Friday, August 5, 2011

get over it? how?

I came to the realization recently that I was traumatized by the birth of my son. I didn't plan on having a c-section, but I wasn't really surprised when my doctor suggested I'd need one. I was a week past my due date and I had zero signs of labor. No contractions, no baby dropping, no nothing.

And when I look back on my experience with labor, I kind of resent it. As silly as it sounds, I feel sad that I didn't get to have the kind of birth that I thought I wanted. Well, that's not true. I don't think I had a clue what I wanted. All I wanted was a healthy baby. And that's what I got, so why am I so scarred by the events that took place?

As I delve deeper into my memory of those 12 hours of labor and then being told I'd need a c-section, I start to relive some of the things I was feeling:

-not in control: As soon as I agreed to a c-section I was given forms to sign, Evan was taken to be prepped for surgery, and I was told about the slight chance that I'd feel pain when they started to make the incision

-head-spinning: Everything happened so quickly. One minute I was laying in the hospital bed exhausted from a day of labor, listening to Blake's heartbeat decline with each contraction and then increase, and the next minute I was being wheeled into the operating room and told to try to move myself to the operating table.

-scared: I wanted desperately to call my mom when my doctor told me I would need a c-section. But I felt like there wasn't time and that if I got on the phone I'd immediately start crying. And I distinctly remember not wanting my doctor to see me cry. That seems so silly since he was going to cut me open and see the inside of my uterus. But I wanted to seem ok with being cut open.

-worried: I was worried about Blake's health and my health. And I was also worried that my wedding rings would get lost because the nurse forgot to tell me to take them off before going into the operating room.

-pain: After my c-section, my epidural catheter was removed before I received any pain medication. I was on a high from being able to see my little baby, but soon after that I was in the worst pain I'd ever experienced. Just imagine being able to feel the pain from a fresh incision in your skin AND your insides. It was horrible. So horrible that all I remember doing is squeezing Evan's hand, screaming at the nurse when she would push on my stomach, and asking for the pain to go away.

-relief: Finally I was given a strong enough pain medication and the pain subsided. And then I got to hold my baby.

But that relief wasn't enough to wash away all those awful feelings I had before I got to hold Blake. And when I think about having another baby, a lot of those awful feelings come back. And sometimes I can even feel a slight twinge of pain in the "beautiful" scar I get to wear for the rest of my life.

I feel like having a c-section has taken away my choice when it comes to how I want to have more children. I mean, I do have choices. But I guess I don't really like my choices. VBAC? Possible, but there are risks. Scheduled c-section? Probably easier, but then there's the issue of scar tissue and the risks associated with that.

And then there's the recovery. The recovery from my c-section was very long and painful. I've heard that c-section recovery gets easier with each one. But I can still remember not being able to stand up completely because the pain was too much to bear.

I feel like I should get over the fact that I had a c-section, not let it effect my decisions the way it has. But the memory of everything is still fresh, even after 16 months.

With such a traumatizing experience pre and post delivery, I feel just as traumatized by the memory of being a new mother. The sleepless nights, the pure exhaustion, the frustration, the needing help but refusing to ask for it, the night that still haunts me when I grabbed a piece of paper as Blake was screaming in his cradle and scribbled down how I wasn't cut out for motherhood and how I had made a horrible mistake, or the night I prayed for Blake to stop crying until he actually did stop crying. It all seems so dramatic now. My emotions were out of control and I hated it. Evan wasn't around to experience my postpartum mood swings. And I don't think any amount of explaining will prepare him for them when we have a second child. 

I suppose that if I'm feeling apprehensive about having another child then I'm not ready mentally for it. And that's ok. Every once in a while I kind of check in with myself and think about whether it's time to "expand our family". I do wonder when the memory of my c-section, memories of being a new mom, and the apprehension of life in Brooklyn with 2 kids will be outweighed by the excitement and readiness to have baby #2. For now, I'll just focus on not-a-baby-anymore #1.


RedBarn said...

Haha, ok, I hold myself solely responsible for this post. I was JUST MESSING WITH YOU on that facebook comment. Of course I don't care when or if you have another baby. Having two is pure craziness, and I have two really good kids. But just to comfort you a little, the second go around is SO MUCH BETTER than the first. You know I too had a horrific first experience. They told me I could have a VBAC, and at first I thought it would be nice to see how most people experience child birth, but then, with a few other medical complications, I decided on a repeat c-section. It was such a breeze. I just walked right in the hospital, got all the ivs, monitors, then just walked right into the O.R. They took their time since it wasn't an emergency. When I look at my scar I can't even tell it's been cut again. It healed up nicely and wasn't traumatizing like the first one. The recovery was so much better too, it really was. The hardest part was missing Kyler honestly. I felt the EXACT same way you did about having more kids. I was terrified. To tell you the truth I prayed and said "Heavenly Father, I'm giving you this one month. If I don't get pregnant, I'm waiting another year. Do what you will!" and that's how Camden was brought about, lol. When the time is right, you'll know. Don't ever let family, friends, or society pressure you into something you aren't ready for. (Well, is anyone ever really ready??) Just treasure Blake as much as you can because once he turns two, you'll wonder what happened to your little sweetheart!!!

Emily said...

I've had this post open on my browser for days trying to think of something brilliant or comforting or super insightful to say. But all I can say is that this post really affected me. And I think it's okay that you're not over it. I know I'm not, and mine wasn't even an emergency c-section. I read a pregnancy/birthing book once that talked about how the author had helped her clients process their past traumatic birthing experiences through art and the written word. It sounded touchy-feely lame at the time, but now i totally get why a woman would need to do something like that. Maybe this is a place to start:

rach said...

I remember reading about your birth story a year or so ago and thinking HOLY CRAP! I'm sure it was super traumatic, especially since it was a completely new experience in every sense of the word and it all happened so fast! And then to be all alone with a new born after major surgery? its hard enough when there are too people and family support there much less any other circumstance! I have to say I dont know how you did it! I don't think there is anything wrong to have reservations about jumping into having another baby- You should never do something as major as that until you feel comfortable doing it! besides, you have plenty of time to add on to the jordon family :)