weird to say that) and had no complications. Doctors will fight you on it, but unless there is a sincere medical need they should not force you. You could have a choice in the future.

  • Meagan says:

    Amen to your honest feelings. I don’t know how I would have felt had something unexpected arisen, but I know that it wouldn’t have been easy to wrap my mind around it all.

    In my birthing class with the midwives, we had a woman who had had a c-section less than a year before our class started. She felt the same as you–and thus decided to have a birth center birth with the midwives. There were two other women who were doing this at the same time, but chose not to take the birth class (which essentially gave us techniques for dealing with a vaginal birth). All three women were able to give birth vaginally at the birth center or at home. Two of the three were second time mothers who had a first birth that ended in a c-section. I was totally floored by this because everything, EVERYTHING you read tells you that this is not possible. And while it might not be possible in all cases, it is amazing to me the healing that our bodies do.

    Love to you.

  • Charlie says:

    I wouldn’t say it’s ruled out, just because you had one doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t be able to give birth vaginally in future, and anyone who tells you otherwise is wrong. I know someone who had surgery on their stomach, a few years later had to have a c-section, and then gave birth to two more children naturally.

  • the grumbles says:

    they’re changing the recommendations, more and more. VBAC is (hopefully) (oh please lord) becoming more accepted by the larger medical community, especially that big press release they put out earlier this season. i can’t argue with your logic that you will probably have to trial by labor in a hospital instead of at home, and i’m sorry for that. if you found the right midwife they might be on board, if you’re serious about looking into it for a second round i’ll dig up a bunch of resources for you.

    on a more emotional level i hope you know that it’s ok to be thrilled with Wesley, thrilled that your both safe, AND grieve the loss of the experience you wanted. emotions are our friends, our crappy asshole friends.

  • Lewis Walsh says:

    Thirty thousand dollars! That’s insane!

    Thank goodness for the NHS ;)

  • Olivia says:

    I’m so sorry you had to have a c-section. I had to have one too when I had been planning a home birth. It is weird to have the baby removed from you and not see it happen. When my daughter was first shown to me it felt like I was meeting a stranger. I’m thankful to breastfeeding for bridging that gap.

    Before your next child, please research VBACs and the possibility of having a homebirth. It’s not impossible. I plan to go for homebirth again for my second and my midwife is fully supportive. In fact, with the reluctance of many hospitals to allow VBACs a homebirth is often the best choice to make it happen. I personally know many women who have had VBACs. And, if you are ever without insurance check into Medicaid. Many states have a higher income threshold for covering pregnant women and children. We were without insurance and while my husband and I didn’t qualify individually, I did qualify for pregnancy coverage and my daughter has since been covered.

  • Erin says:

    Girl, I feel you 100%. Maybe even 150% because I tried a VBAC with Cody and the bugger decided to be backwards. Almost tore my uterus open. We had always planned on having three kids but now if we do, it’ll be several years away. Which was how we planned anyhow but a lot of my reasoning for it is because I’d like to survive and I want to try a VBA2C.

    Cesarean’s are an alienating kind of surgery. But at least with my second I was conscious and could see him. With Jas, waking up and realizing I’d had a baby was kind of freaky, even though I knew when they were knocking me out that that would happen.