My scar says I failed. That my body failed to nurture my first baby long enough. It says they had to take her from me early because my placenta had stopped nourishing her. Says I didn't give birth, that my first daughter's birth was something that happened to me, not something I did. It says that since I didn't do anything but lay on a OR table I have nothing to brag about when my friends tell stories of pushing, and their tolerance for pain. Like they went through a rite of passage I'll never get to experience. It also says I failed my second daughter by not having a VBAC. I was in labor 3 times, and had it stopped by medication twice because my OB wanted me to wait until my scheduled date for my repeat c-section. The 3rd time it didn't work and I was admitted to the hospital. I spent the night in a half-sleep contracting every 5 minutes until finally at 5:30 am my OB showed up to do my cesarean as planned. It's a daily reminder of my body's failures.
I don't touch my scar. If I did I wouldn't feel it anyway. After my first cesarean I was numb for a year in some places. I'd like to think that it makes me look strong. I wish when I saw or touched it I felt that it shows what I went through to get my babies here. But I don't see it as a mark of my strength, I see as a reminder of my weakness. Maybe someday I'll be able to join in those conversations other women have about their birth experiences and I feel proud of mine. I think it'll be a long time for me to get to that point though.
I know what I want to say but the words are a little stuck. It's multifaceted. It's inspiring, and beautiful. It's sad and grieving. My scar is numb and hurts sometimes. My heart has been open since I was pregnant, through the birth, and after, to feel what I need to feel and do what I need to do.
Writing this story I'm 7 weeks PP. I gave birth by c-section to twin boys at 34 weeks. For about a month we knew we would have to deliver early, it was just a matter of when. I was pregnant with fraternal twins and twin A not only had a vericose umbilical cord, but the cord was also barely attached to the placenta. At 13 weeks there was already a 30% difference in growth. At 31 weeks the growth gap had increaded to 40. His cord would no longer sustain him. We waited 3 more weeks, having ultrasounds twice a week. My 2 perinatologists decided that he wouldn't make it any longer and we had surgery March 10th. The surgery was great. Everything was perfect. My only regret is not asking them before hand to lower the curtain. I didn't get to see my little men for over 12 hours. They were born at 3lbs and 4lbs 9 oz. Only 2 weeks of NICU time. Recover was rough for the first few days, but after a week PP, it got much easier.
It's hard to even see my scar. I have to fight folds and folds of "twin skin". But when I look at it, and my entire torso in general, I just think of what an amazing job my body did at housing not one but two amazing little survivors. I look at my scar and I do not have any negative thoughts. I'm happy for what my body did, and I never cared how they got here. I do some days mourn the loss of the shapeliness of my torso, but these feeling never last long. I look at my boys and I know it was all worth it. The flabby skin, the huge stretchmarks that seem to never end, and the scar are all beautiful reminders of what my body accomplished. I would do it a hundred times over again for them.
This is my many scars. I have had 5 c-sections. 3 cuts from the navel down, and 2 cuts bikini style. When I look at them it screams failure to me. I feel betrayed by my own body, the very thing I live in has let me down. When I touch it, it feels flawed and imperfect. I am embarassed by my scar, I am embarassed to be called a women or mother. It makes me feel down because my body could not birth a child normally. I feel so incomplete as a mother.....
First off, let me just say that I had an amazing pregnancy. I loved every moment that I was pregnant. This was my very first pregnancy and everything was perfect! Nothing like what most of the books I'd read said it would be like. I had no morning sickness, no heartburn, no water retention and if it wasn't for the ever growing belly I would have questioned being pregnant at all!
My husband and I planned for a natural birth, we attended over 12 weeks of Bradley Birthing Method classes in preparation for our son's arrival. I had previously worked in Labor & Delivery at a local hospital for over 4 years. Seeing over 200 births, I knew the benefits of going natural and the serious recovery involved with c-sections. This was something I wanted to avoid at all costs.
When my due date came and went we decided NOT to be induced. We had done our research about the increased c-section rate with inductions and we didn't consider this an option for us. Most women FEEL ready for there babies to come out and when my due date rolled around, I didn't. He never dropped into my pelvis so I had 0% effacement and was only dilated 2 centimeters. Our doctor agreed with our decision to not be induced but asked we come in to be monitored to make sure our son was still doing ok.
I was 41 weeks and 2 days pregnant when we went in for my first NST (Non-stress test). From the moment I got up that Monday morning, I felt different. Something wasn't right. Riley (our son) was always a mover and a shaker in my belly, but not that morning. Even after I ate a full breakfast (when he usually moved the most) I could hardly feel him.
I will never forget the look on the nurses face when she hooked me up to the monitor. I could hear Riley's heartbeat so I wasn't concerned until it started making a sound that was like a galloping noise. Something I had never heard it do in all our previous prenatal visits. She immediately said she was going to get the doctor to come and look at my strip. She returned with the doctor, who was much more calm then she was. He said, "Let's have a look see shall we?" and I nodded. He simply stated that we should head over to the Labor and Delivery unit for extended monitoring because my strip wasn't reassuring and I was what they refer to as "post-dates" meaning over due.
My husband and I walked over to Labor and Delivery and were set up in a bed almost immediately. I was then placed on the monitor and the nurse said she would be back momentarily to see how I was doing. We could hear Riley's heartbeat so this comforted us. Suddenly, an alarm sounded from the monitor. The nurse came back and said that she needed to give me some oxygen and that the baby's heartrate was dropping. She asked me to roll to my side as she lowered the head of the bed and placed oxygen on me. Within a few seconds, Riley's heartrate went back up. It had dropped to nearly 60 bpm when the normal should be between 125-165 approximately. This happened 3 times in the course of maybe 10 minutes. Not okay.
A wonderful female doctor (not the same one who had been following my pregnancy) came to see us. From the moment I met her, I loved her. Looking into her eyes gave me a sense that everything was going to be okay. She explained to my husband and I that I wasn't in labor yet (no contractions seen on the strip or felt by me) and after checking me, I wasn't anywhere near being ready to go into Labor or a canidate for induction. She told us that labor in general causes a stress on the baby and will cause the heartrate to drop a bit with each contraction. Since I wasn't in labor yet and the baby already was showing signs of distress she thought it best for me to have a c-section. I couldn't believe it! We asked for a moment to ourselves to discuss it. We both wanted what was best for Riley and getting him into the world safely was our number one priority.
We decided to go ahead with the c-section.
The doctor returned to the room and sat next to me on the bed. She grabbed my hand and with tear filled eyes apoligized that I couldn't have the natural birth I had planned and hoped for. She told me that if I wanted to have another child she would double stitch my uterus so that I could attempt a VBAC next time around and she would gladly be my doctor. This warmed my heart. I knew her intentions were nothing but true.
That being said, I was prepped for surgery. They were calling it an "Urgent" c-section, not an Emergency c-section but within minutes it seemed I was on the operating table. I was shaking like a leaf so the nurse held me with a warm blanket while they did the spinal anesthesia. All the while I was still hooked to the heart monitor so I could hear Riley. My husband joined me in the OR and held my hand as we waited. They told me I would feel pressure when they were taking him out and boy was THAT an understatement! It felt like someone was standing on my stomach when it came time for them to pull him out. Having seen c-sections and deliveries in my past I knew what was going on and what WASN'T going on.
I heard them say, "Call the team!" meaning Respiratory team. Then I heard the doctor say, "No, they won't make it in time...there's meconium in here...nucal cord times two...he's not breathing...". My heart sank. I kept telling my husband, "He's not crying! He's not crying! Why isn't he crying?!". The cord was wrapped around his neck twice. The next thing I saw was my son's limp little body being carried to the warmer. Not crying. Not moving. There were at least four nurses and the doctor working on him. I couldn't breath and my husband didn't say a word.
Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, I heard my son cry! He then peed all over the warmer. Hahhaha! He was okay! He didn't swallow or inhale any of the meconium (there first stool). The wonderful nurse brought him to me almost immediately and I got to touch him and kiss his sweet face. They let my husband cut his cord too.
Once I was all stitched up they brought me to recovery where we got to be skin to skin and he latched immediately. I was so worried about the "Golden Hour" following birth and how important it all is for breastfeeding and bonding. The nurses cared about it too which made all the difference in the world. Riley never had to go to NICU and was with me from that moment on.
It didn't happen the way we had planned it but I'm glad we had a c-section. Had we not, Riley may not be with us today. The doctor later told us that the cord was wrapped so tightly (twice) around his neck that the pushing from labor would have caused the situation to end up being an emergent one instead of the urgent one we opted for.
Now, 13 months later when I look at my scar I'm reminded that it was all a reality. That the sweet little boy running around, eating everything, came from my body and thankfully was brought into this world safely. Next time around we will try a VBAC. I put it in the Lord's hands though, he knows what is best and as long as it gets my babies here safely then I'm okay with it.
Mrs. Reyna Brown
my scar says, "yes, i am here, now get over it and move on, you're expecting again. this time we will do it right." i don't want to take a picture of it. i had a doc who after 22 hours of labor, 15 hours of labor in the hospital, decided, "i'd like to have dinner with my family, so let's wrap this up". He had even declared me 10 cm and had me pushing, only to turn me away from that path. He gave up, and so did my family support system due to fear and exhaustion, and therefore so did i. baby and i were just fine. when he was ripped from me, all i wanted was to hold him. but they wouldn't let me. when they put him near me, he stopped screaming. they wheeled me out. i looked and felt like death. i still feel let down by my body, my ability to concentrate and relax, my doctor, my support system in my family and the list goes on. when my son was just past 2 weeks old, i had to go back into the hospital for 5 days to be on 3 types of IV anti-biotics. i had raging fevers and an infant. i sat alone there, mad, scared and confused, everyday as my family had to all go back to work. they never really figured out why i had extreme fevers and an elevated white blood cell count, hence the 3 types of antibiotics. it was a living hell. i hate IV's now. i am pregnant again and will NOT go down that road. I will fight tooth and nail not to return to the hospital, or to the operating table. i will only invite those who know how strong and powerful i am into my birthing room. i know i could have had a healthy son either way, i just needed the support to remind me that i could do it. THIS TIME I SHALL.
My son was conceived via IVF, our 2nd attempt (the first resulted in miscarriage). I had a relatively normal pregnancy in the early days. No morning sickness and only a few minor issues. By the end however I began to slowly fall to pieces (as my Obstetrician put it). I was scheduled for a caesarian in week 38 due to pre-eclampsia & an oversize, breech baby. I was hospitalised week 33-34 for pre-eclampsia. By week 36 I began feeling very unwell and had a blood test and my levels were all over the place. My blood pressure was sky-high, my platelets had dropped dramatically and my liver and kidneys weren't coping. I was phoned by my obstetrician and told to pack a bag and come in immediately and I would be taken to theatre 8am the next day. My husband was working away and my parents live 2hrs away so it was a mad dash to get everyone here. Further blood tests revealled that it would be too risky for an epidural so I was placed under general anaesthetic (GA). My beautiful son "exited via the sunroof" at 8:08am Thurs 18th March 2010 at exactly 37 weeks gestation 49.5cm & 3.55kg. He wasn't breathing at first and was a lovely shade of purple. His 1min Apgar was 3. However he picked up and has gained a healthy 1.4kg since and is the light of my life.
On the morning of December 15th I went into labor on my own, at my house. By the time I got to the hospital, I was 4cm dilated. About half an hour after I was admitted and in my room, they checked me and I was 5cm- so they broke my water. Within 45 minutes after they broke my water, I was fully dilated. All of a sudden, my son's heart rate plummeted to the 40's. They had me lie on one side, then the other, then get on all fours. His heart rate was still low, so before I could even process what was happening they were running me down the hall and into surgery. I had an emergency c-section because my baby's cord was wrapped around his neck three times. I was awake long enough to hear him cry for the first time, and my husband say "He's perfect!"... that's all I remember. I was later told I had a postpartum hemorrhage on the table, and ruined some poor nurse's shoes with my blood. My son had a short stay in the NICU after he was born- he became lethargic and as a result wouldn't nurse, and his blood sugar levels became low and they feared meningitis. Thankfully, he is fine.
When I woke up from surgery and remembered what had happened, I was terrified to look under my gown. I was afraid to see the incision, and afraid that since my c-section was an emergency, that I would be cut vertically. I can't lie, I was relieved to see that it wasn't. I had a low transverse incision.
In the weeks following his birth, I was concerned about the dreaded c-section "shelf"- afraid of how my scar would heal... all that stuff.
It's been four months and my feelings towards my scar have radically changed. I'm damned proud of that scar. I wear it like a badge of honor. It wasn't my birth plan to have a Cesarean birth- but coming home with a baby was my ultimate birth plan, and the c-section allowed me to do this. When I feel my scar, it's still pretty numb, and hard as it is still healing. But what I see and feel when I look at or touch my scar is simply gratitude. I am beyond thankful to live in an age when this operation is a possibility- what if I had been born 100 years ago? Would my son and I have lived? I don't think so.
When I look at my scar, I thank God for blessing me with a beautiful, healthy son.
When I look at my scar, I'm reminded that my little boy is a fighter- and so am I.
My little boy was breech. We tried everything to turn him, chiropractic, acupuncture, yoga sequences, positive thinking, visualizing, you name it. We attempted an external version at 37 weeks which instantly put my baby into distress. The midwife and doctor stopped the procedure and the baby and I were monitored for two hours to make sure that he and I were both okay.
When the midwife told me "it is time to choose a birthday," my heart sank. I was devastated that I wasn't going to have my beautiful natural birth I had been preparing for and terrified of the prospect of abdominal surgery. I cried daily for over a week but slowly came to embrace the certainty of it all. I was able to find a cat sitter, let my work know when my last day was, and do a deep clean of the house to welcome the little one, etc.
My scar is nearly 7 weeks old, has healed, but still feels so very raw emotionally.
When I look at my scar it says to me "You didn't plan for me, you didn't want me and still don't, but I am with you now. You will find a way to peacefully accept me, learn to understand me and maybe one day come to love me for the great battle scar that I am...you earned me as a warrior mama."
When I touch my scar it says to me "I am here, you can't forget it and won't. I am the way you birthed your baby and it is OK. One day you will peacefully accept me, learn to understand me and come to love me for that."
My scar says "I am your story".
“But the biggest surprise by far – on her stomach was a scar!”
(from the children’s classic, Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans, referring to her appendectomy)
When you look at your Cesarean scar, what does it say?
My C-section was a surprise to me, so much so that I hadn’t packed enough clothes for a hospital stay of four days rather than two. Even though my obstetrician had been telling me for weeks that we would induce labor due to my gestational diabetes, and C-section was a possibility, I never thought I would come to that. I’m Marjorie’s daughter – Marjorie who had two easy, natural childbirths without complications.
I cried uncontrollably throughout the surgery. When they lifted my daughter, Cecily, from me and I heard her voice, I cried harder, but from relief and redemption. In the picture of me on the operating table, with my husband and Cecily, I look transfixed, in a state of grace, as though light were streaming from my face. I believe the grace and redemption I felt were genuine, not just my body reacting to the drugs.
We received a gift of three Madeline books in our first week home from the hospital. I had read and loved these books as a child, so I was happy to be reunited with them and to have them for my daughter. The page where Madeline proudly shows off her appendectomy scar to her hospital visitors did something to me. It was the first indication that I could think of my scar as something positive, something that others could look at and admire.
So even though I did not have a natural vaginal birth for my first child, it was still a spiritual experience. I still underwent the rite of passage from Maiden to Mother. And these days, as I am enjoying and getting to know my daughter, I tell myself the “C” of C-section stands for Cecily.
- Emily Richardson, April 18, 2010 (7 weeks post-op)
When you touch your Cesarean scar, what does it say?
“Macduff was from his mother’s womb / Untimely ripp’d.”
(Shakespeare, Macbeth, Act 5, Scene 8)
My scar is harder than the surrounding skin, and its red has not faded much yet. The hair that they shaved to make the incision has not yet fully grown back.
I didn’t want a C-section. I didn’t want labor to be induced before my due date, either, but I thought my obstetrician knew best, since she had medical training and I had gestational diabetes. Now when I look back and wish I had been allowed to go into labor on my body’s schedule, I think of Shakespeare’s description of Macduff’s birth as being “untimely ripped” from his mother. Vaginal birth, too, may be violent and bloody, but at least it is not untimely.
In Birthing from Within, Pam England notes that in some “primitive” cultures, women who have given birth are greeted in the same manner as warriors returning from battle. I like that this recognizes women as (at least) equally strong and enduring as men. If warriors returning from battle can point to their scars and remember their experiences, why can’t I? I am a “veteran” of the Cesarean operating table.
Right after the birth, I felt as if I hadn’t been as good or as strong as women who dilate to 10 cm and birth naturally. That my body was somehow lacking, and that was why I had a C-section. But now, I believe that my emotional as well as physical suffering during that night, when I had to accept, one after another, anesthesia, then epidural, then surgery – my emotional pain “qualifies” me and my strength as much as a vaginal birth would have. Women in normal childbirth, I’m told, reach a point of no return, where they have to go through the pain to the other side. I did that in my soul. And I have the scars to prove it.
- Emily Richardson, April 18, 2010 (7 weeks post-op)
I hide her. Deep beneath an apron of fat I wear to protect her and her trauma I hide what remains of my abdominal yoni. She was used once and then had her lips sewn tightly shut. When I peek at her, she shows her left side, healing and coping as best she can. But her right side is sunk deep, sour and pissed off. She throws out adhesions to my uterus, my ovary, to any part of me that is woman and pulls them to her, trying to get me to listen. Whenever my right ovary bursts out an egg, my scar makes her scream in pain, as if saying, “No! Do not do anything that will get me cut again!”
When I touch her she winces. I massage her and I feel her pain burning away, even now 6 years later. She is tight, holding together, afraid of letting all she has stored spill out.
Only my firstborn was born through my belly. For him, I went into the hospital unprepared for the battle I never knew awaited me. For my second birth, I went in armed to the teeth with knowledge, both of an obstetric and soul nature. I emerged a Birth Warrior, triumphant. A Victory Birth After Cesarean. Last August I went into the fray once more and again dug deep and blissfully birthed my first daughter.
And still, my scar simmers and stews. Still so furious, hidden, and alone.
When I look at my scar, it says “remember”.
Remember how you waited your whole life to give birth to a baby…and then didn’t get to.
Remember how you joked with the doctor that you didn’t know what a contraction feels like…and still don’t.
Remember how happy and comfy and unstressed the baby was in your belly, for all that she was head up and had “low” fluid levels.
Remember how much you cried about not being able to have a natural birth.
When I touch my scar, it says “I know you didn’t want me, so I will try to hide. I will heal smooth and soft, thanks to all of that vitamin E oil you rubbed on me. You will not be able to feel me except where the skin feels new. I will not pull on your insides when you move, I will only be a little bit numb, I will not hurt.”
It’s too bad that the hurt is still there, inside.
On The Shape of a Mother, I called my scar “a badge of membership in an exclusive club.” My words made others feel better about their scars. But the truth is, every time somebody I know gives birth, I still feel the bitter ache inside that I did not get to experience that. Their innocent comments about labor and pushing are like knives in my heart. Every time I think that I have accepted the cesarean, the hurt just comes sneaking back. I am consumed with the thought of a VBAC, impatient with having to wait two years to find out if I can do it.
I did not realize until I took this picture that my scar is all but invisible. It is not the scar I have a problem with, it is the surgery that put it there.
Tara's scar was the "face" of the old CesareanScar.com site. I thank her very much for her generous gift.
Let me tell you about me. I'm a very petite woman, 4' 9" to be exact. My mother, also tiny at 5 ft tall, birthed 4 babies vaginally with no problem. One sister, just taller than me, birthed two babies vaginally and my other sister, the tallest at all of us at 5' 1" had her two daughters by c-section because she has a short torso and her babies were stuck transverse. Though I chose a traditional OB, I also had a doula and took Hypnobabies birthing classes. I wanted a natural and vaginal birth with no drugs.
My labor began on a Tuesday night. By morning we called my doula and we all thought I was having a baby. Nope. Contractions stopped and so doula went home and we waited. Friday morning I knew it was time. I labored at home as long as I could until something told me it was time to go. We got to the hospital, got checked in and by this time I was tired and thinking of an epidural. All of my labor was back labor.
When the nurse checked me I was at 8 cm and 100% effaced. Yay. I had made it at home this far and I was going to birth my baby. I did get the epidural and rapidly reached 10 cm. My doula and my husband and mother at my side. My contractions were irregular and I turned down pitocin twice. My OB came to check on me after two hours of pushing.
He sat down. (Read that again slowly). He sat down. He told me my options. I could keep pushing for awhile. He could use the vacuum but my child's head was farther in than he liked to use the vacuum on. Or I could opt for a c-section.
I looked around the room at the faces gathered there. No one was judging me, no one was arguing one way or another. Around me was an environment of support. It was my decision. Mine alone. I took a breath. I looked at my doctor. "Cut me open," I said.
Did I feel a little sadness, yes I did. However, my son was wedged so deeply into my pelvic girdle that my doctor (who is built like a linebacker) was leaning into my shoulder through the drape as he was pulling my son out of my body. My husband even tells me the doctor came up onto his toes he was pulling so strongly. My son was covered in meconium and had to be taken to the NICU. Luckily he was fine and so was I. I was also able to choose the music playing in the OR during my surgery. My son was born to the sound of my Hypnobabies relaxation music.
When I look at my scar I am still amazed that it is only 5.5" long and yet an entire person came out of there. A 7 lb 5 oz person who was 19.5" long! Isn't that just amazing? Apparently my pelvic bones did not spread enough to get my son out vaginally. He and I both tried like champions and his cone shaped head proved how hard we tried. Without a c-section he would not be here.
I can never touch my scar without thinking of my son. I know that I will always think of him when I touch it. My scar is right over the area when I nurtured him and felt him kick. My scar is raised and still red even 13.5 months after his birth which is when I took this picture. Hypertrophic I believe is the term. I wish it were flat and white like my appendectomy scars but that's ok. It's crooked and at first that really irritated me. Now it's just a part of the scar. I'm still numb right above the scar itself but otherwise I have all my feeling back. It does itch like the devil from time to time.
I really like the bumper sticker I once saw: Scars are tattoos with better stories.