I've become what I never thought I would be. I used to think these women were crazy and ridiculous. But I am now one of them...
Hello, my name is Sarah, and I am a birth hippie. :)
I think it has pretty much everything to do with my birth experience with Abby. Everything. And yes, I will now step onto my soap box... :)
I'm one of those csection mommas who is scarred (literally... ha!) from my birth experience. Seriously, it was traumatic for me. I remember the pain. The mental and physical pain. Both got better with time. It is true, the pain fades, but the experience doesn't disappear--it's always part of you. Or as an African Proverb says, "The axe forgets; the tree remembers". And I will always have that scar on my belly. I didn't know a lot of things before I had Abby. I knew I didn't want a csection. I wanted to push my baby out. Because that is how women are supposed to have babies. I felt like less of a woman. I even had a friend ask me how the birth went and when I told her I ended up with a "section" she just said, "Oh..." As in to say, "you wuss." Boo…
The mental recovery was, and still is, the hardest part. I honestly feel that I was robbed. I didn't give birth. Yes, I have had a child. But, she was surgically taken out of me. So, I have never really experienced labor, never gotten to 10cm (don’t know if I ever got to a 5!), never pushed, and never seen my kid fresh out of me and had that relief that I am sure every mother has when she first delivers her baby. The first time I saw Abby was on the screen on my digital camera. I could hear her crying, and I will hold on to that memory forever. I never got to see the umbilical cord or the placenta (don't worry, I don't want to eat it or anything). Call me crazy, but I want to see all of that! Abby didn't even have any cord left on her belly button! They clipped it off so close to her so I didn't even see a cord nub! And she didn't get to nurse right away. I didn't get to hold her until hours later. And I don't know how many hours because I was busy having bad reactions to everything and I was out of it...
I vaguely remember her first few hours, or, the first few hours I got to be with her. I got to see her for maybe a minute after she was born, and I couldn't touch her because I was pretty much paralyzed (remember I don't handle medicine very well) then she was whisked away for all of those newborn tests. Tony went with her, and I was alone. I missed the first couple hours of her life. I didn't get to try to nurse her until hours later. I have no clue if she was content or if she was crying. I barely remember first holding her. I was so drugged up and out of it. I don't remember much of the first time I nursed her either. But we did get that to work. I look back now and realize I should have been put on medication for depression. I was depressed. And it took a long time to heal from it. I hogged Abby after that first night. I didn't want anyone else to do anything with her. I wanted to do it all alone. I couldn't let her out of my sight. Looking back on all of that, I wonder if it was guilt or something from missing the first few hours of her life? I don't know. I'll never understand. But it lasted for a long time. I wouldn't let anyone watch her. I was glad I nursed because I was the only one who could feed her. Seriously, it was that bad.
Now, about the scar… I was lucky enough to just be glued shut (GLUED shut?!) so no staple hole scars for me, but I was one of the "lucky" ones to have a scar that is over 7 inches long. Yes, SEVEN inches LONG! Other women have a scar about the length of their pointer finger. Luuuckyyyy. I don't know if it was because they had to get her out of there pretty quick because it became an emergency when they couldn't find her heartbeat... or if that is just the way my doctor did it. Well, he wasn't MY doctor. He was the doctor on call who came in my room 30 minutes before I got rolled to the ER. And he never even came to check on me when I was recovering. Weird, right? Although, I guess my midwife came in to check on me and take the horrible tape off of my belly. She was really mad at how much tape they put on me. And it was extremely painful when she took it off. I didn't even want to look when she took it off. I'm not sure when I first looked. I hate being drugged up.
So, I am a believer in unmedicated, natural birth (no inductions because you are "done" with being pregnant...), home birth--yes, I said it! Now, obviously I think it is much safer if you have a midwife there with you who knows what she is doing, water birth (oh, how I would LOVE to do that!), Doulas, Midwives, The Bradley Method, and really just trusting your body and knowing that child birth is a very natural thing. Shoot, I don't even see anything wrong with a breech birth if the doctor is trained. Twins? Birth em!
Call me crazy… but writing about it like this, it is kind of like therapy for me. It helps me to write it all down. And Dr. Tilley told me that I better do my homework on this and not to come walking in the hospital in labor asking how I can have a VBAC. I’m just being obedient! ;) I wonder what would have happened if I didn’t go to the hospital that night? I wonder if everything would have been ok? And I wonder what things would be like now. I wonder if I would have had a strong opinion of birth if it had just “worked” for me the first time. I wish I had been around people I knew (we were in 3 places in PA from when we found out we were preggo to when we had her) so I never got to talk birth with anyone. I didn’t have a friend who was a “hippie”. I wish I had. I wonder if I would have listened though?
But I guess until the beginning of February, everyone will be reading about VBACs. So, if you don’t want to hear about it for the next 6 months… I’d just stay clear of this blog! ;) And hopefully after that, I will write all about my VBAC. And I will write every little detail. I love detailed birth stories. Not in a creepy way, but birth really is amazing. And I want a chance at it. I want to PUSH my kid out.
I wish I could spout out all of things things I have been reading. All of the statistics, all of the risks, but that would take a long time. One of the biggest shocks was that the uterine rupture rate is the SAME as the rate (percentage... chance...??) of having a miscarriage from an amniocentesis! So why is a VBAC such a big deal? Why do some women have to labor in the parking lot of the hospital, only going in when they are crowning so that there is no chance of being forced into a section?
And why don't the doctors go over the risks of a csection? And the greater risks of having repeat sections?! After just 1 section your chances of infertility, miscarriage, stillbirth, placenta previa, accreta (which is really bad) go up. And it only increases with each section you have. Oh, and you have twice the chance of dying... Now can you see why I don't want another surgery? I want a big family. I want to be alive to raise my family. And I want to birth a child. I want that rush you get when your baby comes out. And I am determined to have things my way. And I'm determined to make people aware of all of this. I don't want other women to have to go through what I did.
I realize that I complain and talk about this a lot, but I feel it is important for everyone to know. And that a lot of women hide the hurt. They smile because they think that is what everyone expects them to do (I know I did). They do have a healthy baby after all. And everyone is alive. But most of those people have no idea what it is like. How confusing it is. One minute you are pregnant and rushed into a chaotic room, the next you can't feel anything, feel a ton of pressure and then there is a crying kid in the room all of the sudden. You didn't do any of the work... can that really be your baby? I know some women don't feel attached to their child at first. I started sobbing when I heard Abby's cry. It was more of a relief that she was alive, that she was breathing, but I didn't feel excited. It was scary and I was still worried. I hadn't even seen her. I didn't have a face to go with the cry. I loved her though. No denying that. But I came across this piece of artwork on a website and thought I needed to share it. It has everything to do with what I just wrote... Oh, and just a note, her smile is representative of the scar.
PS...can you tell I've been reading a book about births? The book, PUSHED, is really good. :)