I recently came across Michele Zip’s Love Letter to C-Section Moms, and I’ve found myself going back to it again and again. As I read it, I could feel part of me relaxing, healing. She speaks about moms judging c-section moms. I haven’t found that other moms have judged me, but I have judged myself.
It is a hard transition to go from planning a home birth to having a c-section. I think I judged myself most harshly because it wasn’t an emergency c-section, but my labour just wasn’t progressing. I feel like I tried, and that I did what my midwives, the doctor and the nurses suggested. But I feel guilty for not doing more. I wonder if I’d eaten better and walked more, maybe Maya would’ve been small enough to move down lower and make labour happen naturally.
It didn’t help that I’d done my research about c-sections. I didn’t want it to negatively effect breastfeeding or bonding. I knew all the benefits of natural birth and I wanted that for my daughter. And for myself.
A number of moms I know who have had c-sections say the most damaging thing they hear when they complain about their birth experience is “But you have a healthy baby!” I heard this too, even from my therapist (who I LOVE), and I didn’t know what to say. What I want to say is that I feel like I missed out on a major life experience. I’m angry that my daughter wasn’t born “properly”. I feel guilty for not trying harder. I feel like I let her down and she was just moments old.
I’m frustrated that I have the odds stacked against me for a regular birth with the next child. Midwives in my city won’t attend homebirths after c-section, and it makes me sad and scared to think about birthing in the hospital again. My chances of a c-section again are very high, even if I work very hard toward avoiding one.
But each day seems to get a little bit easier. The scar is fading. Maya certainly doesn’t seem damaged by her birth experience. I know that I need to be healthy (for her and for me), and that I should allow myself to move past my c-section. Yes, I am happy to have a healthy child… but I’m allowed to take time to come to terms with how she was born.
What was your child’s birth like? Have you accepted it?