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.
My scar is never visible to me and is almost completly faded. My last cesarean was almost four years ago. I have a flap of skin from the 1st cesarean that covers it only to see if I look at it in the mirror. The physical scar doesn't bother me, I can touch it and look at it with no problems. It's the emotional scar that weighs heavy on my heart.
The second picture of me and my second son I can't bear to look at without crying. I have oxygen on because I was throwing up from the spinal. I can hardly see him because I was laying flat and not able to move my arms without them getting heavy and falling on me. I had to have help holding him, it wasn't a natural process. I can say though at least I have pictures. My first delivery wouldn't allow a camera into the OR so we have no pictures of his first cry, his weight check or anything else in those first moments.
Even though those emotional scars hurt I am so happy to be who I am today because of them. I would have never been an ICAN Leader had this not happened and never been able to teach so many women about birth and the amazing process it CAN be! Never would have been so happy to have a baby vaginally...naturally, I will never take that for granted.
My first picture is of my scar and of my pregnant belly too, this baby will be brought up to Mama by Mama and not by surgical staff or a doctor.
My c-section scar hurts. It itches, sweats in the hot summer months, and is numb. It even feels this weird, uncomfortable, pressure feeling when anything, even my husband’s loving caresses touch it. The weird feelings aren’t limited to the scar itself, but the area below as well.
My stomach has this flap- pooch thing that will never go away. It is a horrifying lump that rears its ugliness when I wear stretchy pants, some skirts, and a swimsuit. I fear I will always have to wear a girdle of sorts to smooth everything out. I don’t like my husband to look at my body, I can’t even shave there completely.
My scar says a lot of things to me when I look at it. It reminds me that my doctors didn’t even give me an option of a VBAC the second time. It reminds me that I didn’t get to see my oldest son until he was 2 hours old, and that I didn’t get to see my second one until I threw a fit; I didn’t get to see him until he was hours old, I only got to see him those 15 minutes. It reminds me how I wasn’t allowed out of bed for 24 hours. My youngest son was in the NICU, and I didn’t get to hold my baby and kiss him until 28 hours after his birth. And even then, I was in so much pain. It HURT me, both times, to cuddle my sons, to be their momma. I kissed their foreheads through tears of pain.
Both times, my incision became infected and would not close. Thus, putting me through weeks more of pain, doctor’s visits, and medications. The scar says to me, when I look at it … “you wouldn’t have me if you tried harder the first time, you didn’t fight hard enough for your second birth.” It reminds me that I never got to FEEL my sons come into this world. I did not witness them physically entering the world. I didn’t get to see their naked, new bodies. I met both of my sons when they were wrapped in blankets with knit caps on.
When I touch it, it says “that feels weird”. But also, some different feeling comes over me. Connection. This … thing on my body, thick and bumpy, itchy and numb… will always be with me. The way the most beautiful people came into my life, was through it. When they’re grown and gone with families of their own, I will still have my scar. The sense of touch triggers such an emotional response from me.
I can lose the extra pounds from pregnancy and I don’t have many stretch marks, but my body will always, ALWAYS have a reminder of my pregnancies with my boys.
It isn’t the prettiest, most comfortable thing, but it is important, a part of my history, a part of me, a part of them, a part of us.
I have no photos.
I have a completely undetectable invisible scar on my skin from my July 7, 1986 unnecessary cesarean section.
As Dr. Dena Harris hand sewed the stitches, she remarked "I love sewing".
I thought it was funny at the time, but it dawned on me later that Ob's are always a surgeon first.
Impatience should have disqualified her from practicing Obstetrics.
My scar is far less visible than my natural stretchmarks. It doesn't say much when I look at it. It doesn't hide, it doesn't hurt. It doesn't sadden me, or make me smile. It is there and accepted neutrally.
My scar feels hard and tight to touch, with soft squishy cushions of belly on either side.
My external visible scar means almost nothing to me, it is numb. My emotional scar, strangely detached from the physical, rages like fire, hurts, saddens, weighs heavily... hides occasionally, but continues to reappear when touched.
I have delivered once vaginally and twice by C-Section.
My son was over 9 pounds and although head down was stuck in the birth canal. I had a choice to make during this time when his heart rate was slowing and I was panicking, forceps or c-section? Being terrified of surgery because I had never had it, I opted for forceps. They pulled my baby out and traumatized my vagina for a really long time. I don't mean to sound depressed because I'm not. Our son was healthy and suffered only a slight bruise on his head that faded in a day or two. My body would not heal though-it was like 3 months of hell for my vagina.
I decided for my second and third deliveries that c-section was the only option for my body and the health of my babies.
As I look at the scar, I don't love it but I don't loathe it or hate my life because of it. It's kind of discolored and there's an irregular tuck and bubble right above it that I try to maintain with diet and exercise. I keep it in perspective though. It was the passage-way to life for my two lovely daughters. Thank God for that. I wonder if it weren't for modern medicine if I would have died in my first delivery or if my son wouldn't have made it, then where would my girls be?
I love that it's there because it means my girls are here.
I went in on a Friday to see my midwife. I was a little more than a week overdue at that point so they strapped me to the monitor to check things. Everything looked fine except the baby wasn't moving as much as they wanted. My midwife said just to be safe to go to the hospital for a NST. She told me that if I wanted to, just tell them I'm ready to have the baby and they'd induce me. That should have been my first clue that things might not go the way I was hoping.
So I went to the hospital and they decided that I was low on fluid. Fortunately the midwife on-call at the hospital was really understanding about me NOT WANTING an induction. Despite the doctor's recommendation (and my mother, and my aunt, and my grandmother) that I induce, the midwife suggested I go home over the weekend, drink tons of water and come back for another NST on Monday. I was very relieved to have another option.
I showed up at the hospital Monday afternoon and had another NST. While my fluid had not gone down, it hadn't come up either so the doctor, midwife, nurses, and my entire family told me to just get the induction. I still felt like it was the wrong thing to do, but everyone else was telling me to do what the doctor said and they kept insinuating that by NOT doing that I was endangering my baby's life. So I agreed.
You have to be 4cm to start pitocin and I was nowhere close (about 1 cm) so they used a Foley bulb to dilate me further. It was painful, uncomfortable, and invasive. They basically insert a balloon inside your cervix, inflate it to 4 cm, and it puts pressure on your cervix. When your cervix dilates to 4cm it falls out. The thing is connected to a tube that runs down your leg, which is taped there to hold it in place. They did this later in the evening and told me to sleep with it in. Yeah. Right.
By this time everyone had gone home because it was clear I wouldn't be in labor any time soon. There was no bed for my husband to sleep in so he asked if he could go home too. I wanted to say no because I was so scared to be there by myself, but I knew that if I did go into labor the next day I'd need him to be well-rested so I said that if he wanted to go he could and he did. I've never been so lonely and scared in my entire life and I just lay there crying for a while. I felt abandoned and then guilty for begrudging him sleep. To my surprise, I actually fell asleep.
I woke up a couple of hours later and had to pee so I went to the bathroom. While I was there the bulb fell out of me. There was a lot of blood and it was sort of frightening. I called the nurse and she just told me over the intercom to leave it in the bathroom. I was disappointed she didn't come in because I was still feeling lonely and wanted to actually talk to someone. I fell back to sleep, much more comfortable now that I didn't have a contraption inside me.
The next day my family showed back up cheerful and well-rested. I was feeling a bit grumpy myself, but tried to be excited that I was going to have a baby today. I thought. I asked the midwife if I could go walk around outside for a while before they strapped me to all the IVs and monitors because at that point I'd been in that hospital room for almost 24 hours. So I got my last breath of fresh air for a while and walked around outside the hospital. It was a beautiful fall day.
I went back in feeling much better and settled in for a long wait. They started the pitocin and an IV antibiotic. The first anesthesiologist came in and offered me an epidural. That pissed me off because it specifically said in my birth plan NOT to offer me medications. I wasn't even in labor yet for crying out loud! It would have been waaaaay too soon for an epi even if I'd wanted one. I just said, "No. I'm not using medications." He laughed and said, "I bet I'll see you later" and walked out the door. I was pretty pissed off, but my mom and husband said "oh he was just kidding, you're making too big a deal out of it" so I tried to let it go.
After that it's a long, boring blur. Every few hours or so a new anesthesiologist would come in and ask if I was ready for an epi yet. I got irritated…then I thought it was funny, especially since I still showed no signs of labor. They kept cranking up the pitocin, but nothing was happening. I dilated to about 6cm by early evening, the monitor showed regular contractions, but I felt nothing. The baby was perfectly happy and showed zero signs of distress. I laid there on my back and got up from the bed only to go use the bathroom. I started lying about needing to pee just so I could get up.
Sometime in the evening a nurse offered me a rocking chair. I was surprised. I asked if it was ok for me to get out of the bed and she said of course. Geez, I wish someone had told me that earlier!! I'd have been up moving around, squatting, rocking, kneeling on all fours, all the things I knew would help the baby move down. At that point I don't think I sat down again. I stayed on my feet except when they checked me for dilation.
I don't know what time it was when the midwives changed shift, maybe 8ish, but the new MW came in and it seemed like right away she decided she needed to know how strong my contractions were since I hadn't dilated past 6. She put an internal monitor on my cervix, which meant the end of my standing. I had to lay on my back and try not to move at all. It wasn't long before I felt the water trickling out. I let her know my water had broken and she removed the monitor. I’ve since learned that the water always breaks when they use an internal monitor, but the midwife didn’t tell me that part when she said she was going to put it in.
At any rate I got excited once my water broke because suddenly I could actually feel the contractions. I thought what I'd been waiting for for two days was finally happening- I was in labor!! I was thrilled.
Then the midwife came back. She said the monitor showed that I was having really strong contractions and that because I wasn't dilating despite the contractions she thought it was time to do a c-section. I felt like someone punched me in the stomach and knocked the wind out of me. I started crying and said, "but I can feel the contractions now, I'm in labor." She told me I'd been in labor for a while and it wasn't progressing anything. I asked her if we could please just wait a little while to see if anything happened and she said she would give me one hour. If I hadn't dilated by then I had to have a c-section.
She put me in the "Pretzel" position, which apparently is supposed to encourage dilation (again, no one could have suggested that earlier??) but unfortunately makes the fetal monitor hard to keep in place. I spent the entire hour crying to myself, listening to my mother and husband tell me it was for the best, and trying to ignore the nurse who would not leave me alone and kept messing with the stupid monitor. I wanted to scream at her that surely after 13 hours of lying there with the damned monitor strapped to me and the baby had never once shown any signs of distress, surely it would be ok for the next hour. But of course I didn't. I just kept trying to help her get the monitor situated. She didn't try to hide her frustration and impatience with me at all. She clearly thought I should just go do the surgery and get it over with.
Then the MW came and checked my cervix again. Still 6 cm, so she said. I have my doubts about whether she would have actually told me if I had dilated, but maybe I'm just paranoid.
So that obnoxious nurse came in, much more cheerful now, and shaved the top few inches of my pubic hair. Someone came in and gave me a shot of something "to calm me down." I requested they wait to give me a catheter until after I'd been numbed and they said yes. It was the best decision I made all day, I think, but the nurse seemed to think it was weird.
They rolled me to the OR, which looked like a supply closet. They said my husband would join me in a minute. The anesthesiologist just happened to be the same one who'd been there 12 hours earlier. He said, "I told you I'd see you later." All I can say is that it was a good thing that they gave me that shot to calm me down because I remember being angry but just not caring. That stupid nurse who'd been badgering me for the last hour was there as well. While they are getting things ready they were gossiping about some guy who was "totally looking at" one of the nurses. I didn't understand how they could not realize that I was laying there having one of the worst moments of my life. I wanted to scream at them that I knew they probably did this everyday, but I didn't and it was really scary and emotional for me, but I just didn’t have the energy. Probably because of the shot they’d given me.
My husband still hadn't shown up, but it was time for my spinal block. The thing I'd feared most throughout pregnancy- the reason I never wanted an epidural- a needle in my spine. I thanked the shot again. I leaned on the MW. Suddenly I thought someone had splattered boiling water down my left leg. I jumped and looked to see who'd dropped a cup but the MW just told me not to move. It was just the needle hitting a nerve. I laid back and they raised the curtain. I zoned out. The part of my brain not "calmed" by the shot wondered where my husband was.
Finally he came in. He seemed surprised they'd already started. Apparently he'd gone to get a cup of coffee and they couldn't find him.
It's all a blur from there until at 1 am I heard the doctor say, "Oh, what a beautiful baby." I remember wondering whether he said that about all the babies. I tried to look and see but the curtain was in the way. By the time they brought her to us she was clean and swaddled and had a little cap on, but she was the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen. Her face was so pink and her eyes were closed and she looked so peaceful. They handed her to my husband and I reached up and touched her cheek and said hello. I laid there with my hand on her cheek for god knows how long. It seemed like ages.
I started to realize that I felt a vague burning sensation in my abdomen. I told the anesthesiologist that I felt something. He asked me what it felt like and I thought for a second and said, "it feels like fingers in my belly." He said, "Let's get you a shot of morphine." They don't tell you this, but morphine makes you itch. It was terrible, it started in my nose, then my face...neck...chest. I was trying to focus on the baby but I was so itchy and I'd been laying there for so long.
Finally they finished and I was able to hold my baby for the first time as they rolled me back to my room. For a few moments all was right with the world. It wasn't so bad. My baby was healthy and I was OK. As soon as they parked my bed I put my daughter to my breast and she latched right on. I was so happy. I slept with her all night in my bed with me, nursing and snuggling.
The next day I was in the bathroom when I heard my usual midwife come in my room. It was the first time I'd seen her since that Friday she'd sent me for the NST. I sat there in the bathroom afraid to come out and started crying. I couldn't face her. The last time I'd seen her I was pregnant and happy and confident and now I'd failed. She was going to be disappointed in me and I was scared to look her in the eye. I tried to clean off my face and look like I wasn't crying and walked out to see her. That was the first time I pretended like it didn't matter but it wasn't the last.
Despite all my gentle attempts to naturally induce myself I had not gone into labor. I had to really fight with my midwives’ overseeing OB to get to 42 weeks, especially after I agreed to the US to check the baby's size and they estimated him at +9lbs. They scheduled a c-section for the day I hit 42 weeks. That was a Sunday. Here's the rest of the story...
Saturday morning at 6am I woke up and felt my first real contraction. It felt nothing like anything I'd felt before so I thought it was the real thing, but was afraid to get my hopes up again. They continued regularly every five minutes for over an hour so I knew something was really happening. I took a shower and they started coming one on top of the other so I called my doula. While she was on her way they evened back out a bit. My mom came and got my daughter and I settled in to what I thought would be a pretty quick labor- since they were already so close together and lasting about 45 seconds. Over the next few hours they got to every 2 minutes and stayed there. All. day. long. I should have tried to do other things to take my mind off of labor, but I was so afraid that if I stopped concentrating on the contractions they'd stop coming and I'd end up on that OR table the next day.
Around 6:30PM that night I called the on-call midwife because my doula was afraid I was going to get too worn out and she wanted me to try to speed things up. I'm so glad I called the midwife because she assured me that the surgery was definitely off since I was in labor. I didn't realize I'd been worrying about that all day- like I was trying to labor on a time clock. She told me to relax, make myself comfy, take a warm bath and let labor take its own course without trying to speed things up. I felt so much better. I sent my doula home- that was actually a big relief. She was starting to stress me with suggestions of how to speed things up and I was tired of being stared at.
So I took a hot bath, relaxed, laid down in bed, tried to watch SNL and dozed between contractions for a while. After a few more hours the contractions weren't getting closer together but they were getting harder to deal with and more intense so I decided to head to the hospital. I'd been in labor about 18 hours at that point, though I lied to the midwife when I got there and said the contractions had started early afternoon sometime. I really didn't want to be on their clock.
The drive to the hospital sucked, but we got there Sunday morning at 1am. We got lost trying to get in to the maternity ward but a friendly security guard helped us out and let us in the door that was locked after hours. The nurses recognized my name from the surgery roll for the next morning and were really excited for me that I was in labor. I was 5 cm when I checked in and incredibly happy to hear it. I had a heplock for antibiotics (I was GBS+) and was on continuous monitoring because I was VBAC, but generally comfortable and able to move around. I decided not to worry about whether they were getting good monitor readings and that made things easier. I used my yoga ball to sit on, lean on, drape myself over. I squatted into contractions, I laid on my side for a while. Basically I tried every position in the book and just generally stayed mobile.
By 4am I was 8 cm and 100% effaced. I heard that and cried with happiness. Then my body decided that it was done for a little while and I stopped progressing. It was probably good because I was able to sleep a little bit, but after a few hours they started talking about internal monitors and pitocin so my body kicked back into gear. In another hour or so I got to 10cm with a cervical lip that just wouldn't go away. I was getting frustrated at that point because I felt like no one was telling me what to do to make it progress. The doula was useless at this point (I’m sure she was worn out) and I was getting so tired and just frustrated. The pain really wasn't much of an issue for me, I was just exhausted from lack of sleep and a long labor and just READY FOR THE BABY TO COME OUT.
Then shifts changed and this angel of a nurse came in and started quietly making suggestions in my ear about how to stand, where to put my feet, how to curl my back forward instead of backward during contractions to get the baby around my pelvis. I got to the point where they said I could try pushing past the lip but the baby kept slipping back. The midwife (the same one I had talked to the night before on the phone) assured me that at this point I WAS going to have a vaginal birth, but they thought a "whiff of pit" would strengthen my contractions and make them consistent enough to actually push the baby out. I was still falling asleep between them at this point. I didn't even notice the pitocin, but once they gave it to me it took about 45 minutes of pushing before the head came out (at 11:13am after 29 hours of labor). I was laboring on my back at this point holding my feet and pushing against my own hands with some help from my aunt on one side and the nurse on the other with my mom holding my head and helping me curl into a shrimp position. My husband was waiting to catch the baby and my sister was watching over his shoulder. My eyes were mostly closed but I have a few mental images of seeing their faces as the baby was coming out. I thought it would be embarrassing but it was encouraging because they both looked so amazed and impressed. Then the head popped out and everyone cheered.
The amniotic sac was still intact and she had to burst it by poking her finger in his mouth. Then they told me to stop pushing because his shoulders were stuck. My husband was not able to deliver him because the midwife had to maneuver him a bit, which caused a tear, but when I felt his body slither out everyone in the room cheered. They put him up on my belly and I reached down and felt that he was a boy. He was just as beautiful all messy and blue as my daughter had been clean and pink. They had to take him away after a moment because he was in a little bit of shock from getting stuck, but they assured me that he was just fine and they kept him in the room while they checked him over. I delivered the placenta (that thing was huge!!!) and then they stitched me up. The stitching was the first time I said the word "epidural" the whole time I was in labor. That was the worst part of the whole experience. I tried to hold the baby to distract myself, but I was yelling so loud I had to give him to my husband until they were done. It took forever, but they finally finished and gave my baby back to me. I offered him my nipple and he immediately latched on and went to town like he'd been doing it forever. It was wonderful. It was the most healing, amazing experience of my life and I hope every woman can experience something like it.
If you'd asked me what my scar said to me when I looked at it or touched it a few years ago, I'd have said it was mocking me. It said, "Look what you let happen. Look what you let them do to you. Look how weak you are." It was a constant physical reminder that I failed at birth. I knew intellectually that I didn't fail, that it was the broken system that failed me, but emotionally I felt like a failure. I didn't mind the stretch marks or the varicose veins as visible proof of my motherhood, but that scar was a different story. I'd loved being pregnant, every second of it. And even though I went well past my due date I never felt "done" with being pregnant like so many moms do. But the medical professionals felt differently and even though looking back I can say that I did everything reasonable to avoid it, I still felt guilt for giving in to the fear and agreeing to an induction that I KNEW would not work. I KNEW my baby wasn't ready to come out yet.
As c-sections go, mine was actually not that bad. I was not separated from my daughter and I was able to nurse her within about an hour of her being delivered. She was perfectly healthy and my recovery, while difficult, was nothing out of the ordinary. But emotionally I had no idea the kind of fallout I would face. I couldn't acknowledge the shame and guilt. I hid in the bathroom of my hospital room and cried when my midwife came to visit and I didn't even know why until much later. It wasn't until I started talking to other moms who'd had similar experiences that I realized it was normal, or at least very common. Most of the people around me didn't understand and my inability to be happy with my experience made them noticeably uncomfortable. But once I was able to talk about it with people who didn't just reply, "your baby is healthy and that is what is really important" I started processing those mixed up feelings and even started to heal a little bit at a time.
The anger came first. Anger at the medical community, anger with myself, anger at all the people who had been present at the birth. Then came the acceptance of what happened along with a determination not to let it happen again. When I got pregnant with my second child the fear reared its head again, but I faced it head on this time and really examined what I was afraid of, how I could avoid it, and made lots of "what if" plans. I fought like a mama bear through most of my pregnancy to make sure the birth would go the way I wanted it to go and finally I had to just give up my false impression of control and trust my body to do what it was made to do. And it did. And it was the most healing experience of my life.
So now my scar says something different. It says, "Look what you can do! Look what you can overcome. Look how strong you can be." I may not be a the point yet where I can say I'm proud of my scar, but I don't avoid looking at it in the mirror anymore. I don't avoid washing it so I won't have to feel it, in fact I can barely feel it at all unless I really try. It's beginning to fade into my skin the way the memory of the birth is fading into the past, becoming a small part of my life experience. That doesn't mean I'll forget and it doesn't mean it's not important, but it doesn't have the rawness of a fresh wound anymore.
I dont have a photo of my ceasar scar but would love to share my story.
Ceasar scar number one was an unplanned ceasearian. My little baby boy was breech. I was very scared about the whole thing and was dreading through the whole pregnancy not to have to have a ceasarian but these things happen. As long as he was in my arms healthy and safe that's all that mattered to me.
Ceasar scar number two was also not planned but I was told I couldn't have a natural birth after a ceasar, which now I know is not true but like the first birth as long as he was in my arms healthy and safe which he was.
Ceasar scar number three- I went into natural labour and was all ready for a natural birth but the doctors advised against it as things were moving too fast and could rupture the previous scars. So again I went along with the ceasar and had a beautiful little girl.
Although I never wanted a ceasarian with any of my children, I love my scar. My babies were born out of that scar. It reminds my everyday of my beautiful children and I wouldn't change a thing. My scar isn't ugly to me. Yes there is that flap of skin that no matter what amount of exercise you do you can not get rid of it. But if that's all I have to live with then that suits me just fine.