The Cesarean Birth Story of My First Son

Feb 17th 2011

Post-cesarean. Looking and feeling a little battered.

Three years ago, I sat down and wrote out all the details I could remember about my cesarean birth. I was just a month away from facing my VBAC attempt, and I used this as an exercise in catharsis to process everything that happened during my first labor.  I’m not sure why I never published it on my blog before, but I ran across the document as I was sifting through some stuff on my external hard drive.  Readers have often asked me for my cesarean birth story so I think now is a good time to share it.  I’ve learned a lot in the years since my birth, AND since I wrote this, so take this as a snapshot of where I was then.

__________________

Jonas was due July 27th, 2006.  All 40 weeks of my pregnancy had been as normal and healthy as they could be. But in the brutal Chicago summer, as I went sailing past my due date without so much as a tiny bit of effacement, I was ready to get that baby out. Labor was nowhere in sight, and I felt that my body needed a little reminding of what was supposed to be happening here.

My OB scheduled my induction for Monday, July 31st. I checked into the hospital at 5 pm. They immediately hooked me up to an IV of antibiotics, and strapped the fetal monitors around my belly.  I was bed-ridden, which made me very uncomfortable and anxious.  At 10 pm the doctor explained that they were going to start me on Cervadil.  He explained that Cervadil would only help soften my cervix, so in 12 hours they would check me again to see what kind of progress I was making.

Well, at 11:30 pm, just an hour and a half later, I was in labor.  I was already starting to dilate, but the pain was manageable.  It felt like intense period cramps, which is about what I expected.  Things seemed to sail along pretty smoothly until a nurse came in around 2 am to check my cervix. As she reached in to test my cervix, the pain was excruciating.  It felt like she was stretching my cervix open, and as she pulled her hand out I felt a huge gush.  I said “My water just broke.” And nurse responded “No it didn’t.” So I said “I’m very serious, please look again, it just broke.” She finally agreed to check me again at which time she said “oh yeah, it did break.” She then immediately walked over to the IV and started Pitocin.  My husband and I looked at each other, confused, and both asked her why I needed Pitocin if I was progressing.  She said the doctor ordered it, so we both just kept our mouth shut after that.  We felt like we didn’t know what we were talking about, so maybe we should just let them do their job.

But the Pitocin was the beginning of the end. Within the hour, I was in such horrific pain that I couldn’t breathe. I was having several minute long contractions with almost no break in between. The only way I could catch my breath was to sob. I felt like someone was holding me underwater and I was gasping for air. I begged for the Epidural, but they wouldn’t give it to me until I was at least 3 cm dilated. At 6 am, the anesthesiologist finally came in, and to this day I have no idea what he looked like. I was crying so hard, I couldn’t see anyone in the room. It took him a few tries, but the Epidural went in, and within a half hour I was able to fall asleep.

At 9 am, I woke up to a few doctors standing around me. They all looked concerned, and said something about the baby’s heart rate dropping too low with each contraction. They said they needed to do an amnioinfusion (where they put fluid back into the uterus) and see if that helped reduce the fetal distress.

Over the next few hours, my Epidural stopped working, and I could feel all the Pitocin-induced contractions again. They kept losing Jonas’s heart beat no matter which way I laid, so they decided to insert an Internal Fetal Monitor, which was a monitor that is literally screwed into the top of the baby’s head.

By 3 pm, I could feel everything, and they couldn’t get the epidural working again. Jonas’s heart rate continued to suffer, so they tried turning the Pitocin up to see if it would move me along quicker. All that did was cause Jonas to try to squeeze through my cervix which was only half dilated. This formed a large bubble on the top of his head. By 5 pm, my uterus gave up. I made it to 5 cm, but wouldn’t dilate anymore, so they started talking about a c-section. As the doctor left the room, I turned to my husband and sobbed. He held me and told me not to feel bad, that I had done a great job, and everything would be okay.

The doctor agreed to let me keep laboring until he could finish his appointments, then he would come back to do the c-section at 7 pm. For the next two hours, I prayed that labor would pick up again, and I thought I might be able to will my cervix open. That didn’t happen, so at 7 pm they wheeled me into the OR. I was okay as long as my husband was at my side, but as we went through the doors they made him stay behind. The moment he left my side, I was in hysterics. I cried uncontrollably. I was terrified. I had never even broken a bone, let alone had any sort of major surgery, so I was completely overcome with fear. The nurses and resident were nice enough to calm me down and try to soothe me.

Ten minutes later they allowed my husband into the room, but he had to stay behind the curtain with me and was not allowed to watch the surgery. My arms, neck, and back were convulsing from the Epidural, so he focused on trying to ease my upper body pain.

At 7:27, Jonas was pulled into the world, and as he started to cry, my husband and I both cried too. Hearing my son’s voice for the first time was overwhelming and beautiful, but also terrifying because I couldn’t see him. They took him to the table to be measured and weighed. I could only see the nurses standing around him. They brought him over for a second and I saw his little bottom lip curl up, the same way it still does when he’s upset. Just then, I started vomiting on myself, and I was terrified that I was going to choke on it because I was still strapped down and couldn’t turn to my side. That was the last thing I remember before waking up in recovery at around 10 pm.

After spending an hour or two in recovery, I was taken back to my room to wait for Jonas. It was after midnight when I held him for the first time. He was perfect. Absolutely beautiful.  Yet nearly 20 months later, I still cannot get over the pain of not being the first one to meet my baby; to hold my baby. For many months afterward, I’d get terribly depressed any time a woman around me was pregnant because I felt like she was about to have the opportunity to do something that I didn’t get to do, and I wasn’t sure if I’d ever get the chance again.

I’m now 8 months pregnant with our second son, and planning an un-medicated VBAC. After nearly two years of research, I now feel empowered to take control over this birth. I will resist unnecessary interventions. I will be an advocate for my own safe, natural delivery. And most of all, I will not look back on this birth with any regrets about what might-have-been if only I had been more informed.

____________________________________________

A month later, I did get my VBAC, but man, there were certainly a lot of regrets.  While getting my vaginal birth remains one of the most important things I’ve ever done in my life, what I had to go through to get it was truly unfortunate.  Every time I re-read my VBAC story, I still can’t believe it ends in a vaginal birth.  Since then, I have seen a thousand stories just like mine end in a CBAC.  I talked to my doula last weekend about my VBAC birth, and she told me for the first time that, at one point during my labor, she went home and cried because she was convinced I was going to end up with another cesarean.  The fact that I didn’t still seems like an unreal miracle, especially knowing what I know now.  And if that had happened, I wonder what kind of a different story I’d be telling today.

Ultimately, I am glad that I went through that experience because A.) it propelled me into the career goals I have now and B.) It convinced me to plan for my next birth to take place right in my own home.  So, I guess I can’t really regret what happened, in either birth.  However, I certainly would not wish for any other woman to learn things the way I did.  I’d give just about anything to be carrying this baby in an un-scarred uterus, and without all the emotional scarring that came bundled with it.

In my next lifetime…

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69 Responses to “The Cesarean Birth Story of My First Son”

  1. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    Thanks for sharing your story. If you were able to do your first birth over again…what would you have done or said differently? I am just imagining myself in your situation and I’m not really sure what I would have done differently just because I’m not sure of my options.
    girlrobot´s last blog post… A Long Overdue UpdateMy Profile



    • VN:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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      I would have done a million things differently, starting with taking a REAL, 10-12 week birth class during pregnancy, learning about normal birth, and hiring a midwife who respects the normal birth process. All of that could have kept me from ending up in a situation where I’d go in for an induction that my body was not ready for. If I knew then what I know now, I would have most certainly planned and prepared for a normal birth – not a medical one.

      But, once I showed up for that unnecessary elective induction, all bets were pretty much off. I learned later that I increased my risk of cesarean by as much as 250% by accepting a labor induction with a Bishop’s score of zero. My doctor knew I was having a cesarean before I walked in the door – or at least he SHOULD have known. And I really don’t think he cared.



  2. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    This brought tears to my eyes! I never knew the circumstances behind your C-Section. Reading your story as someone who has had their own “traumatic” birth (still vaginal but induced and medicated, not my plan) and realizing after the fact that it could have-should have been better, and now knowing it REALLY should have been better, I totally related. I also thought they knew what they were doing, I should trust them, what do I know? My induction ended with a vaginal birth but I realize now I was lucky. It could have so easily lead to a C-Section and I had NO IDEA I was putting myself in so much danger.

    Now I have a successful Homebirth under my belt and you have your VBAC. Knowing things can be different make such a difference and change your outlook on healthcare and the way women are treated in this country. I know my birth story for my son was similar. I was grateful he was healthy no matter how he came into the world, it was only months later I started looking back at how he got there and why it wasn’t quite right.

    When you discussed your shaking and vomiting it took me right back to the first birth and that feeling of being out of control and not myself while on medication. Natural birth is hard, it hurts like hell sometimes, but I would rather be myself than vomiting and shaking uncontrollably.

    I am rooting so hard for your homebirth to go as planned!



  3. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    As much as it sucks to look back and see everything that went wrong you have at least learned from the experience are not perpetuating the myth that our bodies are broken.

    I had a c-cection with my first because she was breach. Now knowing what my body is capable of after my successful vbac I may have attempted a breach birth (especially now that Canada is starting to offer them again).

    What makes me mad is that I was never offered an external version. We only found out at 38 weeks and I was told it was too late for that and even though women on my birth board said the baby could turn at any time. I didn’t even research it and just said the doctor said it was too late. Years later I read that they routinely try to change the babies at 37, 38 weeks.

    Perhaps if my ob at the time had paid more attention we would have caught the breach position earlier and tried to change it. I just wasn’t offered all my options.

    I am glad that because it was caught so late and my c-section got bumped from a Friday to a Monday I actually had my water break naturally at 39w 3d. Although I didn’t have any noticable contractions between the water breaking and the c-section I am happy that my baby was at least ready to be born then.

    I read lots about the newborn stage but skipped over most of the labour stuff because I had confidence that I would have short easy labours like my mom did.

    I want to have a homebirth with my 3rd as well and hate that I have that little nagging fear that I am at a slightly higher risk of uterine rupture.



  4. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    I can’t even read this, it’s making me cry and I’m at work. I really hope you have a lovely, lovely home birth this time.



  5. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    You are truly an inspiration. I am in tears reading this. I can not believe how your health system has battered you, and many other women.
    I was induced, and never realized how horribly close I was to losing my vaginal birth. I remember the horrid pain from the Pitocin, and they kept putting it up higher and higher. They broke my water, and still I did not dilate beyond 3cm over 12 hours. They then decided to stop the drip for the night at 10 30pm and then “see what happens in the morning” (finding out after they meant book the or).. My body then started contractions on it own, and the pain was nothing in compared to the Pitocin induced contractions, and was fully dilated and effaced with in 3 hours. After 2 hours of pushing I had my beautiful daughter in my arms.

    After reading your two Birth Stories I am so excited for your Home Birth! I’ll keep a candle ready for you!
    Kim Catcher´s last blog post… Barbies and Dump TrucksMy Profile



  6. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    Your story is awfully similar to my own 1st birth experience. The only thing I’m grateful for is the committment the hospital staff had to getting me in recovery ASAP so I could hold and nurse my son within a half hour or so of him being born. And my husband was the one holding him and caring for him while I got fixed up. But it’s still a traumatic and hated experience for me. I healed a lot in my 2nd birth experience EVEN THO it sadly turned from a VBAC attempt into one of those dreaded CBACs…
    Secret Mommy´s last blog post… 100 FOLLOWER giveaway extravaganza! Day 4My Profile



  7. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    Ah man, sitting here with tears in my eyes. I know that my own induction had to happen (my bp was rising, I was more than 2 weeks past my due date, there was a decline in amniotic fluid), but even so, I still feel “robbed” of something. I’m hoping for a VBAC this time around, and hope that my uterus can handle it.

    Thanks for sharing your C-section.

    I’ll just go get a tissue now…



  8. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    I’m so glad you shared you’re story. I hear similar stories to yours frequently from friends and family, the difference is, the people I usually hear them from believe that is just a part of pregnancy and having children. Like, you’re pregnant for a while and when its time (usually according to the Dr.) you go to the hospital and the Dr does some stuff maybe you like it, maybe you don’t but it doesn’t really matter cuz in the end you have your baby and its done.
    We are the lucky ones who have learned it doesn’t have to be that way. But how do I convey that message without sounding like a “hippie birth junkie femi-nazi”?



    • VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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      Interesting perspective, Megan. Maybe the ladies who are OK with their cesareans, still trust their OBs and have not become permanently suspicious of all medical advice are the lucky ones! The ones of us who were turned into the “patient from hell” by our cesareans might be the ones who improve the system for everyone, but I don’t know if we are luckier or not! :)

      When I talk with satisfied friends who had what I inexpertly deem an unneeded induction or cesarean, I say nothing but congratulations. I wouldn’t burst their bubble or try to point out how they might have been manipulated. It is TOUGH, though! I started an interesting thread on this topic on another website. It’s called “Talking to Friends who Totally Trust the Birth Industry” and it’s on Ricki Lake’s “My Best Birth”. The ladies there had a lot of great ideas and really educated me. http://www.mybestbirth.com/forum/topics/talking-to-friends-who-totally?xg_source=activity
      Shari´s last blog post… Top 5 Ways to Avoid a C-Section – FootprintMy Profile



    • VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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      I know what you mean, Megan, and I haven’t had a baby yet, I’m planning a birth at home with my first in a few months. But it’s soooo hard to explain to others why they need to research and learn about normal, natural birth and take control of it, be informed and empowered… without sounding like some filthy hard core hippy freak! :)



  9. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    Thank you so much for sharing! I had my first daughter last April and while I did end up delivering vaginally, it was after my doctor pumped me full of pitocin for no apparent reason(I was 40 weeks plus a day, water broke on its own, 3 cm dilated and fully effaced). I remember the exact moment when the nurse hooked it up and I asked why? I said “is this necessary or for the doctor’s convenience?” Her only reply was that the doctor needed to regulate my contractions! NO. I had been there less than 1/2 an hour. I didnt argue but I wish I would have. I ended up with an epidural after my pain level shot through the roof and I nearly passed out. Thank you pitocin. I am not saying that pitocin is never needed but clearly, it was given to me too early.



  10. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    This is making me cry at work too. It strikes so close to home. I wrote about my son’s birth and my thoughts on my c-section: http://www.totallyserial.com/blog/2010/03/well-that-was-a-longer-break-than-expected/, http://www.totallyserial.com/blog/2010/04/my-thoughts-on-my-c-section/, and http://www.totallyserial.com/blog/2011/01/plans/
    Becky´s last blog post… Goals updateMy Profile



  11. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    Oh my god, I am so sorry you went through this! I feel like I could have written this. Besides some minor details, this is exactly the same experience I had with my first delivery. I was totally traumatized and left having panic attacks and feeling like I had just been through hell. I’m so happy for you that you got your VBAC, though! I hope your third birth is as empowering as your second.
    Amanda´s last blog post… The Adventures of Scooter Girl and CheesemanMy Profile



  12. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    I read your story and it made me cry… I relived the ccesarean birth of my first child almost 5 months ago… teh doctors went so fast and I was just a noise in the corner, no one really paying attention to what I wanted or the million questions… they delievered my son 7 weeks early becuase I had toxemia and he wasnt gettign enough bloodflow to the placenta… they literally cut him out and took him away… I didnt see him until they wheeled me into the NICU 3 hrs later… btw… i was told the whole pregnancy I was having a little girl and the only thing I remember after I was sedated from freaking out was the phrase ” its a boy”… I remember my husband crying and talking to me but I couldnt understand what was goign on or why no one was listening to me… … due to many severe complications, they had to sterilize me so I will never be able to have the kind of birth I always wanted… but when it comes down to it, I have a very healthy son whom I love with all my heart and he is all that matters… thanks for sharing! <3



  13. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    Wow, thanks for sharing your experience. It seems all too typical of a birth. It just made me want to yell at that nurse for starting the D*** pitocin. It made me wish you had a doula.

    But you can’t go back as you know. Just move forward. I am glad you got your VBAC last time. It is interesting to see how we evolve as moms over time and with experience.

    I agree that my births certainly shaped my goals and moved me into being a CBE and doula.

    I can’t regret, but I am certainly sad at times.
    Sheridan´s last blog post… Spinning Babies Class ReviewMy Profile



  14. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    Thank you for sharing your birth stories. I am so sorry that you had to endure such stressful births and I think it is amazing that you have taken what you have learned from them to do the work you do. You seriously rock! I too wonder if I had ended up having a VBAC if I would be where I am today, a doula and ICAN chapter leader (I got close, but it didn’t, mostly due to a cocky resident). What I have done in the past 3 years has helped me so much with my healing (my CBAC was nearly 4 years ago). I hope your work has helped you too (your work reaches so many more people, and is awesome)

    I hope your upcomming birth is everything you want it to be. I look forward to reading the story.



  15. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    Thank you so much for sharing this, Gina. I too have written my c-section story down but have never found the right time or space to publish it. Maybe some day…

    I also know all-too-well the desire to just be pregnant and to give birth with an un-scarred uterus. Am I grateful for where my cesarean experience led me today? Absolutely. But I also wish that I could have just gotten to the knowledgeable and empowered place I am today BEFORE my first son’s birth.
    Kristen´s last blog post… The Body’s Cruelty- and its KindnessMy Profile



  16. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    My daughter was born by planned (but not scheduled) cesarean due to breech presentation. She also had “dangerously low” levels of amniotic fluid (which is what they believe prevented her from turning). Reading your story reminded me of some of the most painful aspects of my own, which I do believe was overall about the best and most empowered cesarean birth a person could have. The first was the memory of hearing her cry but not being able to see her and see that she was okay. The second was not being the first person to meet and hold her. I honestly don’t know if I’d realized how much that had impacted me until reading your articulation of it.

    Anyway, I want to thank you. I’ve been hung up on something I couldn’t identify about the birth. Now I think I know what that was, and knowing that can help me move forward in my healing.
    Joella´s last blog post… Whats What Wednesday- Cloth Diaper LaundryMy Profile



  17. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    Gina, I cried as I read your story. I cried because I all this time (even though if I rationalized it I’d know it’s not true) I’m telling myself I must be the ONLY woman who signed up and even asked for an induction for no medical reason. Now that I’m educated I’ve been giving myself a serious guilt trip…those other women had a c/s cuz they dind’t know better and the doc said they needed it, but you, you asked for it. well the doc did mention that it would get brought up as we got closer to the due date. ANYWAYS, at this point I am educated and I have to stop beatin myself up like I was the only one who didn’t know with my first. Thanks for sharing your c-section story.Thanks for the reality check!



  18. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    I was wondering where your cesarean story was and figured I had missed it somewhere. I was talking with a friend the other day about inductions and we were both like “we just don’t get it!” I’m not necessarily blaming women here–I know that so many women go into their inductions without really knowing what they’re getting into. It’s more of a complex web of things that are at fault–the casual attitude towards induction, the idea that it’s just the same as being in labor, the downplaying (or ignoring) of the risks and likelihood of failure, especially for a first-time mom with a cervix that isn’t ripe, the rarity of care providers who will say “no” to requests for elective inductions, and more.
    Rixa´s last blog post… MamAmor- handcrafted birthing and breastfeeding dollsMy Profile



  19. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    Sometimes I wish you lived in Texas, because then I wouldn’t be so scared to get pregnant again. Then, I would have someone here who could help and give me the confidence I need.



  20. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    I just read this post and it brought back so many memories I’ve been trying to burry deep down. I couldn’t help but sob. You are such a brave and wonderful soul. I wish you all the very best for this homebirth.



  21. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    so typical! ugh. what a horrible experience. but, you went through it to be the rocking mama that you are. thank you for your experience and wisdom. now, im interested in this kind of review for your 2nd birth…. where can i find that?



  22. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    Powerful story, Gina, and unfortunately it’s not unusual among the hundreds of birth stories I’ve read and heard from friends since the c-birth of my son in 2003. The system is corrupt and broken and must change. That is why most of us are here, to open the conversation with women about the current state of affairs and prepare ourselves to be educated “consumers” in the birth industry (or outside it perhaps.)

    Thanks for your part in this.
    Shari
    Shari´s last blog post… Top 5 Ways to Avoid a C-Section – FootprintMy Profile



  23. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    Thanks for sharing your birth story — I’d been wondering about the circumstances behind your section. I was just wondering about the ways you’ve changed since you did the writing?

    I, too, think the induction led to my c-section. Probably the biggest thing holding me back from thinking about another baby is the fear that I’ll go to 42 weeks and not go into labor on my own. (The induction was the night of 41+4 and I’m not sure how comfortable I or my care providers will be with going 42+)



    • VN:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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      In the last three years, I got my VBAC (for one thing), I became an ICAN chapter leader (for second thing) and I got trained as a Childbirth Educator (will be certified as soon as I can get my paperwork in – there just aren’t enough hours in a day.) I also became a doula, and watched other women give birth in a variety of ways.

      Through all of that, I learned to trust my body, to trust the birth process, and to recognize how quickly a normal birth can be turned into a medical one with just a small decision on the part of the provider, or the family, and true birth complications are so much more rare than we’re led to believe. Knowledge is power. (though, to be fair knowledge can also make a person hyper-paranoid, which I’m guilty of on occasion, but I’d so much rather know than NOT know.)



  24. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    That time that C-section moms spend in recovery while other people hold their babies makes me sad. I’ve seen Facebook photo montages of entire extended families posing with a baby while the mom was in recovery. I just want to cry for that mom.

    While I agree that we need to seriously reconsider the number of C-sections that are happening, I also think that we need to keep the mom and baby together when a C-section does happen. Because that separation is just so unfortunate. There has to be a better say.
    Amber´s last blog post… Talking Ourselves DownMy Profile



  25. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    I stumbled upon your blog after some facebook friends shared your posts. I must say, I sympathize with what happened to you with your first Cesarean, and I sincerely hope you can get over the sorrow that caused you.

    After seeing my friends and 2 sisters having successful vaginal births, I knew that was not for me. I noticed that most women I know who had vaginal births and can’t stop talking about them – birth junkies if you will – feel empowered by the pain and thrill of having squeezed a baby out of them, feeling completely foreign to me. I had 3 planned cesareans that went beautifully, and will have my fourth and last one in October this year. Minimal pain, no risk of incontinence later on, scar isn’t even visible, and tiny tummy tuck with each and every one. I think it is very brave and admirable of you to fight for all women who want and deserve a vaginal birth, but if a woman who had a cesarean and has mixed feelings about it joins your blog, it may make her healing harder to happen. It really is all in the attitude.

    That is not me, I am a C-fan, but I know they are out there, and one is a very good friend of mine who, if it weren’t for all the internet let’s-hate-Cesareans propaganda, would have found her peace. I do believe that on average, more women who had an unplanned cesarean are mentally ready to let go and focus on their baby, than the ones who are so permanently scarred by it that they can’t let go.

    Don’t you think it is best for these women to put behind them whichever way their kid entered the world, and focus on raising the baby the best that they can, instead of lingering over what happened? It is not even just your blog, I am amazed at how many such blogs are out there!! I understand your passion, as I have many issues I feel very strongly about: healthy eating, outdoorsy kids, positive parenting, positive relationships etc etc, issues that can make us all happier for life. Keeping focus on the future can be very healing. Best of luck to you and keeping fingers crossed for a happy healthy bouncing baby Jolene entering into the world just the way you want her to :)
    xoxo
    Patty



    • VN:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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      I’m glad you feel the way you do about your births. However, it’s not “internet propaganda” that’s making women feel robbed and cheated. We aren’t born with zippers on our stomachs, and some of us care a lot more about our health than having a tummy tuck. Cesareans are major surgery that put every future pregnancy at risk for placental abnormalities, rupture, hemorrhage, etc, etc, and it makes perfect sense that some women are intensely traumatized by them. The very nature of being cut open IS physical trauma to the body, where as most normal birth is NOT trauma because it is what our bodies are designed to do.

      To each her own, and I hope every women loves the birth she CHOOSES, but it’s perfectly okay for a woman to have bad feelings about an experience she did NOT choose. This “get over it” mentality is what drives some women into the depths of post-partum depression and PTSD, and I won’t put that on a woman.



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      I completely agree with TFB. Also, you CHOSE your cesareans. Many of us did not choose to have our babies born that way (myself included). I wanted a vaginal birth. Imagine if your doctors had told you no; that even though you wanted surgery they would not allow it.
      I find reading sites like this one to be helpful to my healing process. It’s the sitting at home, thinking that I am the only person whose body didn’t work correctly and who can’t “get over it” on my own that is detrimental to my mental health.
      Becky´s last blog post… Goals updateMy Profile



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      I’m sorry, it sounds really negative and probably not in the spirit of harmony and rational discussion etc but I think the very concept of ‘choosing’ a caesarean when there is no medical reason to support it is ridiculous. Don’t get pregnant if you find the idea of pushing a baby out of your vagina to be wrong or uncomfortable or ‘not for you’. Are you a woman or a machine?

      Sorry, I don’t want to rant or start an argument, but attitudes like this, even if you are a ‘psychotherapist’, are just ignorant. So fighting to support women in being women makes other women feel like failures? Rubbish. I think you’ve clearly never experienced genuine trauma in your life, otherwise you wouldn’t be dismissing it so quickly by labelling it as ‘wallowing in self pity’.



  26. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    Becky, of course you agree and so will all the other readers of this blog, it’s why they are here. Being a bit of an outsider, just wanted to share my 2 cents, despite knowing few will agree with me. I never said there were no unwanted sections, there are tons and it is a problem. Fighting for women’s rights is a noble goal, and I support it. I just don’t always agree with the way it is being done, as it makes some women – such as my friend – feel like failures while otherwise they would have moved on.

    As a psychotherapist, I wanted to share my thought that this is not a productive way to deal with trauma. Some say an unwanted cesarean is like a rape, but we would never try to help a woman heal by talking about her experience ad nauseum, having her hear or watch other rape stories, and stressing over and over again who the villain was and how he robbed her of this and that. We would certainly recognize the problem, let her know she is not alone and bad things happen to good people, count steps to prevent it in the future, but that’s it. Wallowing in self pitty is never the answer.



    • VN:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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      As a psychotherapist, you should know that women who’ve experienced rape benefit from support groups, and from having their feelings validated. Would you tell them they’re “wallowing in self pity” when they need to talk to someone who understands? If so, you need to rethink your profession.

      Nobody “made” your friend feel the way she did, I’m sure. That sounds like you projecting your feelings about her trauma and her coping mechanism onto her. If she sought out this information, it’s because it spoke to her.



    • VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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      As a rape survivor one of the ways that I have dealt with coming to terms with what happened to me was by finding other women who shared their stories with me. There were days when I thought I would be unable to step outside my door and it was those women who helped me take the steps out my door. There are so many varying emotions that occur post-trauma and having another person sit there (whether they wrote about it online or spoke about it in person) and having my own feelings validated helped me move forward.

      Considering that for 6 years following the assault I couldn’t talk about happened to me due to the shame I felt and now 17 years later being able to speak publicly about what happened and how I journeyed to where I am now? I’d say that there is very much a therapeutic healing that happens when we share our stories, the good, the bad and the ugly.

      I do not ‘wallow in self-pity’ when I speak to others about what happened to me. I find that by sharing, by showing that I am no longer ashamed, that I survived and how I did it is empowering. No pity in any of it.



    • VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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      So I suppose then that you’re not interested in therapy for your patients, in which they talk about their problems and examine them, understand them, and find healing that way?
      Funny, because historically, that’s how people deal with problems. They talk to themselves, they talk to their friends, their family, until it becomes something with which they can deal. That’s not wallowing in self pity, and it is progress.

      Mental note, if I ever need mental health assistance and the psychotherapist’s name is Patty, find another provider. You know, one who is okay with discussing what has happened, finding support networks of persons with similar histories, and together, learning how to be okay with what has happened, and strategize techniques try to avoid future problems.
      Slee´s last blog post… The Art of Breaking Bad News – Part ThreeMy Profile



  27. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    My first c-section came after 36 hours of horrible Pitcoin-induced labor because they were unwilling to wait after my water broke on its own. I didn’t know any better and my wonderful doctor was out of town.

    I hate that the medical model makes it so difficult for birth to be normalized. I even thought I knew a lot going in, and still couldn’t have the outcome I wanted. I didn’t know enough and the doctor certainly didn’t.

    I did try for a VBAC and was unsuccessful with #2. With #3 I had to schedule, but was able to schedule at 40 weeks and went into labor the night before. Still had a c-section.

    I was lucky though, I delivered in a hospital that pulled the curtain down and let me see. My husband was able to watch as much as he wanted. They gave my baby to me right away and let me see them right away in recovery (which was my own room), helped me breastfeed right away, and were generally wonderful.

    I just wish that more hospitals, nurses, doctors, and midwives could be better than they are.
    Brenna @ Almost All The Truth´s last blog post… Saying goodbye to a pet…My Profile



  28. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    Wow, what a story! It made me wish I’d been standing in the delivery room beside you, telling off all those doctors and nurses! And you got that at your VBAC — being tough enough to say NO to all the pressure. Now it’s your chance to just birth. No fighting, no stress, no hospital (hopefully), your own space. Just to have the gentle birth you always knew you could have. I certainly will be thinking of you and hoping all goes well!
    Sheila´s last blog post… Im not an environmentalist- but My Profile



  29. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    Random question (hope I’m not being presumptuous here): if you could go back in time to Jonas’ birth and change the outcome (ie vaginal birth) would you? And do you think the experience changed who you are as a person?



    • VN:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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      Yes, I’d love to have a time machine to transport me back to an unscarred uterus, and it most certainly would have changed who I am right now. However, I think that’s okay. My focus would be elsewhere, but there’s plenty to do in the world, and I’m sure wherever my passion took root would be just as fulfilling as where I currently am. Maybe moreso – who knows.



      • VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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        That’a good point actually. There’s lot of possbility in the world.

        I think that’s it’s admirable that you took a sense of empowerment(if that makes sense? :S) from your C-section/VBAC & that you’re using your experience to help other women avoid unnecessary interventions.
        In short: you’re awesome. Good luck with the homebirth. :)



  30. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    What a powerful story! I’m so thrilled that you got to have a VBAC! So many women don’t have that opportunity, as you know. Fuck pitocin! I hated too. I was induced the first time because my water broke and they misdiagnosed it as me peeing on myself! The contractions were unbearable and I demanded an epidural at 2 cm.

    http://www.oldschoolnewschoolmom.com/2009/07/visit-down-memory-laneinspired-by.html

    On an unrelated note you look amazingly beautiful after just giving birth! I’m so psyched for your upcoming home birth!
    Old School/New School Mom´s last blog post… Busted Nursing At The Grocery StoreMy Profile



  31. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    Thank you for sharing your c-section story, Gina. Certainly resonated in many aspects with my first one, especially in how out of control the pain level was once they broke my water and combined that with pitocin. OMG pain levels within the hour. Those kind of pain levels is so traumatizing in and of itself.

    Several women in the comments mentioned that they had a CBAC. That’s its own special form of pain. However, there is support out there from other CBAC mothers, and I want to make sure everyone is aware of resources for that support:

    •Yahoogroups CBAC Support Group: http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/CBACsupport/
    •BabyCenter Community: http://community.babycenter.com/groups/a6703205/cbac_mamas
    •ICAN forums – ask the moderator for the private CBAC forum

    Also, I will be facilitating two sessions on CBAC at the next ICAN conference in April (in St. Louis). The first is for CBAC moms, to give them a safe space to share their CBAC stories. The second is for everyone, to facilitate dialogue about how we can better support CBAC moms when CBAC happens. I would invite anyone who would like to come to the conference and to those sessions.

    http://conference.ican-online.org/agenda.htm

    CBAC moms, you are not alone.
    The Well-Rounded Mama´s last blog post… “You Are Short Of Breath Because You Are Overweight”My Profile



  32. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    <3



  33. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    This is just an extraordinary story, thanks for having the courage to share it so openly. My heart breaks for you and the injustice you endured, but swells at with pride at the thought of what you’re soon to experience with your little one arriving in peace at home. It’s such a gift to know and feel in your heart that you are doing absolutely the right thing, and to feel empowered after having made it through experiences like this. More power to you woman! :)



  34. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    What a powerful story! I’m so thrilled that you got to have a VBAC! So many women don’t have that opportunity, as you know.



  35. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    Thanks so much for sharing. I also had a pretty awful c-section with my first, brought on partly by my own ignorance, and at almost 2 years later i still haven’t typed the entire experience out. Maybe I’ll get around to it in another month or two, as I sit and wait for my impending HBAC. Some scars simply take a long time to heal. Unfortunately ours will never go away.
    Lisa´s last blog post… My Tale of Booby TrapsMy Profile



  36. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    I just wanted to let you know our stories are very similar. I had my first baby via c/s in June 2006. While mine wasn’t the cascade of interventions (he had been tachycardic for over a week and was born at 36 weeks because of that) but still left me with a scarred uterus. When I got pregnant with my second, I was NOT signing myself up for the OR again. I traveled over 2 hours one way to see a supportive OB for a VBAC. I knew really very little about it, but I was absolutely terrified to have another surgery. I was so scared in fact that I cancelled my I-will-never-make-it-that-far-but-I-want-to-look-cooperative RCS I had scheduled for 42 weeks with less than 24 hours to go. I started laboring just hours later and he was born healthy at 42 weeks. It was such a medicated birth it really was just luck that it didn’t end in another cesarean. I had every narcotic offered, an epidural, laid in bed the entire labor, pitocin, purple pushed, and then tore badly. That was August, 2008. In December, 2009 we had our third baby. Our first girl. I wanted so badly to have her at home, but midwifery regulations don’t allow them to attend VBAC births in Arkansas and both my husband and I were uncomfortable with an UC. So I sought the best OB here, who had experienced two hypnobirths herself. Sure I was still in a hospital, but it was a truly different experience. There are things I still look back and wish could have gone differently (immediate cord clamping for example), but I did it with NO drugs and no assistance except encouragement from my amazing husband.



  37. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    My son is 27 months old. I just wrote his birth story this month and just shared it on my blog today. I sob every time I read and I have only told one person the whole story.
    I know the next time around I will be doing things differently.

    Having gone through a horrible c-section, my heart is with you. I’m filled with joy when I hear other people have successful VBACs. Knowing that one day, I may have one also.



  38. VN:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    I just wanted to thank you for sharing all of this with the world! I have had a semi-similar experience, in that I had a c-section and now feel like it was totally unnecessary. I had my first boy vaginally and knew I could do it, but felt there were too many things stacked against me. I was told that my baby was small (which I now know has been untrue for BOTH of my babies), she was breech, and that I didn’t have enough amniotic fluid.

    I was understandably freaked out, so I agreed to a c-section, only to find out later that a trusted nurse midwife disagreed with the OB and lobbied for an induction to at least try to spare me a c-section. If only. I too was very traumatized emotionally by the surgery, by being so helpless and then by all the crap a body has to go through to heal from that. I am still healing (surgery triggered some weird allergies in me!), but I am still hoping for not only a third baby but a homebirth. The more I read about VBACs in hospitals, the more I become convinced that I don’t need to be arguing when I should be laboring! To that end–THANK YOU for sharing all this and giving confidence to other crazy feminists like me.
    nquinby´s last blog post… Chinese Herbs Gots Balls!My Profile



  39. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    I don’t know if you read all your comments, but I wanted to mention a short version of my story. I was in having an emergency c-section the same day as you. I went in for induction on July 31, 2006 and had him on August 1. The short story is, they broke my water and I ended up with a prolapsed cord. I was put to sleep so I did not see or get to hold him for4 hours after he was born. My husband didn’t even make it into the operating room because it was too quick. I still have a lot of residual anger towards the whole process. I have since had 2 more c-sections :( I wanted to try a v-bac with the second but the doctor wouldn’t let me go more than a week past due. With the third I thought I had no choice. I am not pregnant yet, but i am already researching having a v-bac after 3 c-sections. It will all come down to finding the right doctor/midwife. Thank you for your story, it helps me know that I am not alone!



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      @sheridack WOW! What an incredible story. Somehow it makes me feel better that I went through it “with” someone else.Have you contacted your local ICAN chapter? http://www.ican-online.org. They will be able to help you, but I can honestly say it’s going to be darn near impossible to find a provider who will attend a VBA3C. I’ve seen other moms do it, but it’s usually at home, or they show up at the hospital pushing (and technically by law, they have to let you just finish, they can’t section you against your will.)Good luck, and PLEASE return when you’ve had your next baby to tell me how it went.



  40. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    Wow, thank you for posting this. This past February I had my first baby. The entire pregnancy was totally normal, but when I went in to get induced, they did two gel packs and I wasn’t effacing at all. I had horrible contractions off the charts that had me bawling, but since I wasn’t effacing or dilating they knew something was wrong. I went in at 1am for the induction, and found out at 8 that she was breech and couldn’t be turned– not only was she too big (and I was induced a week early, btw, because her projected size they thought would be too big for my body) and her left foot was down in the birth canal while the other was by her head. She was literally stuck. I was hysterical when they decided on a csection. I am a single mom, so my mother was with me through it all, but all I remember was bawling my eyes out while I tried to google info for csecs (I had googled everything and was totally prepared for a natural birth, but hadn’t looked at any info for this). They agreed not to strap my arms down because I am claustrophobic, but I remember the dr saying “yep, that’s one big baby! You would have ended up csection anyways” and then holding her up, but she wasn’t crying so I freake out. Turns out she just isn’t a crier. They would get her going and she would quickly stop (and she’s still not a crier). I was so upset that I couldn’t hold her first, since that was my one main request from day one of my pregnancy. Instead, I designated one nurse who I had already decided was my favorite (the same that got the clearance for me not to be strapped down, and that comforted me when my mom couldn’t be in the room) to be the ONLY one allowed to hold my baby. My mom made sure it went how I wanted and didn’t even hold her when another nurse offered. I was lucky to only be away from her for 30 minutes afterwards while they quickly checked vitals so I could have her back to nurse. I’ll never forget those moments of how terrified I was. I still get upset about the whole thing, especially when my younger sister got to have her son without a csection in September this year. I will never get over that situation, and I’m so glad I’m not the only one that was that emotionally scarred by it. I do have one picture of right after she was born (my mom snuck and took pictures of what she could) when they brought her over so I could see her closer and give her a kiss. The picture has the two of us nuzzling noses while I bawl my eyes out, and here I am 10 months later and I still bawl everytime I see the picture. Congrats to you on your vbacs! I hope that if I ever have another child, I am able to do the same. It sounds crazy to some, but I had actually been looking forward to the experience. I do have one question that I’ve wondered for awhile now… After having a child both by cesarean and vbac, which was harder to recover from?

    And again, thank you do much for posting this. Definitely helped me emotionally :)



    • VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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      Oh, after being admitted at 1, finding out she was stuck breech at 8, she was out at 10. Everything happened so fast that it feels like a traumatic whirlwind looking back.



  41. Melissa_HerGreenLife | Profile
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    Just found your blog through a link from my childbirth educator. While I HATE that other women are living through the pain of a Cesarean birth, it does help to know that I am not alone in my experience and feelings. Five months out, I’m still very much in the [emotional] healing phase, and I’m not sure what the future will hold, whether I even want to be pregnant again, etc. Your mention of how you felt afterward when you saw other pregnant women really struck a chord with me. Whether I publish it or not, I definitely need to sit down and spend some time writing about my son’s birth and my subsequent (and ongoing) struggles to come to terms with it.



  42. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    Omgosh… are you kidding me that you still get depressed over not being able to be the first person to hold your baby (20 months later). Some of you really need to be thankful for the nurses and doctors that help you to deliver a healthy baby and just focus on that, instead of almost 2 years later getting upset when you hear someone is pregnant, and that htey will be able to hold their baby first. In reading this, to me, it seems like you were more upset over not having a natural childbirth, than a healthy baby. With the heart rate fluctuating, I would have thought to have rather have had a c section than to risk any more undue trauma to your baby b/c you wanted to feel complete by giving a natural birth. Omgosh….. some of you just slay me, seriously!!!



    • VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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      @getoveryourselfs …. Whenever you have your heart set on something, and it doesn’t go as planned, it is natural to feel let down. I had planned on a natural birth, and ended up having a C- section. My doctors were wonderful, and were aware of my birth plan. Sometimes things don’t go as planned, fine. I’d rather have a healthy baby.

      I didn’t do well while they were sewing me up. I ended up losing a lot of blood, and my pressure dropped dangerously low. I was in recovery for 12 hours. I was not allowed to see my daughter, or anyone else. It was terrible! I understand fully why no one could see me. You don’t want a room full of people if there is an emergency…fine.

      I was on morphine afterwards, and then Percocet. This made breastfeeding very difficult, as I kept nodding in and out. I felt like a failure. Does it still sadden me today? Yes, but not in the same way.

      I think your comment is very harsh. Are you a mother? If so, how did your delivery go?



    • VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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      @getoveryourselfsWhy are you so angry at the victims here? Blame the victim is one of the oldest tricks in the book for continuing the cycle of abuse. Read up on PTSD and get educated about how the birth process has gone so wrong in this country.



    • VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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      @getoveryourselfs Being the first to hold a child is a big moment for many mothers. It means being the first person that your baby feels holding them, and is a great bonding moment in many, many ways. For me, it was a very sudden, unexpected, MAJOR surgery. A cesarean is not something to take lightly. It is considered MAJOR surgery, and is a traumatic experience for many people. It happens so fast when it isn’t expected that you almost don’t know what’s going on until it over, you can’t move, and you are having an extremely hard time caring for your baby. I wasn’t even able to change my daughter’s diaper until 3 days after she was born because I couldn’t sit up far enough. I had a horrible reaction to the pain meds they initially gave me, which gave me migraines from hell. So for a day and a half, I was on ONLY tylenol for the pain. If you’ve never been through it, then that is excellent for you, but it also means that you have absolutely NO right to judge those that have gone through this experience. If you are not even a mother, then you REALLY have no right to talk negatively about those that have had every aspect of how they were hoping their child’s birth to happen torn to pieces. Show some compassion.



    • VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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      @getoveryourselfs

      A little harsh don’t you think? I have 2 children, both born via c-section. I don’t sit around and mope about the fact that I didn’t get to give birth on a daily basis….I have 2 children to look after! But when reading a story like this or if I am feeling down and my mind wanders into things like this, I may get a little sad and even feel a bit jealous over my friends and family members that gave birth vaginally. I do not regret that my children were brought into this world healthy and as I am also not a pyshic, who’s to say that if I had given birth vaginally that it would have ended well or been safe for me? I had to move on and know that in the end I have 2 beautiful children. I truly wanted to experience labor & birth as God intended, with the help of modern-day medicine if needed, of course. And I was dissapointed that it didn’t happen. And somedays I get a little wistful b/c I know I never will b/c I don’t want more childtren. And you or anyone can’t tell me, or Gina, or the countless others to “get over ourselves.” They are our feelings and we are free to have them!



  43. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    Omgosh… are you kidding me that you still get depressed over not being able to be the first person to hold your baby (20 months later). Some of you really need to be thankful for the nurses and doctors that help you to deliver a healthy baby and just focus on that, instead of almost 2 years later getting upset when you hear someone is pregnant, and that htey will be able to hold their baby first. In reading this, to me, it seems like you were more upset over not having a natural childbirth, than a healthy baby. With the heart rate fluctuating, I would have thought to have rather have had a c section than to risk any more undue trauma to your baby b/c you wanted to feel complete by giving a natural birth. Omgosh….. some of you just slay me, seriously!!!



  44. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    Wow, what a traumatic experience, and yet one more example of how hospital births are so badly done so many times. Ugh. I am so sorry that you had to go through that awful time and so glad that you got to have a home birth finally.



  45. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    So sad to read this after my own extremely tramatic c-section experience. I was wondering if anything specific helped you get to a place of acceptance? I am hoping for a VBAC and am starting the process of education when I am still about a year away from even trying to get pregnant again. I’m just still so angry at the doctor who felt he knew best and took no time to educate me about what was happening to my body.



    • VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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      @LeahSjostromAshley I can’t speak for Gina, but I know a good friend of mine was able to recover a great deal by having a birth at The Farm in Tennessee (she lives a 3 hr drive away). The midwives were so much more respectful, she realized she could actually trust her body.



  46. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    I would love some links to educate me about birth options. Im pregnant with my 2nd and want to be as informed as possible when I go for that marathon in January. I live in country australia so there is nothing like doulas for me so any reading I can be linked to would be appreciated



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