Cesarean Birth Matters

by Mrs. BWF on September 14, 2012

You know, I have see this picture of an apple shredded up and the statement about how only a healthy baby matters. It’s making the point that it’s not OK when people say that your birth and your body don’t matter. I AGREE with that statement. Birth DOES matter. HOWEVER, I completely disagree with the picture (related to cesarean birth only). I have seen it passed around to try and make cesarean moms feel bad that they did not have natural birth.

Having had 2 cesareans and 3 VBA2Cs (two of them at home, unassisted), I do not find a picture regarding a cesarean mom ripped to shreds, appropriate. I understand the point trying to be made, but this approach can be seen as offensive to many cesarean mamas.

I DO think birth matters, but with that, cesarean birth matters too and they are not all horrible experiences.

That would be the same as someone making a picture like this regarding women who have vaginal births and what it does to their vaginas.

All types of birth *can* be informed and empowering experiences. Birth Matters, Healthy Baby Matters, YOU Matter…regardless of how you birth.

Now, here are some REAL examples of cesarean scars from BWF mothers.

Here are some lovely BWF moms (and dads) with their babies after their cesareans.

So please, be supportive and thoughtful to our cesarean mamas and babies, too.

All photos belong to the parents. Do not copy or use. Last picture captured by Mae Burke Photography.

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{ 38 comments… read them below or add one }

louzannalady September 14, 2012 at 11:23 pm

So beautiful!

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Jen @PlusSizeBirth September 14, 2012 at 11:24 pm

Such a powerful message and stunning photos!

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Kathryn September 14, 2012 at 11:27 pm

How do I leave a picture, would love share a picture of myself and baby girl after my c-section…. :-)

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Taylor September 14, 2012 at 11:32 pm

To me c-section scars are like stretchmarks. It shows what you went through to bring a perfect, beautiful human being into this world! Perfect gifts came from our not so much “perfect looking” shrines. :) worth every mark!!!

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Allie'smomma5-11 September 14, 2012 at 11:44 pm

Thank you for sharing these. I’m a c-section momma, and I have none of me and DD which I deeply regret.

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Stephanie September 14, 2012 at 11:45 pm

Thank you.

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Monica September 14, 2012 at 11:52 pm

I love these pictures. Love, love, love them! I can very much relate. I can relate to the tired, but peaceful look on mama’s face right after the cesarean birth. Thank you mamas for sharing.

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Missy September 15, 2012 at 12:21 am

My C-section scar causes me pain. Physical pain and agonizing emotional pain. The red gash that doesn’t belong there. It didn’t bother me after my first child was born. The induction failed and my BP was dangerously high. Baby HAD to be born or lose his mama. But after my second, when I was threatened with restraints if I didn’t sign the consent for surgery, THAT scar makes me cry. THAT scar has made me only look in mirrors from the neck up for 2 years. THAT scar is the reason I am terrified of having another baby. THAT scar is more than just a scar.

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Tamera M Weis RN September 15, 2012 at 1:47 am

Missy–I am so sorry. I have a huge vertical incision scar. I gave birth to my third son at home. It was wonderful.
My fourth pregnancy we had moved and had trouble finding a provider–so we opted for the hospital. We were lied to, coerced, and abused. My son is nearly thirty now and he is still worth it all.
We were successful with a VBAC at home when my daughter was born! It was very safe and very healing.
…still sometimes the threats and the pain of THAT scar still make me cry. I had physical pain at the scar site for quite a few years.

Don’t be terrified to grow your family–find the homebirth network in your area–you can do it!

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piper September 15, 2012 at 12:38 am

Anyway your child comes into this world can be a great experience!!! I’m very disappointed that a vbac is not an option for me but I have a wonderful ob and a great small hospital that did an amazing job with my first c-sec and more than happy to go through this again with them. I’m due in April and have learned so much more between the first time and now I am also more than happy to have my scar soon to be scars. They are just proof of the children I am more than proud to have :)

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Brit September 15, 2012 at 1:00 am

Great post. The photos are all beautiful.

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Queila September 15, 2012 at 3:44 am

Thank you. Three weeks ago I had an emergency caesarean after a 26 hr natural birth. This is my first child and I have always been the picture of health, but my birthing experience was traumatic and unusual. I have a hard time coming to terms with the caesarean birth vs the vaginal I anticipated and having a site I followed during my hopeful pregnancy validate my experience is a very soothing balm on my new scar.

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Eirinn September 15, 2012 at 4:33 am

This is the first thing that you have posted that has upset me. Maybe that picture isn’t true for you. I’m glad it’s not. I know that many women have empowering caesareans. But my caesareans were not empowering in any way, and that picture validates my experience. Who are you to disagree with it? I thought you were about acknowledging each woman’s personal birth journey.

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Mrs. BWF September 15, 2012 at 10:29 am

I’ve had a very traumatic cesarean. I have seen this picture passed around the internet to make cesarean moms feel bad that they had cesareans. That is what I don’t like. I am a person to disagree with it. We don’t have to agree on every single thing mama. Thank you for sharing YOUR opinino and thoughts on it. And that’s just the point…validating cesarean birth moms that don’t feel torn apart or even if they do that don’t like the picture, which I do so so often. There is also more to this post than just that picture. Take care!

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Nicole September 15, 2012 at 3:34 pm

I totally get where you’re coming from here Eirinn, But the point of the image is NOT to represent that that is how some women feel (though it may be very very true). This image is designed to make women feel guilty. It’s designed to make women who complain about their c-sec feel bad that they’re complaining… because *at least they have a healthy baby* The point of this image is that their baby isnt dead, so stop complaining (and how wrong is that!). Didnt it hurt you when people said “at least you have a healthy baby” as if what happened to your body is unimportant? Thats what this image does – it makes women feel guilty for caring about their bodies.

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Eirinn September 17, 2012 at 2:42 am

Yes of course those comments have hurt me – that is why I love this picture. The contexts I have seen this picture in, the point is most assuredly not to make c-sec mothers feel guilty. I interpret it in the completely opposite way. No one has ever told me I didn’t give birth. Everyone has told me it doesn’t matter where my baby came out. No one has let me express how shattered I feel. This picture tells me that it IS valid to feel ripped apart and shattered, and not to suffer in silence because ‘at least I had a healthy baby’. The apple matters too.

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Morgaine September 16, 2012 at 1:57 pm

Eirinn, Im sorry your birth sucked. I really am. I can think of few things worse than having a memory as beautiful as a birth be all effed up by the surrounding circumstances.

That being said, Im really sick of being told that I didnt really give birth, or that I am too traumatizes and I just dont know it yet. I really am sorry that your situation was horrible, but that doesnt give you or anybody the right to judge my situation.

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Lina Ahmed September 15, 2012 at 6:45 am

I’ve had 5 c sections n my scar is not at all bad. I have breast fed all my babies and after my last section number 5 I came home from hospital the day after as I was feeling so well :-) x

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Lina Ahmed September 15, 2012 at 6:50 am

I also have some amazing photos of me hubby n baby straight after the c section :)

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chelle September 15, 2012 at 8:05 am

I know it may sound backwards to say but my cesarean birth (of my 2nd) was WAAAAAYYYY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! better physically and emotionally than my natural vaginal birth (of my 1st)…the time right before was more stressful. I really didn’t want a section then baby was in distress and we had to go to the hospital NOW! (while my birth tub was sitting at the foot of my bed all ready for my empowering, healing home waterbirth I had wished, dreamed, planned for)…. but the actual birth and the recovery after was so much better… easier, less painful, quicker healing.. than the horrible abusive “care” while in labor & delivery with my 1st and the 4th degree tear, that was poorly treated and still 3 years later causes me so much pain….I don’t mind my section scar at all, after a couple months I hardly notice it….Birth is such an important event transition for a mom and I personally don’t think whether the baby comes out through the ‘natural’ way or if circumstances beyond our control cause an extra scar on our tummies is the most important part…but the environment, the support, the care, that allows a healthy mother to be ‘birthed’ along with a healthy baby… that’s important….

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Rebecca Hoogstraten September 15, 2012 at 9:17 am

The original picture of the apple correctly illustrates how I feel about my primary c/s and even more correctly describes the aftermath of my failed HBAC turned CBAC with a surgical accident that resulted in my dd being pulled out through my bladder and a complete bladder reconstruction.

I love your site, along with my ICAN sisters this has been great encouragement leading up to my (can’t believe I’m typing this…) HBA2C 2+ months ago. But, I think you are missing something dear Mrs BFW. Many women do not have any IRL recognition of c/s as traumatic, many of us are treated very badly by “care providers” and leave the surgery having experienced nothing of birth, merely a surgical extraction of a fetus.

Just my perspective,
Rebecca

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Shelly September 15, 2012 at 9:20 am

After having 6 hospital births, I was told I had to have a cesarean with my 7th child. I was lied to by a Dr. Who had no regard for me. It was honestly the most horrible experience I’ve went through. I cry when I think about it. I love my son more than anything. I wish I would have been more informed. I didn’t know much about cesarean births at that time. Nor did I know much about my rights. I should have got up and birthed in my car if need be!! I’ve since had another hospital birth and a home birth. The home birth was the most healing experience. My only regret is not birthing all my children at home!! All my best to you mama’s who went through a cesarean birth.

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Charlamaine September 15, 2012 at 12:10 pm

Sounds like what happened to me, I had 3 babies at the hospital but vaginal, and then with my 4th I was lied to and told I HAD to have my baby by c-section. It was an awful experience. I am now going to have my 5th baby and am planning a completely natural VBAC.

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Melanie M September 15, 2012 at 10:43 am

Dear Mrs. BWF,
I am the proud mama of three grown/growing children, ages 23, 12, and nearly 9. All three of my babies were born via c-section after 24 hour plus labors. The first was entirely due to too much medical intervention and a 19 year old mom with not enough support. The 2nd was a homebirth attempted vbac transfer with a 17cm head, and the third was a homebirth UC transfer. After such excruciating disappointment from the first and second births, I got smart by the time the third birth drew near. I knew, that although a c-section wasn’t my preference or plan, that it was a possibility given my two prior births. So, instead of feeling disappointment, I prepared myself to feel empowered. I actually wrote a c-section birth plan. It was simple, and my requests were all honored. In addition to insisting that my midwife be by my side the entire time, I had the following requests.
1. I asked that the attending doctors keep their conversation to the impending delivery; as routine as this was to them, it was still the birth of my child to me.
2. I asked for a mirror so I could see my child as the birth occurred. I could choose to look away as if I needed to.
3. I asked them not to restrain my hands. This was the only point they hesitated with, but in the end they understood my request and honored it.
4. I asked them not to tell me the gender of my baby. I wanted to find out on my own.
5. I asked them not to wash my baby and instead to let him be on me and near me as soon as possible.
6. I asked that the child’s father be allowed to stand behind me and take photos at his will.
My requests were honored, and my son’s birth was magical. The mood in the delivery room was one of joyful anticipation even by the doctors. When the incision was made and we could see the little rolls of fat on the back of his neck before he was born we were ALL laughing and the doctors asked me to guess how much he would weigh (turned out to be 11lbs). I got to watch as his head was delivered and his body soon after. I was an active participant in my youngest son’s birth, not a passive bystander.
Writing a cesarean birth plan sounds odd, but it helped me experience the magic I longed for.
Please, mamas, prepare for the birth of your dreams, but plan for the alternatives as well. It’s a way to be empowered the entire time.

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Ryan September 15, 2012 at 10:57 am

I love the pic with the daddy in it. Gorgeous family!

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Jessica September 15, 2012 at 10:58 am

I agree that no matter how the babies come into the world, it can be nontraumatic and empowering. I have had two babies via csection and both were very peaceful because i was aware that they would be delivered that way. On the opposite side, my sister had her little girl back in February. After dilating to 10cm, the doctor suddenly decided that the decels in babys heart rate were becoming dangerous. He had her sign a consent for csection. I was by her side and could not believe that after going all the way through labor they wanted to do a csection. Thank God the decels stopped and her baby was born naturally. I can see how that would have been horribly traumatic for her.

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Laura September 15, 2012 at 11:22 am

These pictures are breathtaking in a way I didn’t expect. My very best friend had an emergency C-section with her son and was set to VBAC her daughter. Due to uncontrollable events, her daughter had to be taken using a vertical incision. It broke her heart and left her with an inverted-T scar… She called it her anchor. It held her down. She despised that scar. It was thick and painful.
During her 3rd pregnancy, she resigned herself to a 3rd surgery. Then she found a doctor willing to let her VBA2C with her “special scar”. She spent much time in consideration before deciding that, for her, the risk (and her fear) of missing what would be her last birth (due to the general anesthesia required in an emergent situation), was greater at that point than her need to experience birthing her child vaginally. Her 3rd baby was delivered into her waiting arms, providing her with the healing experience she needed to no longer hate the scars she has, but see them as part of her life, part of her story and to embrace them as part of HER.

Another close friend of mine was so disappointed to have her son delivered by ceasarean due to dangerous fetal malposition. She too had very hurt feelings toward her scar, also an inverted-T. After much research and soul searching, she chose to birth her daughter at home. It was a powerfully healing experience for her. For both women, it was the taking back of power, of control, that made all of the difference. Each experience is different and each woman’s perspective is different.

I find these scars, these bellies, these women, to be beautiful. And their children are blessed as much as they, like all children, are a blessing. Thank you so much for sharing such an intimate portrait of ceasarean birth.

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Kathryn September 15, 2012 at 12:23 pm

For me, I guess it didn’t matter how my daughter was born, as long as she arrived safely. After 10 hours of back labor, and one hour of pushing, her heartrate was up in the 190′s, and she was getting very stressed. After that, I was so happy that she was okay. Hers was an unplanned pregnancy, and I knew that this was my last chance at the age 0f 41. I was lucky enough to get an ob-gyn with the skills of a plastic surgeon, and after 6 months, you could hardly tell my scar was even there, he was that good. I still have some numbness at the incision site, but it isn’t anything that I can’t handle. I have a happy, healthy, and sometims sassy 1st grader now, and that’s all that matters…..

I sent in a picture from the day after I had her, I’m really hoping that you’ll use it, I love it!

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Sue September 15, 2012 at 12:37 pm

Go c-section mamas!!!

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Sara September 15, 2012 at 1:02 pm

Love it! For one to assume that what happens with mom is unimportant is so ridiculous to me. All moms matter and their birth is important.

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Rebecca September 15, 2012 at 2:11 pm

I planned a vaginal birth mostly because I thought it would be healthiest for my son. I really did not think about what would be most empowering for me. I had read some research about c-section babies not latching well, getting the probiotic benefits from mom, and even not doing as well in school! Because of this, I switched OBs to a doc who had a lower c-section rate, went through all sorts of interventions to position the baby properly, waited 2.5 weeks after due date. After 56 hours of labor, 40 hours without pain medication, the hospital staff pleaded with me to have a c-section. Only when my son showed signs of distress did I consent! After the birth, I felt horrible! I felt like such a failure. Images like that above made me feel awful! Only after months of parenting did I realize that I did the best I could. My doctors worked with me and honored my choices as long as they felt safe doing so. Sometimes things in life don’t work out as we plan. We make hundreds of choices that we hope are best for our children and we do not have the luxury of always knowing what is actually the best. Most of us turn out fine, right? What I do wish, however, it that I felt more acceptance that there are many ways to do right by our children. Instead of feeling bad, I wish more mothers felt supported. My c-section scar went from representing trauma, to sorrow, to a medical necessity, and now to one of the many reflections of the life we live in the hopes that our choices are the best we could have made at the time.

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Brittney September 15, 2012 at 2:49 pm

January

Thank you so much for including me and my first born in this blog. Up until my five months ago I would have never been proud enough to shore those with anyone. My first birth, my cesarean birth, was not something I was proud of. The exact opposite in fact, I was ashamed and haunted by it. During my unnecessary failed induction I was treated like a number instead of a woman laboring, during my surgery I was treated no different then patient who was having their appendix removed would be treated. It took me nearly four years, nine months on a roller coster of emotions, and one very healing VBAC to find the beauty in it. My scar healed years ago, but my VBAC healed me heart. Now I am proud of both of my births, my heart still aches a little when I think of how I was treated but overall I have found peace.

-Brittney

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FyshWyfe September 15, 2012 at 5:08 pm

I just want to say a word or two about that apple image. I believe it originally came from an art exhibit pertaining to cesarean birth and I found it through ICAN about two years ago. The exhibit featured many images paired with text such as what many cesarean mothers are told if they express sadness over how their birth happened. Things like, ” If this had happened 100 years ago you both would have died,” and, “You should be grateful.” The point was that while the mother may FEEL horrible and violated like a torn-up inanimate object, she doesn’t have the right to feel sad because, “All that matters is a healthy baby.” I even shared the exhibit with my BFF who had just experienced a horribly traumatic cesarean, and she found it helpful.
On the other hand, of the images are being used to bully moms, it’s doubly sad.

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Kelly September 15, 2012 at 5:48 pm

Amen sister. I do not see how that apple relates to a perfectly lined scar. And after 3 years you cannot hardly see my scar. I wish I had a picture of mine on this page!

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Tigeriza September 15, 2012 at 7:39 pm

I think the apple image is about *traumatic birth* and not about either C/s or VB.

I personally think the image is saying that if you have had a *seriously traumatic* birth, then having someone tell you that it doesn’t matter, because now you have a healthy baby, is like saying that the apple only exists to produce pips so it doesn’t much matter how you get them out and whether you take account of the apple.

Some People have traumatic births and these can be either C/s or Vaginal. Often the thing that makes them traumatic is that the mother suddenly loses control of her ability to birth, at the same time as believing that she is being lied to or deceived or disrespected when she is at her most vulnerable and powerless. I have heard some very shocking stories of traumatic births, about 50/50 whether they were c/s or not.

Traumatic birth is a very valid experience and is separate from whether the child is healthy or not.

A friend if mine had a horrible traumatic birth *and* her baby died *and* they performed a hysterectomy on her. She definitely felt like that apple In her mind and her emotions. I don’t think she gave two hoots about the little scar mark on her belly though.

She had to mourn the loss of her baby *AND* the hideous sequence of hospital blunders and ignorance that led to the loss of her baby, and to the loss of her womb.

Also I think if the originator of this image had wanted to use an apple as metaphor for a caesarian, surely it would be a photograph of a neatly cut apple with the pip being lifted out?

for record; I had twin Vbirth in hosp, and 1 homebirth.

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FyshWyfe September 16, 2012 at 8:24 am

Y’all are absolutely right. I framed it with c/s births because I found it thru ICAN but it is absolutely representative of all traumatic births. Anyone who uses the image to harass or shame a mother is not only a cruel and heartless person, but she doesn’t understand birth, sadness, women, or art.

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Morgaine September 21, 2012 at 11:15 pm

I’ve been working my way through (a) blog (I’m at the moment reading archives from all the way back into 2009) and I found this comment. My comment above still stands, but this little bit of background made this picture a bit less abrasive to me.

“I know I’m a little late to the party but as the woman who took the “mutilated apple” photo nearly 10 years ago, I think it’s time to speak up.

There is no doubt that cesareans save lives. There is also no doubt that for some women, the experience may leave much more than a scar on the skin.

My son turned 10 last July; he was my second, with a brother born vaginally 11 years before. We fully expected him to be on time, much like his brother, but at nearly 42 weeks we threw in the towel and tried to induce labor with pitocin. 24 hours later I was exhausted and on the table in the OR. The anesthesiologist tested me – “Can you feel this?” “Yes.” “Do you feel this?” “Yes.” Despite the fact that there was no fetal distress, just a failure to progress, and I was confirming that my epidural was no longer working, MY OB CUT ME ANYWAY. And even though I started to scream and cry, she continued until my husband made her stop. I FELT EVERYTHING. And instead of putting me under, I was heavily sedated for the remainder of the surgery. I sometimes passed out until the pain brought me back out.

I love my son. He’s a great kid, though in hindsight I realize how much his birth impacted our relationship. I’m glad he was okay. The reality, however, is that I was NOT okay. I couldn’t even look at someone in scrubs for a long time without a panic attack.

Not all births are the same and not all c-sections are cut and dry, no pun intended. Had this been ANY other kind of surgery, no one would bat an eye at how traumatic it was, but because it was a c-section, somehow that makes it all okay.

Over the years I’ve received many emails from women who saw the image and immediately identified with it, and read many blog posts saying the same. None of us are saying we don’t love our children or that we wish the outcome had been different. It’s often the WAY these things happened that matter to us, and these experiences are so deep, and so painful, and so emotionally impactful that comments that we should just man (woman) up and forget about it because the baby is fine can feel cruel, no matter how well they are meant.”

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Meghan November 8, 2013 at 12:10 am

It’s me, late to the party again. :)

I am sorry if the image of that apple has ever been used to make someone feel badly about their birth. That was NOT my intention when I took it in 2001.

The day I took it, my son was about 7 months old. I had recently become pregnant again and that was when it suddenly hit me that I was going to have to give birth again. All of the pain, all of the trauma, everything, came back like a tidal wave. I was a wreck. In a moment of sheer anguish I grabbed the apple and took it outside and cut it up, took the seeds, out, then tried to put it back together again. My only point was to express how *I* felt. *I* felt that I had been butchered on that operating table, that the only thing that mattered to anyone was the baby, and that no matter how hard anyone tried, you couldn’t just put me back together again and pretend that nothing had happened. I took the photo for ME, and shared it with the ICAN mailing list. I wound up miscarrying that pregnancy and it was a blessing in disguise, because it brought everything to the surface and helped me prepare for the next time.

So, I am sorry if the photo hurts anyone. :( I will say that it’s been almost 13 years and women are still talking about it – and often because it expresses the same thing for them that it did for me, or speaks to them in a similar way. I can only hope that it helps some women in their healing process.

By the way, even so many years later I have still had panic attacks near hospitals if I am not prepared. Most of the time my son’s birth is just a bad memory, but it doesn’t take much for it to all come flooding back.

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