The "Right" Way

I know I haven't posted in a long time. My emotions about this vary so much that I keep waiting for the right time to post, but I need to remember it's a process and I should just go with it. Some days I think I'm starting to "get over it" and feel some peace, but then other days something will just pop up and make me want to cry.

For example, we had a birthday part for Jakey a few weeks ago and my sister and I were talking about our babies (she had a baby a month ago) and I can't remember what exactly we were joking about but she said, "At least my baby came out the right way." I had to leave the room and go cry for a few minutes because the tone of her voice just hit me right where I hurt. I know she didn't mean it cruelly (and she did apologize), we were just joking about something and it was said offhand, without thought. It just hurts because it's true. My body failed and couldn't get my baby out the "right" way.

I was able to witness my sister's birth, the first I've ever witnessed that wasn't my own. She had planned to try going natural but ended up getting an epidural because her water broke and contractions were back to back (she went from 1cm-7cm in just a few hours, no wonder it hurt lol). Then her baby was posterior so she just got exhausted from pushing off and on for hours and decided to let them use forceps, so she ended up with an episiotomy and 4th degree tear. Her birth is not what I would want either, but I still envy her because I would have gladly taken that over another c/s. At least he came out the "right" way.

I don't want anyone to think I look down on all c-section births. Not at all. I wouldn't think of myself as better than someone in any way if I gave birth naturally compared to someone with a c/s. The only person this applies to is myself. I feel like a failure because I know I can give birth naturally, I have done it before, but even though I did everything I could to have the birth I wanted my baby didn't come out the "right" way.


Physical Recovery from C/S #2

I was happy to recover much quicker from my second c-section than I had from my first. My first was a pretty normal recovery, but took at least a month to feel back to normal. With my second I felt pretty much normal after 2 weeks.

I was allowed to get out of bed to walk to the bathroom about 12 hours after the surgery. I had remembered that the first time I got up after having Jason I'd almost passed out and could barely walk, so that is what I'd expected to happen again. I was happily surprised when I was able to stand up and walk to the bathroom without even having to be hunched over very much. I was still a bit light-headed and slow, but not as bad as I thought it would be.

I took my medicine regularly to keep on top of the pain, so I didn't feel the afterpains as much as I had after Jacob was born. I remember after I had Jacob the afterpains were awful.

The next 2 days in the hospital I spent most of my time in bed resting. DH stayed with me the whole time, except for going home a few times to change and shower and get good food. I took a few walks around the maternity ward, and it got easier each time. Although I hate hospital food (especially the horrible liquid diet they have you on the first day after surgery, yuck!) it was nice to be waited on while I recovered. The baby stayed with me the whole time, except for an hour each night while they took him for monitoring and stuff.

I did not get much sleep at the hospital though. Although Nathan slept great during that time, I still had doctors and nurses coming in at all hours. So it was a relief to go home. I was scared of having 3 children to handle on my own, but glad to be going to a more comfortable environment.

DH took a few days off work to help out while we got settled into things. I was still exhausted from the whole ordeal, but feeling better each day. It was nice to be able to walk around and do most things for myself. I couldn't lay on my side for a few weeks though, which made night time hard. Normally I would just roll over to feed my baby at night, but those first few weeks it hurt to lay like that so I would have to actually sit up and hold the baby, which was hard when I was so tired.

Thankfully, Nathan was a good sleeper the first few months, he would only wake 1-2 times a night, so I was able to recover from the first hard nights at home where he didn't sleep so well.

Like I said, by around 2 weeks postpartum I felt almost normal again. I no longer needed my pain meds (which I could have stopped taking when I got home from the hospital, the pain really wasn't too bad, but I took them that long so that I would feel my best to take care of 3 kids) and I could finally start nursing on my side so we were getting more sleep. Each day got physically easier and after 2 weeks I was itching to do more, but still made myself take it easy because I knew I could injure myself if I did too much too soon, even if I felt ok.

I think that part of the reason this recovery was so much easier was mental. I had not experienced the c-section so my mind didn't really comprehend the need to feel in pain or like my body had anything to recover from. A kind of placebo effect, like when people are given a medicine and don't know it's a placebo they can still get better because their mind believes it enough that the body heals itself.

Unfortunately, just as each day I felt better physically, each day my emotional state was getting worse.


Broken- The Birth of My Third Son

In March 2008 we found out we were expecting baby #3. We had just moved to a new city, in fact we moved to our new house just days after getting that positive pregnancy test. It was an exciting time with so many new changes happening.
I had been in contact with a midwife who does homebirths and was opening up her own birth suite in the fall. I really wanted to birth with her, but at the time we found out I was pregnant, our insurance was debating whether to continue covering her. So we decided that until we knew if she would for sure be covered I would see an OB at the nearest hospital women's center. I'd heard great reviews of her and she was very nice. I did not like going there though. I always needed to bring my boys with me and every visit there was a very long wait to be seen, so I would be stressed out after an hour of waiting just to be seen for less than 5 minutes.
When I hit 20 weeks I let the midwife know that I'd probably be staying with the OB because changing providers after that would probably be too stressful. She promised to keep me updated on her status with our insurance company, so I'd have that information for the future.
At my 28 week appointment I went over my birth plan with the OB as well as the hospital's VBAC consent form. My OB was very accepting of what I wanted, but I was very put off by the VBAC consent. It honestly said that I understood that a c-section would be better but I had been informed of the risks and still chose a more dangerous option. Not in those exact words, of course, but pretty close. When I left that appointment I told me DH that I just was not comfortable there and would like to switch to the midwife if she still had a spot available.
So I contacted the midwife and she got right back to me and let me know that just that day she had received a letter from my insurance saying she would remain covered, and she still had an open spot in November even though every other month had filled up. It was like it was meant to be. We set up a time to meet in person.
Both DH and I felt very comfortable with the midwife and happy about the choice to switch to her. She was so caring and was also very good with my boys. They loved visiting her office with all the toys and movies and stickers. And because I'd been in contact with her since before I even became pregnant it wasn't uncomfortable to start seeing her so late in my pregnancy. She was always willing to answer my questions thoroughly and took the time to explain things like medical records and lab results. I was grateful that prenatal appointments where something to look forward to rather than dread.
As my due date neared I started getting nervous about when labor would start and all that. My whole pregnancy I'd had this nagging worry that I'd been lucky the last time and maybe wouldn't be so lucky this time. I tried pushing that out of my head and focusing on positive thoughts but still couldn't keep my fears from coming back.
According to my early ultrasound the OB had set my due date as November 12th, even though I knew my exact date of ovulation and according to that I was due November 16th, which is the edd I told everyone. I didn't want people freaking out if I went past the 12th.
November 11- I had an appointment in the morning. My midwife did a non-stress test, I think mostly for her own liability since she had no back-up OB she wanted to show that she was monitoring me once I hit "40 weeks". I had no problem doing it either, I got to lay on a comfy couch drinking orange juice and chatting with her while the boys played. It was of course fine. I debated with myself about getting my membranes stripped. I had it done with Jacob and it had sent me into labor that night, so I figured it would probably work again, but I was also wary of any kind of intervention. We finally decided to go ahead and do it.
This is the first part of my birth story that I wish I could go back and change. If I hadn't pushed my body into labor, maybe things would have gone differently. At the time I'd been so impatient to be done. I had not enjoyed the pregnancy as much as I had my first two and I wanted my body back.
I was about 2cm dilated when I had it done, just like with Jacob, and I was expecting that I'd probably go into labor that day or the next. After my appointment I started having contractions. They were sporadic at first, and easy to deal with. By around 5pm they were consistantly 3 minutes apart, but still easy to handle.
I had my sister dye my hair that evening and she couldn't even tell that I was having contractions. We went to my family's house for a few hours that night, with my contractions still coming every 3 minutes. I finally called my midwife around 10pm to give her a heads up that I was in early labor. She told me to just give her a call when I felt I was ready to head to the birth suite.
Just to clarify, even though my contractions were so close, they were not very intense and I knew it was early labor still. My labor with Jacob had also started out with contractions 3mins apart and taken 20 hours so I was expecting about the same.
November 12- At home that night I did not sleep much. I was too excited. This is the second thing I wish I could change. I wish I had taken the chance to rest as much as possible. I did lay down for a bit around 1am and got about an hour sleep between contractions before a very painful contraction had me hopping out of bed. After that they got more sporadic. I tried to rest some more around 5am and when I woke up around 6:30am they were almost gone. I only got a few every hour for the next 4 hours.

Around 10am I decided to go for a walk, despite the freezing drizzle coming down, so I bundled up my boys and set out around the block. Mistake #3. I should have let my body get some rest instead of wearing it out more. The walk did what I had hoped and got my labor going again. The contractions were still sporadic, varying from 2-11mins apart, but slowly getting more intense.

My midwife called soon after I got back from my walk to see how things were. I updated her on how things had sputtered out and told her I still thought I'd be having the baby that day or the next and would call her if things picked up.

DH had asked if he should go into work that morning and I told him to go ahead because it still seemed to be a while off. He planned to take just a half day, but by noon I told him to go ahead and stay the whole day, things were still slow. He didn't get home until later that evening. By that point I wanted him there to help take care of the boys because I wanted to concentrate on my labor more. I had been sitting on an exercise ball most of the day so I was getting tired of that and just plain annoyed at everything.

Around 9pm I called my midwife and told her about my contractions and how I was feeling. She said it was up to me as to when I wanted to go to the birth suite. I told her I thought that I should head in because maybe once I got to the place I was going to give birth I would be able to relax more and let things happen. She said that sounded great and she'd meet us there in a little while.
DH and I got the boys ready to go. We were taking them with us because we wanted them to have the option to see the birth if they were awake and wanted to be there. I updated my online friends that I was heading in. I still hadn't told my family because I wanted to get to the birth suite and make sure I wasn't just going to be heading home before keeping everyone up all night, but I forgot that my sister-in-law reads my blog. She called when we were on our way so I let her know I was in labor and invited her to come over if she wanted (she had been with me for my other 2), and she told me she couldn't this time because she had school in the morning, but her and my brother would come visit me and the baby the next day. I decided I might as well call my family and let them know as well. My mom and sisters were excited and said they'd come over.
We arrived at the birth suite at 10pm. I immediately got situated in the wonderful large soft birth tub while DH got the boys settled in the family waiting room with a Disney movie. At first I felt a little awkward sitting in a large bath in just a sports bra, but got over that pretty quickly considering I was planning on a bunch of people watching me push a baby out lol.
My mom and 3 sisters arrived around 10:15pm and we all settled in for a long night. My little sisters stayed with the boys. Jason fell asleep pretty quickly, but Jakey didn't fall asleep until nearly 1am. He kept wandering back and forth from the family room to me. He kept wanting to get in the tub with me but we were finally able to get him to fall asleep on the bed. My mom stayed with me the whole time, chatting nicely with the midwife. Every once in a while I would get out of the tub to cool off and walk around a bit. I walked the empty halls of the building the birth suite is in for a while, and another time I went to the little kitchen to find something to eat. I munched on some dried fruit that I didn't really like, and eventually settled for some graham crackers. I really wanted bread but the only bread there was frozen so the crackers were the closest thing to that. I mostly stayed in the tub though, drinking lots of water, munching the graham crackers and getting out once an hour to go pee. My midwife kept offering orange juice because she said it would help me have more energy, but I declined, instead just having ice water. Another mistake, I was going to need that energy and wish I'd taken the dang juice.
November 13- I felt I was handling labor very well. When we'd arrived my midwife had asked where I thought I was and told her that I was probably around 7cm because at that point I felt the same as when I'd gone to the hospital with Jakey and been 7cm. My midwife doesn't perform vaginal exams unless absolutely necessary (the membrane sweep had been the only prenatal vaginal exam I'd had with her) so she took my word for it and just let me labor however I wanted.
I love the tub. I hadn't been sure if I would because I'd never labored in the water before, but it was wonderful. It helped me handle contractions so well. With each contractions I would focus on breathing evenly and allowing my body to relax and open up. To get myself to not focus on contractions as pain I would instead imagine my cervix stretching open to let my baby out. I listened to my mom and midwife talk between contractions, and ignore them when once came. I found that as they got more intense it really helped to have a cold wet washcloth on my forehead. Those hours of peaceful labor where wonderful.
As the contractions got even more intense I started getting a little panicky, realizing again that it was only going to get worse before it got better. I was anxious to be done. I was exhausted for not getting much sleep in the last 2 days and just hoped that things would go more quickly. As I hit transition it was harder to relax and let my body work but I did my best to breathe calmly. Around 6am I finally started getting the urge to push during some of my contractions. Around that time I also had to start making noise. My midwife reminded me to make low deeper noises and told me to just do what my body wanted. My DH had been sleeping this whole time so they went to wake him up. He was surprised at how long he'd slept, which I thought was funny. Jakey also woke up himself, bright and early just like any other day, and came in and sat on my mom's lap.
At 6:15 I really started pushing. I was in pain and wanted that baby to come out. After a little while my midwife checked and found there was still a little lip of cervix left and held it back so I could push past it. Things at that point become a big blur to me. I pushed for a while in the tub, trying different positions including hands and knees and squatting, but when nothing was happening she had me get out and try pushing on the toilet for a bit. It was excrutiating to be in that position, though it helped when my midwife would push against my knees during the contractions. My water broke while on the toilet (perfect timing huh?) and that momentarily shocked me away from the pain. It was the first time I've had my water break on it's own and I was surprised at the intensity of it. I think I said, "Woah! That was weird!" and laughed a little.

Of course I stopped laughing once the next contraction hit and I was in even more pain. We moved to the birth room and I got on the bed and tried pushing on my side for a while. Then we tried on my back, my other side, hands and knees, squatting by the side of the bed, one knee up on the bed, etc. At one point my midwife reached in to push my pubic bone out of the way to see if that would help the baby move down. That was the most painful part, I screamed out. But it did no good. She got out her birth stool and I tried pushing on that while leaning back into DH, even though a seated position was so painful. I also stood with my arms around DH's neck for a while, hanging off him when a contraction hit. I could tell with every failed position that everyone was getting more worried about no progress being made.

During contractions I was in extreme pain and pushing as hard as I could. I also could hardly move my left leg because something was hitting a nerve, sending stabbing pain down my leg, and moving it hurt worse than contractions. Between contractions I was crying and praying and asking, "Why won't he come out?!" I blubbered that I was just so tired and it hurt so much. By that point I was fighting the contractions instead of trying to relax. I was just too tired to stay on top of them. I also felt like I couldn't breathe the whole time. During every contraction the baby's feet would shove up into my ribs and unless I pushed back against them I felt like I had to gasp for breath.

Finally at 8am I could hear my mom and midwife discussing a hospital transfer. I kept pushing as hard as I could, but that was the point when all hope left me. I just knew that a transfer would equal a c-section. My midwife talked to me and said she felt that there was nothing else we could do there and that we should probably transfer. She said that maybe they would be able to use forceps or a vacuum to help out when we got there, but I didn't believe it. DH asked me if I wanted to go to the hospital. I wanted to say no, but I just told him I was so tired and it hurt so much, and agreed to go. I cried as I hurried and threw on my clothes between contractions and grabbed my purse. We left about 8:15am. I remember standing in the parking lot as we headed out, hanging onto my dad through a contraction, then whimpering that I didn't want to get in the car because it would hurt.
My dad was going to drive us there so that my sister could use our van to bring the boys up. Everyone else stayed behind to get the boys up and all of our stuff loaded, while DH, my dad, and the midwife piled into the car with me. I sat facing the backseat just hanging off the headrest and moaning through each contractions, not caring that I was probably leaking fluid all over the seat. The midwife kept monitoring the baby (as she had all night) to make sure he was doing fine, and she made calls to the hospital so they would be ready for us.
The nearest hospital was only 5 minutes away but we chose not to go to that one because it is not covered by my insurance and it wasn't an emergency. Instead we headed to one about half an hour away that my midwife recommended. This was during morning rush hour traffic, so normally it would have taken even longer to get there. My dad drove like a mad man, breaking every traffic law, and got us there in about 15-20 minutes. He ran lights and stop signs, weaved in and out of lanes, even had one side of the car up on the sidewalk for a bit. Only he could drive that crazy and not get us killed lol. At one point he stopped at a cop that was monitoring traffic and asked if he could escort us to the hospital, but the cop refused! What a jerk. Luckily I was facing backwards during the ride so I didn't have to watch our crazy drive.
We finally arrived at the hospital, maybe around 8:40. DH grabbed a wheelchair and I got in it. He ran as fast as he could into the hospital, asking a lady at the desk where to take me. She ran ahead of us and we raced up to Labor & Delivery. I was afraid I was going to be tipped over as DH raced around corners and down halls. I kept muttering, "Please don't kill me!" between contractions.
We finally arrived at a room where they handed me a gown and monitor belt thing and told me to change. I hurried and shed my clothes and threw on the stupid gown between contractions and got into bed. They put the monitors on and by this point I was just hanging onto the bed rail for dear life, moaning and yelling. I barely felt any break in contractions while in the bed and had no clue what was going on around me. Things went so quickly. I had no idea who was in the room with me. Some guy came in to give me an IV and warned me that it would sting a little. I remember thinking, "Does it look like I care about a stupid prick?!" The first IV he did started bleeding down my hand so they had to re-do it. Someone told me they needed to put an internal monitor on, and I let them, not really caring anymore.
Then I remember them saying I needed a c-section right away. Something about the baby's heartrate. My midwife asked if we could try forceps or vacuum but they said no. They said there might be time for a spinal but they felt it would be better to put me under. A guy came over to me and quickly explained that they felt they needed to do an emergency c-section and would have to put me out and I consented. I had already resigned myself to the fact that going to the hospital meant having another c-section so I wasn't surprised, I'd just been waiting for someone to make the decision. He started saying something about the risks, and I just nodded thinking, "Yeah, I've done it before, I know."
I was actually grateful when they said they'd have to put me under because I knew it meant I'd be out of pain soon. They wheeled me to the OR, still clinging desperately to the bed rail and moaning, and hurried to get me prepped for the surgery. It hurt to unfold my body and allow the to strap down my legs and arms. I couldn't fight the pain that way and felt like I was engulfed in pain. I was begging them to just put me under. I think I was saying, "Come on!". They put an oxygen mask on at one point and for once it didn't feel suffocating, I was grateful for the air.
Finally they must have put me out because the next thing I remember is waking up in a recovery room. I think my mom and DH and a nurse were there. It was around 2 hours later and it was disorienting to go from extreme pain to quiet and much less pain and realize I'd missed 2 whole hours in the blink of an eye. They had given me a morphine drip but I was still in pain even after pushing the button many times so they gave me a shot of something else to help until the morphine kicked in.
I don't remember much right after I woke up. DH came over and showed me a picture of my baby. Little Nathan had a full head of dark hair, was born at 8:57am, 9lbs 3.8oz and 21.25" long. What a big boy! I only looked at the picture for a minute. Oddly, I felt no attachment to that baby in the picture. I hadn't witnessed his birth so it was like he wasn't real until I could see him. DH left to go be with him and my mom stayed and talked with me. My midwife had to leave soon after he was born because she had other clients to see, but said to let me know she'd be back later to check on me.
I was told that the reason they'd had to hurry and do the c-section was because his heartrate had disappeared for a few minutes and then when they found it it wouldn't go above 80. They also found that his arm had been wedged in front of his face, which is probably why he couldn't get his head under my pubic bone. And during the c-section they cut so fast and his arm popped out first and got nicked, luckily just a little scratch. My mom also told me about how much my husband loved me and how scared he'd been when he'd come back from filling out paperwork (at some point after we got there he'd been sent to register) and I was gone. He hadn't known about the c-section until I was already under. She says he was just waiting in the hall and crying until they brought the baby out and said I was fine and he got to go with the baby to the nursery.
About an hour after I woke up the took me to a postpartum room. I was excited to see it was much bigger that the rooms at the hospital I'd had my other two at. I was also strangely happy about not being all numb and being able to actually move my legs, unlike my first c-section. I started wondering where DH was and my mom went to find him. He was in the nursery with the baby, and finally got to bring him back to me at 1pm. It had been 4 hrs since the c-section.
Once my baby was finally in my arms I was so happy to see him. I'd felt an odd emptiness between the time I woke up and the time I saw him, like he didn't exist. But seeing him and holding him was wonderful. I was so in love. I immediately began to nurse him because I could see that he was hungry, and he latched on and went at it like a natural.
That first day I was so exhausted, I'd had hardly any sleep in 2 days and gone through a long labor and difficult end. I could barely keep my eyes open as family came to visit. But I felt ok. I told myself that I was okay with the c-section because it had been necessary. I already felt like I was recovering better than my first c-section too, I was able to get up and walk to the restroom that night without too much pain.
It wasn't until a little later that I was able to think through things and my feelings about the birth started getting worse and worse.


What was the point of even trying?

Every time I think I'm starting to get over my feelings of sadness about my last birth, I read a birth story that just shoves it all in my face again. And it's all kinds of birth stories, from the one's that had every intervention under the sun and still had their "perfect" birth, to the scheduled c-sections, to the unassisted homebirths. All of them hit me in different ways, but they all make me feel like a failure.

A friend recently had her baby and I just read her birth story. She got an epidural at 3cm, some pitocin, and all the monitoring and IVs that go along with it. And her beautiful little girl came out just fine. My cousin had her baby today, she chose to be induced. As far as I've heard everything turned out just fine with that birth too. I am of course very happy for my friend and cousin, but it just makes me wonder what I did wrong?

I did everything I felt was best to insure a great birth with low risks of intervention or c-section. I labored at home for a long time, then went to a birth center with a wonderful midwife, labored in the tub to deal with the contractions, pushed in every position imaginable. I let my body do what is supposed to come naturally, and it failed me. I ended up under the knife again.

It just doesn't seem fair at all. And I know, life isn't fair, but what hope is there when I do everything I can for the best outcome and still get screwed over?


TIME Magazine Article- The Trouble With Repeat Cesareans

Recently TIME magazine published an article called The Trouble With Repeat Cesareans. I was so happy to see an article that gave some good information on actual statistics and the way women are being forced to undergo surgery they don't really want because they feel there is no other option. VBAC is an option. It can be done and, although it has slightly more risk than a vaginal birth with no c-section history, it is not horribly irresponsible as many doctors and others make it out to be.

Reading that article is actually what pushed me get started on this blog. I know reading about other people experiences has helped me, and so I figured that writing down my own might provide some healing. The article also gave me some hope for my future births, but I know I need to handle my current fears and emotional scars before I can really be ready to think about having another baby.


Slowly getting to the point

As I've been writing out these stories and my feelings I have been slowing down. The faster I get through my previous experiences and recall the emotions of them, the faster I have to get to discussing my latest experience. There are so many things I'm not sure I've dealt with. I think writing it all out will help, but I'm also afraid of dredging up such fresh memories and trying to decide how I really feel about them. There were so many good things but so many difficult things that happened, so my recounting of my last birth may get a bit disjointed.

Recovery from VBAC

After my son was born I was so exhausted. I hadn't slept hardly at all the night before, and giving birth unmedicated was much more physically exhausting than I'd thought. The rest of the day after I had Jacob I mostly stayed in the hospital bed, only getting up to go to the bathroom.

The first time I tried going to the bathroom, I couldn't do it. Evidently it's possible for your bladder to be temporarily paralyzed from the trauma during delivery. That was extremely uncomfortable, needing to go but not being able to. A few hours later I was finally able to go, which was good because I didn't want to have a catheter. Things burned because of my tear, but I used the peri bottle to rinse off and that helped a lot.

The next day I got up more. There wasn't much to do besides wait to be discharged, so we just took care of the baby and got all our stuff together. I took a shower and got cleaned up. It was so nice not to be hunched over, and not have to worry about an incision. My stitches were a little annoying, but I sat on an ice pack frequently and wasn't in much pain. I did take pain killers because the afterpains were awful. I hadn't felt any with Jason because I'd been on so much meds, but this time I wasn't all drugged up and they hurt just as bad as labor contractions, so I took the extra strength Ibuprofen.

I felt very sore all over the day after he was born. Kind of how I felt the day after a car wreck in 2003. Like my muscles just ached. Muscles I never knew could hurt, did. But it really wasn't that bad, just achey.

We left the hospital the evening of June 2nd. It was surreal going home after just one day. When we got home my brother and sister-in-law brought Jason home, he'd stayed the night with them and visited us in the hospital once. He hadn't really cared for the baby at the hospital, but was very happy to have him at home. I nursed and then DH fell asleep on the couch with the baby while I got online to update everyone.

I recovered quickly, feeling pretty much normal after a week. My tear annoyed me a little longer. The first week I had to sit carefully and used a numbing spray and witch hazel pads constantly. But by about 2weeks it was only a minor annoyance.

The first 2 months Jacob was a great night sleeper. He would only wake once or twice a night. It was so nice to get some good sleep at night, especially because he was a horrible daytime napper. He hardly napped at all during the day and wanted to be held constantly. He was definitely not as easy-going as Jason had been, which was very frustrating. I had a hard time getting anything done because he was always in my arms and/or fussing. Plus he ate every hour all day long. It was a good thing that Jason has always been so good at keeping himself entertained, because I wasn't able to do much with him.

Unfortunately after the first 2 months his night-time sleeping got much worse too. He would wake up every hour, sometimes up to 10x a night, and continued this for nearly 7 months. I was exhausted all the time. My sweet DH started taking him the first half of the night with a bottle, and that kept me from going insane.

Emotionally this recovery was different as well.

On one hand I was still so proud of myself for being able to have a VBAC. I was thrilled at my success and happy to be able to feel like myself sooner. I felt strong and empowered. I no longer felt angry about my c-section. My feelings changed from sadness and regret over my c-section, to thankfulness. Without it I wouldn't have pushed myself to learn more that could help myself and others.

On the other hand, I did not bond with Jacob as easily as I had with Jason. I'd heard so many people say that many c-section mom have a hard time bonding with their baby and that natural birth created stronger bonds, etc. But my experience was the opposite. Of course I still loved him and would do anything for him, but I wasn't just enjoying spending time with him. I figured there were a few reasons for this.

First, I was so tired of having to hold him all the time and his fussing that I was frustrated with him a lot.

But I think the biggest hindrance to our bonding was my fault. All during his pregnancy and labor I'd been so focused on having a VBAC. I was focused on myself and what I could do. I prepared myself to have a VBAC, not a baby. Yes, I had wanted a baby, but I'd wanted to prove myself capable of giving birth and that was my goal. So when I had Jacob it was like, "Yay, I did it! I had a VBAC! Oh...um, I have a baby too, what do I do?!"

And I felt awful that I didn't bond as quickly or easily with Jacob. How could a mother love one child more than the other? I finally realized it wasn't about how much I loved them, I loved them both so so much, it was just shared differently with each child. As Jakey's personality grew I saw what a gently, loving boy he was. He was my "Momma's boy". He wanted me more than anything else and was always ready to give hugs and kisses. He craved affection and attention.

Slowly our bond grew stronger. I still love each boy differently, but it is not because I love one more than the other, it is just because their personalities require different shows of love. Just like adults want affection in different ways, so do children.

So, as you can see, both my physical and emotional recoveries were quite different from my first birth, easier in most ways but a little harder in ways I hadn't expected.


Empowered- The VBAC Birth of my Second Son

I had convinced myself that I was strong and that my body knew what to do, so when contractions started the day before my edd, I was excited to prove myself. The thought of uterine rupture never even came into my mind during my labor.

Tuesday, May 31, 2006- I had my OB strip my membranes at my appointment that day and within hours was having sporadic contractions. By 9:30pm they had become more evenly spaced and that is when I count the beginning of labor. Contractions continued 3-4 minutes apart most of the night. Good thing I didn't go in to the hospital based on timing or I would have been there a long time and probably ended up with more interventions and possibly a c-section. As it was, I again labored alone through the night, updating online friends and doing random chores, making sure everything was ready. At one point I sat and watched Jason sleeping peacefully and it was bittersweet to think this was my last night with just one child.
Wednesday, June 1, 2006- Around 7am my contractions slowed to 10 minutes apart and I was able to sleep between them for about an hour. I believe my body knew I needed some rest. At 8am they picked up again to about 6-7 minutes apart. My husband woke up and I told him this would be the day. Luckily at that time he had graduated from college and was working from home, so there was no need for him to worry about work or school that time.

We decided to head in to the chiropractor and stopped to eat at McDonald's on the way. I only ate some hashbrowns, funny how my body craves carbs in labor. My chiropractor made sure things were aligned and did some work loosening my muscles and it immediately cut my labor pain in half, it was wonderful. We then called our family to let them know what was going on. My mom headed up and DH's mom told us to call when we got to the hospital since she was in class at the time.

I labored at home for a few hours. Again my contractions were felt all in my back, but I had DH push on my lower back during each one and it helped immensely. My family showed up around noon and we headed to the hospital. They didn't have a bed ready right away so we sat in the waiting room for half an hour. My OB walked by and saw me there and was excited that she'd be seeing me again soon. At 12:30 they took us back to a room. Jason stayed out in the waiting room with family members.
I was checked at 1pm and found to be 7+cm already. I was so happy that I'd already gotten that far so easily. I let them know that I was not getting an IV and that my OB said a hep lock would be fine (IV port), and that I did not want them to offer me drugs. The first nurse seemed a little annoyed with my requests but luckily I only saw her once before a new nurse came in. They monitored me for a bit until I asked to walk the halls. My mom and I walked the halls and chatted, stopping every few minutes for me to lean against the wall and have her push against my lower back. I'm not to sure on the timeline from 1pm until the birth, but I think it was around 3pm when they had me stop walking to be checked again.

They couldn't tell if I had progressed any more because my bag of waters was bulging so much. They thought I was maybe 8cm and asked if I wanted them to break my water. I said that we would wait a little longer and see what happened. Eventually, maybe around 3:45 I agree to let them break it because I wanted to be done.
During this time I had a wonderful nurse. When I'd first arrived she had asked for my birth plan, read over it, and said "Great!". She stayed with me almost the whole time, suggesting different positions for me to try. I liked sitting on the birth ball, but that position was making the baby's heartrate drop so I wasn't able to stay there. I also liked being on my knees leaning into a pile of pillows, and stayed in that position for maybe half an hour until they wanted to put me on the monitors again.

By this point I was in transition and every contraction had me moaning. Being in the bed with monitors on was excruciating. I was squeezing my moms hand and DH was trying to put counter-pressure against my back but it wasn't working from that position. Finally the nurse helped me get my breathing under control and that got me through the hardest part. As I breathed "Hee-hee-hooo" over and over during contractions I tried to just imagine my little baby boy. I felt like I was only getting a few breaths between contractions.

Around 4:30 they checked me and found that I had just a little lip left and asked me to push a little to see if we could get past it. It worked. I was finally complete and ready to go. They went to fetch my OB and suddenly I had a bunch of people run in an turn me on my left side and put an oxygen mask on me. The baby's heartrate wasn't looking good so they were trying to get it back up. Luckily that helped, but again the oxygen mask was suffocating. I just tried to continue my breathing while the OB was coming. I had my mom, sister, sister-in-law and DH with me. MIL didn't make it in time for the birth, but my dad ended up being in there when he was born too because he had come in to help give me a blessing.

Finally I really started pushing around 4:45pm. I was still on my side, holding my right leg up and pushing with all my might. After maybe 10 minutes they got the bed set up in the normal delivery position. I had wanted to try pushing while squatting, but by that point I didn't care, I just wanted him out and didn't have the energy to ask to try another way. My oxygen mask kept slipping down but they kept putting it back on, it was so annoying. Shortly after I started pushing in that position they started saying we needed to get him out quickly because his heartrate kept going down. I just made myself push harder. Pushing hurt but I just kept thinking to myself that I did not want another c-section so I kept going.

They asked me if I wanted to watch and I said yes, so they brought a mirror over. I took one look and thought "Oh crap! What was I thinking?!" and didn't look again. It made it suddenly very really that I was going to push this big baby out of such a small hole! So I closed my eyes and just pushed and pushed and pushed. The ring of fire was even worse than I'd thought it would be. The pain made me want to stop, but at the same time it made me want to push harder to get it over with. My OB told me that she could tell I was going to tear and gave me a shot of lidocaine before he came out.

5:15pm- Finally my baby's head came out. I was still in pain and wanted to keep pushing but was told to wait just a minute. His hand was up by his face and she needed to pull it out to un-stick his shoulders. Finally I was able to give another push and out came my little boy. I immediately ripped the oxygen mask off, thinking Thank God!
"Oh my gosh! I did it!" were the first words I said, and kept repeating over and over. Jacob was placed on my chest while they hurried and clamped his cord. He wasn't crying and was very gray. They wanted to rush him over to get some oxygen and almost didn't let DH cut the cord, but he was able to while I got to touch my child's slippery warm body for a few seconds. My next thought was surprise about his hair. Jason had been born with thick, dark hair and so I expected that again. But Jacob was almost bald and his hair was blond. I had only a few seconds to process things before he was whisked away to the warmer.
I suddenly remembered that nobody was taking pictures. As they took him away I yelled to DH, "Pictures! Get the camera!" After just half a minute I heard my little boy start crying. Dh was over there snapping pictures. Jacob sounded so angry. They weighed Jacob and told me he was 8lb 14oz and 20". I was shocked, I thought he looked smaller than Jason had been, but he was only an ounce lower. That made me feel good that even with another big baby I could do it. My OB was still busy with me, waiting for the placenta to come out. It came out after about 5 minutes, then she started stitching up my 2nd degree tear. I needed another shot of lidocaine to numb the pain. She was still busy with the repair when they finally brought my baby over, 10 minutes after he was born.
I held him and admired him for a little while, then let him be passed around to family members while I finished getting stitched and cleaned up. They took turns holding him for about 10 minutes. Then I got him back and was able to try breastfeeding 35 minutes after he was born. (The only way I have any idea about this timeline is from the time stamp on our pictures, hurray for digital cameras!)
He was not the immediate pro at nursing like Jason had been. It took a few minutes to get him to latch on the first time and he didn't nurse for long. At 6:20pm they told me it was time to take him to the nursery to get cleaned up and I was going to be moved to my postpartum room. In my room I ate dinner and talked with family that came in and out. I was exhausted but my mind was still pumping adrenaline. I was so happy that I had been able to have a VBAC.
Around 8pm Jacob was brought back to me. He was passed around more and we nursed a bit until family left and we settled down for the night. That first night Jacob slept so well, though I slept horribly because I kept waking up to check on him.

The recovery from this birth was very different from my c-section, in more ways than one.


Emotional Recovery from C/S #1

The first few months with my new baby I never questioned the need for the c-section. I had trusted my OB to make the decision and I was just happy to have my darling little boy. He was an easy-going baby, napped a lot and hardly cried. That made it easy for me to just go with what happened. I was sad I had to have a c-section but I didn't question it and already knew I would try a vaginal birth the next time.

A mother on a messageboard I visited had her son shortly after mine and it was her story that got me to look into the realities of birth. She had a c-section for her first daughter but had a VBAC with all the rest. She had even given birth at home. In the water. Unassisted. Of course I thought she must be some crazy hippy or something, but she helped me see that maybe the "typical" hospital birth with interventions and fancy equipment wasn't all it's cracked up to be.

As I researched more about birth the what-ifs started to enter my mind. What if I had waited longer to go to the hospital? What if I hadn't gotten the epidural? What if I had walked around more to help get the baby into position? What if I had tried pushing in different positions instead of the one position that is actually one of the worst because it doesn't allow the pelvis to move open more? What if I had pushed longer? (They'd made it seem like 2hrs was way too long, but I researched and saw that 2-3hrs is actually normal for a first time mom.) And I knew that there was no way to know if my c-section had truly been necessary because we had not tried everything before going with it. My baby's heart rate was still ok and even though I was tired I could have pushed longer.

As I realized that there was so much more that could have been done I got angry. First I was angry at my OB for not suggesting anything other than the hospital norm. I was angry that she hadn't told me so many things. But then I realized she was just doing what she was taught and what she knew. I stopped being so angry at her and was angry with myself. How could I have been so ignorant about such an important thing as birth?! Why didn't I do all this research before? And I was angry at this country that has bring about this kind of situation for so many women. Nobody tells you to do your own research or look at alternative options. We are always told that the doctor knows best and we just follow blindly.

I also learned that having a VBAC is not as easy as you would think. Many doctors and hospital won't assist in them anymore. They say it is because of the risk of uterine rupture, which is a real risk but less than 1% and only a fraction of those are major problems, but really they are worried about themselves and getting sued. As one doctor has said "You don't get sued for doing a c-section, you get sued for not doing a c-section." meaning that they only get in trouble if they don't do a life-saving c-section in time, but not if they do a completely unnecessary one and the mom and baby don't die.

I decided that the next time I got pregnant I would have a homebirth, alone. I didn't want any chance that "they" would screw me over again. When Jason was almost 7 months old I got pregnant. It was not planned but I was excited, and I was eager to prove that my body worked just fine. Unfortunately I miscarried a few weeks later and that tempered my anger a bit. I realized that a c-section was preferable to losing a child. Of course I didn't want another c-section so I continued to research and do what I could to prepare myself for a VBAC the next time I got pregnant.

I would read birth stories that had ended in unplanned c-sections and go over in my mind what they maybe could have done differently. I read birth stories of beautiful natural births in hospitals, homes, and birth stories, and tell myself that I could do it. I would get angry all over again when I heard women say that they had no choice, or they had to do what their doctor said, or just follow along without bothering to do their own research. I had been just like them and did not want them to end up in my situation but there wasn't anything I could do to change it. Anytime they were told they had other options they would get defensive and angry, even while they lamented their situation. It was infuriating to see, so I just sat back and watched as my scenario replayed over and over in many of the women on my messageboards.

When Jason was almost a year old, I got pregnant again. I was so happy, although nervous about the possibility of another miscarriage. I switched to a midwife who worked in a group practice with other midwives and OBs. I had read that things would be so much better with a midwife, but honestly that group seemed no different than the OB I had seen before. The midwife I saw was more like what I have heard termed a MED-wife, pretty much the same as seeing an OB. Plus, because I was planning a VBAC she wouldn't even be able to oversee me, I would have to see the OBs in the group too. After just a few visits I realized I just was not comfortable with them and I switched back to my old OB.

I was thrilled when my OB was supportive of my choice to VBAC and have an un-medicated birth. I had been afraid that it would be a battle, but it was not. She told me that with the reason for my c-section (CPD and suspected macrosomia, which I know is a bunch of crap, really his head was just asynclitic) that I had maybe a 20% chance of success, but that she would do all she could to help me.

Obviously by this point I had decided to go ahead and give birth in the hospital again. If I had a planned a homebirth I knew I would get stressed out from my family being unsupportive, plus I decided that for my first VBAC I would be in the hospital "just in case" and the next time I could try an out-of-hospital birth.

Throughout that pregnancy I repeated positive affirmations to myself about how I am strong, my body knows what to do, my uterus is healed and strong, etc. That really helped me. I also stopped feeling anger towards my OB and took more responsibility for my own actions and preparedness.

The birth of my second son was what healed me the most.

Physical Recovery from C/S #1

I did not get much rest during my hospital stay. I found it very annoying that nurses come in every hour or two to disturb a new mom who is trying to sleep. After the first night I had them take Jason to the nursery the next two nights and just bring him to me when he was hungry. During the day DH had school that he couldn't miss and when he was at the hospital he spent most of the time studying because it was midterm week. Poor guy was exhausted too. We got visits from family a few times, but mostly I just spent time holding my little boy and watching TV.

They had me get out of bed the day after I had him and I almost fainted. I was so weak and I couldn't stand up straight. The nurses helped me shuffle to the bathroom dragging my IV where they removed my catheter and cleaned things up. Later that day I got to have my IV removed. I got up occasionally to walk around, but mostly I was exhausted and stayed in bed.

Thursday, Sept. 30 I got to go home. My mom came up again to spend that first day home with me to help out. It took us forever to get checked out and then they didn't even offer me a wheelchair out like usual, so I shuffled out of the hospital and got into the uncomfortable car seat next to my baby. It hurt to be in the car, every bump and turn made my incision hurt. When we got home though I got to relax a bit. I mostly sat around on the couch while my mom refilled my water and had me stick my feet in ice water to reduce the swelling. My feet had ballooned from all the IV fluids, I couldn't wear anything but slippers. My milk had also come in after the first day so I was engorged and my mom went out to get me a pump to help. I was so tired and so I didn't do much besides feed the baby.

I continued taking pain meds for the first few days back, then stopped by about a week postpartum. I've always hated having to take meds so I don't unless I absolutely have to. I sort of wish I had taken them longer because I remember that it hurt to do anything. Getting up, laying down, rolling over, getting out of bed, laughing, coughing, sneezing. Anytime I moved it felt like my stomach would rip open. I was still walking hunched over for about a week. My first postpartum bowel movement the day I got home was awful. I cried. Nobody had told me how important a stool softener would be. I have a memory of watching a movie at my brothers apartment and something was funny and I was holding a pillow to my scar and telling them to stop because laughing hurt. I did go on walks a few times a week, but they were short and wore me out.

I cried when I had to wake up and feed Jason at night because it hurt to roll over and get out of bed and I was just so tired. I remember a day when DH took the baby and told me to go nap and as I walked back to our room I just started bawling, not from the pain so much as from exhaustion and hormones. One night when he was about 2 weeks old I even fell asleep while nursing him and woke up hours later in a panic. He had ended up under the covers near my legs at the edge of the bed. I knew I needed to somehow get more sleep. At that time I learned to nurse laying down and moved him in to bed with us. We both slept much better and things started improving.

After those first two rough weeks, every day was a little better. I still couldn't move too quickly, or cough too hard, or do anything strenuous, but at least I felt halfway human again. By the time Jason was a month old I was almost back to normal. We were even up to resuming physical relations at that point. When he was a month old we went to WalMart for family pictures and there was another family there with a brand new baby. I noticed the mother walking in the same shuffling, hunched-over, exhausted way I had and knew that she must have been recovering from a c-section too. I wanted to go over and reassure her that it does get better.

I never had any problems with my incision. No infections or re-openings. All together my physical recovery was considered good, or as good as any recovery from major surgery is. But just because I had a "good" recovery it didn't mean I ever wanted to do it again.

The Start- The birth of my first son

Before the birth of my first son I believed that birth was easy. You go to the hospital, get your epidural, and in a few hours pop out a baby. Of course I had heard the horror stories of long, hard labors and emergency c-sections, but that wouldn't happen to me. I even knew that statistics at the time showed around 25% cesarean rate in our country, but I knew everything would work out perfectly for me. I was naive.
I read the typical "What to Expect" book, took the hospital birthing class and tour, and obediently just went along with everything I was told. Because of that I ended up with what has become a "typical" hospital birth.
Monday, September 27, 2004-
I went into labor on my own a day before my due date, around midnight. I was so excited. I couldn't sleep so I stayed up typing updates to messageboard friends, cleaning and doing laundry, and stopping every 7 or so minutes for contractions. Early labor was easy and I handled it by myself during the night pretty well.
When my husband woke up in the morning I told him he'd probably be calling in to work that day, but sent him off to school as it was midterms week. We called our families and my mom said she was on her way. My sister-in-law came over to keep me company while we waited for DH to get home and my mom to get there. We chatted while I folded laundry and kept busy, needing to stop and breathe through contractions. I felt the contractions all in my back, but was able to still handle them alone.
Around noon when my mom and DH were there we decided to head in to the hospital, about 5 minutes away. I finished getting everything into my hospital bag and making sure everything was ready for baby. We got to the hospital around 1pm and settled into a room. At 2pm I was checked and told I was 5cm. They asked if I wanted to go ahead and get my epidural and I said sure. I got the epidural around 3pm. I remember how good it felt to not be in pain anymore. At 4pm I was 8cm. At one point my epidural stopped working because the machine had stopped dispensing it, but they quickly got it fixed.
At 7:30 I was complete and started pushing. I wasn't sure if I was pushing well because I couldn't feel much, but I remember being so afraid that I might poop on the table so I was kind of holding back. By 9pm there hadn't been any progress. My OB told me we could give it another half hour and then discuss our options. I pushed with all my might but still had no progress. When the OB came back at 9:30pm to discuss things she told me that they couldn't tell what position his head was in so it would be dangerous to try using forceps or vacuum, and she recommended we go back for a c-section. I was so sad, but tired after 2hrs of pushing.
I remember looking to my mom (who has had a c-section) and she nodded and told me I should and it would be okay. Things quickly changed as the anesthesiologist came in to up my epidural and a nurse shaved my lower belly. DH was given scrubs to put on and I laughed at how he looked. My family (Mom, MIL, SIL and sister) were sent out to the waiting room with rest of the family.
I started to cry as they wheeled me back to the OR. I was scared and sad, but I made myself stop because I just wanted to focus on getting to see my baby soon. As they prepped me in the OR I got panicked because DH was not in there yet and I was afraid they'd start without him. I had an oxygen mask on and felt like I was suffocating, I hated that dang thing and had a hard time breathing with it on (kind of defeats the purpose of having it right?) but kept it on like a good girl.
Finally they let DH in and began cutting. I was surprised that DH watched the whole thing, because he'd joked for months about fainting while I was in labor. I was actually jealous that he got to watch. I didn't even think to ask them to lower the screen so I could see them pull him out and things had changed so quickly that we'd left the camera in the labor room.
After some tugging and pulling I finally heard someone say, "Wow, big head!" and "Lots of hair!". Suddenly I heard my little boy screaming and nothing else mattered. Tears poured down my face as I heard them whisk him to the warmer to clean him up. DH went over to watch while I cried happily and waited to see my son. The only other thing on my mind was how annoyed I was getting that my tears were getting in my ears and I couldn't wipe them because my arms were strapped down.
After what seemed like forever, but was probably only 5 minutes, Hubby brought Jason over for me to see. My first thought was Oh good, he's cute! It was shallow but I'd worried about having an ugly baby. He was adorable all wrapped up with his little round face poking out. DH pulled off the baby hat and I was amazed at the thick black hair my little boy had. He was still crying so I started saying, "Shhh, it's ok. It's ok." To my amazement he stopped crying at the sound of my voice. The oxygen mask was (finally!) taken off so I could give him a kiss and an arm was unstrapped so I could reach up and touch his face.
DH went with them as the took my little boy to the nursery to bathe and weigh. I hated having them away from me as I lay in that cold bright room getting stitched up. I was wheeled to a recovery room where I was left alone. Occasionally a nurse would come check on my vitals and make sure I had warm blankets. At one point another surgery patient was brought in to recover and wake up from general and at least I wasn't alone anymore. Finally around 11pm my OB came in to see me. She said everything went great and my baby was nice and healthy. She called over to the nursery to get his stats for me- 8lb 15oz and 20" long. What a healthy big boy!
I was then wheeled back to a little postpartum room (seriously they were tiny) and waited anxiously to see my baby. My mom came in and waited with me, telling me how they had all seen my little boy as he was taken to the nursery and how proud DH was. I was so impatient, wondering what was taking them so long to bring my baby to me.
Finally, finally, around 12:15am DH came in with Jason. He was handed to me and I just stared at his perfect little face and talked to him. I was in love right away.
My mom helped me get started nursing, and I was relieved that he seemed to catch on quickly. Right from the start he nursed like a pro. As exhausted as I was from being up for 2 days and going through 22hrs of labor and pushing and major surgery, I did not sleep well. They had Jason room-in with me and he woke up a lot and because I still couldn't move I had to keep yelling for DH to wake up and bring him to me. And between Jason waking up I had nurses coming in every few hours to check on me and the baby. The first night was rough, but I was still so happy every time I had my little boy in my arms.
To come- the recovery, physical and emotional.