“At least you had a healthy baby….”

I need to write a blog about cesareans and disappointing birth experiences…but where to start? My mind goes crazy, racing to several different places and wondering where to start.

I suppose I should start with myself since my personal experience came first in the line of stories I feel I need to share to illustrate my point.

My point! See, I told you my mind is racing. My point of this blog will be summarized thusly – “at least you have a healthy baby’ is a crappy thing to say to someone when they have had a cesarean and is disappointed in their birth experience. I pray by the end of this blog post that you have a deeper understanding of WHY that is crappy and how it makes a mother who is disappointed feel.

Okay…so back to my own experience. Many reading this blog may not realize that while I have 5 children, I have only carried 4 of them myself – we were told by doctors after years of infertility that I would never be able to conceive or carry a baby (if there is interest I am willing to share more on that story at another time in a different blog post). As I was raising my first child, I became very active in the birthing community. I was a certified doula and childbirth educator teaching classes in various locations around the Denver and Boulder, Colorado area. I had seen my son’s birthmother push my son into the world (his birth parents lived with us for the last 4 months of her pregnancy) and assisted in many other births in the following years.

Then I was pregnant – with a lot of assistance, I was pregnant. I planned a homebirth, I transferred into the hospital while in labor, and I ended up with a cesarean.

Not how I wanted to meet my baby! Still in recovery, my mother shows me a photograph of my daughter who I have not yet met while my nurse smiles and my doula holds my hand.

When I made the decision to transfer into the hospital (yes, I made that decision), I cried before getting into the car. When the decision was made for surgery, I cried again. And I cried many times over the next few years.

I remember telling my sister (who had experienced 5 births – all vaginal) that everytime I think of my daughter’s birth story, I cry. I remember her response so clearly even though it was 12 years ago…”Awwww….a little postpartum depression?”

No….sad at the way that my birth experience went.

Then she said it…”At least you have a healthy baby.” And I went off on her – YES, I had a healthy baby and obviously I put that factor above ANYTHING else and I’d already proven that by going under the knife in order to achieve it! But to say those words to me tells me that you believe I no longer hold that in high priority, that I am being unappreciative for her health and well being. Nothing could be further from the truth.

So let me make this point absolutely crystal clear: someone who has undergone a cesarean has already shown through actions that she would do anything to ensure the health and well being of her baby! She has already shown that THAT was the highest issue on the priority list. At least she has a healthy baby… not only invalidates anything else she might be feeling, but it also points out that she got the very least of what one would consider a good outcome. That was the last and final thing hoped for because all other dreams and expectations had to be sacrificed.

My first child – adopted. At least I got a baby! Absolutely true, but I was still sad that I couldn’t be the one to feel him kicking inside of me, envious of her ability to nourish him and grow her belly big and full with him, to birth him. I got a baby but was sad that it had to occur in the manner in which it did. I had to sacrifice many dreams in order to achieve the biggest one – but the “at least” statements insinuate (nay, they state pretty implicitly to the listener) that if you are sad at the dreams that you’ve lost then you might not deserve the one you achieved.

A picture I took of dad looking down at mom who can't even see his face - she is prepped for surgery and waiting for them to begin.

“At least….” I hate those words to begin with. Nothing good comes after those words because they are an attempt to minimize whatever had gone wrong. Your house burned down? Lost all of your possessions, your 3 children, your spouse and your goldfish? AT LEAST YOU DIDN’T BURN UP TOO!

See how ridiculous those words can be? Things can always be worse than they are – but that doesn’t negate that sometimes things right now suck.

I recently had a client who ended up transferring to the hospital for medical reasons, and she ended up in a cesarean. She is intensely disappointed and even bringing up the thought of her birth results in immediate tears (and breaks my heart). Is she ungrateful for her healthy baby? Absolutely not!! She sacrificed her body for her baby’s health, she put herself at risk with anesthesia and major surgery….all for her baby’s health. And as sad as she is, if you ask her if she’d do it again if it was for the health of her baby she would answer without hesitation – an emphatic YES! She began her motherhood with sacrifice and PROVED she would do anything for the health of her baby. To imply that she might have lost sight of the blessings of having a healthy baby by saying, “At least you had a healthy baby” is to refuse to acknowledge that she’d already proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that she places her baby’s health above her own.

Same couple as above - mom sees her baby for the first time, already bundled up and being held by dad. This is typical with a cesarean.

Yet as she was prepped for surgery and they were beginning the cesarean, she cried…and a nurse said to her, “Why are you sad? Your baby is about to be here…and will be healthy…”

Sigh

She was sad because she was being cut open rather than feeling her baby crown. She was sad because she was in a hospital where she didn’t want to be in the first place. She was sad because she wasn’t going to be helping her husband lift their baby from her vagina into her waiting arms. She was sad because she wouldn’t be able to hold her baby right away – or even touch her baby for a while. She was sad because she was going to watch her husband (dressed in scrubs and masked so that she would lose who he was in a sea of masks) carry a burrito bundle out of the room while she remained splayed out getting stitched up. She was sad because she now doubted her body like she never had before.

Why does it matter why she was sad? Why should she have to explain to someone else what it was making her sad? SHE WAS SAD! (she still is) Acknowledge, embrace, assist….don’t gloss over and demean her feelings by telling her she’s silly for feeling them.

At least you have a healthy baby. What if you don’t have a healthy baby…..

I got called by someone who would become a good personal friend of mine. She was pregnant and knew that she would birth out of the country and wanted only prenatal care from me – she was a VBAC, so I couldn’t officially establish care with her, but I helped her some as a friend since she was moving at about 30 weeks of pregnancy. Each appointment I would feel her baby growing, kicking under my fingertips, thriving. She embraced the pregnancy with such blissful joy and anticipation of the birth that she would float into my office bringing sunshine with her at every visit. It was a sad day for me when we had our last appointment. I handed her a copy of her records to take with her – and she (a professional singer) sang to me “Amazing Grace”. Tears flowed for so many reasons and as I hugged her goodbye it lasted a bit longer than normal, neither one wanting to let go.

She kept in touch regularly from Peru, baby growing, all is well, past my due date but everything is perfect, just had an ultrasound at 41 weeks and everything is absolutely perfect and well.

She went into labor…and labored blissfully, smiling, rocking on her birthing ball at the birth center. Baby’s heart rate beautiful, you’re dilating perfectly…

An hour later they tried to listen to the baby and he was gone (a freak cord accident – absolutely nothing to do with when or where or how she was birthing). An ultrasound confirmed it, and she said as they finished the ultrasound, “I have to call Stephanie, I need to hear her voice.” I will spare you the level of anguish and deep intense pain I felt in my heart receiving that phone call and hearing her say, “He’s gone…”

We only had a few minutes to talk before she said, “I have to go…I am 6cm dilated and still in labor. I need to birth my baby.”

And birth him she did! She achieved her VBAC and birthed her 10 pound son through her own power!!

Okay, stop here and let’s talk about this. Why did she not have a cesarean knowing that her son was dead? Here is the point that I think so many people don’t understand….there is the outcome, and there is the journey, and they aren’t one and the same for a lot of women. She would change her journey if it would change the outcome, of that I know for 100% certainty. But the outcome was done, the only thing she could do is continue her journey. A cesarean wasn’t going to bring her son back…but she could still feel powerful that she did everything she could for him. And powerful she was! Sad for her loss, and yet proud of herself. Heartbroken for the baby she is no longer holding in her arms, but happy for her experience.

In contract to my other client who is thrilled for her baby she holds in her arms, but sad for her experience.

That’s because they are two different things. Women will do anything to ensure the health of their baby, but it doesn’t mean they are happy they have to do it! I went through IVF (twice) to conceive my daughter – doesn’t mean I enjoyed it or was happy to do it! Means my daughter was worth it to me.

My cesarean incision

 

Please do not act like someone who had a cesarean has lost sight of the importance of a healthy baby – they are acutely aware of that importance and have proven it with their actions. Please do offer a loving ear, a hug, acknowledgement of their loss (as they hold their baby) and joy for their accomplishments. Allow her the freedom to express her loss and feelings of helplessness or frustration without trying to make her feel better for having gone through the experience.

And to the clients referenced in this post…I love you both and hurt for you in your sadness. There is no “at least” to follow that statement – things could always be worse as long as we are still alive and breathing….but what you’ve experienced sucks and I’m sorry.

23 Comments

  1. Kim wrote:

    I feel very sad for your caesarian experience. I also prepared myself for a natural birth with my mum and husband present and no pain relief but because of foetal distress and a failed induction I ended up under the knife.

    Our stories go separate ways here, though. My surgical team were warm and friendly and the midwife and anesthetist were particularly great. My son was given to me while they stitched me up and the priority was skin to skin contact as soon as possible.

    The whole team made it as joyous a birth experience as possible.

    Do I regret that I didn’t get the life affirming ‘real’ experience I wanted? Absolutely. I cried. A lot.

    But because such effort had been made for the emergency section to be a proper birth event and not an operation, and because my husband and mum were so supportive, it was easier to pick up and dust off.

    A little acknowledgement that the journey matters goes a long way – even when the journey ends in a rainstorm.

    Wednesday, January 8, 2014 at 3:27 pm | Permalink
  2. Kylie wrote:

    I was born as the result of my mothers 39 hour labor (vaginal birth). It was an absolute nightmare, as were the births of my grandma and great grandma. So when she found out she was pregnant with my brothers (twins) she scheduled a c-section, they were popped out in a matter of minutes, safe and sound.

    Not sure why so many of these comments and the article see c-sections as a “failure”, I see it as a way to save lives. My mom said if she could do it again she would have definitely had me via c-section.

    So stop making birth out as some magical, spiritual, “experience” that has to be “just so” in order for you to be satisfied, that is disgustingly selfish. I will be absolutely thrilled to have children one day as long as they are healthy and free of defect. I could care less how they arrive 🙂

    Wednesday, January 8, 2014 at 6:11 pm | Permalink
  3. elfanie wrote:

    Kylie – I absolutely agree! And how insensitive would someone need to be to look at your mother who had an absolute nightmare birth (vaginal) and say, “It’s selfish of you to complain…at least you had a healthy baby.”
    I’m not sure where in my blog post you read anything about birth needing to be a magical spiritual experience that has to be “just so”….some of these comments REALLY sound like this was posted somewhere and there was a c-section scar pictured and you are commenting on c-sections, not on what the blog post actually addresses.

    If you have ANY birth experience that is disappointing to you for WHATEVER reason….telling you “at least you have a healthy baby” can be hurtful and dismissive to that person’s feelings of disappointment. Period. Has nothing to do with birth choices.

    Wednesday, January 8, 2014 at 7:19 pm | Permalink
  4. melissa wrote:

    I had a csection due to my daughter being breach and to this day am still heartbroken I didn’t get to experience the birth of my daughter naturally from water breaking to labor I wanted to experience it all. I am so very glad she is healthy but knowing I will ever have that one special experience hurts. Some tell me I’m lucky that csection is the way to go but I say bs I hated being cut on…

    Wednesday, January 8, 2014 at 7:41 pm | Permalink
  5. Melissa wrote:

    I don’t understand the insinuation that to have disappointments means you are not grateful. Disappointment and gratitude are both very real and valid emotions that can and do co-exist.

    I can be disappointed in my traumatic birth and grateful my son and I are alive.

    I can be disappointed that my heart stopped on the table and grateful that it started again. 

    I can be disappointed that I spent my first day as a mother in a medically-induced coma and grateful for every day as a mother since.

    I can be disappointed that my bladder and uterus fused together after my c-section causing incontinence, discomfort, and painful sexual side effects, further resulting in another painful open abdominal surgery and grateful I am now continent and able to enjoy sex.

    Wednesday, January 8, 2014 at 10:53 pm | Permalink
  6. dbcanada wrote:

    I worked as a nurse in maternity for over 25 years. When a woman is pregnant she envisions her labor and delivery and her perfect child. When live throws a curve and she has to have a c-section or baby has problems she has to grieve the dream. Grieving means sadness, so even though she is happy about her healthy baby she is sad as well. Family and friends need to give her the support to grieve not just brush it off with comments as those mentioned in the article.

    Thursday, January 9, 2014 at 1:29 am | Permalink
  7. RBC wrote:

    I kid you not. I had an unplanned c-section after laboring. I cried and cried when the decision was made. The surgery came with complications and I had to be knocked completely out without being warned that is what the anesthesiologist meant by “I’m fixing it! It’s almost over!”I woke up while still in the OR, baby and husband already gone. I, of course, immediately started crying my eyes out. Not only had I just completely missed the birth of my child and his first cry, he wasn’t even in the room! Plus, I was still quite frightened by what had happened during surgery. The first thing out of the anesthesiologist mouth when he saw I was crying was: “What is wrong Honey? Do you have a little postpartum depression?” Yep. My baby’s first cry was replaced by that question! There are no words for how much it still angers me! I can literally still picture and hear him asking it 3 years later! I’m not even going to go into the countless “At least he is healthy” remarks.
    I have 2 beautiful boys. My 2nd c-section went smoothly other than the blinding, mind-numbing fear I felt while on the table because I feared a repeat of the first times, but the fact remains that I’ll never get back my first birth and I’ll never enjoy the memory of his first cry. Instead of holding my sweet babies after delivery, I sat in recovery alone, waited impatiently, and sobbed while everyone else enjoyed watching them be cleaned up in the nursery. C-sections are awful. I’m tearing up right now just thinking about them.

    Thursday, January 9, 2014 at 2:37 am | Permalink
  8. Crystal wrote:

    This made me very sad for you but also very sad for those that are facing an inevitable Caesarian who read this and are scared to death by it. With my first child, I was told that my hips hadn’t widened enough to ever be able to birth much more than a 6 lb. baby. I was terrified of Caesarian and tried to talk to as many people who had had them and find their experiences. I got very little information or got very negative, saddening information. Terrified doesn’t begin to describe how I felt especially right before surgery (my dad actually said they must have really upped my meds bc I was losing it). Once I got in there, though, everything was just wonderful. After the fact, no one commented saying “at least you have a healthy baby.” Instead my mother-in-law, who I adore, said “you are lucky, your vagina is still in great shape so in 6 weeks the sex will still be great!” I loved it and it’s so very true. Yes, I originally wanted a vaginal birth. I wanted my mother-in-law to be able to see her first grandchild born. No one could have possibly been as excited as she was and I was devastated that she couldn’t be, but she was elated either way. Two more cesarians and still my vagina is intact and my husband and I are very happy. Yes, I feel bad that your journey didn’t go as you had planned and that sucks. But I feel very sorry that you can’t look at the positives and wrap your head around the reality of what was rather than focusing on what was a fantasy for you. Yes, you give other women their fantasies of birth all of the time and that is wonderful, but that isn’t for everyone and it doesn’t make the miracle any less miraculous.

    Thursday, January 9, 2014 at 8:55 am | Permalink
  9. Heidi wrote:

    As I read it i thought OMG I have sad this. I had a C-section on 12/16/2013. After two unmedicated vaginal births i never ever ever thought i would have a csection. this pregnancy was so different….I greieved not being able to stay in midwifery care do to Gestational diabetes. I greived when i developed Pre-E. Then that day I grieved when my OB came and told me he thought I should have a c-section. His fear was that my son was more then 12 pounds and would cause severe blood loss or shoulder dystocia, his heart was also struggling in utero. I asked to wait for my fiance and made the decision with him. But I cried as though something had been ripped from my soul. I knew it would disrupt breastfeeding and boding, but yes i wanted my son to have a good chance. he was born 14lbs. he began having breathing problems and after being snuggled nexy to my face for all of two minutes he was whooshed away to another hospital with a higher level NICU.

    So yes i was glad he would be cared for, I layed there helpless in a bed unable to do anything, trying to maintain my myself. then i sat there for another two days in the hospital crying…..

    My son is home now and I am trying to breastfeed the one thing i also counted on but now doubt my abilities(but i know i can do it)….

    i am still Wombyn!! And am so happy my lil boy i s healthy and look forward to a VBAC one day maybe…..So thank you for writing this and sharing!!

    Thursday, January 9, 2014 at 12:40 pm | Permalink
  10. Laurie Snyder wrote:

    I agree 100% with Megan Clifton’s comment. (#38 above) I had to have 2 C-sections, and those were 25 and 28 years ago. My first was an emergency C_section due to the baby not being able to flip in the right direction and therefore not come out. Having a C-section shouldn’t take away from the “journey” of experiencing having a baby…that’s just RIDICULOUS. A precious baby is born…THAT’S ALL THAT MATTERS! It isn’t about us and our missing out on going all natural or feeling the crowning of the baby…it’s about the BABY…and that they were born….PERIOD…no matter how they got here/arrived. A new life has come into this world…CELEBRATE!!! Don’t have a pitty party for yourself…let it go and move on with it.

    Thursday, January 9, 2014 at 1:35 pm | Permalink
  11. Becky wrote:

    I struggled with these feelings after the birth of my first child. I was a week late, had severe pre-clampsia, kidneys were failing, gaining weight like crazy. Labor was not even remotely close to starting. I did not have one contraction. My body was not progressing at all – baby never dropped, nothing. I had to have an emergency c-section. I didn’t really have a choice. For the months after my daughter was born, I did feel somewhat cheated. I experienced pregnancy, but nothing else. I never, ever had a contraction. Eventually, however, I realized that the c-section was a blessing. My situation had really become critical. My body was on the verge of shutting down. I was not a candidate for induction because of all the other problems. I had to have a c-section. It took me a while to be okay with that. With my second daughter, we talked about VBAC. Although I didn’t have the blood pressure and kidney problems, I still never progressed in terms of delivery. Never had a contraction. Looking back nearly 10 years after my second child, I know that a c-section is what has afforded me the opportunity to have my girls, and I am grateful for that.

    Thursday, January 9, 2014 at 3:34 pm | Permalink
  12. Ina wrote:

    I think I had a similar experience. I had a beautiful pregnancy with my baby boy. I was exercising eating well. Just everything was so perfect!!! I got into labor and went to the hospital. I fully dilated after being 16 hours in labor. I don’t understand these American hospitals and doctors. For 16 hours in labor my doctor never checked on me. She came when my baby fully descend and was about to come out. She checked me and told that his head and something else were coming out. She right away called all anesthesiologist and nurses to do a C-section. It might sound selfish to some people but I was begging her not to do that, I was begging her to ask for second opinion. I still don’t believe that my baby was in wrong position. These American doctors don’t even try to do anything naturally if there is even slight deviation from perfect delivery. They just want to cut you. More money for them. After surgery she came and told me also that I should be happy since I have a healthy baby. I was so traumatized and devastated. For two months I was like in shock and was not able to focus on my baby. My boy is 4 months old now, nut I stilly cry every day when I am thinking about my experience or see pregnant women. Before I wanted 3 kids and now I am scared…

    Thursday, January 9, 2014 at 9:56 pm | Permalink
  13. Hannah wrote:

    Thank you for this post. I cry every time I think of my delivery. I had an emergency c-section and couldn’t stop crying. Nobody could understand why I was so heartbroken. I have anxiety of my second birth being like the first. I have one picture from my sons birth and wasn’t able to hold him up for a while after delivery. I had a girlfriend who gave birth naturally tell me that she thought my recovery was easier than her vaginal birth. If she only knew how it felt to have an unplanned c-section.

    Thursday, January 9, 2014 at 11:46 pm | Permalink
  14. helene wrote:

    I’m glad you feel that way but you nor anyone else has the right to invalidate anyone’s feelings.. period. Every woman is entitled to her journey.

    Friday, January 10, 2014 at 3:41 am | Permalink
  15. Amy Hartman wrote:

    Thank you- articulately said Stephanie! This phenomenon is pervasive in our culture: Being uncomfortable validating sadness or hurt in general. And it starts young: How many times have you seen a child fall down at the playground and get hurt and the parent picks him up and says “Your ok, don’t cry, you’re fine.” Actually, he’s not ok, he is experiencing fear and pain. The empathetic response would be some derivation of A: That sucks and B: I’m sorry. This is a message to all humans to make our race more evolved: Practice empathy.

    Friday, January 10, 2014 at 12:33 pm | Permalink
  16. Betsy wrote:

    It IS insensitive to minimize a woman’s feelings after birth. There are so many feelings to which only a mother can relate after the birth experience.

    I think that the “at least” phrase is typical of our culture in America where we are encouraged to be happy regardless of what life brings us. I wouldn’t demonize anyone for saying it. They probably–though somewhat thoughtlessly–meant well.

    It is little understood that there is more to mourn in life than the loss of life. Distanced from my births as I am (my kids are 30,28 and 24) I can relate to the caesarean as well as the vbac involving a cord-around-the-neck, although-gratefully-the latter resulted in my daughter’s live birth. All my births were in hospital as I had no negative associations with hospitals, my dad being a doctor and my mom having birthed 10 children, 8 of them live, in hospital. It just wouldn’t have occurred to me to have my babies at home.

    That being said I was entranced by the idea of a home birth when I learned my SIL was planning to have her first child at home. It sounded so romantic. Sadly, her birth resulted in brain injury for her daughter and I felt dead set against the promotion of home birth for years.

    Now, I’m not about any one way to do things. Only to offer a kind ear and support to young parents. I have experienced and understand loss (miscarriage), I’ve experienced a caesarean birth as well as vbacs. But I’ve never regretted having my children in the hospital.

    I think as humans we often set ourselves up for disappointment when we raise our expectations too high. As peri-birth professionals we can and should encourage and support choices our parents make but we should also try not to demonized the hospital, even the caesarean experience. It’s not a failure–a loss, surely but not a failure. And if sadness over the birth experience lingers over months then we’re talking post-partum depression and mom and dad need help addressing it.

    Mourning is deeply personal and is never COMPLETELY gone…especially over the loss of a child. But it should get more bearable over time. And one way to help with that process is to encourage the mourner to share, share, share whatever they are feeling. Let her embrace her sorrow but with the hope that she will live through those feelings and eventually move on. It’s not up to us to offer the solution, much less a “silver lining” but to validate those feelings and encourage the sufferer to feel them and work through them.

    I think, though, that we need to achieve some balance in our thinking about birth experience. My own experience was that, with my first, I was in labor 14 hours after the water broke, the doctor said I could go 24 but he also played the “brain damage” card (questionable, maybe, but I trusted doctors remember). “Then open me up” was my response. I was fortunate in that I didn’t have any particular expectations of the birth. I just wanted my baby and I was thrilled with him. Would it have been better for him had I waited out the labor (I was only 3 centimeters at 14 hours) or worse? No way to answer. They say going through the birth canal is critical to the baby’s life experience. But I’ll never know if it would have been better for him. For me, it felt like I’d done a gazillion sit-ups but I healed so fast, I was so thrilled with him. The first “baby-blues” I experienced was when I had to temporarily bottle feed him because of jaundice. So, personally, I’m glad I didn’t have detailed expectations of that birth experience. Down the road I experienced vaginal birth, first with my daughter and I was grateful for the internal monitor that indicated the cord was around her neck because I knew to stop pushing until I was ushered into delivery and the doctor could help get her out faster and ease the cord from around her neck. My third I could have delivered at home, he came so fast.

    But we can’t know how it’s going to go. Today I’m grateful to have had such a variety of experiences in birthing my children. As a post-partum doula I would encourage a new mom to cry out ANY feelings, soothe her, reassure her and encourage her to look ahead to the next moment we share with her newborn. With a bereaved mother I would remind her of all she did RIGHT, that sadly birth loss does happen and would encourage her to speak and write her feelings, write a letter to her precious baby, anything that would help her to process such a terrible loss. Meantime, I’d take care of light household tasks, feed, massage, sing to her, encourage her to walk outside and try to find first acceptance then hope. No one can get inside the mourner and feel everything they feel as they feel it and that’s a good thing. Because with life experience, we can empathize with the feelings while not being overwhelmed, thereby enabling us to be a lifeline for the mourner back to life.

    Friday, January 10, 2014 at 1:58 pm | Permalink
  17. Shelli wrote:

    Thank-you… this encapsulated all of the feelings that I had about my birth experience. I had a C-section. I so wanted to hold my baby first but never got that opportunity. I also had a reaction to the drugs I was given and ended up being really groggy so my first moments and day with my new little girl was a blur. I have never told anyone that this made me sad.

    Monday, January 13, 2014 at 10:28 pm | Permalink
  18. Amy wrote:

    I have not had a c-section, but what you have written really speaks to me. I had hyperemesis gravidarum with each of my three pregnancies, my last pregnancy being the worst. I was vomiting before I knew I was pregnant, delivered my baby 25lbs lighter than my pre-pregnancy weight, was taking antiemetics every three hours, on a good day I only vomited two or three times, and the longest I ever went without IV fluids was 10 days. It hurts everytime I hear “At least you can get pregnant.” or “At least your baby is healthy.” I am so very grateful that I have been able to conceive and deliver three healthy children, I don’t take that for granted as I know so many women are not. However, I am still sad that I have never been able to experience a joyful pregnancy. Pregnancy is supposed to be a wonderful, magical time when you first get to know that special life you are bringing into the world. For me pregnancy brought misery, worry, physical and emotional pain. Would I do it again? Absolutely, I would be sick again and again for my children, I would endure anything it took to bring them here healthy. Just as many women need to be able to grieve the birth experience they lost, I need to grieve the pregnancy experience I’ve lost. I’m sorry that so many of us are made to feel guilty for our feelings. Thank tou for sharing your story. While I’m sure most individuals are well meaning in their “at least…” comments, hopefully, some will read this and unserstand that albeit unintentionally, they do more harm than goos.

    Tuesday, January 21, 2014 at 12:53 pm | Permalink
  19. Fiona Payne wrote:

    Thanks, that really helped. I am an obstetrician and had an emergency caesarean at 36 weeks because I had a bleed. (We tried for a vaginal delivery with a syntocinon drip for 12 hours first). Gutted just does not cover it. Fingers crossed for my VBAC. I will never use the ‘at least…’ line again.

    Thursday, January 23, 2014 at 5:07 pm | Permalink
  20. Tammy wrote:

    My son was born at 26 weeks due to pre-eclampsia. I had no choice but to have an emergency C-section. He stayed in hospital for 12 weeks and 6 days when he came home. I have mourned the loss of my pregnancy, the fact I never got to push my son out, fulfil my job as a woman and a mother. I have been told on so many occasions “at least he is here and safe” or “at least you never got to experience a contraction” and “labour really sucks, you’re lucky” and I never could phrase why this upset me so much, but your post sums this up completely. Thank you so much for summarising why having a C-section is not the “easy” option, I am not “lucky” I missed one of the proudest, most wished for experience that a lot of women want, and I dreamed of. I am proud of myself and of my now very healthy baby. I never EVER lost sight of that fact, but it does not stop me feeling guilty and like a failure. I think a lot of women who had a natural birth that went as well to plan as any birth could, take this for granted. Thank you once again.

    Friday, February 28, 2014 at 6:27 am | Permalink
  21. A. Clifford wrote:

    Wow… The only reason I was able to read this entire post through was the fact that I was clinging to the hope of it making sense in the end. You want for people to realize how ridiculous the words “at least you have a healthy baby” sounds, but then compare a c-section to someone’s home burning down with there children and spouse inside! Really? What you rambled on about for way to long could have easily been relayed in a few short sentences. You want to be allowed to grieve for losing your right to choose. Fine, noted. You didnt get the birth experience you wanted. Okay..Often when people say things like “at least you have a healthy baby,they are trying to be comforting. Not everyone knows what to say or how to say it but the fact that they care and want to try to comfort you should be appreciated. You have the right to your opinion. Just keep it a little shorter, don’t exaggerate it, morn you loss and move on. There are people truly suffering through unimaginable things and a successful c section is not on that list. We absolutely SHOULD be looking around saying wow I am fortunate. Things could have been worse. Not to mention the fact that you imply woman that have had to have c sections are some how less involved in the birth, less aware of the experience, less of a mother. You’ve been offended by a lack of sympathy and understanding but then turn around and offend others. Seems condescending and thoughtless to me. The very thing your accusing people of being toward you. Makes it seem like a waste of time when it’s all said and done:(

    Wednesday, April 30, 2014 at 9:13 am | Permalink
  22. Amy wrote:

    Thank you so much for writing this. I keep coming back and rereading it. I might as well have written this myself. I planned a midwife assisted birth for my first at an independent birthing center. After a near perfect pregnancy at 37 weeks I developed severe preeclampsia and was transferred to the hospital. They tried softening my cervix and inducing me (those things by themselves were traumatic enough) I was on magnesium to keep my blood pressure down and was at high risk for seizures. Magnesium actually stops contractions. So after 38 hours I had gone from nothing to dilated to a 1 back down to a tight one. Finally, concerned for my babys health,in anger, desperation, frustration, feeling like a failure, and everyone very concerned for my wellbeing, I consented to a cesarean. It was incredibly traumatic. Right before they started cutting me open I was laying on the operating table (having never experienced a surgery any bigger than wisdom teeth removal) gently crying while my arms began shaking uncontrollably. The anesthesiologist looked down at me and harshly asked, “Why are you crying?!” I said, I’m scared. She asked, harshly again, Why are you scared? I just shook my head and said you dont understand. Many many times in the four months since I had my beautiful, healthy baby people have reminded me how blessed I am to have a healthy baby while completely dismissing the horrible experience I went through to get to that end. I would rather them not say anything if thats the best they can come up with.

    Sunday, May 18, 2014 at 4:38 pm | Permalink
  23. Anonymous wrote:

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    Monday, July 28, 2014 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

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