Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Cesareans Don't Just Scar Your Skin

***In honor of Cesarean Awareness Month, my posts this month will be about cesareans, whether it is awareness or cesarean stories.  Cesarean mothers now count for 1/3 of the mothers in the country, and that is unacceptable***

I have never taken a picture of my cesarean scar.  I don’t look at it, I pretend it doesn’t exist.  It helps that it is barely 4 inches long, and so low that it is covered by hair, and so pale that even if there wasn’t hair you could barely see it.
Being pregnant again last year made my scar come out in more ways than one.  I could feel it most every day.  It got little twinges and stretchings as my uterus is growing.  As it did this, I am realizing I need to completely come to peace with my daughter’s birth, and the scars I hold on both the inside and the outside.
In planning a home birth after cesarean, I didn’t realize how much fear and distrust I held against myself from the delivery and cesarean section.  As I was trying to write the birth that I want to have, I couldn’t do it.  I kept having visions of surgery, and general anesthesia, and a baby in the NICU.  I put it all off, and finally last night realized what I needed to do.
Last year, one of my favorite people on twitter @1BeautifulSol wrote and posted her cesarean birth story.  I knew it was an emergency cesarean, but I didn't know what happened.  I clicked to her story, and instantly was in tears for her.
(You can read her birth story here, but make sure to have tissues handy).
I cried for the pain she went through, for the loss of what she wanted.  And through the tears I realized, even more than I had before, that sometimes emergency cesareans leave much deeper scars than unnecessary ones.  The knowing that this is how your child HAD to be born, and yet hating that it had to be that way.  You can’t be angry at a doctor or midwife or nurse, you feel that it is your own body that failed you.  Your own body that didn’t protect your baby so it had to be surgically removed from your abdomen.
This mother writing her story is so strong.  She is amazing.  It took me 18 months to write the story of my daughter’s birth.  And then almost three years to even say it all out loud.  She is doing amazing.
Healing comes from more than just pushing things away.  When you have scars that run deep, such as from a cesarean section whether necessary or not, you have to deal with the fear and uncertainty of what that does to the future.
My cesarean caused my five miscarriages.  It hurt my fertility.  It made me angry and bitter for a long time at women that had vaginal deliveries.  I still have rages of jealousy when women choose what I wish I had, and then had beautiful births.  I am working through this all to let go of my fear and anger at what happened, but it is taking a lot more work than I thought it would.  Coming to terms with a major surgery that could have been prevented is not fun.
There are so many women holding in scars from their surgeries.  So many women that change the day of their birth of their child.  So many women that don’t realize there is something better out there.
Around Christmas 2009, my friend @babydickey was barrated into an unnecessary cesarean section.  She nodded her head and the cesarean was done for no reason besides she was a little slower to dilate than the doctor wanted.  She has already started to advocate for other women.  She started an ICAN chapter, which she holds in her home.  She is already miles ahead of where I was.
Another friend, @sylkozakur had a cesarean with her fourth child.  Ended up pushing for a long time, and the baby wasn’t descending.  Even as necessary as it was, it can traumatize deeper because it feels like the body has forgotten how to grow and birth a baby.
My friend @devaskyla has had three children.  Her first was a cesarean, and her next two were unassisted birth after cesareans.  Her first ended up being a cesarean because her water broke before labor, and doctors are too scared to wait for labor to start on its own.  So much pressure to do what is safe for your baby, and they pressure you into things that aren’t needed.
The most powerful story of all, if powerful is even the right word comes from my friend@Preparing4Birth.  She had a cesarean with her first, a VBAC with her second, a CBAC with her third, and a VBA2C with her fourth.  Such an amazing woman.  She is now head of Preparing For Birth, teaches childbirth classes, is an incredible doula, and is President of ICAN.  The story of her CBAC shows where her power came from.  Shows that she truly is one of the best women to be leading ICAN.
So many of the scars from a cesarean are below the surface.  They can change us so we are terrified of birth and schedule cesareans for the next so we have a sense or control, or they empower us to change what happens either for ourselves or others.
Working through the emotions left after a surgery where your child is born is so hard.  So much has to be done to understand what is needed to finally be at peace with the experience.  I wish I had the answers to it all.  I wish I could help other women understand that it is okay to love your child but hate the day they are born.  To help them prepare so they are less likely to even have a cesarean.  To truly believe in their own ability to birth their baby.
It is your body.  Work though all the scars how you need to.  Take the time to do it.  And most of all, remember that us other cesarean moms are here to talk to if you need it.

This was originally posted on http://heartsandhandss.com and adapted to work on this site


Shawna said... [Reply to comment]

Thank you so much for writing this!

Summer said... [Reply to comment]

I am thankful I didn't have to have a C-Section with any of my children but I did have 2 inductions that I didn't want. I have friends who had C-Sections and were not willing to advocate for themselves and their babies. I'm glad that you are spreading awareness about c-sections. Thank you for sharing this and for being such a great advocate for women's health.

Becky said... [Reply to comment]

I don't want to be confrontational, but it's hard putting two and two together here. I read many natural parenting blogs and, overall, women who had cesareans have a hard time dealing with the fact that they didn't have a natural birth. I only have one child right now, and she was delivered via c-section. I'm not sure if it was a necessary operation or not, but I'm grateful that I live today because who knows what would happen 100 years ago?

Everyone deals with disappointment differently. I realize that and people need to work through their feelings. I had a feeling early on that I might need a c-section. But I also experienced disappointment. I had a lot of rare complications after the c-section, and I actually have reservations about having another baby just because of the nightmarish hospital stay I had. It was a difficult recovery with a blood transfusion, early problems with breastfeeding, the nurses giving me constant demands, having only four hours of sleep a night (during the four night stay), and needing my blood drawn hour upon hour. It really broke me down, but I have a healthy baby in spite of it all! And my scar reminds me of how strong I was that day and throughout my recovery.

Thanks for reading!

Kayce Pearson said... [Reply to comment]

Becky, that is wonderful!

The thing is, most moms that have cesareans are so grateful that they and their babies are alive. No one is disputing that point. BUT, regardless of whether you wanted a natural birth or not, a cesarean is hard to deal with. Not only is there pain after the baby is born making it hard to move around and feel up to taking care of a newborn, but there is the emotional and mental disappointment and pain because of what you went through.

Many moms wind up alone in the OR being stitched up because their husband is with the baby. Many hate that they are treated like a piece of meat as they are cut open and sewed together again. You aren't talked to, you aren't even acknowledged while this procedure is happening to you.

I didn't see my daughter for 8 hours after my surgery. For all I knew, they could have switched her with someone else's baby. Bonding with your child is hard, especially if you don't even believe that they could be yours. It took me months to finally love her the way I should have.

Some people are proud of their scars, like you. Others need a very long recovery to even think about what happened, like me.

They need to know that they are allowed to hate the day their child was born if that is how they want to feel, but still be so grateful to be alive and have a healthy child.

And also, comparing things to 100 years ago is always just a moot thing. The maternal mortality and morbidity rate is higher now than it was in the 1980's. With all the advancements in medicine, women should not still be dying, especially compared to just 30 years ago.

Becky said... [Reply to comment]

Thanks for your reply! Really well-written!! There are days that I hate the experience I went through, too. I guess with everything, it depends on the day and your mood. Recovery is a slow process and I'm glad that there is a safe place for people to express their feelings. :)

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