Recovering {emotionally} from a C-Section

Definitely still a work in progress.  This has proved to be the most challenging experience I have ever faced.  It’s taken me close to 6 months to put everything into writing because I don’t like to talk about it.  I don’t like to acknowledge that I have any sadness that surrounds the birth of our son.  I also feel very guilty for having these feelings.  I’m sure some will read this and think “seriously?  you have a healthy baby.  get over it.”  Trust me.  I tell myself this everyday.  Nonetheless, I still have these emotions of sadness and defeat.  I hope by writing down my journey it might help someone else going through a similar situation.

To start, let’s go back to the day Sam was born.  This video explains a lot of why I’ve struggled with having had a c-section. 

The video was barely able to focus on my boy before he was whisked away to be suctioned and cleaned off.  I couldn’t turn around and see anything only hear the nurses talking with Ryan about wether or not he wanted to cut the remainder of the cord and what a big boy Sam was.  Ryan did cut the remainder of the cord and got to watch as the nurses carefully weighed and wrapped Sam up like a little burrito.  Ryan then came back over and sat with me.  Shortly after, they brought Sam over to Ryan.  I couldn’t really see Sam because I could only turn my head from side to side.  I kissed Sam on his cheek and told him I loved him.  We sat together as a family for maybe 5 minutes.  Then a nurse came up to Ryan and said, “Ok Dad, are you ready to go?”  Ryan kissed me, I kissed Sam and then they left to go up to the nursery.  Ryan and I had previously discussed that he was to stay with Sam at all times, no matter what.  So that’s exactly what he did and now looking back, I’m glad we did that.

After Ryan and Sam left, it was another 5 minutes before I was sewed up and ready to transfer to a recovery bed.  They wheeled me into a recovery room where I sat for the next hour and a half.  I couldn’t go upstairs to the postpartum floor until I could move both of my legs and my bleeding was stable.  So there I sat with a nurse by my side the entire time watching my vitals and checking my bleeding.  I asked her to grab my phone so I could call a few people while I waited.  My phone already had several text messages from friends and family congratulating me on the birth of Sam.  Both of our immediate families were already at the hospital.  With the best of intentions, they started texting me pictures of Ryan bathing Sam in the nursery.  I wanted to die.  I haven’t really even seen our son yet, however, the rest of our family is getting to experience him before I do?  I couldn’t even wrap my brain around it.  I remember sitting in recovery thinking to myself, “omg, I don’t feel this intense, overwhelming love everyone was talking about.  What if I don’t feel that closeness because of the c-section.”  I just remember staring at the pictures of my son thinking, this isn’t right.  How did I go from hoping for a natural birth to having family send me pictures of my son through the nursery window?  I wanted to scream.

Finally, after an hour and a half, I was able to go upstairs and meet our son.  Ryan had asked our families to give the 3 of us some time together before introducing Sam to everyone else.  So we had 1 hour just to ourselves to love and smooch all over Sam.

I had these visions of watching our son being born and having him laid right on my chest.  Looking over at Ryan and catching his reaction.  Hearing the sweet cries of our new baby and comforting him as he entered this world.  Minimal interference when our son was born to allow for skin to skin contact and a calm, peaceful environment.  Literally, it was the opposite.  Since Sam was born, there hasn’t been a day that I haven’t replayed the day he was born in my head.  I’ve talked to other c-section moms and every single one of them have a look of “it’s ok.  I know, it sucks.”  One person said to me with tear filled eyes, “It’s as though something has been taken from you, that you’ve been cheated.”  That’s exactly how I feel!  I do feel cheated.  I feel defeated.280940_10102118857210085_538938908_o

Now, the most important thing is obviously that my son is healthy, I am healthy and we had a safe delivery.  Trust me, I say that to myself every single day.  However, I can’t seem to brush these feelings of sadness and defeat away.  I wanted to experience birth.  I wanted to have a natural delivery.  I can’t help but have feelings of anger and frustration when I know of women that request c-sections and don’t want anything to do with experiencing child-birth.  I was someone who was looking forward to it and my body failed me.

Another piece to this puzzle is that I now worry about what the future will hold with our next child.  Both the midwives and OB stated I could absolutely try for a VBAC and seemed optimistic about it.  However, I know the stats and with only a 60% VBAC success rate, I’m not banking on it happening.  Plus, I didn’t know this prior to my c-section, but they cannot induce you after you’ve had a c-section with future births.  The risk of uterine rupture is too high.  So if my body doesn’t go into labor on its own, which we know how well it did previously, then I will have a c-section.

My recovery has been pretty magical for having had a c-section.  All of the nurses at the hospital commented on how “beautiful” my incision was.  It was straight, small and well sutured.  The burning, tingly feeling has been pretty strong at times, which is just my nerves reconnecting and regaining feeling again.  Everyday my incision is either sensitive, burning/tingly, or itchy.  Which is part of the reason I think about Sam’s birth daily.  I’m reminded by my lovely battle wound.

Make no mistake, I love my son more than words could possibly ever fully express.  I would do anything for him and only want the very best for him.  I don’t in any way resent him or blame him for having to have the c-section.  In fact, I would do it all over again.  Why? Because I’m a warrior.  All mothers are.  Bringing a child into this world requires us to be nothing less than a warrior.  We are strong, courageous and will love our children to the moon and back no matter what.  IMG_1992

I was blessed with a beautiful baby, who is healthy and the light of my life.  I know that and I thank God everyday for him.  I know of women that have lost their sweet baby or aren’t able to have children of their own.  I can’t imagine their grief and struggling to find a way to cope with that reality. I’m only human and am trying my very best to work through my difficulties with what happened.  My only hope in sharing my story is that it helps someone else who may have these same emotions.  You’re not alone.

5 thoughts on “Recovering {emotionally} from a C-Section

  1. Leah,
    My heart goes out to you. I know exactly how you feel! Actually I know 5 times over how you feel! I had all of my children by c-section. I have and had all the same emotions. My first child (Kelsey,22) was breech and by the time they figured that out, I was already approaching my due date so they went ahead and scheduled a c-section. My 2nd child (Evan 20), I was in labor for several days, 5 min a part. Pure torture! After 5 days , I had the option of c-section or to be induced. I said “C-section, cut this baby out of me and get him as far away from me as possible”. What an emotion to deal with! Anyway that prompted my 2nd c-section. My 3rd child was Carl (18). He went past my due date also and they went ahead n scheduled that one. At this point they realized that I do not produce the hormone that helps to dilate. And that is how I ended up with all 5 c-sections! By the way David is 16 now and Emma just turned 15. I just want you to know that in time the pain softens. I think every c-section had it’s own special situation which made them all unique. Not that it made all those emotions go away but it helps today when looking back. I still have that feeling of “missing that experience” But have accepted that I was lucky for being able to have all of those c-sections! Right? In years past, I prob wouldn’t have survived. God, for some reason had picked us to experience our births in this different way. The best thing, as you know is the gift of our children, no matter how we got them here. Still you have the right to all of your feelings and to have them forever. Just keep in mind that each delivery will be a bit different and that you may still get to experience a “normal” birth. Who knows. I will keep you in my prayers, although I do know who raised you and that you are one lucky daughter and now Mother. I can tell that you are the greatest mommy that you can be and that is what matters most! Love that beautiful boy,hug him lots, and kiss him more. Now is a wonderful time for you and your husband and I hope that you will be blessed with more children to come, however it may be.
    Your friend in C-Sections!,
    Maria (Futrell) Beckstedt

  2. I came across your blog by accident, after clicking on your Ikea bench hack. I’m a labor and delivery nurse who hears your story frequently. It’s those stories and the personal experiences of the nurses I work with that prompted our unit to figure out a way for c -section Moms to keep their babies with them throughout surgery and recovery. Although it’s creates the need for additional staff members to accommodate keeping the babies with Moms, it’s been a wonderful experience for our patients and our staff. Out of the 3 hospitals in our small county, we are the only ones offering this to our patients, but as word gets out, we’re hopeful that the other hospitals will jump on the bandwagon. The anesthesiologists are so pleased with this “new way” that they are using their own influence at the other hospitals they practice to institute “skin to skin” baby contact in the operating room. They’ve seen first hand how their patients are more calm, have improved vital signs and require less pain medication.
    I know this does not change your experience and I hope I’m not making you feel worse. I wanted you to know that there are nurses and doctors out there who recognize the need to change the way we do c-sections. What it really took to institute this change was 1 nurse who really believed that we could do things better, and patients telling their doctors that they require their baby to remain with them in the operating and recovery rooms. Doctors hold a lot of power in this way. If their patients say they will only go to a hospital that has this service, the hospital will eventually make it happen.
    I encourage you and all women who want to have this be the new normal, to speak to your doctors and write to your local hospitals. Hospitals are always in competition with one another and they want your business….bottom line.
    Your baby is beautiful and I’m so happy he is healthy. I hope this unsolicited advice is hopeful and not harmful.
    All the best.
    Amy

    • Amy,
      Thank you so much for sharing this with me. You have no idea how helpful and heartwarming your advice was to me. To think that maybe this entire experience happened to me so that I can spread the word and help change hospital protocols for the best interest of mom and baby is so comforting. Thanks again for your kind words.

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