A sudden surge of emotions.

Sadie and I made a trip to Target today, and we saw one of the midwives from our, well, home labor. I can’t call it a home birth, even though that’s what she called it. Sadie wasn’t born at home. I labored and labored and labored at home. but Sadie was cut out of my abdomen. Remembering back to right after it all happened, there were some people who would tell me it’s like I did both–had a home birth AND a hospital birth. But I didn’t. And it sort of makes me mad when people say that, and I’m just now admitting it, I think. A home birth is where you push your baby out of your body in the comfort of your own home. That is the opposite of how Sadie was born. If I had wanted only to labor at home, I would have hired a doula and planned a hospital birth. In hindsight, maybe that’s what I should have done…maybe somebody would have noticed Sadie’s poor position early enough to move her. There are just so many what-ifs. What if somebody had noticed? What if I could have spent early labor on my hands and knees, trying to get her in a better position? Would I have been able to deliver her vaginally? I know there’s no use in asking those questions, but they still linger, even after seven months.

Here’s the worst of it: I am insanely, unfairly, cruelly jealous of my friends who have had vaginal births.  So much so that I have to block it out so I can still love them and their babies. Because sometimes I want to hate them, and that is horrible and hurtful and not what I am all about. Right now I have this pit in my stomach and this tightness in my chest, and I know it’s from today’s chance encounter. Earlier this morning, a friend asked me if I had healed well from my c-section. I told her yes, because the scar is not so scary anymore, and I only occasionally have a tiny twinge of pain or some itchiness. But, emotionally, I have not. Not all the way. I went through this period after Sadie was born where I felt like I wasn’t finished. Like I was somehow still pregnant, and I still had a baby to push out. Sometimes I still feel that way. Excuse the crude analogy, but it’s kind of like having sex but not climaxing. You just don’t feel finished.

Well, that helped. A tiny bit.

5 thoughts on “A sudden surge of emotions.

  1. Bex

    I so understand what you’re feeling. I always planned a hospital birth, but never for one moment did I consider the possibility that I might need a c-section, which of course I ultimately did. Not being so keenly attached to the idea of a completely natural labor and delivery, I was surprised by the terrible disappointment I felt when I was told it was time for a c-section. I had images of my baby being placed straight onto my chest. I had expectations of the perfect tenderness of that moment, and suddenly all the hopes I never even knew I had were crushed, and I felt like such a failure. I cried on the operating table.

    But here’s the thing: The only thing we are mourning is an idea. It’s an idea, an abstract notion that only really has value because we assign it value. There’s a book that I’ve read over and over in my life, Rainer Maria Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet, in which he writes, “One must be so careful with names anyway; it is so often on the NAME of a thing that a life goes to pieces, not the nameless and personal action itself, which was perhaps a perfectly definite necessity of that life and would have been absorbed by it without effort. And the expenditure of energy seems to you so great only because you overvalue victory; it is not the victory that is the “great thing” you think to have done, although you are right in your feeling; the great thing is that there was already something there which you could put in the place of that delusion, something true and real. Without this even your victory would have been…without wide significance.”

    I read this so often because I have to remind myself of that all the time in my life, but it is especially applicable to this situation. Home birth, c-section–these are all just names, ideals to be aspired to but ultimately meaningless delusions. The true and real thing is Sadie, and ONLY Sadie, everything else exists only in your mind, and without Sadie, would honestly, honestly mean nothing. If something, God forbid, should have happened to her, do you think you would waste even one second mourning the fact that you didn’t have a natural birth at home? Would it even register for a brief, fleeting moment? Of course not. And if you already hadn’t attached yourself to an idea, to a certain Name that to you meant victory, than as Rilke says, your life would have simply absorbed the c-section and you would never have felt bad about it.

    So ultimately, your sadness is of your own making. I wish I could be sitting with you, with my hand on your arm, so that you could see that I mean this only with true compassion and understanding as someone who shares the same struggles, and don’t intend to belittle your feelings in any way. I really don’t. I just think it is so important to remember that they are imaginary, even though they feel so real. You were not robbed. You were not robbed of a perfect delivery, only of your perfect expectations, and what do those matter? Your c-section was not the ugly thing that you had to suffer through, it was, in fact, a huge blessing. Because without it, your real and true joy–and maybe even you–would not be here.

    So all I’m trying to encourage you to do now is change your thinking. Because you thought your way into this pain, and you can think your way out. It sounds like brainwashing, and it is. It is! But it is only to replace the brainwashing you did before, does that make sense? And it’s possible, I know, because I’ve had to do it all my life, being the obsessive and idealistic person that I am.

    I hope this doesn’t sound condescending or unkind; it’s not meant that way at all. It just breaks my heart to think of you tearing yourself up with jealousy over something so unimportant. I don’t say that flippantly, because I know to you it feels so so important. But it is not. It is not important. Tell yourself, over and over, how unimportant it is, until you believe it, and until you can look on your experience with compassion and joy, and even gratefulness. Oh yes, I’m going all Deepak Chopra on you. But I believe it, and so can you.

    Reply
  2. Shannon

    I struggle with it too sometimes. I never ruled out the possiblity of having a C-Section becasue I always thought that since I am a small person that it was a possiblity but the way it happened upsets me. I have the what if’s too. like what if I would have waited until I went into labor would my cervix swing around on it’s own and been able to have him naturally. Also makes me wonder about next time if there is a next time. Should I just go ahead and opt for the C-Section or should I try to have it naturally. Def don’t want the same thing to happen again. I think if I would have known before hand that I was going to have to have one it wouldn’t have been that big of a deal. It’s just an emergency c-section in the early morning and having to be knocked out because the spinal tap didn’t work sort of was.
    I know you were very set on having a homebirth and I think in theroy is a great idea. It would have been nice if they could have somehow known that that wasn’t going to work for you because of Sadie’s position so you could somehow you can prepare yourself. The one thing that sticks out from one of the baby books I read about the labor thing is not to go in thinking you know how things are going to happen because it could change very easily. Easier said then done though.

    Reply
  3. ashley

    you have every right to feel this way. i would have felt the same way had it happened to me, and i am glad you are finally vocalizing these feelings. what happened to you was so traumatic and unfair. you did all the work, but didn’t get your reward. i was actually confused when you didn’t say anything like this earlier, bc i knew you were probably working through some real grief, knowing how intense labor is and how important the reward of the “climax” is. i can sympathize with your feelings of jealously from back when we were trying to conceive our first. we tried month after month, trick after trick, for over a year, only to watch friend and family member announce “surprise” and “fertile myrtle” pregnancies, one after another. i felt myself giving any pregnant person i saw at restaurants and in wal-mart the “evil eye” and secretly hating my dearest of friends for becoming pregnant. this is normal, i think, and was only cured, for me, when i became pregnant myself. you may therefore not feel better until you get what you want… i don’t know, but i hope some way some how you can heal from this. it is truly truly sad. i love you girl and please feel free to process with me about it any time.

    p.s. i’m so sorry if i was one of the ones who ignorantly commented “it’s like you had both”…i can see myself saying something like that as if anything anyone says would help your emotional state. it is really better to stay silent when you don’t know what the h*ll someone else is going through. i wanted to slap everyone who said “It’s will happen in God’s timing” or “Just relax. It’ll happen.” i know they were just trying to help me feel better, but it just made things worse.

    Reply
  4. Amira @ Define "Mature"

    I don’t even know where to begin, but I was nodding my head in agreement throughout your post.

    It’s scarring, so very scarring -emotionally and phsycially- to have a c-section. Surprisingly the emotional scar was much more difficult and more overwhelming to handle that I ever expected.

    I planned an all natural birth, although not at home, but I fully intended to have Aiman, my son, as naturally as nature would allow. PLus, I had SUCH an easy and healthy and in the words of my doctor “textbook perfect” pregnancy, there was absolutely no reason to suspect any sort of complication when the time came. He was 40 weeks and done “cooking” when my water broke. I went to hospital and labored and labored for 20 something hours when they said that I needed a c-section.

    I feel like you can understand how tremendously surreal and heartbreaking and just plain awful it was to have to accept or even realize that.

    Anyway, Aiman was cut out of me too and I cried the hardest I’ve ever cried in my life while being taken to surgery, during surgery, and for a substantial amount of time post partum.

    It ate at me and still does, even now a week shy of Aiman’s first birthday.

    The c-section cut much deeper into me than just my flesh and the emotional scar it left is more tender than the one running along my abdomen.

    I’m not over it and I don’t think I have to be. It was traumatizing and although Aiman was healthy and happy, I wasn’t mentally “healthy and happy” about the entire experience.

    So in a long winded way, I want to say that I get it. I get hating your friends that had the natural birth you so badly wanted and deserved. I get still being emotionally raw about the experience, especially when encountering something or someone that brings the memories back. It’s sort of like placing a bandaid over the wound and then having it violently ripped off before it fully healed.

    Eh, I’m not known for analogies…but I tried.

    I just wanted to say that I can empathize and would so hug you right now!

    My complete birth experience is at

    http://definemature.com/2009/09/22/cutting-into-me/

    If you’re interested; it depicts a clearer picture than my rambling here…

    Best and warmest regards!

    Reply
    1. citysteader Post author

      Thanks, Amira. The weird thing for me is, I didn’t cry when it was all happening. Or, at least, I don’t remember crying. The crying came the morning after we got home. And it lasted a while. Fortunately, I already had a great therapist, and I immediately got in to see her, and we started working on helping me adapt. I just read your post on your birth experience, and I think we should form a club or something. I know there’s ICAN and Unnecesarean, but I feel like there’s still such a vacuum when it comes to people openly talking about their negative birth experiences.

      Reply

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