Reflections of Ben’s Birth {Hospital Birth}

After shedding so many tears, I have been stewing over whether or not to open up my heart and share my honest and reflective thoughts about Ben’s birth. One night, after reading some powerful stories about women who successfully had a VBAC or HBAC (vaginal/home birth after cesarean) I nursed my baby, and then crawled into bed weeping in my husband’s arms. In the end I decided it would be cathartic for me and help heal the pain I have been going through to let the feelings flow out of my fingers. To some, the fact that I had a cesarean surgery won’t be a big deal, especially since (very sadly) they are all too common. Of course there are bigger things going on in the world, with many people experiencing real losses that don’t compare to me having a c-section. But this is a personal hurt for me that needs to heal. It’s easy to say that we are lucky because we have a healthy, beautiful little boy, so how he came into the world doesn’t matter. Very true, but Ben would have been born healthy no matter what. And it does matter to me. Mothers matter. It’s a little piece of the way I will always define myself. I missed out on an incredibly empowering experience.

birth story

I strongly believe that all normal, healthy pregnancies should happen naturally, but obviously some people would disagree with me on that point. With all of that being said, my disclaimer is that I realize doctors, hospitals, and c-sections all serve a very important purpose when necessary, and we are so lucky to have them when we need them. I’ve had friends need the services of the NICU and emergency c-sections, and friends who have had completely natural births. My husband and I educated ourselves and wanted a drug-free birth. Drugs make things harder, not easier. We took natural birthing classes and thought we were well-prepared, and I still ended up having a c-section. I continue to feel great loss and sadness over how our birth experience played out. After Ben was first born I didn’t feel upset because I was so glad he was here, but the more I reflect on the experience the more pain I feel over it. Giving birth is a normal, beautiful process. We had a plan… We had a dream for how we wanted to welcome Ben to the world. I felt confident having goals and being educated about how to meet them. Our surgery was so far out of the scope of what I expected that I am still grieving the loss of how Ben should have entered the world. I am probably being too hard on myself, but I truly feel like I let my baby down. I should have done better by him.

I don’t want Ben to feel badly because I hate how he was born, so I need to find some way to move on from these feelings, if possible. I need to heal my mind and soul and come to peace with the experience. Because I have major regrets. I wanted to push and give life to my son, bring him to my chest and not let anyone take him away to poke and prod at. I wanted to nurse him and lie with him for as long as I wanted. I wanted no drugs coursing through either of our bodies. I wanted to smell him and feel him and spend as many hours as I wanted looking at him. I wanted to remember all those first precious moments of his life. I don’t know why on earth I thought these things would happen in the hospital. Those people seriously don’t like when you try to mess with their protocols.

We had so much going on right after his birth that I really suppressed my feelings. I was focused on getting breast feeding going, getting us healthy, dealing with Ben’s reflux, etc. Now that some time has passed, I am in a grieving process. I wrote a version of his birth story a few weeks after he was born. I think I wrote with my rose-colored glasses on. I wanted to be polite. I didn’t want to seem dramatic or overly negative. Maybe I was embarrassed that I had been openly advocating how much I believed in natural birth and then I didn’t have one. I don’t think I had enough time to fully process and reflect on the experience. This is me digging deep and tapping into unfiltered, raw emotions and details I haven’t shared before.

Some of the words I heard during the end of our labor: “failure to progress” “take the baby out” “you can’t have more time” “risk of infection is too high now.” How terrible. I left the hospital feeling like a failure. I failed to bring my baby into this world in the way he deserved. But I tried… I tried damn hard before they took us to the operating room. The ridiculous, pitcon-induced contractions were killing me. I was having back labor. I was trembling. But I was breathing. I was working. I wanted it. I was close… 7 cm. But I was exhausted. I keep going back and thinking that I could have done it if I weren’t limited on time and movement restrictions. If I wasn’t hooked up to the IV machine, and if I didn’t have to wear the fetal monitor I could have actually moved around the room. I could have swayed and rocked, and maybe got in the tub or shower. They didn’t like the position I was laboring in, and I couldn’t be more than a few feet away from the machine.

Sometimes I’m not even sure if I can wholly call the surgery his “birth.” I guess he was born, but it was a surgery, not a birth, and that also makes me sad. While most of the time in the OR is really blurry, I distinctly recall lying terrified in tears, without my husband with me, on the surgery table. I overheard the medical team casually talking about baseball. Baseball! I realize I was just another surgery, just another day on the job for them. But here was a historic moment in my life, and none of the doctors in the room even talked to me. Yes, I realize their job isn’t to be lovey dovey… but it still seemed really impersonal. I was lying on my back, having powerful contractions I could still feel through an epidural. It took forever for the anesthesiologist to get my body numb, which resulted in a painful spinal tap. I do have to give major props to my LD nurse here, she was amazing and became the person I anchored to when everything else was confusing. While the doctor paced impatiently waiting to slice me open, I remember apologizing to him… as if it were my fault this was happening. I even stated out loud how awful I was at giving birth. It must have been a comment to mask the loss, but I am ashamed of myself for saying it. My tongue was numb and I became frightened that I would stop breathing. One of the nurses tried to tie my arms to the table, and of all the things that happened in that room, I am happy I forcefully said no and wouldn’t allow it. I mean seriously, I’m not a wild animal, not to mention I couldn’t even move my legs, let alone hop off the table. Where on earth did they think I would go? Justin later told me they ripped my stomach from side to side getting Ben out…it hurt him to watch. I can imagine. I still can’t feel the lower half of my abdomen. An intern in the room passed out. When they pulled Ben out, I didn’t have enough function to turn my head entirely, but I could see him to my left. He was bright pink, screaming, and so beautiful. They had me guess his weight, to which I replied “11 pounds!” They laughed at me, but when his real weight registered at 10.1, maybe they realized mama knows best (and that my baby was nearly a week overdue!) 🙂 It was a surreal experience though, because I didn’t really feel part of it. I was behind a curtain, the doctors took my baby out of me, and then I was wheeled away. It was like I was pregnant, and then I wasn’t.

birth without fear

Can you imagine being a baby, leaving the warmth and familiarity of your mama’s womb to be ripped out of her into a cold and very bright room, and then not having the one human who you have spent your whole life inside nowhere near? Instead of letting the chord pulse and give blood to my baby, it was immediately cut, and instead of resting on the warmth and comfort of his mama’s chest, he was wrapped in a blanket. I was crying, and I got to kiss his cheek before they wheeled me away. I was in the recovery room with my wonderful nurse, but Justin and Ben weren’t there (I insisted he stay with the baby). My catheter broke and my nurse had to re-insert another one. My eyes felt heavy. The room was spinning. When Ben was finally brought to me to start nursing for the first time, he didn’t get to try it on his own. We didn’t get to be skin-to-skin, the way nature intended. My shirt was pulled down and his mouth was shoved on my breast. Then I threw up. Yes, the first time I nursed my baby, which is supposed to be this incredible bonding experience, I was vomiting green liquid over his head into a pan. All the drugs made me sick. Ben didn’t get to stay and nurse as long as he wanted, because the nurses upstairs were waiting for us in our postpartum room and we had to meet the needs of their schedule. Ben deserved better than this. Shortly after, I passed out, exhausted from the long night and the drugs. I don’t remember any of the first couple of hours with my son, because I was sleeping. When I woke up the pain from the surgery was incredibly uncomfortable. I had circulation cuffs on my legs. Despite my protests, I was given more pain medication, and then more medication to stop the nausea  At the time I felt somewhat happy. Happy that Ben was here, that the whole thing was over. But I missed out on so much. I didn’t get those first few moments when the happy hormones take over and all the world is said to be perfect. I didn’t get to be skin-to-skin with my baby for a long time. Instead, I was practically in a comatose state with my new baby lying in a plastic box on the other side of the room.

Throughout the entire labor and birth experience my husband and sister-in-law were my rocks.  In no way does my sadness about our birth reflect either of them and the course of events. At first I felt like I had not only let my son down, but I must have also disappointed my husband. I really wanted him to be proud of me. I know now that he is proud of me. He knows I tried hard. But after the birth I really couldn’t let go of how ashamed I felt that I couldn’t do one of the most basic things a woman’s body is designed to do. I found comfort that Justin and I made every decision along the way together, and each choice we thought was going to be the right one. God showed my husband to me in an entirely new light throughout the hours before Ben was born. He was strong. He was protective. He cried with me. He was incredible. And then my dear sister-in-law, Marian, prayed over me, comforted me, and came up with an ingenious way to keep hot packs on my back. After Ben was born, Justin was a saint (as you may notice I mention a lot). Physically I couldn’t do much of what I wanted, and he did it all. When we got home from the hospital, nursing was tough. I was tired. Justin had to use little tubes and syringes to feed Ben. We “had” to give him formula for one day, which just about broke my heart. My milk came in late and I felt like Ben was rejecting me as his mother. I didn’t feel super connected to my baby, and that made me sad. I felt depressed, but didn’t talk to anyone about those feelings in the beginning. People don’t seem to give them much merit, because they don’t want them to be true. “Oh yes, it’s normal to feel overwhelmed…” But it was more than that for me. So I laid naked, skin-to-skin with Ben to form a bond. I kissed him everywhere. Heck, I even licked him! I breathed in his scent. I tried to make all the connections that should have happened at his birth, happen later. And it took awhile, but eventually I felt bonded with my baby, and I finally felt like he was mine.

hospital birth

So I’m angry. It took some conversation with my husband to figure out who I am so angry at. At first I thought I was angry at the medical system in the US and how poorly maternal healthcare is handled. Or maybe the doctor who came in with an entourage of people at the end of my labor and said condescendingly “I think you know where this is headed…” It would be much easier to blame them. I wondered, how in moral conscience can these OBGYN’s be cutting people open so freely? Or maybe I was mad that the midwife on call told us that the overseeing physician would “Have a chat with us if we refused pitocin.” Whether they do it intentionally or not, it seems they use scare tactics to force their options on you in order to protect themselves for liability reasons. Ben’s heart rate was awesome and stable throughout my whole labor and he was handling everything, even the nasty artificial contractions, with ease. But they slapped the ol’ “risk of infection to the baby is too high to let you continue…” and made me feel like there was no other avenue to pursue but a c-section in order to preserve my baby’s health. Maybe I would have been too exhausted and couldn’t have done it anyway, but I wanted more time to try. I am upset because my c-section wasn’t necessary. Ben and I were both healthy. I think Justin and I are both really disappointed in some of the early choices that we made. I think we knew they weren’t right for us, but maybe out of fear we did them anyway. We would really like to focus on a gentler and less reactive way of making decisions.

Knowing what we do now, we would have made better choices for our family. I didn’t do enough research when choosing a care provider that would support us (and I think this is one of the most important things.) I switched from a doctor to a midwife halfway through the pregnancy, thinking it was the right decision. I thought a midwife is a midwife is a midwife. Wrong. Apparently we had a nurse midwife, who has a background in medicine and picks up a certification later. The midwife we had for my care (who wasn’t even on call and present at our birth) didn’t support the holistic approach we wanted. It should have been a red flag when she casually mentioned that she could “snag my bag” if I wanted to “get things rolling” sooner than my due date. Justin and I were both upset about the comment but still figured that we had enough willpower and strong decision making skills to not let them bully us around when the time came. In reality, we should have ran like crazy to the nearest birth center without a bag of drugs in sight and found a midwife who wanted the same things for us that we did. We should have given it a real shot.

birth story

So who am I so mad at? It’s not the doctors. They are just doing what they were trained to do. They think they are saving moms and babies, when in reality they are creating the problem with their interventions in the first place. So eventually, I figured out that I am most angry at me, and that has been the hardest thing to come to grips with. I feel like we should have known better. We were educated! We knew that going to the hospital significantly increased our chances of having an intervention or surgery. We took a 12 week natural childbirth class and learned nearly everything there was to know about giving birth. Our instructor was amazing and even put us through likely scenarios that are common in the hospital to prepare us for the battle. I turned a blind eye and figured that it wasn’t going to happen to me. We hoped for the best I guess. And now I am part of an ever-growing statistic in our country. I can’t figure out why my past self made the decisions that I did. I’m mad at myself for allowing so many things to happen that we didn’t want. I’m mad at myself for ever agreeing to head to the hospital when we did.

There is a specific moment in time I would go back to if I could, and it’s truly where I believe one of the real differences could have been made. Justin and I went into the clinic, and our midwife told us we should head to the hospital. It felt surreal. Seriously? No contractions or other labor signs… I was feeling normal. We listened to her because we were excited I guess, she told us our baby would be born soon, and we thought we trusted her. We stopped to eat lunch. We casually went home and gathered our things. We picked up my sister-in-law. I was smiling and cordial and… definitely not a woman in labor. I would go back to that moment and say, “No.” I should have come home and relaxed and agreed to come back later when my body went into actual labor. I basically signed a waiver agreeing to a hospital time limit, instead of trusting my body.  I shouldn’t have even mentioned that my water was leaking. I shouldn’t have allowed her to do a vaginal exam. I have done some research about labors that are preceded by the water breaking, and the more I read, the more frustrated I feel. From what I now understand, I believe my hindwater was leaking, since my bag of waters was still fully intact at the hospital (they wanted to tear it open at one point while we were laboring, and Justin said when they cut me open there was a huge gush of water everywhere…in other words, my bag of waters never really broke). A hindwater leak occurs when only a small amount of fluid is released, which is what happened to me. Once a leak or water breaks, real labor is sure to follow at some point. This means I was probably very very close to having natural labor on my own without ever having been induced in the hospital. I have read that no matter how much fluid you have left in your belly you should stay home until contractions are strong and close together, otherwise you will be told you are at risk of infection and will be on a timetable (gee, sounds familiar.) I learned that leaks can easily reseal over several days with no ill effects. In the UK, doctors allow women to go up to 96 hours after their water breaks before being induced! Some midwives in our country allow their patients to go a few days to a week or more! The likelihood of infection is very small if you have no vaginal exams and stay home in your own environment as long as possible. I really wish we had known this. I wish we would have called someone for a second opinion. Oh, how I wish we would have just stayed home and waited.

c-section birth

I’m struggling with what could have been. It’s nearly impossible to not go back in time and say “What if?” But “ifs” aren’t good for healing. And it’s so easy to go back and say what we should have done. So easy.

The silver lining is that now we know better for next time. We know for sure what to expect and what we want if we are fortunate enough to have another child. Sadly, having a vaginal birth after a cesarean can be tough in terms of finding a care provider who will not only do it, but also really support the goal. A lot of doctors take on VBAC patients, but don’t really care whether or not it happens for them. Also, many doctors won’t help women with a VBAC who were “failure to progress,” which is now what I would be labeled. From what I understand, the risk of having a vaginal birth after cesarean is that there is a higher chance of uterine rupture. But the risks of having multiple cesarean surgeries is also unnerving. The odds of me successfully having a vaginal birth are fairly slim, but I am going to try my hardest anyway. I think in the future we will put a lot of effort into choosing a care provider who is completely supportive of a VBAC, whether that be an OB and we end up in a hospital, or a midwife and we end up in a bathtub at our house. If we do get to have another a baby, we will absolutely do research and put together the best qualified people to help us have a better experience. I am going to lose weight, get healthy, and get fit. I want to be low-risk when the time comes to have another baby and know that my body will be up to the task.

cesarian birth

Phew, that was some major mending…a step in the right direction. Thank you for listening.


  • Sandra

    The pressure that is put on us women to have a birth that fits a certain story is immense. You did not let your son down. The truth is, unless he is told, he will never know. I went through a c-section after a very long labor. I had a birthing plan. I went to the classes. I wanted a natural labor because I’d read the books, visited the websites, and had friends who did it naturally. I wanted to prove that I could. I put so much pressure on myself. When I was rushed into emergency surgery to have my 9lbs baby boy taken from me I was devastated. When I spent two nights in an ICU without being able to see or hold him, I was devastated. When I had to stay at the hospital and he was sent home with my husband I was devastated. Why was I devastated? My son was healthy. My husband was capable of caring for him. I was devastated because I had all of these thoughts in my head of what a labor should and should not be. I should feel every contraction, push through the pain, give birth to my son with no drugs, hold him first with plenty of skin to skin contact, let hiscord finish pulsing..and the list goes on and on. NONE of it happened. Not one single thing that I’d thought should happen took place. I wasn’t even the first one to feed him, burp him, or change his clothes. Four years after his birth, and with the thought of another baby in mind, I am able to take a step back and evaluate. The birthing experience isn’t written in stone. There is no magic pill that makes it turn out just the way we wanted. We don’t know why things happen the way they do. For me, an early water break lead to a uterine infection which led to the discovery of a hole in my heart. Had I not gone through a c-section that caused me to be in ICU because of extremely low blood pressure I wouldn’t have been monitored as closely. The hole would most likely have gone unnoticed and 25 years from now when I should be enjoying my grown up kids, I’d probably be dead. If we truly want to empower women we can’t see natural birth as the moral high ground and any other kind of birth as less than. We have to accept that our bodies are different, our stories are different. I’m proud of my body and of me. Nothing went the way I wanted it too, but my body was strong. It survived being cut open and plenty of blood loss. It healed. It carried a beautiful baby boy to full term and gave him the nourishment he needed to be strong enough to make it through a very difficult labor and delivery. I’m proud of me. I’m enough. Even if I never have a natural labor. Even if my next birth has to be a scheduled c-section. I urge you to be proud of yourself. To let go of the expectations. Let go of whatever it is that makes you feel like you failed yourself or your son. There is room enough for a different kind of story. It doesn’t make you less than, and it never will.

    • Bethany

      Please look at the beginning of the post. She is not talking about necessary c sections. I had an unnecessary section 5 months ago, because I “had” to be induced, and my ob broke my water, and revealed to me I couldn’t push him out because he was in the wrong position. Which, by the way, they had supposedly checked right before she broke my water. Then followed the rest of the usual interventions. Pitocin to move things along, epidural for the pain (which fell out at some point), and finally c section. My ob grabbed my arms in the or and told me to stop panicking while I was having a contraction and crying, and that’s when they found out the epidural had fallen out. Then no one talked to me for about 10 minutes until my husband came. When they pulled my son out they did not show him to me, they just started the clean up and tests. My section was for fetal distress. His apgar was 9/9. He was perfect. The monitor that I had requested not to wear was wrong. If I had been allowed to squat and open my pelvis more, which I had requested, I might have been able to push him out. This all happened 2 days before Easter by the way. I have PTSD and post partum depression, and I honestly don’t think I can ever attempt birth again because I’m so terrified, and all I’ve ever wanted was to have a bunch of kids. It’s devastating. I’m happy you feel good about your section, but please don’t tell us that our expectations for at least TRYING to deliver our babies in the safest way possible were too high. When you say “let it go,” it’s not encouraging. It’s literally denying our right to acknowledge what happened to us.

  • KT

    Thank you very much for openly sharing this. I’m 37 weeks along with my first, and I’m trying to write up a “contingency plan” for if I go past-dates and we are not allowed to give birth at the birth center. Such a tricky concept to plan for – “we prefer not to have [insert intervention here] unless it becomes medically necessary.” But who decides when something is necessary? I appreciate your honesty and vulnerability. Thank you for this gift of food for thought, and I applaud the hard ‘labor’ you are doing to work through the grief and disappointment. May God bless your family.

  • Gigi B

    Thanks so much for sharing your story. We are 24 weeks along with our first and doing all we can to get educated on how to achieve a natural, drug & intervention free delivery in a birth center with midwives but the center is affiliated with a major hospital. And there are still ‘protocols’ that must be followed. So your story helps in understanding how the cascade of interventions can happen to the most prepared couples, how being a people pleaser (me) could undo alot of my birth plan by trying to be a ‘nice, good patient’ when that is not my job. My job is to surrender to what my body knows how to do and to fight for the time and space to naturally progress while in the sacred space of my own home and eventually at the birth center, extending the labor timeline so that I am not put under the pressure of a 24 hour hospital ‘window.’ I did not know about the info you shared regarding the bag of waters – very enlightening. In the end YOU DID NOT FAIL. Your body grew a beautiful, healthy boy and the traumatic experience of the delivery will, hopefully, heal over time and through the sharing your story. Thanks again!

  • Vita

    WOW! Loved reading your story! You’re totally right – birth also matters, not only a healthy baby. You are a very strong mama, I would have probably lost my mind if it happened to me. Don’t worry, you’ll get your VBAC, you’ll see. With such determination – I would be surprised if you didn’t 😉

  • AmandaPN

    Please don’t think your chances of having a VBAC are slim! Your labor was not natural at all, as you know, and I think your odds are high! My first was induced – I got stuck at 7cm and 9cm due to his position (posterior) and large head size, and ended up with a c/s. My second was a completely natural VBAC born five minutes after arriving at the hospital after around six hours of labor (I sent the story in so you may read it sometime). I’m now planning a birth center VBAC for #3. You CAN do it – I believe in you!

  • Jessica

    Oh, hon. So many parts of this story are so familiar. Don’t be too hard on yourself: some things only experience can teach you. Your story matters, and you can use it to help others around you, and one day, if it’s what’s right for your family, that bitterness will make your next experience all the sweeter. Love & blessings to you & yours.

  • Becca

    I could’ve written this a little over three years ago. I took natural childbirth classes. I planned a drug-free, intervention-free birth. I labored through the horrific contractions of an asynclitic baby for a total of 24 hours (about 14 of them in active labor with contractions lasting 2-3 minutes and coming every 30 seconds), progressing all the way to 10cm. I, too, agreed to interventions that I had promised myself I wouldn’t allow – AROM, an intrathecal block, a little pitocin. I, too, ended up in surgery having my baby brought into the world in the exact opposite way I had planned. I, too, mourned the loss of my natural birth.
    And then I beat myself up for three years with the what-ifs and the “I should haves.”
    In the meantime, I got pregnant again and sobbed at my first OB appointment when I was told there was no way I could VBAC. But I didn’t give up and I found a CNM (they aren’t all bad – even if they work in a hospital!) who wondered why I was even asking her if I was a VBAC candidate because, in her mind, everyone is a VBAC candidate unless something happens in the pregnancy to prove otherwise. That wonderful midwife broke her arm two weeks before I had my baby and I was devastated at the thought of having to deliver with the on-call doctor in a town where my midwife is literally the ONLY VBAC-supportive provider.
    But I DID have a VBAC three years and two days after my c-section. With the support of my awesome husband, my amazing doula, and armed with knowledge and confidence that I learned here, I did it.
    Mourn the loss of the birth you wanted. Learn from it so you know what to do better next time. Use it for the benefit it can have now. But try not to dwell on it. And know that you CAN VBAC and that a VBAC can be amazingly healing.

  • Sandy

    You wrote this so well.. so eloquently. My best friend had similar feelings after her children’s births.. and it was such a struggle for her to work through them. She’s still working through them. I think it’s so important for her, and for you, and for so many others, to know they aren’t alone. Thank you for sharing.

    You WILL find a VBAC-supportive care provider for your next child. And it will go wonderfully. 🙂

    ~ Sandy

  • SKA

    Thanks for sharing your story. I am sure it will help others. I hope you can heal from the trauma of it all soon! XO

  • Jenny

    You are so strong! TY for sharing your story. I am a doula and I to0 had a c-section with my first birth. Your words brought healing to me. I have never written my birth stories because I never felt I had the words to describe how I felt. I found my healing in subsequent births and now in supporting women as a doula. I love being able to help a women advocate for herself, I love being able to provide information, facts, and options they may not get in the medical community. I would encourage you to find a doula you trust, try to interview several if possible and be sure she supports your desires and not her ideals. A doula can help you think clearly at moments when your emotions sometimes cloud knowledge. You can do it, a vbac is very possible for you, do your homework, trust your heart and listen to your spirit!

    Jenny 3vbac’s
    birth doula

  • AH

    Oh mama. I hear you and I feel for you, I really do. The strength and love you are using now, to stand up and say this is not right, is a labor of love for your son. The anger and the fight are important. You are a howling mama bear, whose babe was taken harshly from your body after they condescended you – your instinct and your dignity. You are so brave, and your son is so blessed that you are his mama. His birth was a conduit for which a sacred fire within you was ignited. Use that to continue evolving, and kiss his sweet head every night for walking this journey with you 🙂

  • Kathleen Neely

    Dont feel so bad about a C section, a ten pound baby is a BIG baby. Love yourself and try to feel better. It is very difficult to have a C/S when you are not expecting it. It hurts, you feel angry, you feel like a failure. In who’s eyes are you a failure?? Not in your sons eyes I assure you. Im sure he appreciates how ever he got here. And however you feed him is OK too. Just love yourself and try again next time, maybe it will work, maybe it wont. My second baby was going to be natural, but he was Breech. So I had a repeat C/S, and you know what, it did not hurt nearly as bad as the first one did. I was out of bed before the Doctor arrived the next day. I drove my car 3 days later (AMA) had too. Enjoy your son for who he is, and know that you did the best you could. and smile.

  • Denise Brown

    Please don’t feel there is little hope for a VBAC. My son was born 34 years ago by c/s and it was completely unnecessary but the doctor assured me that my dates were wrong and he there was a big chance he would be stillborn because of my high blood pressure. They didn’t offer spinals in that hospital so I had a general. I didn’t see my husband’s reaction to his first son, which I had badly wanted to see but even worse, I didn’t even see my baby until the next day, 21 hours later. Every time I asked for him, they gave me strong painkillers that knocked me out. When he was born, it was obvious that my dates were correct so I ended up with a tiny baby and had great difficulty breastfeeding him. They made my express and bottle feed for a day until a great midwife insisted he could be breastfed. I ended up feeding him until he weaned himself at 12 months. I suffered from post natal depression as a result of his birth and it took a long time to be reconciled to what had happened.

    I was determined to have a VBAC’s for my next pregnancies and even though I had to be induced for high blood pressure both times, my next sons were born in 3 and then 2 hour labours – pushed out with ease. I still regret my c/s but the following births were so healing.

    I am sure you will find someone to support you through a VBAC next time and I wish you all the best for mothering your beautiful little boy and for vaginal births in the future.

  • Stephanie M.

    You know what mama? When you know better, you do better. 🙂

    You’re still a warrior in my eyes… especially after running the gamut of the hospital system. Thanks for sharing your story.

  • Chelsea

    Thank you SO much. I am 34 weeks and trying for a water birth in a hospital. Your words were beautifully written and so helpful!

  • Aly

    Thank you for writing this, you have voiced so much of what I have been thinking and feeling about my own cesarean birth. I too was preparing for a natural unmedicated birth but (where it differs from you) I arrived at the hospital with a cord presentation (almost a cord prolapse only my waters hadn’t broken yet) which ended with an emergency cesarean. I was knocked out under general anesthetic and never saw my son till 24 hours after. They put him in a nursery and fed him formula. I wanted all those things you wanted and though I am grateful for the quick response of the medical team I still grieve and had to come to terms with what happened to me and the lack of bonding in the early days with my son. It was so far removed from what I expected and I ended up with a vertical scar on my belly that reminds me every day. A lot of people I know don’t understand why it bothers me since it was necessary and my son is healthy but at the end of the day as you said, birth does matter and it doesn’t make the trauma of it and the feelings any less valid. its ok to grieve what was lost. don’t lose hope that things can be different next time. Thanks for being brave enough to share your honesty.

  • April

    I commiserate with you so much reading your story. I have had every kind do birth you can imagine. Unnecessary induction with crappy OB, home birth with 10 lb baby, and planned early section with twins and I can relate to you on so many levels. We both had crappy care for our first pregnancy and went in not truly believing how the hospital protocol can actually be that impersonal and downright wrong. After my experiences with dozens of different birth care providers I 110% agree with you that your choice of care provider is the single most important thing in determining your optimal birth for your circumstances.
    I have a bit of hope to offer you. I believe that for the most part we are awesome and can give birth naturally to big and small babies and that you are most likely going to be able to have a vaginal birth the next time around. I also want to tell you that even if you do end up with a repeat cesarean it can be a healing experience. If you have a care provider who really is compassionate and cares then you know it will be necessary and you will be respected (no baseball talk). I actually had a good experience with my twins birth because I believed the doctors were respectful of my autonomy and really wanted the best care for me and my babies mentally and physically. They were focused on caring for me during the surgery and were talking to ME explaining what was going on as I requested. My babies were treated gently and my birth plan was respected.
    While I know my babies did not enter the world optimally, I know they will be ok. As a mom you can only make the best choice out of the options you HAVE. It may not be the best but it is the best you could do at the time. You know so much more now and can make a better go at it next time. I cannot undo what happened at my first birth but I can learn from it! You can do the same and use it for motivation.
    For my final advice I would suggest getting a doula for your next birth and keeping an open mind about what interventions may be necessary. Trust your instincts too. You know you and your baby better than anyone else and make sure the choices you make are right for you.

  • Andrea

    Thanks everyone! I wasn’t sure how this story would be received on this blog…thanks for the support! All you pregnant mamas, I will be keeping you in my thoughts! I love my son SO much. All of the emotional pain was worth it to have him. No matter how he got here, he is the most amazing thing I have ever done with my life. As a woman, his birth will always be a huge piece of how I define myself, but I get to be his mother every day for the rest of my life. 🙂

  • Elizabeth

    Thank you so much for writing this. It is such a moving account of your experience. I hope it has led to healing, and that you will continue to heal. I am the mother of two babies. I feel very blessed to have had two amazing home births – something I cannot take for granted in our culture. I hope that you will have the birth experiences you long for in your future.

  • Cathi

    You are a strong mama! I think you nailed it when you said ” it seems they use scare tactics to force their options on you to protect themselves for liability reasons”. You are exactly right! The consequences for them are huge if they don’t do surgery, needed or not, with a VBAC…I’m a midwife, but I also do doula work on the side, and about 25% of my clients are VBACs. But we approach our successes this way- no matter where mom births, I go to her house if she thinks she’s in labor, and if it peters out then fine. But she’s home. If it picks up, we wait til contractions are 2-3 min apart, 60-90 seconds long and mom is feeling pressure before we head to the birth place. Mom can eat, drink, sleep, shower, whatever. We aim for getting her there just before transition. Your best bet for a successful VBAC may be to plan a Homebirth. If you have to transport, you still know you did all you could to prevent it. This birth sounds like it was failure of the staff to wait, and the Cascade of interventions, that caused the section. You sound like you were doing fine, til they tinkered with you. Check out your Homebirth options. Some midwives don’t like working with “plus size ” moms. Others don’t worry about it as long as diet and other parameters are normal. At home, you are on no ones schedule but yours. I’ve been with moms who have labored for 2-3 days, gently, then whammo, in an hour they give birth! I’ve also helped moms have 12 pounders at home, just fine. So to maintain the best control of your birth, maybe look into it. It’s the reason I became a midwife, because my homebirths were so empowering, after the first child was hospital-born…best of luck to you, and a book you might like to read is Silent Knife, by Nancy Wainer Cohen, and Open Season, also by her. Immaculate Deception and Immaculate deception II are by Suzanne Arms. Great insights, and it might help in your healing process… Most hospitals are like assembly lines; get the patient in, secured, and baby out and mom stabilized in as quick a manner as possible…that’s not birth, it’s a cattle processing plant. I’m so sorry your hopes during this pregnancy/birth were disappointing, however, I am thrilled that you are still willing to give it another go. Keep reading and educating yourself; you are on the right track. Best blessings to you, don’t give up hope, just change providers/location, and I think you will be successful…

  • G. R.

    Beautiful and deep reflection. I can relate to every word you wrote on here, even though I did not had a C section, I had the feeling I was prisoner of the medical system and I spent most of the labor arguing with nurses and my doctor.. and like you I could not bond with my daughter; thanks for sharing, it feels good than we are not alone in this experience. I took me 1.5 years to heal, and I had to have help with a psychologist to understand and heal (I could not even resume sexual intercourse with my husband in a whole year plus I got resentment with my daughter). I leaved everything behind with the birth of my second baby, but I could feel the difference in the bonding and in my emotions… Thanks again for sharing and put a voice to a lot of women out there than “play it cool” even though their emotions and feelings are in chaos.

  • Jessie - Rabid Little Hippy

    I have not had a caesarean but the birth of my second child, our daughter, was a traumatic labour with interventions. We did the natural birth course with our first, I had pethidine and the gas with our first but after 3 hours he was born. Easy “natural” labour. I assumed it would work the same for our daughter and I laboured upright and did all the right things for hours but no-one informed me she was posterior, I was informed I could push but was only 5cm (the trainee missed that one big time) and then we ended up with a ventouse baby born compromised and me with lasting damage down there.
    When we planned then conceived number 3 I researched my butt off. I watched YouTube videos of home births, natural hospital births (I saw few I would term truly natural as most had IV lines or were lying flat with monitors) and I read books, spoke with friends and looked deep inside. Half way through the pregnancy we changed care providers and went for a hospital program homebirth. Still associated with the hospital meant the care was free and being a pilot program I hope my birth can help normalise home birth. The experience of bringing our 2nd son and 3rd child into the world early one evening with our 2 days shy of 3 year old and 20 month olds asleep in their beds, then tucking up into bed before midnight with a clean house was incredible. I was able to put everything into perspective and now I can look back with hindsight to my previous births with “if only’s” instead of anger, frustration, sadness and hate.
    If you are even considering number 2, hit the research trail. BWF is where I started too (thanks BWF!) and the more you read, research and understand of the statistics, the protocols and the “it’s just done that way because it always has been” then the stronger you will feel and be, the more empowered and the higher your chances.
    My one hospital visit to get an OB to sign off that I could homebirth gave me a 15% chance of a caesar. My response at the time was to smirk and nod so she’d sign off and then to walk out muttering BULL$#&! It was a statistic made up on the spot to make sure they had an excuse to cut if they needed. I felt very much like I knew my enemy (not that hospitals are an enemy but you know what I mean). Sorry for the long comment. Best of luck and all strength and power to you and Ben on your healing journey

  • Naomi Voss

    Let it out momma, it’s good for you. It took me 3 years to really talk about how sad I was about my C/S. Really it was not until I had to write a paper about one of my births for my doula cert that I actually came to terms with it. You are a very strong person and it’s not your fault. I pray you get a redemptive birth. Hugs. Naomi

  • quest

    You are not alone. I have been going through this for over a year now and I am mad at myself. I am mad at myself for not being educated enough or not feeling like I was deserving enough to question the doctors because I had pregnancy medicaid and young and married. I just feel mad at myself for not taking my power over my body and trusting it. I am mad too that it was unnesscessary and didnt know that once you sign the blanket consent form the doc can pretty much do anything. I went through what you went through but i felt ashamed to be on medicaid and to be pregnant when we were least expecting it. I do believe mothers matter but the most thing that breaks my heart is what MIL said Well you just couldnt birth a baby that big he was only 6lbs i think thats what broke me down the most and i cant erase those words and even now my dh only wants one kid and i think its bc of that, when ive been pouring all of research into vbac etc but im still not at peace either, now being reminded theres a scar on my uterus that makes me different than a mom without one. I am still going to research vbac regardless of what dh feels because he knew i wanted more children and who know mistakes happen and i rather go in over-prepared then not prepared at all. Im sending you hugs and just know you are not alone and dont feel bad…

  • Melissa

    I’ve been reading this blog for while and never commented until now, but your story sounds like I could have written it myself. I had a very similar experience with the birth of my first child. It’s so easy to go back over all the what if’s and wonder what would have happened if you’d done things differently. I was 100 percent educated during my first pregnancy as well and was planning a natural birth using the bradley method and thought I could do it at the hospital. I ended up with a c-section due to “failure to progress” as well. I too was not happy with my chosen dr. because I could tell she didn’t really support my birth plan but thought that things would be fine anyway. For my second I did end up getting my VBAC but what made the biggest difference in getting there was having an extremely positive birth birth team. The midwife I chose never once said things like “we can TRY having a VBAC”, or “IF you have a VBAC,” she always talked like it was for sure going to happen. She was so positive and supportive. I think that it’s not as important where you birth but who you birth with that makes the biggest difference. I ended up at a birth center and that worked great for me, but I feel the key to having the birth you want is having people on your side that completely agree with your birth philosophy and support you. I wish you the best of luck in the future. You are a strong person and don’t ever think that all of the things you did to educate yourself were for nothing. You know so much more now, and will continue to learn I’m sure.

  • Ronni

    Thank you for posting this…I had these same feelings after my 1st son was born and was lead to believe I was just being silly, I had a beautiful healthy baby and that is all that should matter.. no one really understood! I have since had 2 failed vbacs and still think if I would have done thing s differently the first time none of this would have happened…… I realized after my 3rd that at this point all you can do is try everything you can and know that things don’t always go as planned . Good luck!

  • Andrea

    Thanks again everyone. Melissa, our stories sound so similar! Sadly, you can’t have a VBAC at a birth center in Washington state, so my options for my next time around will be home or hospital. I will def. be tapping into support from women like all of you and finding a positive team of people!

  • Rebekah

    You are an amazing, strong mama and like so many have said before, you are not alone. Like many others, I feel like you could have been telling my story as well. Not only for my c-section birth with my son, but also with my hospital VBAC I had with my daughter. The midwife used so many scare tactics and threatened a repeat c-section while I was in labor. Since everything was fine, I did end up with my VBAC but it still felt like so much of a loss due to their pushing and unnecessary protocols. I am hoping to get hubby on board with a home birth for my second VBAC as I really don’t know if I can be put through another competitive hospital birth. We should not have to fight to be able to birth our babies naturally if everyone is healthy. Hoping both you and I and countless others have the peaceful VBAC we want and deserve to help us heal and help our babies come into a world full of peace and love.

  • Kim H

    I know exactly how you feel. I had a csection with my first. I was induced at 39weeks simply because i am type 1 diabetic. Then my son spent 2 weeks in the nicu and this too was horribly unnecessary as well. I just want to say that you have great chances of having a vbac. I had one with my second son. I had a great provider who believes in a woman’s ability to birth. I had to drive 45 mins but it was totally worth it. Believe in it and it will happen.

  • Lydia

    You CAN have a VBAC! My first baby was transverse breech. They offered to turn him when I went in for my scheduled csection. I said no, in fear that he would be in distress, even though I was already in labor with contractions two minutes apart, but they didn’t feel that bad because of the way he was turned. I had my csection and recovery… And I felt miserable and asked all the what ifs. When I found out I was pregnant with my daughter, I went back to the same doctor that delivered my son. I asked him, point blank, if it was possible. Had he said no, I would have high-tailed it to the nearest birthing center. He said yes, on the condition that if anything looks wrong, he would do a csection. I agreed, knowing I could try. I just wanted a chance. When my daughter was born, I am happy I got the same doctor who truly believed in me. As it turns out, my contractions never got closer than 3 minutes apart. I was pushing for 45 minutes, with 3 minutes in between each time. She was a beautiful baby, healthy, with epidural because I chose it at the time (thankful too, I could have killed my boyfriend ((now ex husband))). It was a wonderful experience, that made me long for those moments with my son… truly, those crucial moments are essential for bonding with your baby. I am definitely closer with my daughter, even though I love every little piece of my son beyond compare. Nearly 9 years have passed since my csection, and my body still isn’t the same, but I have my children, and that is what matters.

  • Sarah Kuhns

    This story is wonderful in that it is truth! I can relate to this experience in so many ways and I am grateful that it was shared. I too was induced, I didn’t have a C section…but had serious complications during and after the birth that I believe were intervention related, and there was no respect for what we wanted the birth to be. I am thankful for a place where its ok to be honest about our feelings!

    We are pregnant again (28weeks) and doing it all completely different, I am thankful for BWF and sites like it that educate and encourage woman to seek the birth they desire!

  • Elizabeth Quinn

    Your chances of a vbac are NOT slim! Find an ICAN chapter near you and read every book you can on vbac. Your ICAN chapter (mine is a closed Facebook group mostly) will be a great resource for finding a supportive and encouraging vbac care provider. You can SO do this! Thanks for sharing and I hope it was cathartic for you!

  • Jane

    I just wanted to let you know how much of your pain resonates with how I have felt about the birth of my first son. My little boy was induced at 39 weeks as I was suffering from hypertension and possible signs of developing pre-ecamplsia. My waters were broken and I was hooked up to syntocinon (UK form of pitocin) for 14 hours before the doctor came to tell me that at some point in the next few hours this would end up being a section. At that point I was relieved someone was going to put a stop to this – I was constantly throwing up and barely ‘with it’. I then had a haemorrage on the operating table and lost 1.3L of blood. My husband and son were sent away and I thought I was dying. I also have never referred to myself as having ‘given birth’ to my son. He was taken out of me and then sent away.

    So much of what happened that day led towards me developing PND for the next 18-24 months of m life.

    Last Summer we felt strong enough to try for another baby (we were lucky enough to fall straight away) and I was always determined to try for a VBAC. I am now just shy of 33 weeks – and my little boy is breech. He has never been vertex, he was transverse and oblique but now completely breech. I never thought I would be having an elective section but – here I am. I am trying things to get the baby to turn but there is a significant chance I will be having another section.

    The breech issue notwithstanding, my MWs and consultants have been supportive of my choice for VBAC provided I went into spontaneous labour.

    Trying not to blame myself for the way the first birth ‘ended up’ is honestly a daily battle and there are still lots of tears. Many people don’t understand how you can feel this way about a birth where you both come out of it healthy, eventually. But these feelings are very real. I hope that by acknowledging them here you can begin to lay some of the ghosts to rest and enjoy your son without the shadow of his birth on your mind.

  • KAte

    Oh sweetheart,
    I know your pain oh too well. I am nineteen years old and i have almost 5 month old twin girls.
    When i was 28 weeks pregnant with them, i was diagnosed with Cholostasis, which they put me on (urso) but the itching was horrible.. Then when i went in for my 30 week scan i was told pretty much then and there that my little sophie was breech and she was at the bottom and unless they changed i wouldn’t have a hope in having a natural. That same day i was told neither of them were growing.. in fact, loosing weight.
    I was to go in for an appointment them week after. That appointment was the start of my horrendous last few weeks of pregnancy.
    I was admitted to hospital with pre eclampsia and anemia, while, anemia is pretty common.
    I was getting pretty sick with the pre eclampsia. I just wanted to go home. I stayed in for roughly five days when the finally let me go home, i was home one night… when the next morning i woke up with horrendous back pain and pain across my tummy… i thought i was in labour! so back to the hospital i went. I was re admitted and put on iron tablets, a higher dose of Urso and about 3 different blood pressure medication. I was told i would be in hospital until i gave birth.
    As i was having twins and they were quite small, i was told they would be in Neonatal care for a little bit.. about a week and a half, 2 weeks after being re admitted, i proceeded to have my tour of the neonatal ward. Half way there i collapsed… I don’t really remember much until i was down in the delivery ward… where they decided they were going to prep me for surgery. They put me on magnesium sulphate through an old drip which was excruciating, some of the worst pain I’ve felt in my life, so they literally had to rip it out and start all over again.
    They wanted to put a catheter in.. Ive never sobbed so much in my life, at the thought of getting one.
    Any one would have thought that i was in natural labour!….Right up until this stage i was alone, all alone. A bit after that, My partners mum walked into the room… I was so terrified. I was so scared of surgery, so scared of anaesthetic … and so so scared… of finally being a mother.
    when all my drips were in, my fluids were up and my catheter inserted… they wheeled me down to theatre with my mother in law and father in law.
    They attempted to give me an epidural… they missed 8 times and on the ninth, as much as i wanted to be awake. I gave in. My body couldn’t cope… I was a mess…
    When finally they said, we are going to put you under, i broke down. What if i could feel the surgery? what if something happened? what if i didn’t wake up? … as my mother i law was walked in, she and i both in tears as i was layed on the operating table, my arms literally pinned down. I fought the anaesthetic as much as i could. I could feel the burning sensation from the toes up.
    I woke up In Intensive Care.
    It was the scariest thing id experienced. All i wanted was to see my babies…. but i wasn’t allowed too….i saw photos of my partners parents phone and even then i vaguely remember them as i was so out of it.
    The next day, around lunch time… one of the neonatal nurses brought down four photos of my babies, two of each.. my little sophie and my little clarabelle. It was so so hard…. because all i had were pictures…i couldn’t hold them. Later on that night, about 8 pm i was finally being told i was going back to my room in maternity…. But i didn’t want that I WANTED to see my children.

    So after much argument that i was way to sick, they wheeled my bed into the Neonatal care centre… and brought my tiny babies that were born at 33 weeks and 4 days… out to me in their humidity cribs… i was only just barley allowed to touch them… i just wanted to hold them….it hurt so much to yern for something i wasn’t allowed.

    Later on that night, a nurse came into me and told me that if i woke up during the night, buzz them and they would help me hand express…. i woke around 3, so i called. The nurse mentioned if i could get out of bed she would take me to them. I was so determined… as much pain as i was in. i was wheeled to them and i finally got to hold them… my little sophie anastasia and Clarabelle maree…
    although they were in hospital for another 23 days… the day i brought them home was the best day of my life…

    So sweetheart, i hated the way i gave birth… But i’d do it again for my children…Even though it brings tears to my eyes even typing this.

    Take care, and good luck Xx

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