Friday, April 30, 2010

April (was) cesarean awareness month

Pin It This is not a quilting related blog entry.

Steiger was born via unplanned c-section a little over a year ago.  My water broke at 2 am April 9, I showed up at the hospital 4 cm dilated... and 12 hours later, despite all the pains progressing, I was still 4 cm dilated.  That's when they wanted to give me pitocin.  I had a room without a bathroom, so when they asked me to leave the bathroom I was borrowing, I couldn't get comfortable.  Mentally, I couldn't do the pit without an accompanying epidural, as I had heard too many horror stories... the shooting pain in my back and hip also made me think maybe there was something wrong to explain why I wasn't progressing.

There was.

Steiger was in the wrong position.  I had taken childbirth classes, but didn't know baby's position could so radically change the progess of labor.  (  Boy did I learn.

So I got the epidural, and again started dilating.  I was complete at midnight... just as April 9 was changing to April 10.

I pushed for nearly 4 hours.
In so many crazy positions.  The only position I couldn't do was standing unassisted (because of the epidural... which had mostly worn off during this time).  At 4:00 am I surrendered to having a c-section because he hadn't moved past the 0 station, and I didn't want him to go in to distress.  At 4:31, Steiger was pulled from the womb.

I have many thoughts on this subject, and a slough of links, but I'm not going to post most of them here.  If you're curious and want more information, comment or email me, and I'll get you connected with some good information.  You should know that I absolutely think a woman should be able to make her own choice with the next one, but in the interests of full disclosure, I am very pro-VBAC (Vaginal Birth after Cesarean), and will try to get the next one (not pregnant yet) out the right spot.

What I am going to do is tell you some ways you can help a woman who has gone through a c-section.  I was the first and only woman in my family on either side to have one... and was really not prepared mentally, emotionally, or physically.

Things not to say:  (especially to a woman who did not plan or want a c-section)

- Well, you'll never have to do that again.  

(That being labor.  I know for me personally, I would rather have 10 labors than 1 c-section... a nurse actually said this to me shortly after everything)

- At least you have a healthy baby. 

This is a sensitive one.  For some women, this can cause resentment to that "healthy baby" (it didn't me), and while it's very true, it's just not the best time to say it.  This means you're probably uncomfortable with the fact that the mama was disappointed and don't know what to say.  It's kind-of like saying to someone who has just lost a loved one, "at least he's not suffering anymore."  While that may also be true, it doesn't erase the grief/sadness/disappointment of the person.  A c-section, for many women feels like a tremendous loss.  Not nearly as grievous as the loss of a child (they can't even be compared), but still something to mourn.  Many of us have pictured the gooey baby on our chest moment for years.  Being strapped to a table, numb from the neck down, and cut open doesn't exactly fit our dreams.  A healthy mama matters too.

For the record though, Steiger was the most healing thing to me.  I adored him from the beginning.

- Well you won't have to worry about incontinence or hemorrhoids.

Again, this isn't automatic (do your kegals ladies), and there are plenty of other things we *do* have to worry about.  I am still numb on my stomach above my scar.  My scar still hurts on occasion.  I have greater placental problems and chance of uterine rupture for the next one.  My chance of a hysterectomy goes up.  I'd personally prefer the problems associated with vaginal birth, rather than major abdominal surgery.

I have many reasons why I will be doing everything within my power to have a VBAC for the next one... with the number one reason being that I didn't like being cut open.  I felt like a failure for months (still do sometimes).  I OF COURSE have the priority of a healthy baby over a vaginal birth, but in almost every case, the vaginal birth is what is best for mama and baby.

Here are some more reasons I want a VBAC:
- These
- Your husband isn't supposed to see your large intestine and uterus (in most c-sections, both are taken out of your body)
- I want a healthier/less-scarred uterus for future pregnancies.
- I want to hold my gooey baby to my chest immediately.
- I want the experience.
- I want to be able to pick up and hold Steiger after his new brother or sister arrives.
- I don't want to hurt when I laugh or cry for the first couple weeks following.
- I want to say "birthday" without feeling like I didn't give birth.
- I don't want to have to rely on narcotics to get through the first week.
- I want a chance for my milk to come in better (mine was late and didn't really establish until I wasn't in as much pain)
- I want a quicker recovery.
- I want to be able to sit up from laying down without needing help the first few days.
- I want to enjoy my newborn, without having the physical and mental drain of trying to heal multiple layers of tissue.
- I don't want so much blood loss (a normal amount of blood lost during a c-section is considered a hemorrhage with a vaginal birth)
- I only want to be cut open again if it is to save me or my baby... not just because of arbitrary rules/insurance regulations/bans/because I don't want to go through labor again.

There are more reasons.
But I've got a little man who took a whopping 1/2 hour nap to attend to.
And today was a 2 bath day at our house.  Because we're still working on eating our vegetables.

Things TO say:

I'm sorry.  
Your baby is beautiful.  
I hope you feel better soon.  
How can I help?

If you know someone who's birth ended in a c-section....Be extra helpful.  She needs someone to cook, clean, do laundry, and tend any other babes.  That is one thing I will always be grateful to my mom for.  She did all the normal life stuff for us, and I truly am so grateful.

This lady, Pam, writes a great blog about VBAC.  Go read it.  


Leah Spencer said...

It was partly financial, it was partly fear that made me lean heavily for a midwife that does home birthing. I feel that doctors tend to be over eager for progress and that I would lose control by having a hospital birth. My deafness puts me at a double disadvantage - it would be so easy to mishear something and then find all kinds of drugs added to my body that I accidentally consented to.

I'm 36 weeks right now, and thrilled to say that the midwife has been a fabulous fit for me. Doesn't hurt that she's also done some quilting too. ;) I also love that I haven't stepped a foot into a doctor's office once since getting pregnant. I choose to take a laid back approach to the pregnancy - no ultrasounds, skipping most testing, go with assuming everything is fine until an actual problem crops up.

Is the birth going to happen as I desire? I don't know for sure, but I know I've done everything I can to make it happen as I want. Well, I'm still on the lookout for a better birthing pool to labor in. :)

Fuschia said...

I'm sorry. Your baby is beautiful. I hope you feel better soon. How can I help? (in case no none one has said it yet):D

Ginger said...

You're so right. I had 2 emergency c-sections (8 and 6 years ago) and still feel like I missed out on giving birth. I can't have any more children (because of the reason for needing the emergency c-sections) and I feel sad that I will never hve the opportunity to labour and give birth naturally. Obviously I'm delighted that my children were alive and very quickly became healthy and that I survived and am healthy but still...
I hope that when the time comes you succeed and are able to have VBAC.

Jamie said...

Hi Tracey,
I've been camping and just came home to read this.

I learned some things from you so thank you. I didn't know that there is more blood loss with a cesarean. I didn't know you had those feelings about saying "birthday". I didn't know that you still have numbness...

That sucks.

More than anything, I'm sorry you feel like a failure. I wish I could take that feeling away. I really really wish I could.

Thank you for sharing your birth story.

Anonymous said...

I just had to comment and tell you how much I appreciated this post. I had never considered this point of view, as most c sections that I know of were planned and scheduled ahead of time, not happenings of unfortunate circumstance. I wish you the best of luck with your future pregnancies! Hugs to you and that handsome wee man. My goodness he is CUTE!!!

alexis nicole said...

Thank you so much for linking this post on my blog! Also, thank you for sharing your experience and the tips.
I'm sorry and I think it is great that you are going to have a V-bac with the next one.
Oh, your little one is ADORABLE!

alexis nicole said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Katie B said...

Thanks for this post! I had a c-section with my son (planned because I had placenta previa), and it makes me happy to see the v-bac info. I was worried about my c-section, and so many people said, "Oh, I had a c-section and I loved it!" I really didn't love it at all! I was fortunate to have my mom stay with us for a month after my son was born, but the recovery was much more difficult than I imagined.

Leah Spencer said...

Revisiting this thread, from your 101 things list. Now that I've actually given birth at home with a midwife, I KNOW I can say that she saved me from having a c-section. It was a fast labor, with a lot of back pain. Unknown to me, my hips were incredibly tight - the midwife had trouble getting 2 fingers through, much less a baby's head! Any doctor would have easily declared the baby "stuck", even though I had been in active labor for only 7 hours, and 2 of those were pushing.

I also had a bit of a retained placenta afterwards - they're supposed to legally transfer me to the hospital if it doesn't come out within 40 minutes of birth. Thanks to 7 months of building a relationship with my midwife, she KNEW me, and she knew I would refuse to transfer at 40 minutes. Plus, I wasn't exactly cooperative about trying to push it out, I was done with pushing. :P It came out 1.5 hours after birth, with no harm done.

LindaFaye said...

Jenn Finch just gave me this link and I love it! I had a c-section with my first and 2 normal, drug free VBAC deliveries after that. So, YAY for VBAC options (not all hospitals give the VBAC option). I am glad you posted things not to say as many women do have a huge desire to have the natural birth experience and feel let down after a C-section. Thanks for sharing, and I look forward to following your blog. :)

Cat said...

Thank you for writing this - 5 years on from my c-section I still get emotional. For me my VBAC was very healing!
I wish you all the very best when the time comes

Elizabeth said...

My first was a semi-emergency c-section and my second was a planned c-section. Yes, I do feel a certain loss over it all, but I went with my gut on the second one. My first one was posterior and never even dropped to a zero before he went into distress. The second baby sat transverse the entire pregnancy and I did not want to go through labor AND then end up with a c-section again. The planned c-section was waayyyy easier to recover from because I didn't have the fatigue of labor on top of a major surgery and I knew better what to expect.

That being said, I really wish you well in preparing for a VBAC.

xo -El


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