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With Childbirth, You Can’t Always Get What You Want

Jun23

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Late in my first pregnancy, my doctor casually mentioned the possibility of a c-section due to the baby’s size and position. He guesstimated a birth weight in the eight-pound range and voiced his concerns about the size and shape of my pelvis. He brought up the topic merely as a cautionary measure — there would be no intervention, no induction or scheduled surgery, I would continue to wait for labor to begin and attempt to deliver vaginally, because of course these size estimates are wildly inaccurate, and a woman’s pelvis can do extraordinary things in labor — but he wanted me to prepare myself for a possible change in plans.

I made the grave error of mentioning this conversation to the Internet. Most women were sympathetic and encouraging — they delivered big babies, they delivered small babies who were supposed to be big, they had the c-section and it wasn’t bad at all, besides, ALL THAT REALLY MATTERS is a healthy mother and baby, right?

Right! But I also heard from the women who were raw with regret over a birth that did not go as planned. Who felt pressured or even bullied into a c-section that they since deemed unnecessary, who were planning for a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean), who took it upon themselves to spare me from a similar experience, usually with emails full of terrifying statistics about fetal death and future miscarriages and horrible doooooooom. Being a first-time nine-months pregnant woman, these emails did not seem particularly helpful AT ALL.

Noah was indeed, a big baby — nine pounds, 15 ounces big, nearly two pounds OVER my doctor’s concerned guess. He never rolled over and I pushed and pushed and pushed and made no progress and his heart rate plummeted more and more with each contraction. I had that c-section after all, and I have never, EVER had a moment of regret or second-guessed that decision. It was the right thing to do; the only thing to do.

And I was not-so-secretly a little judge-y about those women who felt sad about their c-sections, or had a difficult time letting go of that sadness. What a silly, selfish thing! You’re safe and your baby is healthy! Who cares how he got here! It’s not like you get an extra merit badge for pushing him out your vagina! So what if morons want to think you took “the easy way out” by getting hacked in half on the operating table or spout garbage about not bonding with your baby and quote that one chapter in that one book about how “your body won’t grow a baby too big for you to deliver,” in spite of women dying in childbirth or suffering terrible injuries because of too-big babies! WHATEVER. IT’S ALL DUMB. LET’S ALL GET BACK TO JUDGING EACH OTHER ABOUT BREASTFEEDING AND HOW INFREQUENTLY WE BATHE OUR CHILDREN.*

And then, I got pregnant again.

(You see where I’m going with this, right?)

Ezra was born via a scheduled c-section, either on his official due date or a few days before, depending on what ultrasound measurement you went with. He was seven pounds, seven ounces. He was positioned perfectly. He was a baby that I most likely could have delivered vaginally.

And I am sad about that.

No, it’s nothing intrusive or depressive or debilitating. I know (I KNOW!) that since I wasn’t in labor the day he was born, I could have very well have gone another two weeks and ended up with another 10-pounder and another emergency c-section. I know that he was perfectly healthy and mature, with high Apgars and zero health concerns. I bonded with him beautifully and intensely, and our breastfeeding relationship could NOT have been better. I know it doesn’t matter, except that…it still kind of does.

I know that after Noah’s birth, I couldn’t have read that last paragraph without scrunching my brow and rolling my eyes and muttering something about “keeping it in perspective.”

Ezra’s birth, I suppose, just didn’t really reflect the type of relationship I have with him. I breastfeed, I baby-wear, I co-slept, I cloth diaper and make his baby food from scratch. Maybe I’m trying to make up for the sterile, detached abruptness of his arrival. His birth should have been the natural, intervention-free birth that I knew I wanted, but was simply too scared to attempt. I did want a different experience this time — Noah’s birth was what Noah needed, and I am nothing but grateful that the intervention was available the second we needed it — but I was convinced that was out of my grasp. I worried that if I tried, I’d risk both of our safety (and would then possibly need to get put under and miss his birth entirely if I ran into trouble) and thus it was better to simply play it safe and keep the unknowns to a minimum. Go in, get him out.

And I’d heard from literally HUNDREDS of women who loved the ease, convenience and relaxed vibe of their scheduled sections. I fully expected to happily join their ranks.

Now I have that pesky 20-20 hindsight and know that I possibly COULD have had that natural birth, and that kind of blows, even though — I didn’t KNOW that. I couldn’t have really known that. We make the best decisions we can with the best information we have at the time. I know this too.

I’ve decided, though, that it’s not such a bad thing to admit, to accept, to risk other people thinking that I’m silly and selfish and need perspective. I am over the moon about my baby. He is perfect and amazing and my heart explodes into a million pieces every time I look at his gorgeous little face. Every day, my mind boggles over how I ever got this lucky. His birth sucked.

I can’t change that. But I know it doesn’t change anything that really matters.
*Once a week. Maybe twice. They get all rashy otherwise! Plus sometimes I send ‘em through the sprinkler in the backyard and that TOTALLY COUNTS.

If you landed here but are still pregnant, visit Amalah’s Pregnancy Weekly. You won’t regret it.

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About the author

Amalah

http://www.amalah.com
Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy's daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it's pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to amyadvice@gmail.com.

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.


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48 Responses to “With Childbirth, You Can’t Always Get What You Want”

  1. Karen Jun 23 at 11:03 am Reply Reply

    Amy -
    My son who was estimated at over 10 lbs by my doc. He was pushing me to deliver c-section but I feared I wouldn’t want to reopen the scar to have a second child and I stood my ground. Drew was 9 lbs 2 ounces and tore me to shreds. The doctor knew I didn’t want an episiotomy but it was bad and he asked permission during the labor. I agreed. The stitching required more pain meds (I was a screaming maniac) and so I passed out from the pain and meds and missed nursing my son for 2 hours.
    It all worked out and he is a healthy 3 year old and never had problems nursing.
    I’m not telling the tale to scare anyone but to say that even if you get your wish…things might not go as planned and you do have to just look at your healthy baby and be thankful for the end result.
    Next time I might go with a c-section if baby 2 is as large. I might not. Not sure.
    I agree 100% that you follow your instinct and the information you have and that is all you can do.
    But, by all means…don’t let anyone else make that decision for you.

  2. anonymous Jun 23 at 11:06 am Reply Reply

    I’m so glad to read more and more things like this. It’s good to know that it’s ok to be a little disappointed at how things turned out, even if everything turned out all right.
    I was so upset by how my childbirth experience went that it kind of tainted my first few weeks with my son. Granted, my hormones were raging and I was a total noob but I still felt betrayed by how it all went down: I hated my L&D nurse; I hated that my doctor was off picking her ass and didn’t deliver my kid, despite her being in the hospital at the time; hated all the lactation consultants; basically hated everything about the whole experience. Add to that an incredibly difficult pregnancy and it doesn’t make for good feelings all around.
    Things are much better but I struggled for a long time before I could tell myself that I wasn’t a bad person for being disappointed by it all, even if my son was born perfectly healthy and perfectly fine. It just wasn’t how I thought it would go.

  3. csc Jun 23 at 11:11 am Reply Reply

    Do not DO NOT second-guess your decision to schedule a C for Ezra’s birth. Yes, he was smaller than Noah and in a good position, but you only know this now after the fact. Up until the moment of birth, those facts were part of the Unknown of Childbirth. The What-Ifs may have been too much to handle if you attempted a VBAC. You made the right decision.

  4. mir Jun 23 at 11:38 am Reply Reply

    I had to go the scheduled c-section route because I was breech. I’m still a bit bummed out that I didn’t “get” to labor (although every woman I talked to at work kept saying that if they had to do it over again they would have had all their babies via c-section).
    It’s sort of like labor is a mountain, with the baby on top. You climb the mountain to get the baby, but while you’re preparing to climb the mountain, you hear nothing but all the different ways to get to the top of the mountain, how you can hike, or go on horseback, or take the chairlift if you get too tired, and how when you get to the top you’ll be exhausted but happy. And, of course, if there should be any problems, there’s a helicopter that can pick you up and just take you to the top of the mountain in like an hour, tops (that would be my metaphor for the c-section, in case anyone is still reading).
    So, part of me is missing that climb up the mountain, and what it might have been like– but the point is, I got to the top and I have the baby now (which was the reason to climb the mountain in the first place, duh).

  5. Olivia Jun 23 at 12:19 pm Reply Reply

    I had planned a homebirth. Had dreamed about it for two years, in fact. Then I ended up facing excrutiating back labor and stalled dialation. 24 hours later and no end in sight I quitely asked to go to the hospital, I needed an epidural. I needed to rest.
    I got that epidural, got to 10 cm and pushed for 3 hrs. 36 hrs after labor began, I was exhausted, starving, and the back labor was coming back. I looked at my husband and said, “I’m through. I want a c-section.” (gah, just thinking about that is bringing tears to my eyes).
    I’m comfortable with the c-section. It was necessary since my daughter’s foot was by her head (the cause of the back labor and slow dialation). In fact, I’m thankful the c-section was available and I was at such a wonderful hospital, because I can’t see how I would have birthed her without. But my husband didn’t catch her, I wasn’t the first to hold her, she was “messed with” and taken to the nursery….
    Our treatment at the hospital was stellar compared to other’s experiences, we’ve bonded beautifully, breastfeeding has been a breeze, but….I really, really hope my next baby will be born at home.

  6. eva Jun 23 at 12:46 pm Reply Reply

    18 months later I am still regretting my c-section. And the epidural, without which I may have had a chance at vaginal birth. Yes I got a nice healthy, breastfed, cloth-diapered, homemade-food-fed daughter, but I still find myself annoyed about the whole experience. I’m glad you wrote this because I am so sick of hearing that all that matters was that I got a healthy baby!

  7. Camille Jun 23 at 1:02 pm Reply Reply

    I think it really depends on the dr. and situation. Our daughter was 8 days overdue when my water broke. There was mueconium (sp? but only a very little bit as they told me later) and when we went to the hospital I had explained to the nurses what we had planned on (limited intervention, seeing how things progressed) which they were all fine with. However, my doctor came in shortly thereafter and despite the conversations we’d had during my pregnancy and prenatal visits about a natural childbirth gave us this talk about obstretrics “being the victim of its own success” because mothers and baby’s rarely die now and it all because of interventions. It was a long (and bullsh**) lecture of statistics on health care in other countries (which I countered with my own although I could not believe we were having that conversation), and how interventions are needed in most if not all cases. In the end, he said that his plan of action was to have the baby delivered within 8 hours (coincidently, that would have been 5pm) because to do anything otherwise was endangering the baby and myself and he couldn’t be responsible for that. If I was willing to put myself and child in that risk that he would have to turn my care over to another doctor. I was in complete shock and burst into tears when he left the room because I predicted I would be having a c-section by the end of the day. Anyway, we spoke to the other doctor, and she was FANTASTIC. I explained to her the conversation we’d had with him, and what we wanted and she said that was all fine, everything was safe, and sent us home to try and bring labor on. Long story short, nothing worked and I didn’t go into progressive labor, started pitocin the next morning, stalled at 8cm, had an epidural and was able to push her (9lb 3oz) out on my own 3 hours later (41 hours after my water broke). I can honestly say that this woman is my hero because I would have certainly had a C-section if I had not fired my prenatal doctor. Having said that, the entire night before I started pitocin I was completely paranoid that he was right and that I was endangering my child (my husband had no doubts/concerns at all). I have no regrets except that I didn’t have her for all my prenatal care, and I am so thankful that I wasn’t bullied into following a plan when it very clearly seemed unmeritted. I know that had I done otherwise I would have been regretful about how her birth went.

  8. kari weber Jun 23 at 1:10 pm Reply Reply

    My first son was late and 9 pounds. I had horrible back labor, he was turned wrong… and he was born July 2nd, in which the hospital was so busy, I was literally put into the room they typically used for storage. I was almost sent to another hospital. I didn’t get the baby pictures, didn’t even get to sign my son’s birth certificate (no one works on a holiday weekend, ya’ know?)… I tore pretty badly, and it was about 8 weeks before that healed, or I could even THINK about any “time” with my husband not being excruciating. With my second son, I was paranoid for the same experience, I had worried OUT LOUD multiple times to my doctor the first time about how big I WAS, and that I was worried about going late and having a big baby, and no one listened to me. After, they tried to tell me 9 pounds was NORMAL (then why is the bulletin board in the doctor’s office FULL of baby pictures of babies LESS than 9 pounds? HUH?) But this time, they DID listen to me. I felt much more in control, because I DID NOT LET MY FIRST EXPERIENCE INTIMIDATE ME INTO SILENCE! My midwife saw me 3 days before my due date when I was 3 cm dialated and having some wicked BH contractions. She saw me 3 days later on my due date when I STILL HADN’T GIVEN BIRTH. She had scheduled me to be induced that night before she even came into the room. And you know what? It was awesome. My pain control was great, I was laughing during labor and pushing! I was relaxed, the hospital was NOT BUSY, and I pushed for about 20 minutes… and you know what? My son was 9 pounds 11 ounces. Go figure. I don’t regret the first birth. I didn’t know any better, and my son is healthy. My advice to others is this: Don’t be afraid to speak up for your fears, desires, wants, needs, etc. And don’t be afraid to REPEAT YOURSELF until you are heard, or your questions are answered.

  9. Catherine S Jun 23 at 2:02 pm Reply Reply

    I find this topic to be highly worth discussing. Amy I remember when you posted about Ezra’s birth and got the idea that there was some sense of regret there over having a repeat CS.
    My son was born VIA CS as well after a placental abruption during labor. I had planned on going natural, took the classes, etc and when it came down to it, I just couldn’t handle it. Husband SUCKED as a birth partner, wouldn’t even touch or really look at me, sister was there and was a complete moronic bitch the whole time. L&D nurses were nice, but clueless about natural deliveries. I was just alone and terrified of the pain and chickened out and got the epidural, then the pit, and then the abruption. I will never know if the pitocin was the culprit or if it would have happened otherwise.
    Because there are so few VBAC sopportive docs in our area and no birthing centers, choices for next time are hospital or home. I am chosing home. To have a homebirth, I face an uphill battle with my husband, my family, my insurance provider, just about everyone. But I still choose home, for me and for my baby.
    I was and still am sometimes guilty of judging women for their choice to have elective CS. I don’t mean to, I just see it through the color of my experience, which I wouldn’t repeat for anything. I am also guilty of being jealous of women who sail through birth and claim it to be the most beautiful experience of their lives. I am also guilty of being angry at women who complain about “small” interuptions in their birth plan, ie, the nurse was just not nice, but still got their healty and complication free vaginal birth. The only people I really feel for are the people who lose their babies, children, wives, sisters, mothers, best friends in childbirth whether it be surgical or the “natural” way.
    I am working on the fear and grief that is still very present from my sons birth, not only from the CS but also from the fact that I could have lost him. And I am very much working on not judging, not being angry, and not being jealous of other women.
    I am not a member (yet), but the best source of information that I have found for cesarean, vbac, and birth in general is http://www.ican-online.org

  10. bri Jun 23 at 2:27 pm Reply Reply

    I am TOTALLY that woman rolling her eyes at the regret women. So it’s really helpful to read this from your point of view, as a former eye-roller. It’s another judgey thing I should try to get over.
    Mine – pre-pre-eclampsia symptoms, no labor, c-section, glorious. Highly recommend my delivery – never have to wonder if I did the right thing with the c-sec, avoid judgey anti-c-sec women, skipped scary and painful labor for my 8lb10oz boy who would never have come out anyway b/c, as the midwife said, once they got in there they saw that his head was stuck on pelvic bone and cord was presenting first. Awesome.

  11. samantha jo campen Jun 23 at 2:28 pm Reply Reply

    I get it. Oh do I get it. Like you, before I was pregnant I was all “It doesn’t MATTER how the kid is born! You just need a healthy mom and baybeeeeee!”
    Then after a PERFECT pregnancy I went into labor at 30 weeks and was put on bedrest until he was born vaginally at 35 weeks. Rushed off to NICU. Which I was prepared for.
    But he was fine. Not a single problem with eating, regulating body temperature, breathing. NOTHING. He was just like a full-term baby.
    But he stayed in NICU for three days for observation.
    Not in our hospital room where I could bond with him every second. I got to hold him for 15 seconds after he was born. Then I had to wait an hour to see him after that. I didn’t bond with my son for 6 weeks and it was the darkest 6 weeks of my life. Talk about PPD.
    But did we KNOW he was going to be fine? No. Were the doctors being precautious and not taking any chances he’d backslide in developement? Yes, and at the time that’s what we wanted. But now, KNOWING he was fine, KNOWING I missed out on ‘the normal experience’ REALLY upsets me. Like, I’m choking up now.
    So I understand. And don’t know what to say to make it better. Thank you for writing this.

  12. bessie.viola Jun 23 at 2:29 pm Reply Reply

    Thanks for sharing this, Amy. I have been reading you since your pregnancy with Noah, and I now have a 16-month old daughter. Her birth ended up being an unplanned c-section. I thought about what you’d written about yours as they were prepping me, and took a lot of comfort in it.
    In the same way, this is comforting. I have fears and doubts about my next baby; people assume that the birth will be scheduled and I am firmly on the fence. I’m not sure what’s best, I don’t trust my body after what happened the first time, and I worry about the choice – and I’m not even pregnant.
    Thanks for offering a perspective that goes a little deeper than “Oh, schedule it, it will be easier.”

  13. Mimi Jun 23 at 2:36 pm Reply Reply

    All that matters is a healthy baby (and mother). Seriously. Why do we look for things to punish ourselves with?

  14. bessa Jun 23 at 2:51 pm Reply Reply

    My first was an “elective” c-section. I felt like I elected it about as much as you elect to get shot. I hated it. I was upset forever. The disappointment hurt so bad, I didn’t even know if I wanted to try for a VBAC because I didn’t want the regret, if it didn’t work out. I tried so hard for a VBAC. Changed doctors, changed doulas, labored at home for 3 days and one in the hospital. I still ended up with another c-section. My super-granola doctor told me I should never labor again. I still secretly harbor dreams of having a baby naturally and vaginally.
    It’s a personal thing. No one else can understand how a woman feels about her birth experience and her newborn.

  15. Olivia Jun 23 at 3:17 pm Reply Reply

    Mimi, a healthy baby and mom are the MOST important, but not ALL that is important. That’s what this post is about. Being happy and appreciative for having a healthy baby, but wishing for a different birth experience isn’t mutually exlusive.

  16. Amalah Jun 23 at 3:24 pm Reply Reply

    Mimi – See, NOW, I would rephrase that. A healthy baby and mother are the things that matter the MOST. 100%, absolutely. But the ONLY things that matter? I don’t think you can make that call for someone else, particularly someone who may have dealt with trauma, crisis, bullying, sub-par medical care, tough recoveries, PPD, etc. Mama’s mental health matters, and I believe the birth experience can be mighty tied up with this — for some women, and some births. And trust me, I’m the last person who ever expected to feel this way post-section. (My first one was FABULOUS! I felt GREAT! Yay drugs!)
    As for the “looking” for things to punish myself over? It was really the opposite. I found that beating myself up for my feelings because they didn’t matter — or denying that I this way — made it worse. I was both disappointed AND irritated with myself. Get a grip, self. It doesn’t matter! Shut up and put on that happy face!
    Then one day I told my husband that wow, sometimes I wish I’d gone ahead and tried for that VBAC after all, because I hated the scheduled c-section experience and was sad to know that any other birth experience is completely and officially off the table for me now.
    He gave me a hug and said that even though he still thought we made the right decision, he understood why I would feel that way. That’s really all I needed to hear instead of another person telling me that it didn’t matter.

  17. Karen Jun 23 at 3:32 pm Reply Reply

    Mimi, it’s not about punishing ourselves. Seriously.
    I had an unplanned c-section and although everything turned out FINE, everything, I still wish it had gone differently. I wish I could have held and nursed her right away, I wish I didn’t feel like poop from the epi and the surgery. In fact, I wish I could know how much the poopy feeling was normal, and how much was on account of the surgery. I wish my partner hadn’t been terrified. I wish I didn’t have to worry about rupturing the scar now when I have another baby. This isn’t crazy lady borrowing trouble, it’s valid regrets. Yes, I’m super grateful for my healthy baby and easy breastfeeding relationship. But also I wish we’d had an uncomplicated birth. That is pretty straightforwardly understandable, I think.
    P.S. Samantha Jo, awesome name! That’s my daughter’s name :)

  18. Tiffany Jun 23 at 3:44 pm Reply Reply

    Oh, girlfriend. I’ve written about this topic a ton. My first birth I had planned all natural. I was 15, and my mom and Dr over rode my decisions and and bullied me into an epidural. I was able to birth vaginally, but on drugs. Not what I wanted.
    My second child I tried again for the natural thing. I drove 2+ hours to go to my state’s only birthing center, to MAKE SURE I could have a natural birth. Then my son turned breech. I did home exercises, I did Chiro care 3X a week, I had an ECV. He wouldn’t budge. Then my BP soared. My midwives signed off on me and I ended up with a c/section. I made peace with it, because I knew I had done all I could do in my power to prevent it.
    Third child I wanted a VBAC. But when I got my records I found out I had a vertical incision from my c/section. So nobody would attend a VBAC on me. I struggled during the pregnancy…because it was so frustrating to know that my chance at natural birth had been taken from me each stinking time. But then things spiraled down at the end of the pregnancy, and it just became a matter of surviving until we could get her out.
    So I feel you. I waffle back and forth between regretting the missed opportunity…and saying WTH ever! We’re all here, aren’t we? Who cares!
    Just don’t get me started on the unjustice that is my breasts, which have failed to produce a single drop of milk for three children. Now THAT’S my REAL regret…..

  19. Jesse Jun 23 at 3:54 pm Reply Reply

    It’s good to read this…I think the most important thing is not to ignore those tiny, nagging emotions/thoughts that creep in, even when you are otherwise deliriously happy and focusing on the healthy outcome. What you feel (and felt) is true and real and valid no matter what, and it’s good to express it. Ignoring it is what leads to greater problems down the line, sometimes. Thank you for discussing it so openly and honestly with us.

  20. AmberMc Jun 23 at 4:02 pm Reply Reply

    I guess I got ‘lucky’? I developed HELLP syndrome and had an emergency c-section due to my liver failing. I didn’t have a choice. My husband was a 10 pounder and I thought I would have a biggin’… my boy was a little 4 pounder but healthy as could be. I was healing for 5 days before I could have him in the room with me.
    I think we always have and always will feel guilty that we have not sacrificed enough for our children. Even if we give them everything.

  21. charlotte Jun 23 at 4:13 pm Reply Reply

    Another “granola mom” here who ended up having a c-section because of headstuckness and breech–and who’s wondering what’ll happen with #2 (should #2 ever happen). They don’t do VBAC here *at all*, but I’m smart enough not to attempt homebirth given all the health issues I can already anticipate (gestational diabetes, probably pre-eclampsia …). So, I’m on the fence as much as previous commenters, with the added bonus that, with Little Miss Kickboxer, breastfeeding didn’t work out at all and we’re on formula (organic, though, so save your boos).

  22. Wade Jun 23 at 5:01 pm Reply Reply

    I understand the whole “not the birth I wanted” thing, and if you are sad about it, that’s how you feel (although if it crosses to PPD that’s different). I do worry, though, about projecting your own experience onto other people, especially first time moms.
    When my baby was born, I knew I didn’t want an epidural. I’d heard horror stories of epidurals prolonging labor and wasn’t keen on the “needle in the spine” part. Two weeks before my due date, I was dilated 2 cm and my doctor figured any time now. A week before, I was still dilated 2 cm, and she stripped my membranes. The day before, I went into prodromal labor (painful but not progressing). Four days after my due date, I was still at 2 cm and still not progressing, and they induced me. After 7 hours of back labor, I was at 3 cm and gave in to the epidural. The epidural finally relaxed my muscles so that she slid into place, and I gave birth two hours later. It turns out she was sideways and her head wasn’t straight in the birth canal. I suspect that, in my case, the epidural kept me from having an emergency c-section.
    It is hard to avoid second guessing — in my case, there was talk of sending me home for a couple of days. If they had, maybe I would have gone into labor on my own BUT maybe I would have been back earlier with the baby in distress. I feel like I made the best decision I could based on the information I had (and also realize that it helps that I never felt pushed into things), but I also wouldn’t recommend an epidural to someone else based on my experience. On the other hand, I wish other people had been less interested in telling me their horror stories, since it might have led me to opt for the epidural earlier.

  23. Kathryn Jun 23 at 7:00 pm Reply Reply

    Catherine S, I second everything you said. Okay, not quite, since I still haven’t delivered my first baby. I very much want to try for a natural birth. My ideal situation would be some type of natural birthing center adjacent/within an actual hospital. But in the area I live in, no such thing exists. My husband has likened my desire to go natural as “having a cavity filled without novacaine, just for the experience,” and I just heard from a friend how my OB/GYN did a “great job” with the vacuum extraction and episiotomy with her son.
    And on one hand, I understand how completely trivial and whiny I sound about “poor me…I have to go to the stupid hospital with all the doctors that will try to make my pain go away and bring my baby safely.” But I still just feel alone in this worry. And it sucks.

  24. Becky Jun 23 at 11:19 pm Reply Reply

    My pregnancy and baby Robert’s birth were both the opposite of what I thought I wanted. Everything that could go wrong, did go wrong.
    Here’s just a few for you:
    -Didn’t find out I was pregnant till I was three months along.
    -Water broke three months early.
    -I was on strict hospital bed rest for a month.
    -Due to my spina bifida I was given two epidurals but neither of them worked.
    -Robert was born 9 weeks early and weighed only 3 lbs.
    -Robert had to stay in the NICU for a month.
    Honestly though, every single crazy thing that came up ended up being exactly what I needed most. I needed the month bed rest to relax. Those failed epidurals were a blessing so I could feel my little one arrive. I needed that tiny baby so that my lady parts stayed intact. I needed a month postpartum to get my affairs in order. My road to motherhood was NOTHING like I had planned but EXACTLY what I needed. I wouldn’t have changed one single step and I count that as a major blessing.

  25. Marnie Jun 24 at 1:38 am Reply Reply

    I will admit to getting a little judge-y, too, when I hear others lamenting how the birth didn’t go the way they wanted, and I really do try to catch myself and listen to the reasons why.
    But, the thing that gets me the most, are the women who, when I say I had a c-section for my first (and only), make assumptions about my feelings and say “Oh, wow, I’m so sorry for you, you must have been so disappointed.”
    OMG No, not in the least, never, heavens no. She was a week overdue, breech, I had low amniotic fluid, and her head measured off the charts. You clearly can not imagine how ready I was to just get her out of there.
    Of course it would have been great if I’d been able to labor and deliver the way I’d planned (which was going to involve drugs, mind you). But don’t feel sorry for me when I’m not asking for it.
    Let’s make a deal: Let’s agree to listen to others’ stories and reasons before we get all judge-y.

  26. Erin Jun 24 at 8:02 am Reply Reply

    This is such an interesting topic. I too had the c-section with the first baby after 20 hours of labour and not enough progress for the doctors to feel comfortable. I never saw the birth experience as anything other than a means to an end and didn’t have any regrets.
    With the second, I went to midwives for the quality of care they would offer pre and post baby but didn’t have any plans about the birth since I assumed we would do a c-section again. The midwives were good about not pressuring me to have any other plans and we took a wait and see approach. My husband was very pro c-section since he was quite scared during my first son’s birth and didn’t want me to experience all the pain and an eventual c-section again.
    Fast forward to the birth of my second son. My water broke 3 weeks early on the day of my consultation with the doctor that was going to perform the c-section. I waited 12 hours for labour to start on its own while the midwives hovered hoping I would try to go naturally. The doctor on call made the call that we would book an OR and I was indifferent. I just wanted to meet the baby already.
    Just before going into the OR, as I was being prepped, my contractions started with a vengence. I didn’t say anything because I felt the train had left the station on the c-section front. But, you know what? I kind of regret not saying anything in the end. My son was only 6 lbs 11 oz and I could probably have delivered him just fine if I had a little patience and a different outlook on the birth from the beginning. If I had just said from the get go, ‘hey I want to try this naturally’, they wouldn’t have rushed me through surgery when the OR opened up. Instead, I would have been walking the halls to get contractions going.
    Oh well, my husband is happy, my baby is healthy and adorable and I am just fine post c-section. I really have nothing to complain about. I think if we do have a third kid however, I may approach it differently.

  27. LauraP Jun 24 at 8:17 am Reply Reply

    I think the one thing that made my labor one that I was happy with was my doula. It is her job to mother the mother. I was lucky enough that she was an old friend of my husbands and volunteered her services. If she had not offered, I don’t think I could have gone through my natural labor the way I did if it were not for her.
    Anyone that is concerned about having a natural birth in a hospital, please look into getting a doula. They will be your advocate and communicate to the doctors and nurses when you don’t want to or can’t. Childbirth is hard enough…there’s no need to add the stress of battling the dr’s for the natural birth that you want.
    Also, if money is an issue, many doula services offer low cost services due to the fact that doulas often have to go through an extensive training and attend so many births before becoming offical doulas.
    Sorry, this seems a little off topic.

  28. Olivia Jun 24 at 8:51 am Reply Reply

    Kathryn, as you can see, you aren’t alone in wanting a natural birth. And, I think most mothers will tell you that giving birth is nothing like having a cavity filled. A cavity is something that is wrong and needs to be fixed. Birth is something right, a natural thing that is life changing. Wanting to do that in a way that is as close to nature as you can (as long as it’s safe) is not silly.
    I hope your birth is complication free and happy.

  29. Catherine S Jun 24 at 10:09 am Reply Reply

    Kathryn, you are really not alone in that worry! I think everyone contemplates what is going to happen when it is “their time.” I suggest educating yourself as much as possible about routine procedures, your OBs CS rate, natural birthing techniques, etc as well as those for your hospital as the hospital policies will have a lot to do with your labor as well.
    I wish I had prepared myself better with my first. I am not pregnant again yet, but I am reading Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth and The Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth by Henci Goer. I wish I had read these books before my first because I think I would have been better prepared to go with the flow, so to speak. They are a bit crunchy, but WAY more informative and less alarmist than the usual What to Expect and Girlfriend’s Guide to Pregnancy. In retrospect, those books sounded like trivial craptastic alarmist watered down bullshit in comparison to the books I am reading now. Okay, am quietly withdrawing my soapbox.
    And Amy, FYI, there are some midwives and docs out there who will VBAC even after 2 CS. You would just have to spend some time looking for a willing and enthusiatic provider. Again, ICAN, International Cesarean Awareness Network is a good source of information including VBAC provider referrals if you or anyone else is interested in pursuing that as an option. No judgement, it just took me some time to find the information and am trying to be nice and make it easier to find for anyone else interested in this sort of thing.

  30. Maureen Jun 24 at 10:51 am Reply Reply

    I find this topic so interesting. I never even dreamed that I would need a c-section until I found out my son was breech and no chiropractic work, moxibustion, or external version could change that. He ended up being 10.6 pounds and healthy, so I guess you could say it all worked for the best. But, it was still devastating to have the c-section. Maybe it was the hormones, but I felt like a failure for not having a “real” birth, and I was depressed. I was slammmed with judgment whenever I told anyone my feelings about the c-section, and I actually had co-workers angry with my disappointment because I had gotten the “easy way out.”
    Now, I’m due in August, and my midwives and the doctor they work with fully support my attempt at a VBAC. I’m trying to be open about what will happen this time, and there’s just no way to foresee the future. I’m going to try not to judge myself or the experience; it’d be nice if no one else judged it, either. I know that everyone’s goal is a healthy baby and mom, but it is my experience, too; I do get to feel how I feel about it.

  31. GM Jun 24 at 10:56 am Reply Reply

    Thanks for posting on this topic, which has been much on my mind (baby born to via “emergent” CS in April). I had prepared very hard for a natural delivery, even changing hospitals and moving to a midwife from an OB. My pregnancy went downhill in the last weeks, when my baby was diagnosed with IUGR. I went into labor on my own the day before my 38 week induction date. I labored unmedicated for 42 hours, with my hypnosis for childbirth working wonderfully (NO labor pain!), but the baby couldn’t descend and lots of heartrate dips. Tried an epidural as a last ditch attempt to “loosen things up,” but baby’s bradychardia just got worse. Finally, 44 hours after labor began, I was delivered via cs. OB & midwife agreed that I have a pelvic deformity that they believe will prevent any future vaginal deliveries (esp considering my baby was under 5 lbs and was stuck firmly enough in my pelvis to leave scars on his head).
    On the one hand, I am so thankful that I tried for my natural birth. For educating myself and switching to the midwife practice b/c she really went to extreme measures to let me labor as long as they could (I went 36 hours after my water broke, and this wasn’t the reason for my cs). I know if I had been back in my original OB’s practice, I would have been in surgery a few hours after my water broke and labor wasn’t progressing as fast as they would have liked. I know I did everything possible to have a natural birth. But, even though I totally believe that my CS was necessary, I was/am/probably will continue to be very disappointed by it. I am totally with those women who have mentioned how jealous they are of other women who give birth normally. I also feel absolutely betrayed by my body–why it can’t do something it was designed to do. There are so many women who could care less how they deliver or who choose every intervention and end up with great vaginal deliveries; I don’t begrudge them their births, it just seems like a terrible irony that I can’t have one also. I also harbor fantasies of having a vbac, even though I believe my midwife when she says there really is something “wrong” with my pelvis…. It’s been a really strange process for me.
    And none of this takes away from the fact that I love my son dearly and would go through all of it again for him. But, my baby and my giving birth aren’t one and the same. So, I definitely agree, while healthy mom and baby are most important, they aren’t the only important things.

  32. Brenda Jun 24 at 12:16 pm Reply Reply

    Regarding the important topic: seriously, who has TIME to bathe their children EVERY NIGHT. That has to raise the risk of their getting injured in some freak rubber-duck-related accident. Twice a week is more than enough.
    Sprinklers TOTALLY count.

  33. Sara Jun 24 at 1:01 pm Reply Reply

    I know women who regret their C-sections and women who wish all their children had been delivered that way. I have to wonder if the secret is to stay light on your feet (ha ha), keep expectations low, and remember what matters. You get married to BE married, hopefully, and not to have a wedding. You labor and deliver (or don’t) in order to have a baby, not for the beautiful experience.

  34. Cheri Jun 24 at 1:17 pm Reply Reply

    My Perfect sister in law did the bath every night thing- I do every other day or so- or my daughter’s skin is too dry. I rebel against that “perfect”life stuff! But seriously, you can’t PLAN a birth- I think the childbirth class paints a generic or rosy picture, and then everyone is disappointed they didn’t get the experience they wanted. I wish I had known my son , 11 lbs, 22 in long, was going to be so huge, I would have opted for the C section, to be honest. The epidural only worked for me for about 1 1/2 hours, and I just wanted him out safely. My Dr. had to reach in and pull his shoulder out. She had to give me a local anesthetic to sew me back together- so I figure the epidural was completely out of my system by then. Amy, you couldn’t know how Ezra’s birth would go- How could you risk it, you know.

  35. bessa Jun 24 at 1:48 pm Reply Reply

    (to Sara) But everyone still plans a beautiful wedding. And people understand when you’re upset if it rains on your wedding day.

  36. Meredith Jun 24 at 2:23 pm Reply Reply

    I can’t regret a procedure that saved my and my daughter’s life. Without the emergency c-section, we wouldn’t be here now, so I have no doubts and never felt badly about it. I am grateful for it! Now, some of this might have been influenced by the fact that a friend of mine had recently passed away while birthing her third child, so I was very much aware that labor/delivery can still be risky. Having that in mind, I was prepared for any type of labor/delivery I might have and was just so happy to finally have my little girl in my arms.

  37. Joyce Jun 24 at 4:32 pm Reply Reply

    I finally realized how important it is to be honest with my feelings on my daughter’s birth instead of glossing over it with a cheery smile. I don’t really care if people judge me for that. It actually was kind of horrible, I thought I was going to literally die and it wasn’t at all what I planned.
    But then I remember how she just wouldn’t settle in that plastic crib thingy by my bed and only would sleep snuggled up close to me. I remember discovering the new smell of her newborn head and the shock of this new person in my life. I had to keep pretending to the night nurse that I was breastfeeding instead of sleeping. But we were like one body, her chubby little body against my skin.
    It was an absolutely ghastly, bloody, gruesome birth story, but that little precious moment makes me look back and smile. Maybe there is a tiny moment you can focus on during Ezra’s birth… the way his fingers curled around yours for the first time… something like that, instead of the actual delivery part. It really helps me.
    Thanks for writing about this, it is wonderful to hear your voice on this tender subject. You are an amazing woman and mother.

  38. Mimi Jun 24 at 8:43 pm Reply Reply

    Amy, I’m not saying we shouldn’t experience feelings of regret over how our children were born. Quite on the contrary, we should put a voice to them and let it all out (as you have done). However, at some point we have to let it go. We shouldn’t make it yet another “mommy guilt” issue. I’m saying, “Hey ladies, let’s not beat ourselves up over yet ANOTHER issue that, quite honestly, doesn’t matter in the end.” Think of the women whose children were born with severe disabilities, or those who lost their pregnancies and never got to experience ANY sort of birth.
    We just need to keep things in perspective, that’s all. Let’s knock it down from the “important” list to the “Meh, I’m ok with it” list. I’m sorry you didn’t have your VBAC, and hopefully writing your feelings down will help you let the regret go.
    On that note, I love your blog? *Grinning sheepishly*

  39. Aunt Becky Jun 24 at 11:18 pm Reply Reply

    My daughter was born with part of her brain outside of her skull. I’ll always be sorry that my last experience giving birth ended in a complete clusterf*ck chaos. (no one knew she had an encephalocele)
    So yeah, I get what you mean now in a way I couldn’t have before this happened. I get it now.

  40. LBP Jun 25 at 10:29 am Reply Reply

    I understand too. I have regrets about the recent birth of my daughter that some might not understand.
    I am lucky, and labour has not been difficult for me (painful, awful, yes, all those things, but complication free). So far I make small-ish babies (7-2 and 6-13). I had my son naturally and it was a wonderful experience for me. I was almost looking forward to labour again with my second baby – the part where the baby is finally out and they pop it up on your chest and everyone’s crying – the part I imagine some people with sections miss. I know it was just luck, it wasn’t good planning on my part, just genetics I guess, and wide hips :). I’d never judge anyone about their choices in labour, but I was happy about what happened with my son. I’d wish my first labour experience for any woman.
    So, when my daughter was about to be born last month I was hopefully looking forward to that experience again. In the end, she came SO fast, and the labour changed so quickly that we were late getting to the hospital. She crowned and was born in one push on the floor of the hospital lobby, with my husband and a security guard. There was no peaceful moment, just yelling for more help and me wondering what the hell just happened. She was totally healthy, pink and hollering, but it just was NOT the experience I wanted, obviously. So even when you have a natural birth (can’t get much more natural than that!), you can still have regrets.
    Amy, your children are beautiful, and I love your blog. I only recent found it, and I’m devouring it.

  41. Jenny Jun 26 at 3:31 pm Reply Reply

    I haven’t had kids and I tend to be on the whatever works side of the argument. Just based on my personality, I can’t imagine caring if I have a vaginal birth or a c-section, but maybe in the heat of the moment I will.
    But I will say that sometimes doctors don’t have the best ways of doing things. My twin sisters were born in 1991. My mom had had 3 kids prior and two of them were 9 lbs 15 oz and 10 lbs 8 oz. Big babies! The twins weighed 5 lbs 11 oz and 6 lbs 10 oz. Anyway, they knew going in that Baby B (the 2nd one out) was breach. The OB decided to deliver vaginally rather than going with a c-section. My mom lost a ton of blood, was very sick, and didn’t get to see the babies until the next day. It took A LOT out of her. The baby was bruised (black) from the waist down. She was fine. I always wondered why they didn’t do a c-section with the twins as now it seems like c-section is pretty standard with mulitiples. It turns out that the doctor thought since she had had 3 kids and 2 really big ones, that he could just kind of pull the baby out. My mom didn’t know that it wasn’t standard practice (even back then) not to do this. She was very lucky.

  42. Frema Jun 27 at 9:14 pm Reply Reply

    I feel lucky that I don’t regret either of my two c-sections. I went a week overdue with Kara in order to let her come out at her own time, only to be induced. I started labor without drugs because I wanted to see if I could do it naturally. At eight centimeters, it hurt too much and I asked for an epidural. And even after all that, Kara never dropped and I never fully dilated and before the end of the night, I was in surgery. It helped that I gave it my best shot and that my hospital was so accommodating: the baby was in my arms within minutes, she nursed right away, and she stayed with me in recovery the whole time. Everyone did the best they could to help me bond with my baby, and I’m at peace.
    Nathan, my second, was different. I had originally planned on attempting a VBAC, but I got pregnant with him only five months after Kara was born, and my doctor cautioned against a VBAC seeing as my children’s births would be fewer than two years apart, and the strain on my first c-section scar might be too great. That made sense to me. So I opted to schedule a c-section. As it turns out, I developed signs of pre-eclampsia and had to go in two weeks before Nathan’s due date, and he was still 9 lb 5 oz. Same hospital, so same great care I had with Kara. Again, I am at peace.
    I agree with the previous commenter who said she doesn’t like it when people assume you are automatically disappointed with your birth experience if it involved a c-section. However, I understand that not everyone has such compassionate care throughout the process, and not everyone truly believes that their c-sections were the best means of delivery, just because I feel that way for myself.

  43. Kate Jun 29 at 7:34 pm Reply Reply

    Well, it just goes to show that you never can tell. After three weeks of being 2 cm dilated by not progressing, we opted to get induced because my son was so low in my pelvis that it made everything uncomfortable. I always thought I wanted a natural delivery, but then when the contractions started coming every 90 seconds and lasting for 45 seconds, I went for the epidural. It was greeeeeeat.
    But then the kid’s pulse kept dropping after every contraction and they ending up having to suction him out, which gave him hematomas on his head, which gave him jaundice, which led sleep-deprived me to have far too many panics about him sleeping too much and not eating enough (he’s 6 months old and fine now).
    Not only that, but I had a 3rd degree tear that didn’t heal right (because really, how can see what’s down there to see that it’s getting infected?), so I ended up having to get it cauterized, which hurt more than my son’s birth.
    The kid was 9 pounds and I have pretty slender hips, so I’m pretty sure that if we had waited much longer, I would have ended up in an emergency c-section. I really wish that instead we had either 1) induced earlier (we tried, but it was the Christmas season and everyone had already taken all the c-section slots before Christmas); or 2) that I had gone for a c-section right off. At least I could have SEEN the wound and taken better care of it. I think I actually would have felt more in control than panicking about his heartbeat, and he wouldn’t have come out with those hematomas.
    Anyway, with our next kid, I’ve already decided that I’m not going past my due date, no matter how they have to get the kid out of there.

  44. Mouse Jun 30 at 7:45 pm Reply Reply

    I was the only pregnant woman in our birth class who indicated a desire for natural childbirth after watching “that” video. My doctor was supportive, but said something for which I am grateful: “We will do everything possible to make this happen, but do not completely rule out an epidural in your mind. Sometimes things happen that we can’t predict.”
    My water broke, but my contractions never fell into a pattern and I wasn’t progressing. At 17 hours, I got an epidural since I knew I was looking at an emergency c-section at the 24-hour mark (and I preferred an epidural to a spinal). Apparently it allowed my body to relax enough that just as they were about to prep me for the c-section, I was at 10 cm. Still needed forceps and had a scary 90 seconds when my son didn’t breathe, but it all turned out ok. I couldn’t have asked for more from the nurses and doctors.
    My partner wishes I’d had the c-section. My sister had a similar labor story (and this seems to be a general pattern with my mother’s side) and ended up going that route. I figure I have a 50-50 shot with any subsequent deliveries. I’m a little sad that I will probably never have an unmedicated birth. But I’m thankful for my original doctor’s advice and that I’ve now had a chance to prepare myself for future likelihoods.

  45. ksmaybe Jul 01 at 4:14 pm Reply Reply

    I agree with so much of what others have said. I had a CS after 23 hours of labor…3 hours of that pushing. Baby was 8 lbs 10 oz. I had questioned my doctor on size along the way, she was convinced he would be ‘normal’, according to her 7 someething. Yeah. Now, 8-10 isn’t huge (only a few babies in my family were smalller :) ) but it was enough. One of my pelvic bones is flat where it should arch and she thinks he was stuck against that. I’m 17 weeks along now with #2 and waffling. I’m with the same doc and she’ll go whichever way I want (which is amazing it sounds from others’ experiences). I’ll deliver at the same University medical center either way, they sound progressive though with her attitude. She is ‘recommending’ a CS if the baby is large but not pushing it. Given Ezra’s story and my doc’s proven inability to estimate size (although I did not have a late u/s, she was just going by fundal height)…I don’t know. I think I’ll just have to see how I feel when the time is closer. I don’t second guess the decisions I made with #1, but I do wish it had worked out differently. We bonded immediately (and I didn’t get to hold him for over 12 hours-he was in NICU, long story, he was fine) and he nursed well. It’s not about what happened, it’s about what didn’t. It wasn’t what I hoped for. Not the end of the world, not keeping me up at night, but disappointing nonetheless.

  46. Maria Paterson Jul 10 at 6:36 pm Reply Reply

    I just got home yesterday afternoon with my new little son. I am so glad to be reading this now as it really eases the bittersweet pain I feel over my delivery on Sunday.
    Sadly, I was one of those women who wanted, INSISTED on no intervention, natural childbirth. I actually had the NERVE to be silently judgemental towards anyone who wanted the epidural or a c-section! Well… my ass got kicked BIG TIME. Everything was great, I went into full labour on my due date (Saturday) after 10 days of pre-labour contractions (yuk)and I thought the process would be quick and over with the way I wanted. HA! Forget it… back labour, no progression after 6 hours of HARD overlapping contractions… I just about kissed my midwife when she suggested that maybe I should just have that epidural after all. (I JUST NEEDED TO BE COHERENT!)
    Had the epi, and thought why did I want to refuse this?!?! This is GREAT! I can focus! I’m relaxed! I can enjoy the process!! I can push at ten! And pushed I did for a few hours… until the baby got stuck, then stressed, then distressed. Emergency C section for me. This was NOT chalking up to my ideal childbirth.
    At the end of it all though, I have my lovely, lovely little Jakob. Not huge, (8lbs 14) but you could definitely see where he was stuck! I was told there was nothing I could have done and perhaps next time I may want to consider the section again.
    My only regret now is this… being such a hard headed fool to think that my idea of a perfect birth is what should be perfect and right for everyone. I will never EVER silently judge another woman on her birth plan, her feeding routines, her drug choices… as I can attest now, my judgements will come back to haunt me! (as it is now again with breastfeeding issues… sigh).

  47. Emily Jul 13 at 9:52 am Reply Reply

    I used to be the eye-roller type, but I understand now that it can matter how they get here. I was certain I would need a c-section to deliver my twin girls. It just seemed statistically certain to me. I was horribly afraid of having one vaginally and the other via c-section. Then my water broke and I ended up trying for a vaginal birth. One of my closest friends delivered the girls. This was also not in my plan since my husband and I eat dinner with him weekly. How does that work for my husband knowing that this guy has seen his wife? In the end, I was extremely fortunate. It was a really easy labor and birth. The girls are beautiful and I feel that much closer to our friend. I also feel amazing knowing what my body did and I would have missed that with the c-section.

  48. Liz Aug 11 at 10:06 am Reply Reply

    There’s nothing wrong with feeling regretful about a birth experience, even if you have a healthy, beautiful baby at the end. It doesn’t mean you’re ungrateful, or crazy, or that you’re trying to compete in the “mommy olympics.” It simply means that you have some conflicting feelings about a major, life-changing experience. How very human.

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