Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Thoughts on Childbirth

The birth of a child, especially a first child, represents a landmark event in the lives of all involved. For the mother particularly, childbirth exerts a profound physical, mental, emotional, and social effect. No other event involves pain, emotional stress, vulnerability, possible physical injury

The creation and birth of a new life is an awesome and beautiful thing.  Such an event can be very unpredictable and chaotic.  I was reading an article today about the effect of birth experiences on 1st time moms.  The more medical interventions and the more control the doctors had over the birth, the higher the rate of postpartum depression and the higher the rate of mothers who stated they had a very negative birth experience.      

I'm one of those women.

Although I don't think that I had full-blown postpartum depression, I definitely struggled with what felt like just more than baby blues.  It didn't start till a few weeks after the babies came, and it lasted well over a month.  What made it worse was that I was extremely hard on myself.  I kept saying, "I should NOT feel like this.  I have 2 awesome little boys and I am so thankful for them."  I felt bad because there are plenty of people who are not even able to have children, yet here I am with 2 kids, constantly feeling sad and anxious.  Those feelings only made things worse.  Other contributing factors were our struggle with breastfeeding, lack of sleep, normalizing hormones, and the occasional arguments between Jeremy and I because of my emotional self.  Even now, I feel like I'm just pitying myself, and I shouldn't be.  

I really think that had my birth experience gone differently, I may not have struggled with all these things quite as much.  I say may because I obviously can't know what would have happened if things that gone differently, but I do feel like a lot of my sadness came from my birth experience.

Women's bodies were made to deliver babies (with a very few having medical conditions that prevent them from delivering vaginally).  God gave women the ability to be able to conceive, grow, and birth a child, and when that right is taken away, it is saddening and disheartening.***  It is the process of how the world has grown to the size it is now.  One mother at a time, one child at a time (or more if you have multiples!), both begin a new life in such a short period of time.  To be able to birth your child without any medical intervention is the most natural, empowering, and raw experience, and when that delivery is taken away from you, it is very depressing.  The loss of control, the feelings of failure, the thoughts of inadequacy.  All these emotions are ones that I dealt a lot with.  

I know you might be reading this and thinking, "Sarah, get over it.  Your boys are now 6 months old, totally healthy and happy, and how they got here doesn't matter.".  Maybe you think I'm over dramatizing things.  Maybe I am.  But I can't help it.  I think about these things often, and they often still bother me.  I think about what could have gone differently, things that I should have done, things that I shouldn't have done, and things I will try to do differently next time.  So you know how they say after deliveries that women forget all the pain of labor because of the rush of oxytocin?  Yeah, I didn't get that.  You miss out on that when they cut.  So I remember my birth experience, I remember the pain and the disappointment.  I get really anxious when I start to think about my next pregnancy and delivery.  Yes, I'm going to try again to have a natural birth.  I don't know where I will deliver or what type of medical personnel I want to have.  I just know that things have to be different next time.

I'm sorry if I seem like I'm over-reacting.  I'm not trying to be a drama queen.  I'm not trying to get any pity.  I'm just being open and real.  These are my feelings, out in the open for you to read.  You can tell me to just "get over it", you can tell me that people have had it much worse than me.  I know those things, and that fact only makes me feel worse for still feeling bad about it.  So that's that.  I'm much better nowadays, which is why it has taken me so long to write this post.  I can finally sit back and process these emotions.  I'm OK now.  But that doesn't mean that I don't remember, and that I'm not going to change things next time.    

If you haven't read my whole birth story, you can read it here >>> Part 1 and Part 2.

***My heart goes out to those who are unable to conceive a child, or who has lost a child.  I cannot imagine the hurt that they feel, and I hope by writing this post that I am offending NO ONE.  If I do, please let me know, so that I may rephrase my words or delete the post, to be less-offensive to others.  I also do not want to offend anyone who has had or wants to have an elective cesarean section.  I am thankful that we are able to have a choice with our births, and those choices are personal and individual.  I do NOT mean to judge anyone, and certainly not to judge the way they have chosen to give birth.   

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  1. Sarah, I don't know how many people follow your blog anonymously or how many are just blog acquaintances that you only know virtually, but anyone who reads this that actually knows you has never and will never think of you as a failure or inadequate. Your attempt at natural childbirth was so admirable, Sarah. I can't speak for everyone but I sure as heck know I could never be brave enough to attempt that! I was carrying only ONE child and I never even considered not having an epidural and I got one the second I could! To be so determined and brave is not common in today's modern medical world and I guarantee everyone around you watched in amazement and we all cheered you on because we all knew that deep down, you were braver than us! Your birth experience was 100% out of your control. You did everything you could as a mom and patient. You pushed and perservered when everyone else would have thrown in the towel. And EVERYONE is proud of you. Especially me because I couldn't stand the pain and gave in after 4 cm lol. Your feelings are completely natural and understandable and don't listen to anyone who tells you to just "get over it". You suffered a loss, too. You didn't lose a loved one or anything to that degree but you did lose a goal you set for yourself. You lost a dream you had to deliver naturally and that is no different than anyone else not acheiving something they have dreamed of. And that is never easy. So don't feel like you should get over it because anyone who doesn't reach a goal they set for themselves is difficult and your situation is no different. I am proud of you, happy for you. Your boys are so beautiful and awesome. You have a great marriage built on all the right things. And I think you are doing an AMAZING job! Love you and see you Sunday!!

  2. Hey Sarah,

    I read your birthing story awhile back and I was heartbroken for you. Disappointment and feelings of failure or a loss of control are so difficult to work through and I am sure you're doing your best to recover from your experience. Sharing honestly with others is immensely brave and may provide the encouragement other moms-to-be really need.

    Michael and I are having our first in mid-March and I am probably going to labor for as long as I can at home and then get an epidural. Hearing your story and the stories of others has helped me to make a decision I am comfortable with, but also to be knowledgeable and flexible about the birthing process. I'm excited to see what my body can do. Don't get me wrong, I am still scared beyond reason, but I feel like I can do this--no turning back now!

    I'll be praying for you and Jeremy--I love you both and I couldn't be happier for you!

    Grace & peace,

  3. I know exactly how you feel. I was induced a few days before my due date, 0 effacement, 0 dilated, but my blood pressure had gone high the day before. I wanted an epidural, but my epidural did not take. They did it a second time and it worked, but i was already at 10 cm and ready to push. My baby's heartrate went down with each contraction so they did an emergency c-section.

    Having felt all the pain of the contractions and knowing I reached 10 cm but didn't get to reap the reward, so to speak, of that pain - made me really mad for a long time. I feel like I was cheated. I feel like if I hadn't been induced, I would have avoided the c-section. She was obviously not ready to be born, when I wasn't showing any signs of labor when they induced me!

    I don't think anyone should tell you to get over it, anybody who has been through childbirth and had an emergency c-section. You miss that immediate bond with your baby. And it is SOO hard to breastfeed when you are lying flat on your back. So I understand completely how you feel and hope that for both of us God will give us another opportunity to experience the miracle that is childbirth.