This post has been a hard one to write. Even now as I type, tears are flowing down my face. My pregnancies aren’t easy. Every single one of my deliveries has had a rough aspect to it, even though a healthy baby was the ending result. When birth doesn’t go as planned, there are things you should and shouldn’t say to help out the mom. For some background, let’s start with my births.
(I’ll add a photo of my first 2 when I find them! Currently buried in stacks of photos and before digital photos!)
With my firstborn, I was induced. It was a 48 hour induction that seemed to never end. I barely avoided getting a c-section with her since I was just shy of the 24 hour mark after they broke my water. Once she was born, I was so exhausted from not sleeping, I had a hard time even holding her right after birth. We had trouble bonding that I believe was due to pure exhaustion from the induction. In hindsight, I would have never gone for the induction, but I was 19 at the time and had no clue what I was doing.
With my second, my water broke first. At the time we only had 1 vehicle and so I was riding with my husband to work at the county jail around 7am so I could use the car later. I got out of the car to walk around to drive home and POP! My water broke! In the middle of the jail parking lot and right in front of one of his supervisors. (Note to pregnant moms – always carry extra towels with you… you just never know!). We went back home to call Grandma to come watch our oldest, grab the hospital bag, and then immediately went to the hospital. This is where things started going sour. At the hospital, they immediately made me stay in bed. Of course, now I know how that most likely stalled my labor. Then my blood pressure started going up. I honestly can’t remember what it went up to but I don’t remember any really scary numbers. They went ahead and started magnesium when I was 9 cms. A side effect to magnesium is that it can stop labor. And it did. 9 cms. And STOPPED. This was now about 5am the next morning. I was told a c-section was my only option because we were so close to the 24 hour mark after water breaking.
My son was fine, but I was another story. During the c-section, I started vomiting and so they had to intubate me and put me completely under. While this was happening, they quickly whisked my husband away not telling him what was going on. He had no idea if I was alive or dead or what was happening. He was told to wait in our previous hospital room. Meanwhile afterward, I woke up in a room all by myself. Completely alone. Had no idea where the baby was, where my husband was, or what had happened. I remember freaking out and pressing the nurse call button with the little bit of strength I had.
My recovery was very rough. At the time, my only option was morphine for pain. When I would hurt, I would press the morphine button and within a few moments, I was passed out again. I don’t remember much about those days in the hospital, of my son, or who came to visit. I do remember horrible nightmares from the morphine.
With number 3, I looked for a supportive doctor that would help me attempt a VBAC. I was petrified about having another delivery like number 2. I found a local doctor and we went along our journey. One night, I woke up around 2 am with contractions. We waited around a bit, called my brother to come watch the others, and then went to the hospital.
Although I was scared, I felt a little more confident that my doctor had assured me that he would personally make sure that I was not alone and that Chris and baby would be well looked after IF something occurred that needed another C-section.
When the doctor came to check me, we noticed I was bleeding much more than he was comfortable with. Was it a uterine rupture? Was something wrong with the baby? There was a lot of unknowns and he advised us to go ahead and have another c-section since something seemed off.
He told us after the c-section that baby’s placenta was starting to detach early and that’s what the blood was from. Thankfully we were both ok. I had duramorph this time and that is an incredible drug. Takes away the pain without the grogginess and horrible nightmares from morphine. I was awake the entire time and had a much better experience even though the birth wasn’t quite what I was hoping for.
With number 4, we opted to find a doctor that would once again let us try for a VBAC. I know it’s not important to everyone, but it was important to me. We wanted to have a large(r) family. My husband and I had agreed that we would only do 3 sections and that’s it. We have a friend that had some very serious complications due to repeat c-sections and we didn’t want to push it.
We found a wonderful doctor that worked out of Emory Midtown in Atlanta. It was going to be almost a 2 hour commitment to get to the hospital from our house, but we figured it was worth it.
The birth was quite beautiful. I got my VBA2C and she was born super quickly without an epidural. So quick in fact that she ended up going to the NICU at birth for breathing complications. They say that she didn’t get all the junk out of her lungs at birth and it was possibly causing an infection.
Getting released from the hospital before your baby is such a horrible feeling. Here we were, stuck in Atlanta, all alone, with our kids at home with Grandma. Fortunately, there was an extra room for parents with babies in the NICU that we were able to use. I remember just crying and crying because I couldn’t hold my baby and feeling all alone. She got better quickly, but my dream birth had been complicated by the extra NICU stay.
This one is the freshest in my mind because my sweet boy is 6 months as of yesterday. Oh how I love this boy. Treasuring each and every moment because he’s our last.
This pregnancy was complicated from the get-go. After numerous miscarriages, we found ourselves with a “sticky baby”. He was growing and thriving, but scaring us to death. I kept having random bleeds that were determined to be a tear in the placenta. My blood pressure would do wacky things in the office, but fine at home. I was sent to Athens Regional twice for monitoring before they finally said we need to get this baby out.
Again I found a supportive practice and I was eagerly looking forward to my 2VBA2C. We did the foley bulb induction which is safe(r) for moms that have previously had a c-section. This worked in absolute record time and with very little pain. Induction started on a Monday afternoon. I figured we might have a baby by midnight since things were chugging right along. Then it stopped. I tried everything. Walking, bouncing, breast pump, everything, and contractions would not come. When they did come, they were sporadic and honestly not very painful.
Finally we got to 48 hours from initial induction – Wednesday night! I was exhausted, my midwife wasn’t sure what else to offer, and I was watching the monitor drop every time that I did have a contraction. With much hesitation, I knew a c-section was the right and only option at this point. I cried hysterically while making the decision. This is where having a midwife came in handy. She hugged me and told me it was okay and was supportive. She made sure this was the decision that I wanted and assured me that we would make it a “family centered cesarean”. She also promised to be there and not leave. She stood by all those promises.
I made the walk to the operating room and tried to walk as proudly as I could. I was about to meet my son!! But I also knew, that this was it. This was the last time I was going to be in the hospital having a baby. This was going to be the last time I saw one of my own newborns. This was going to be the last time I was cut open in order to give life. Such a bittersweet moment that was. After Simon was removed, he was such a sweet little boy and immediately I feel in love with him. I tried to focus on him as the doctor was severing my fallopian tubes and ensuring that we would never have any more children. I cried tears of joy and tears of pain – for what was and for what will never be.
After all was said and done, we were told that Simon had a true knot in his cord AND a very short cord. This is why he wouldn’t engage and descend no matter what we were doing. He couldn’t! If my body continued trying to push him out, it could have been disastrous. We were so thankful for modern medicine even though it meant an end to an era.
Through each of these births, I have heard it all. All the things people say to try to make you feel better, except they don’t always succeed.
Things to NOT say:
- At least you and baby are happy and healthy. To me, this was the ultimate slap in the face. This implies that my feelings don’t matter. Feelings DO matter. I was not happy after my c-sections. You can be happy about having a baby, but sad at the loss.
- It’s time to get over it. No, it’s not. We all grieve differently. It’s okay to grieve. It’s still a loss of how you had imagined things to be.
- C-sections can’t be that bad. Sure. It’s only major abdominal surgery in which you are required to not only heal but nurture a helpless infant. If it wasn’t that bad, they wouldn’t give you so many pain medicines, stool softeners, etc.
- You should be done anyway. Ouch. Who are you to determine my family size? As long as I care for their needs and love them, it’s not your concern.
- Maybe the next birth will be better. If you don’t know their story, you could have really just hurt your friend, especially if they ended up not being able to carry more children. After Simon’s birth, I had people ask if we were done now. That hurt because I honestly couldn’t even think about being done without crying. I did a lot of gritting my teeth and holding back tears.
- My births have always been great! Yes. This has been said to me while talking with someone about my complicated births. Do not say this unless you want to be throat punched by a hormonal postpartum mama bear.
8 Things to Say Instead:
- What day is good for me to bring dinner?
- I’m running to the store. Can I grab anything for you?
- How are you feeling today?
- Can I watch your other kids so you can rest?
- Would you like to talk about it?
- How does this make your feel?
- How can I support you?
- Here’s info for ICAN or other support group. I’d be happy to go with you.
Now even with all of this, I wouldn’t trade my kids for anything. So thankful for them, but wish things could have gone differently. If you are struggling with your births, please reach out and find someone to talk with, whether a counselor or another mom.
Do you have anything to add? Leave a comment and tell me.