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Category: Cesarean Birth

Dealing With Cesarean Scars

Dealing With Cesarean Scars

Rebecca shares a beautiful reflection on her c-section scarring.

I don’t actively go out of my way to look at my scar. I don’t hide its existence, but I just don’t fuss over it either. It is there, under a little flap on my tummy, hiding until I straighten myself out to peer at it in the mirror.

I didn’t always look this way. My tummy was once flat, though anyone who had only just met me in the last 4 years would be forgiven for thinking otherwise.

I recently enjoyed reading some stories of old friends experiencing success in their careers, unhindered by children and able to progress to the peak of their industries. I get more time to read about these things on Facebook while I feed my 4-month old as I put her to sleep, lying on my side and stroking her hair as she drifts off.

I wouldn’t exchange her, or my son, for any success in the world; and so I can say confidently and clearly that I have only happiness for these people. There are no “what ifs” or “maybes”. There is only joy and excitement.

Are you waiting for the “But…”? It’s not there. If I learned anything from having children, it’s that comparing success is a dangerous road, which inevitably leads to hurt for one or both parties.

So I stood up tonight and actively looked at my scar for the first time after having my daughter. It’s been four months. It’s still red, and is joined by the little skin flap and array of stretch marks that appeared three years ago after having my son through the same scar.

Both of my children were born by “elective cesarean”, though to say it was an elective choice is a lie. My son was born through a cut in my stomach after 36 hours of labor with no progression. I was given the option to continue labor, but after being told the safest option was to wheel into surgery, I agreed with the doctor’s suggestion and jumped on the trolley towards the surgery room.

People like to tell you when swapping birth stories (sometimes dangerous ground to tread) that they always have a friend who pushed through 36-hour labors, and against the odds had a vaginal birth that was “the most amazing experience a person could have”. Every time I hear these stories I have to remind myself that I chose what was right for me. My son’s birth involved me lying paralyzed on a surgery table, discussing kindergarten options with the surgery nurse whose son was about to enter school. Then my body started thrashing in what I later found out was shock from blood loss. Then the doctors did some stuff, and then I held my son. Then they weighed him, and I held him again while my husband cried with joy and I just made gulping sounds of joy in a greyish state. It’s not the almighty experience that vaginal birth stories have led me to believe.

My son is now 3. He is witty, cheeky, clever and naughty. I have never been more euphoric than when we sit and talk about his day for the single minute that he can stand to sit before running off again to play or explore everything in his environment. He is simply everything and all I could ever dream he could be.

He likes my tummy. He thinks the stretch marks make an excellent road for his mini trains and seems to assume they are ‘”pretty” before he will become socially programmed to be repulsed by them (I dread the day and work with everything in my power to prevent it).

He was recently diagnosed with asthma. My friend, who loves and is loved by my children, let me in on some medical facts she learned from her midwife mama: “Did you know cesarean babies are 90% more likely to get asthma due to not getting their lungs squeezed in the birth canal?” She asked. She didn’t mean for it to hurt; and if she knew, she would have been devastated. But it’s not uncommon for people to assume you were just totally cool to have a c-section and that it was all sweet.

Did my birth decision cause my son to end up hospitalized and struggling to breathe because I chose to be wheeled into that surgery?

My daughter came out of the same scar. They reopened it for her. She was breech and I had an “incompetent pelvis” (what a name!), which made it hard for her to engage and come down the canal naturally. So again, I “chose” to get on the trolley. I “chose” to get a syringe in my spine. I “chose” to risk going into shock again and needing a blood transfusion, and I chose what was medically deemed the safest way to bring my daughter into the world with the extenuating circumstances. If the doctor said that my leg was in the way and could risk my child’s safety during childbirth, you could bet your bottom dollar I would be hopping out of that hospital with my kids.

So tonight I stared at my scar. I took a photo of it. I marveled that this little cut bought my children into the world and made my life complete. I called in my husband to look too. He said what I was thinking without me saying a word – “Can you believe you bought our children into the world through that scar? It’s one of my favorite parts of you.”

I started going to the gym. I would like my tummy to be less wide and a little flatter. No matter how many crunches, sit-ups or planks I do, those stretch marks will stay. No amount of shea oil will wipe away my scar. I love it and I wouldn’t change it for anything in the world, because it made my world complete.

Emily’s Birth Story

Emily’s Birth Story

Monday, the 15th of December, 2014 – my husband and I anxiously waited in the waiting room of the hospital for our midwife appointment. At this point, I was eight days late and we were a little anxious to meet our baby we’d waited nine long months for, anxious about the impending labor and delivery that we both had no idea about what to expect, and the idea of the afterwards, we’d have a baby to take home. What did that mean for us? How will we know what to do with her if she cries or needs something? How will we know?

The midwife called us in and asked me to make myself comfortable on the bed and my husband sat on the chair next to me. The midwife discussed what they were going to do. A stretch and sweep, and check how much I was dilated. They did this and said that I was 1cm dilated. At eight days late, with no sign of labor coming any time soon, the midwives decided with a conversation with the delivery doctor that if it didn’t happen in two days, by Wednesday the 17th of December 2014, I was to be induced and then that was it. We could go home and wait until our baby came naturally or wait until Wednesday to arrive. We were excited. We had a clear date of when we would meet her. The whole pregnancy was a question of when the baby will come, what day to expect her, guessing, researching old wives tales on the date she’ll arrive, never really knowing, but now we did. We knew then that we would meet her in just a few short days and we were excited and terrified! We immediately called my husband’s parents and told them the news. The induction was a scary thing for me, because I’d been explained that an induction can increase the risk of needing to have a cesarean and being major abdominal surgery, needing a spinal block, and the recovery afterwards with a new baby. I was scared. We didn’t tell anyone else of when she was to arrive. We wanted to keep that all to our self and have the next few days together.

Tuesday the 15th of December, we went out for lunch. We ate at a café down the road from our house and we laughed. We talked about our baby and who she might look like. We discussed her hair colour and whose eyes she’d have. We talked about names we liked and laughed about what would happen if she were a boy, having spent the last five months being told it was a girl! We watched a movie at home and just spent time together. This was, for a while, to be the last moments it was just us two. Tuesday night came and she still hadn’t arrived. The midwives explained to us on Monday that if I hadn’t gone into labour by 6am on Wednesday morning to call them and let them know we were coming to the hospital and the process of induction would begin.

So we went to bed. I don’t think either of us got a lot of sleep that night, but before we knew it the alarm had sounded. It was 5.15am and we had to get up and get ready to go to the hospital. We lay in bed awhile and said good morning to each other. We checked our phones for any calls and cuddled awhile. My husband said, “C’mon it’s time to get up, have a shower, and we’ll call the hospital.” I sat up in bed and as I did I heard and felt a “pop” sound come from inside me. I felt a slight trickle of water and said to Shaun what had happened. I stood up out of bed and felt some more water come from me. My waters had broken. Shaun said, because it was only a small amount to call the hospital and check what we should do. I called the midwives on the labour ward and explained what had happened.

I remember so clearly the midwife on the other end of the phone excitedly tell me, “Yes honey, your waters have broken, you’re gonna have a baby today.” I cried! She told me to still come in as I was now ten days overdue and I’d need to be monitored anyway. I couldn’t believe it. We had booked an induction and we were mentally ready for that to happen and then my labour had started naturally! We showered and changed and we were on our way. We dropped the dog off to our parent’s house along the way. They hugged and kissed us and wished us luck and we were on our way to the hospital to meet our baby girl. We got to the hospital carpark at about 7am. Shaun sent a text to only his close friends telling them, “It’s go time.” They all knew exactly what that meant and they sent texts back wishing us luck and love; we walked inside.

The midwives were beautiful. They greeted us warmly and showed us to our room and we sat on the bed waiting for someone to come back in and see us. The midwives came in explained they would break my waters. They knew I had lost a little water earlier, but needed to be sure, and explained and carried out the process of the induction. They explained and carried out the beginning of the induction. They inserted an IV into my right arm. The internal examination during the braking the waters process showed I was still 1cm dilated. This was a concern, but we were optimistic that the dilation would increase with the help of the induction. They placed heart monitors on my tummy to be able to watch our baby’s heart rate as the induction process was going on. They sent the oxytocin into my blood stream and the labour was officially started. Around 9.30am I really started to feel the pain. Induction is rightly known as “0-60,” as the labour pains started immediately with barely any lead up! After a few hours of searing pain, then turning it down, semi awful pain, then turning it up it was 6pm. I sucked on the gas, I sat on a gym ball, I laid over the back of the bed, I probably stood on my head, but I just couldn’t find a position comfortable enough that I could get through the pain easily and quickly.

Shaun was amazing. He held my hand through every contraction, some minutes apart. He rubbed my back and whispered he loved me in my ear. He reminded me through every moment that he was the most amazing man I’d ever met and I was so glad we were doing this together. 6pm. The midwives did another internal examination to check how dilated I was. I was 2cm. This was obviously taking a long time. An epidural was offered to me. This was the one thing I didn’t want. The midwives explained to me that as this was taking too long. If our labour happened to speed up, by the time we got to it I would be too tired to push her out vaginally, possibly sending me into an emergency caesarean and they recommended I have the epidural so we could get some rest, hopefully relaxing my cervix and bringing on labour faster. 11.45pm and we had both fallen asleep waking to the midwives introducing us to the delivery doctor, Dr. Lee. They asked me if they could do an internal examination again to see how well the epidural had worked and to give us an idea of when she might arrive.

I was 3cm dilated. The doctor and midwives quickly decided that this wasn’t happening naturally. The baby had showed increased signs of distress, her heartrate wasn’t consistent and what they could feel from that last internal was her head wasn’t close enough to my cervix and too big for my pelvic opening and I needed to have a caesarean, immediately. By 12AM we were on our way to surgery. Shaun was given a blue gown and pants and asked to quickly change. I was scared. After the epidural I could still slightly feel the contractions in my left side and knowing that I was having this surgery with just a little “top up” I was scared that I was going to feel the pain or have to be put to sleep. We waited in the surgery waiting room, and I cried. I cried at Shaun saying how scared I was and he was so brave. He kept telling me it would be okay. I was scared because I knew if the spinal block didn’t fully take I would have to be put under local anesthetic and put to sleep were I wouldn’t be there to see your little girl come into the world. I was scared because I didn’t think I’d wake up.

After about 15 minutes I was brought into the delivery room. I went in alone so they could get me ready while Shaun waited outside. I was crying. They moved me to the surgical bed and the doctors and nurses were all busy around me getting everything ready. Shaun was let into the room and he was seated to my right, next to my head. A blue sheet was put in front of us so we didn’t see the surgery. The anesthetist topped up my spinal block and the doctor rubbed ice cubes on my legs asking me to tell him if I could feel it. I could. They waited a few more minutes and it had fully worked and they could begin the surgery. Dr. Lee talked us through the whole procedure. I was panicked and asking them to stop and they kept talking me through. “Your baby will scream and cry out for you any minute.” Shaun was doing his best to keep me calm, as was the anesthetist sitting to my left. They told me where they had cut and what they were dong next and told me she’d be here any second, and then just like that, she came earth side.emily3

Dr. Lee called out, “Baby girl born at 1.06am” The midwives called to Shaun and asked him to come over and see her and all I heard was: “She’s not breathing on her own, but that’s normal” I panicked. I was calling out to my baby and asking Shaun what was happening. The anesthetist explained that some babies born by caesarean need help to start breathing on their own and she was one of them. I didn’t hear at the time, but she started to cry a few minutes later in the surgery room. Shaun came over to me quickly and said, “She’s here; she’s okay, but we’re taking her to the neonatal ward to be sure.” I told him, “Don’t leave her side.” He assured me he wouldn’t and they both were gone.emily2

Shaun and the nurses rushed our daughter up to the neonatal ward, but on the way decided that she was okay and all came back down to the recovery to wait for me. They asked Shaun to have a seat and relax; they wrapped her up and gave her to him. He held her for the very first time. He fell in love! I was alone in the surgery room. It took approximately an hour to be stitched up and to come out of surgery. Up until this point I had not seen my daughter or her dad. I didn’t know if they were okay and I was scared. They wheeled me out of the surgery into recovery and I saw my husband sitting there. He was holding a white bundle of blankets and I asked him where our baby was and what he was holding. He said, “She’s here, come and meet our daughter.” Shaun asked me if I liked the name Emily and I said of course. Up until that point we had no idea what her name would be. We had mentioned the name Emily a few times, along with others, but never really stuck to any one name. We met her and we knew that she was an Emily.emily5

She was a beautiful, healthy baby girl, Emily. He handed her to me and she laid on my chest. She cuddled into me, our skin touching. She cooed at me and cried a little and I fell in love with her. She was a part of us. She was a piece of our heart outside of our body and she was ours. 42 weeks and 20 hours later I got to hold her in my arms. She was our beautiful daughter. The longest hour of my life not knowing if she was okay, 19 hours of a really painful and scary labour, nine long months of waiting and we finally got to meet her. I knew I loved her when I found out we were pregnant, but I could never have fathomed this feeling. I was devoted to her, proud of her, and I was completely and utterly in love with her, and I had only just met her. She was here, she was finally with us and we would never be happier than we were in that moment.emily4

Together we became parents in what I can only describe as the very best moment of my life. It was a magical and intimate moment we shared together. She chose us to be her mum and dad and for that we are forever grateful.emily1

Finding Healing in a C-Section

Finding Healing in a C-Section

My story really begins with my first two babies’ births. When I was about 37 weeks, we found out our first little girl was breech. We had planned a natural birth with Hypnobabies and midwives at the best hospital in our area, so to hear she was breech was crushing. We started doing everything we could to turn her around, but she did not want to turn. The chiropractor who did our Webster technique attempts was even concerned about her because she was SO chill after every appointment. After a lot of prayer, we decided that she must have a reason and felt that a C-section would be the safest way to go. When we met with the OBGYN that would be taking over our care, he was very good, but his bedside manner was awful. We brought a birth plan to discuss with him, and he completely belittled every choice we had made for her, made me feel like an idiot to the point that I didn’t even bring my birth plan when it was time.

We scheduled the C-section, after praying about when our little girl should be born, we scheduled for a Saturday at 38 weeks 5 days, and went home to get ready. The night before, I stayed awake until 2AM, so I could eat the last time before the surgery, but wasn’t hungry so only was able to eat a few crackers before going to bed. 3:30AM. I woke up to go to the bathroom and started having contractions that were lasting one minute, spaced two minutes apart, so they were coming really hard and fast, and since my mother had experienced a 15 minute labor with me, we knew we needed to hustle to the hospital.

They checked us in, got my IV, etc. then left me alone with my husband to wait. They had me signing paperwork through contractions and I was so miserable, but then they left me alone with the monitors, and all my husband did was stare at them. I felt pretty darn alone at this point, even though my husband was right there. What felt like years later, they finally came and took me back to the OR, gave me the spinal, and brought my husband in.

As they worked, the doctor completely ignored me, but did make two funny comments: “Wow, she is REALLY breech,” (apparently she had dug into my ribs as high as she could go) and second: “We’ve got a pooper!” She started pooping as soon as her butt hit the air. She didn’t cry at first, so we didn’t even know she had been born until the nurse came and asked if my husband wanted to see our baby. I got to see her for a minute before they left, then I was alone again, surrounded by people, but no one really seemed to actually remember that the body they were stitching back together was an actual person.

I didn’t get to see her for two hours after she was born. I still don’t know why, they just had me sitting in my room while I hung out with my good friend in recovery, but they ignored my requests to see her. When I did finally see her, she wasn’t interested in feeding or anything, but we were so in love.

Over the next three days, I felt ignored and manipulated by both the doctor and the hospital staff, even going so far as telling the nurses no outright and having them completely ignore me as I cried. It was a very hard recovery for me, and anytime I talked about it I felt alone, because that was how I was made to feel from the moment we found out she was breech.

Fast forward 3 1/2 years later, and we were expecting our second little girl. This time we planned a homebirth. I refused to feel that way again, and I didn’t. My midwife made me feel cared about. She came at 42 1/2 weeks (thanks to some family drama stresses). It was a long and hard labor, but my husband was there for me the whole time, supporting me. When she was crowning, my body got a huge contraction I couldn’t get control over, which shot her completely out, causing a 4th degree tear with spider web tears. It took two hours to stitch me up, and the last ten or so stitches I was no longer numb, so I felt each and every one. On top of this, my uterus refused to contract afterwards and stop bleeding, so I spent the next several hours with the midwife’s assistant on top of me, her fist ‘massaging’ my uterus. I ended up with a slow hemorrhage, which made it so I couldn’t even walk for the first week, because I was so weak. All the complications were traumatic and I decided I couldn’t do that again. Then, on top of all of that, I developed a bad blood clot two weeks after having her, so ended up in the emergency room to clear it, and needing blood thinners for any additional pregnancies from there on.

Despite being supported, I still felt extremely traumatized from my second birth.

18 months after my 2nd was born, I got my first period (yay breastfeeding). Surprisingly though, my next period didn’t show up and we found out that I was once again pregnant. The anxiety over it was crushing, and I knew that I could not handle another vaginal birth, so we began searching for a doctor to do a gentle repeat C-section.

This pregnancy was extremely hard on me. I didn’t really get morning sickness, but I struggled with debilitating dizziness and blacking out. We ended up finding out that I was struggling with a condition where my blood would pool in my legs and cause my blood pressure to drop 30 points when I was standing so I would black out, and fall. It was very hard to be the mother to two little girls through this, but my husband stepped up to help, and we were able to manage. To add to this, however, we ended up having to sell our home and move out of state a month before baby was due.

We found an OBGYN that would take me so late in the pregnancy, and worked on getting our new home ready to meet our newest family member. Because of the previous blood clot and being on blood thinners, I was high risk, so I had to see a high risk doctor as well as my OBGYN. During the routine appointment with the high risk doctor, we found out that my platelet count was low. This was concerning, because it meant I couldn’t have a spinal or epidural. I was concerned about how this would affect my birth, scared of the idea of being asleep and missing my baby’s birth, but after praying, we again felt that this was the safest option for me for this baby’s birth. We hoped my numbers would go up, but came to terms with the possibility that we would need general anesthesia.

The big day finally came, and we went in to the hospital, got blood drawn to check platelets one last time, IV started, paperwork signed. We all held our breath, waiting for the platelet count to come back, and to meet with the anesthesiologist to see what our birth would be. When the numbers came back, it was disheartening. They had dropped from 82 to 74, risking me out of a spinal. The anesthesiologist came in to talk to us, and started trying to figure out how to tell us that he felt the general would be safest. I cut him off and told him that if he felt that was the safest option for me, that I support his decision and do it. He was really happy to hear that; he had expected a fight.

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They got me a wheel chair and wheeled my into the OR, put me on the table, and got me all prepped. Everyone was apparently in awe of me, because I was making jokes and making everyone around me laugh. I guess they expected me to be more afraid, but prayer had given me the peace I needed to know everything was going to be alright; I wasn’t scared. Finally they put the gas mask on me and I went to sleep.

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When I woke up, they were wheeling me out of the OR. They were all telling me about my little guy, how he had monkey toes and a huge head. I had to be in recovery for a little while, but the nurses kept coming and updating me on his progress, how he was doing. The anesthesiologist even came by to tell me how great everything went, made me feel like I was actually cared about. Finally I was able to go back to my room to see my baby. He latched on perfectly as soon as I had him in my arms, impressing all the nurses.

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The greatest blessing from the whole experience is I didn’t have a single nurse that pushed me to do anything. When I wasn’t well enough to start standing, they let me take my time. When my bleeding wasn’t slowing as quickly as they thought, they made sure to take extra precautions to make sure I wasn’t going to keep bleeding. They respected me and my choices for our care, listened to all my concerns. Most people wouldn’t feel empowered or healed with general anesthesia, but I was, despite not having my baby skin to skin in the OR, my choices were respected, my voice was heard.

I’m Not Sorry

I’m Not Sorry

This week, the twins turn three months old. It’s crazy…time has truly flown by! We are amazed every day at their progress, thankful for their sleeping habit improvements, and amazed that these little miracles are ours.

But, during these three months, there’s been something I’ve been debating sharing, unsure of how to put it out there without sounding offensive. But, I think it’s time…so…here goes.

To get there, I have to start with how the twins arrived. It’s something I’ve had to figure out how to come to terms with on my own, something I treasure, and something I’m asked about on a fairly regular basis.

See, when you have twins, it seems like no questions are off limits. That’s okay; I don’t mind sharing, and I used to be the one with all of these questions! One of the questions is about how they were delivered, and that’s okay!

At 37 weeks and three days, I was scheduled for an induction due to Intrauterine Growth Restriction. Basically, the babies ran out of room. I was proud as John and I marched (okay…waddled and limped) down the halls of the hospital, excited to have made it to term, and ready to meet the babies!

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We had absolutely fantastic nurses and a doctor that was completely supportive of our desire for the most natural birth possible considering twins were in the picture. One of her requests was that we have an epidural, because things can turn really rapidly with twins. We agreed to have it placed as soon as we arrived, because of platelet issues, we could have lost this opportunity if we had waited. (Note: I use “we” a lot, because John was just as much a part of this process and support as I was; this was a team effort in every sense of the word!). But, we wanted to wait to have the meds put through it. Our doctors were completely on board.

The labor was smooth and I was able to stay relaxed through it. Contractions were manageable and I was on cloud nine. When I progressed to eight centimeters, the doctor asked if we could start putting the drugs in, again, just in case. I agreed. However, we quickly found out they couldn’t push the medicine through the epidural…it was defective. So, it was removed and they placed another one, which didn’t work. At this point, it was time to move to the OR (standard for twin delivery) to push, so a natural birth it would be!

Our baby A, which we quickly found out was a boy, was delivered quickly! It was smooth and amazing; we were in love instantly! Other good news included the fact that our Baby B, which would be a girl, had flipped from breech, where she’d been the whole pregnancy, to head down. Great, we thought. She’d be here in no time!

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This is where everything took a turn. Our doctor’s face became concerned and she put an internal monitor in. See, our Ginny wasn’t moving down and we’d lost her heart beat. Things changed quickly. Our doctor remained calm and explained that there was no time to wait, we would lose the baby if she didn’t get in there and remove her fast.

Within one minute, everything was ready and the anesthesiologist was apologizing, saying she was trying to push enough drugs to make up for the fact that the epidural wasn’t functioning. Soon, from what I understand, the baby was out and I was hemorrhaging. Our natural delivery turned into a medical emergency where both of our lives were at risk. I was put under and John and the babies were sent to recovery.

It would be a few hours before I was sent down to join them and before I would be able to see the babies. Obviously this time flew by for me, but John took care of skin to skin and made sure all was well, taking all of the first pictures and spending time with our new family members!

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I don’t remember my first few hours with the babies, I don’t remember our first picture or the first time I held them, but we have precious pictures to document the experiences. They were here, they were healthy, and modern medicine and quick thinking and acting doctors saved us all, especially Ginny and I!

This is where the comments generally start and where I need to share my thoughts. Generally, when I’m asked how I delivered, I say, “One natural, one c-section” No details needed, right? The next thing I hear is almost always, “I’m sorry.”

Here’s the thing: I’m not. Was my delivery ideal? Nope. Was it what I envisioned? Nope. Was it ideal to have a regular delivery and a C-section without pain relief at the same time? No. Do I still have nightmares and need time to process it? You bet.

But. I’m. Not. Sorry.

I’m not sorry for the way I delivered my babies or the way my daughter entered this world. I don’t feel bad about it or feel regret. I don’t resent the doctors who made the best choices they could to ensure the health of my family.

I don’t understand those that compare their experiences to something horrible. I don’t understand how a wish for a natural birth could trump the desire for a safe one.

This story is something I will share with Ginny when she asks someday, with pride, because you know what? It’s her story! It’s how she chose to get here. It’s unique and it’s hers and she’ll be able to understand it, because all potential consequences of waiting were avoided. She could have suffered and she did not. She’s healthy and my hope is that she’ll be happy. So far, we are doing pretty well in that department.

I understand that doctors make decisions we don’t always agree with and that sometimes there may be other motives at play, but, in our case, there were not. The best decisions were made from the start of the day until the babies arrived.

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So, no, let me reiterate…I am not sorry. I am grateful. I’m grateful for modern medicine. I’m grateful for a doctor that let my husband stay in the room to witness our daughter’s birth and to pray over everything that was happening, even in the midst of chaos. I’m grateful that I get to hold my healthy babies each day.

This story brought them to us, it’s a part of our family now, and I choose to see it as a happy one.

How can I be sorry for that?

Originally published on Take Two Blog.

I Am Strong {Emily Weber}

I Am Strong {Emily Weber}

I am strong because at the age of 19, my husband and I became pregnant with our first child.

I am strong because at our first ultrasound we were told that our son would be born with “myelomeningocele”. The most common and most severe form of Spina Bifida.

I am strong because on July 05, 2011, I went in for a c-section. Jonah was born at 12:32pm with Spina Bifida, hydrocephalus, bilateral club feet and Chiari Malformation II.

I am strong because two years later we decided to try for another child, even though the chances of this baby being born with Spina Bifida were even higher than the first time. I am strong because I went through an emotional battle with myself when we found out our daughter did NOT have Spina Bifida.

I am strong because even though I had a c-section the first time, I knew I needed to go for a VBAC for the quick recovery. Our son needed me to carry him and take him to his therapies.

I am strong because I went in for my VBAC January 1st.

I am strong because I was induced with Pitocin, even though it was much against my birth plan. I am strong because I was given foley bulbs to help the process, which was also much against my birth plan. I am strong because after 32 hours of labor, I decided to get an epidural even though it was against my birth plan. I am strong because after two “failed” epidurals, the pain was excruciating. I am strong because even though I was dilated to a 7, I knew something was wrong and I needed a repeat c-section.

I am strong because I went in for my c-section around 6pm, and I woke up around 10pm that night. I knew something had happened. I am strong because I listened to my body and had my c-section just in time to save my baby and me.

I am strong because my uterus had ruptured.

I am strong because after my surgery, I spent the night having nightmares of my daughter Genevieve crying, and I could not get to her. I am strong because I finally decided to take a sleeping pill, and ease some of my emotional pain.

I am strong because I spent the next few days in the hospital, in terrible pain, with a surgical drain attached to my c-section scar, all while waiting to find out if I would need a hysterectomy.

I am strong because at the age of 22, I was told I could not have any more children without risking mine, and my unborn child’s life.

I am strong because I could not lift my son. I am strong because I had to watch him fall down and get back up without my help.

I am strong because just two weeks after Genevieve was born, I was in the same hospital again for two surgeries to remove my gall bladder. I am strong because I fell into a dark depression during this time, and I never let anyone know of my struggle. I am strong because even though I felt emotionally and physically drained, I continued to produce the milk my daughter needed.

I am strong because I continue to have those same nightmares of my daughter crying and I cannot get to her.

I am strong because even though one doctor told me not to try again, I am looking for another specialist to get a second opinion. And I will get a third, fourth, and fifth opinion if I have to.

I am strong because even though both my c-sections were traumatic, I cannot forget how alive and strong I felt during my labor with my daughter.

I am strong because if it is God’s will…we will try again.

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A Healing Surgical Birth

A Healing Surgical Birth

In 2009 (with my first pregnancy) I didn’t know how to navigate the system and advocate for myself. I knew I wanted a vaginal birth. And since everyone one of my family members have had successful pregnancies and deliveries I knew it was obvious I would too. So when I found myself very pregnant nearly 43 weeks with ruptured membranes and no contractions I felt confused and followed the system.

I was induced and meconium was present in my waters. Thirty-six hours later I was at 10 cm and pushing ineffectively. In the interest of keeping my story somewhat short… A c-section was called and I agreed. I was tired and baby was in a strange position (nurse could feel her ear) during the section the epidural (that was placed 12 hrs earlier) failed.

It was an awful experience for both myself and my husband. Another drug was administered that caused me to have issues breathing on my own. I remember vomiting while being strapped on my back, shaking and crying out uncontrollably. I didn’t get to see or hold my daughter until the next day. She was also diagnosed with craniosyntosis (where the scull is fused-no soft spot).

Fast forward to 2012. I’m pregnant and due to deliver a son in April. I’ve also lost 4 pregnancies and been diagnosed with PTSD and anxiety. I chose to VBAC because of my fear of a repeat section. I found a doula, used acupuncture and hypnobabies. I felt strong.

I went into labor on my own on my estimated due date. It was an amazing experience. Natural labor felt weirdly good. I was 7-8 cm when we arrived at the hospital.

Then the intervention started.

All part of “policy” I had to have an epidural (so it would be in place if a c-section was needed). They broke my waters to place the internal monitors. And I was on a bed. I made it to 10 cm with involuntary pushing. A catheter was placed and the epidural was turned on; I felt the bed swallow me.

And then they lost my sons heart rate. A code pink was called and we were rushed into a section under general anesthesia. That epidural was not needed. My son was was born within 5 min of the code being called in the delivery room. My bladder was damaged and my uterus had ruptured (I did not learn about the rupture until a subsequent pregnancy). My son was born with an APGAR of 1. I didn’t see him until the next day in the NICU flat on his back with lines and tubes.

Fast forward 3.5 years and 3 more pregnancy losses I’m faced with another section. And I’m terrified.

I had learned about the rupture while reviewing my surgical records with my OB. I know that a CBAC is the safest choice. I know that this is my last pregnancy and my last chance to be awake and aware for a delivery. But I’m terrified.

Will I find myself strapped to a bed choking on my vomit? Will I see that bloody hand over the drape? Will I feel like I’m dying? What will happen to my baby, will she be laying flat on her back with no one touching her? Will she live? What about my big kids, I need to be there for them. So many feelings!

October 14 I arrived at the hospital at 6:00 am. I didn’t sleep the night before. I fought off panic until 7:00 when I met with the anesthesiologist. I told him my experience and fears. He assured me he was the right person for the job. (And he really was!) I was allowed to have my hands free and he stayed with me until my husband was allowed in. He was calming, held my hand and talked me thru the panic.

The spinal was very effective. I couldn’t feel myself breathe but we worked thru it. He never once told me I was over reacting. He assured me I was able to breathe normally but it was okay to keep taking big breaths. He told me about his family and vacations. My husband was allowed in once they were ready to pull baby out.

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When they placed her on my chest, all was right in the world. I was the first to hold her and kiss her. When they were finished closing me up she went with my husband into the recovery room while they transferred me onto another bed. Then the 3 of us spent time together and I got to breastfeed right away.

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This planned section was so smooth. And recovery has been much easier even with a 6 & 3 year old at home. You CAN have a healing surgical birth!

{ Story and photos submitted by Nicole Traverse}

Next Time I Will Call the Shots – VBAC Home Water Birth {With Pictures}

Next Time I Will Call the Shots – VBAC Home Water Birth {With Pictures}

With my first child I was forced into a c-section and never given the opportunity to labor! The story is that I was 39 weeks, and was told at 40 weeks we would have an ultrasound, schedule an induction, and go from there. Well it turned out my OB NEVER scheduled the induction but rather scheduled a c-section. We went in thinking I was getting induced to find out two hours in I was having a c-section.

When my baby came into this world, I gave him a two-second kiss and he was off to the nursery. I went to recovery begging to go see my baby but I didn’t get to really meet him until he was almost two hours old. He wasn’t allowed to stay in my room with me overnight (hospital rules). I told them he was only going to be breastfed, but they still fed my son formula behind my back. I was wondering why he didn’t want the breast but I didn’t know why until I peeked in and saw for myself.

I was scarred and hurt, not only from that birth experience, but that he wouldn’t latch either. I said next time will be different and I will call the shots.

And IT WAS.

I had an amazing, empowering home water VBAC. I was diagnosed with CPD, but I pushed out an even bigger baby just fine. It was so beautiful! Daddy caught baby and a month later I am still breastfeeding! I Birthed Without Fear. Your page helped me a lot.

Thanks BWF!

{Desiree}

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I Am Strong Because I Am FREE!!

I Am Strong Because I Am FREE!!

I am strong because three months after my husband and I got married, we found out we were pregnant, and at 12 weeks, we lost the baby.

I am strong because after three months of waiting to try again, we found out we were pregnant for the second time, but at six weeks, I miscarried again.

I am strong because that very next month, I got pregnant for the third time. My doctor put me on progesterone supplements to help prevent another miscarriage, and soon we had a healthy, growing baby.

I am strong because on New Year’s Eve, I went in to be induced, and after only a few hours, my doctor told me I needed a c-section. She said my pelvis was too small and that I would never be able to give birth vaginally. Not knowing much about birth at all, and being totally unprepared, I had a c-section, and our beautiful son was born a few hours before midnight.

I am strong because even though I was in excruciating pain from the surgery, I continued to breastfeed my son and refused to give him formula.

I am strong because at 2 weeks old, my son’s pediatrician said that he was too small and told me to start supplementing with formula. Not knowing much, and being a scared first time mom, I listened.

I am strong because even though I supplemented, I kept nursing as much as I could. I started researching everything I could about breastfeeding and how to up my supply. I bought an SNS to help wean him off formula so that he could nurse exclusively again. I was prescribed medication to help increase my supply.

I am strong because when my son was a month old, I developed double mastitis, was put on antibiotics and was in so much pain, but I still continued to nurse.

I am strong because twice a week, I had to take my son to the pediatrician to have weight checks, and every time, I just heard about how small he was, until finally, his pediatrician said that my milk wasn’t good enough, didn’t have enough calories, and that I needed to stop nursing. Without running any tests, she decided that my milk wasn’t suitable for him.

I am strong because I went home that day and refused to stop nursing. I knew my son was fine and that he was growing like he should. I started looking for new pediatricians who would be supportive of my desire to nurse.

I am strong because when my son was 2 months old, I found a new pediatrician and canceled my appointment with the previous pediatrician.

I am strong because the next day, Child Protective Services came to my house and took my 2 month old away from me. I could do nothing but watch them take my baby. They said that we were an immediate danger to our son and that we were neglecting him because he was so small.

I am strong because CPS never told us where they were taking our son. We found out later that night that he was admitted to a hospital, but we weren’t allowed to know which one, or if he was okay.

I am strong because over 24 hours after they took our son, they called and told us to come to the hospital where he was, and that they had kept him overnight to run tests on him. They found nothing wrong, and encouraged me to keep nursing. They said that the previous pediatrician had called and said that we were starving our son, and that he was in danger with us. The hospital said that they would be reporting the pediatrician for lying to CPS and causing us so much distress.

I am strong because the hospital offered to test my milk and they found that I was producing an average of 60 calories per ounce! Way above average! I continued to nurse my son, and used donor milk from a friend to eventually wean him off formula.

I am strong because when my son was 9 months old, I found out I was pregnant again. Another boy!

I am strong because at my first prenatal appointment, my OB told me to not even consider a VBAC because I would never be able to do one, I was “too small.” She encouraged me to schedule my repeat c-section that day.

I am strong because shortly after I found out I was pregnant, my husband got orders to move to South Korea. We decided to move there with him and I would give birth there.

I am strong because even though my milk had almost dried up from being pregnant, I continued to nurse until my son’s 1st birthday!

I am strong because I started researching VBACs. I got my operation report from my previous OB and learned that the c-section was unnecessary, and that I COULD give birth vaginally if I wanted to! I immediately told my new OB that I wanted to try. I hired a birth doula to help me through the process.

I am strong because at 41 weeks, my doctor said that he had to induce me (per hospital policy) or give me a repeat c-section. Because this was the only military hospital in Korea, I didn’t have a lot of options. I chose the induction.

I am strong because even though I was in immense pain from the pitocin, I went eight hours without any pain medication. six hours later, I gave birth via successful VBAC to my second son!

I am strong because in the birth canal, he had swallowed meconium, and I wasn’t able to hold him until he was over 45 minutes old.

I am strong because I still haven’t been the first to hold either of my babies.

I am strong because my second son has never had anything but MY breastmilk! He is now 16 months old and still nurses four times a day, and yes, he is just as small. We just have small babies!

I am strong because I knew my mothering instincts were right and I protected my right to nurse, and my right to have the birth I wanted, even when I was told I’d never give birth that way.

I am strong because I was so inspired by my birth and my experiences, that I decided to become a labor Doula and am planning my next birth (not pregnant yet!) to be at a birthing center.

I am strong because even though I have never shared this story publicly, I am ready to help someone else out through my experiences.

I am strong because it has taken me years to trust people and doctor’s, but I am slowly starting to trust my children with other people, and to have faith in doctor’s again. I am slowly letting go of the past and looking to the future.

I am strong because I am FREE.

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Ladies & Gentlemen, Husbands & Wives, Mothers & Fathers: We Are Strong

Ladies & Gentlemen, Husbands & Wives, Mothers & Fathers: We Are Strong

I am Strong because I waited until the age of 32 to have my first child.

I am Strong because I saw our would-be son one day looking up at me holding onto the knee of the man who became the love of my life at the age of 28. Dream became Reality.

I am Strong because as the youngest of my home growing up, and the youngest in our family’s generation, I was not around young children much, so everything was new and exciting/frightening.

I am Strong because my husband made it home from his last deployment for the Army in 2010, and we made the happy decision to try and start a family.

I am Strong because five weeks into trying, the hubby and I went to the ER due to me having severe abdominal cramps. We found out after eight hours of waiting that we were less than 48 hours pregnant and in danger of losing the baby.

I am Strong because we also made the decision to do what it took to have me become a Stay-At-Home Mom; the call and eventual resignation from being in Property Management for almost a decade was bitter and sweet.

I am Strong because my pregnancy was filled with obstacles and unknowns, from start to finish.

I am Strong because our pregnancy took, and I was able to carry full term.

I am Strong because when we moved from Texas to Virginia, our insurance was suspended due to an employee’s typo, and we were forced to go without insurance for over 4.5 months of the pregnancy.

I am Strong because we had to ask a local 4D ultrasound locale for a session to find out how many and what we were having during the middle of the insurance nightmare.

I am Strong because our sweet baby boy blew a kiss to us on the ultrasound, one of at least three prior dreams that have become reality. (The DVD shows this amazing gift)

I am Strong because the pregnancy was high-risk from start to finish.

I am Strong because the natural hormonal surges that occur in pregnancy were so great that my hip and shoulder joints were prone to dislocation, making it hard to walk, sit, lift anything, or be comfortable.

I am Strong because despite all my efforts to consume the healthiest of things – the only true craving I ever had was for beer, not a winning scenario as it went unsatisfied – I gained over 50 pounds during the pregnancy.

I am Strong because we made a birth plan, but due to complications with my joints, had to settle for induction/possible csection as a backup.

I am Strong because at 41 weeks, I began having contractions. They lasted an entire week, but to no avail as I did not dilate.

I am Strong because we went into the hospital to be induced, only to have the first induction fail.

I am Strong because after the second induction was administered, my joints could no longer handle the hormonal surge and my right hip dislocated, causing me excruciating pain.

I am Strong because I was scared to death of having an epidural but made the decision to do so as my cervix was still not cooperative.

I am Strong because I had two extremely intense contractions during the administering of the epidural, but managed to stay still enough with the help of my husband so as to not incur any nerve damage.

I am Strong because the only progress the epidural produced was my water breaking.

I am Strong because after 72 hours from being admitted, our son’s heart rate began dropping with contractions. It was decided a csection was eminent.

I am Strong because I sang hymns while being rolled into the OR, strapped to the table, to calm my nerves.

I am Strong because it took over five rounds of pain blockers to get my body to cooperate to have the procedure.

I am Strong because upon delivery, it was discovered our dear son had the cord wrapped around his neck twice.

I am Strong because after being wheeled into the recovery room while our son went to be tested/weighed, the nurses had turned the television on in the room.

I am Strong because our son was born the morning of the tsunami in Japan, March 11, 2011.

I am Strong because I felt at the same time immense joy for his new life, and ultimate sorrow for the tens of thousands of lives who were washed from this earth that fateful day.

I am Strong because we finally had a healthy baby boy!

I am Strong because I found out through two sessions with a domineering and condescending lactation specialist that I had inverted nipples and would eventually not be able to produce enough breastmilk to meet our son’s needs. I was not able to experience the deep bond with our son that so many others are blessed to have.

I am Strong because I left the hospital weighing more than I did while pregnant due to the amount of fluids and medications administered during these events.

I am Strong because the first week of having our son home also involved suffering through a reaction and withdrawal from a medicine the nurses gave me that I had previously admitted being allergic to on top of recovering from the surgery.

I am Strong because though our son was healthy, we noticed him having consistent tummy troubles. At the age of 2, he began having the same symptoms I have experienced as an adult with IBS, but at such a young age.

I am Strong because we had many trips to the doctor and even the ER but to no finite clarity on how to help our sweet boy.

I am Strong because our son suffered open sores for seven months during this ordeal.

I am Strong because I made the decision to attempt fixing his troubles through an elimination diet. It took over a year to find the source of the problem, mainly being all grains, but within a week of a completely benign diet, his sores healed and we began to enjoy watching him be a little boy with no more pain, only joy and curiosity.

I am Strong because our family is now on a modified paleo – low FODMAP lifestyle, with all of us having seen significant improvement in our health.

I am Strong because I only discovered Birth Without Fear through an acquaintance’s chance post on Facebook.

I am Strong because I wept with grief and relief to see how not alone I am in this world of traumatic births.

I am Strong because I’ve been able to lose all the weight I had gained and be more healthy now than ever before.

I am Strong because my Husband never left my side, from start to finish. He is my Rock, and I will Love him until my last breath.

I am Strong because we want a daughter.

I am Strong because we may not be able to have any other children.

I am Strong because I rejoice in the glorious secret world that is our happy home with my husband and son.

I am Strong.

Ladies, Gentlemen, Husbands, Wives, Mothers and Fathers:

We are STRONG.

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