Posted in Birth Stories, Blog, Friends, Just for you, Mother, Rebecca, Recovering from childbirth, Still pregnant?

Making sense of it all

A year before I even got pregnant, I committed to becoming the healthiest I could possibly be. I exercised 5-6x a week, ate healthy, took my fish oil, got chiropractic care, massages, and many other things. I felt the greatest I’ve ever felt. I even got my body fat percentage down the lowest it’s ever been. Not that health equals a number but internally, my health was manifesting externally. (my clear skin was the most exciting.)

I got pregnant right on schedule and was positive and certain I would have the healthiest and easiest pregnancy ever. My pregnancy ended up being great. I exercised all the way through it, ate pretty good, gained average weight, complication free….so I assumed that the delivery of my “super healthy” baby would be a result of all this work I put in to be the healthiest I could be. (I know this sounds super prideful now thinking back…haha…and kinda ridiculous even)

I was aiming and committed to have a natural delivery and birth experience to the degree I was in control of. I was totally against having a C-section and believed my body was capable and equipped to handle this baby thing. I labored mostly at home and then went to our birth center to meet our midwives. I’ll spare you all the gorey details….but I endured 32 hours naturally with many complications. After pushing for an awful 5 hrs, the midwives recommended I go to the hospital for a vacuum delivery.

the 15th hour

I ended up having a C-section due to some more complications arising, but had a healthy and perfect son. (again, I will spare you the mental pictures of it all) I cried for days and days trying to make sense of it all. Why did my body struggle? Why did the labor start out perfectly and then go downhill so fast? Why did the baby get stuck? Why did the midwives do this and that? and on and on and on….

I’ve struggled with processing it all. I wanted answers as to why certain things were done in a certain way…and I didn’t get them. I wanted a do-over. I didn’t want to share my birth story. I was ashamed like I had done something wrong….like the result of a C-section for me was unworthy or less than what I deserved. I had this perfect birth picture up on a pedestal and I wasn’t going to have it any other way. My husband was so amazing. He kept telling me I did everything I knew to do and gave it all I could….but that didn’t make me feel any better.

at the end of 5 hrs of pushing

Time went by and I thought I could reframe the experience in my mind. I shared my story with a few people but left out a lot of the details. I felt embarassed by the story. I started having weird flashbacks to the birth and it would happen at odd times, like when I was doing an intense workout. I kept thinking the emotions about it would subside and I’d “get over it”. A dear friend encouraged me to talk to someone and said the emotions will not go away. You have to deal with them…or if you stuff them, they will come out eventually and maybe at an inconvenient time.

I would get brave and decide to make a call to talk to someone. But then I’d feel better and think, “naw, I’m ok. It was just a birth. I’ll get over it.” But you don’t get over it.

If you poll a thousand woman that have had a baby and ask them what the best day of their life is that they will never forget, I bet you almost 100% of them will say the birth of their child….even over getting married. I would. And we probably still remember the cake not turning out right at our weddings, or there not being enough food, or the music being too loud, or things like that.

Now picture the emotional and profound experience of giving birth to your child. How intense is that day? How deep is your love for this new being you created inside you for 9 months?

Worth it all

We all have emotional experiences that happen in our lives. And they can be so powerful that they can influence and even change our belief systems and values. I believe my birth experience has impacted my confidence, my self esteem, and self image. And until I deal with the memories of that day, I will carry a burden with me.

I am meeting with someone to talk about it next week. And I encourage you to talk to someone if you need to. Write your birth story down (like no one will ever read it.) and then write it again. Talking to someone can really help us reframe the events that took place.

It’s surprising that 1 in 4 women report feeling that their birth experience was traumatic. The word “trauma” means a “powerful shock that may have long lasting effects”. You may feel you had a traumatic birth experience even if it was complication free….We all had visions of what the experience would be. And Hallelujah if yours turned out perfectly!!! But if it didn’t, it’s ok. Most of us are in the same boat.

What matters is that you spend time digesting it and processing it. It wasn’t “just another day” in your life. It was a day that you will always remember. I’ve read about women remembering their birth experiences in great detail even some 50 years later. That’s how powerful emotional experiences like this can be.

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  1. Hello – I just wanted to say that you are so right…it isn’t just ‘another day in your life’. It must have taken a lot of courage & strength to write your post above (just as it must have taken a lot of courage & strength to get through that birth, and the postnatal period).

    I wanted to let you know that there are many, many women who feel as you do (including myself, after my own 30 hr labour and then cs, after transfer from the birth centre, 11 yrs ago), and it is very possible to heal and move on and make peace. The first step is awareness, and then validation, which I am hoping you receive when go and see the person you are meeting to talk about it with.

    In the meantime, I wanted to let you know about our blog, “The Truth About Traumatic Birth…what you need to know on the healing journey”. You may find the following blogpost of ours resonates with you : http://birthtraumatruths.wordpress.com/2010/06/03/there-is-a-secret-in-our-culture-but-it-is-not-that-women-are-strong-why-some-birth-quotes-may-be-damaging-to-women/

    Thank you for having the courage to speak out about your experience. Sending you healing vibes as you undertake your own journey, and thank you for your honesty and willingness to share.

  2. Melissa,
    Thank you SO much for your comments. I LOVED that article you linked to. I’d love to post that on my site and Facebook page. It couldn’t have described my experience more perfectly, even if I’d written it. I hope too, one day, to have a beautiful VBAC.

    Thank you for creating your website too. You are courageous and inspiring!!

  3. I am proud of you for writing this and going to seek help to deal with this. I am not pregnant yet but already know that I will have to see a maternal fetal medicine obgyn bc of my aps. I have had my eyes opened through your story thoand for that I thank you! Even if it didsn’t go as planned you still have a healthy baby and what a blessing but you still have to honor all those feelings that are coursing thru your mind. I don’t think it its bad that these thoughts are going thru you….after all we are human….but I do think it wouldn.t be a good thing to not honor them and expel them through therapy. I send you good fortune for your therapy!:-)

    • Hi Kellyn,

      Thanks for your message. It takes courage to seek help and admit that you aren’t feeling “ok”. It doesn’t necessarily mean I have PPD if I say I’m not happy with something.

      I think more Moms need to be encouraged to share how they are really feeling and how they are doing. Many of us feel so alone and isolated and also don’t have people we can share honestly with. Or we don’t feel that we have the courage to share the truth.

      xoxo
      Rebecca

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