Saturday, May 22, 2010

I am a mother who has never given birth.

I am a mother who has had two c-sections, first emergency c-section and second by choice a repeat c-section. I am a breastfeeding mother who now also supplements with formula. I cloth diaper and make my own laundry soap. I garden. I am a normal woman with feelings.

Jayson was born on March 5, 2007 at 5:35pm via emergency c-section. I went into labor at approximately 10pm the night prior and started counting my contractions. I was happy, excited and oblivious to what was about to happen. I never thought I would ever have a c-section. Around 2 am my MIL drove me to the hospital and we waited about an hour for them to take me into their triage area. Once, in the triage area about an hour later, I was 4cm and counting. They gave me a labor suite and moved me in there. I didn't think I was going to be staying so we didn't bring my bags. My MIL went back for them, while she was gone (maybe 20-30 min) the anesthesiologist came in and informed me that if I wanted any pain medication, I had to decide now because she was going into a c-section and wouldn't be around if I changed my mind. So I said alright, give me the epidural. I knew going in that I wanted the epidural, I was fearful of needles and wanted my MIL with me but I didn't have the choice to wait. So I was given the epidural around 4am.  My labor was great and steady. Slow but steady. Sometime in the morning hours, the doctors brought in magnesium sulfate for my pre-eclampsia that was discovered via a 24hr urinalysis that I had turned in the day prior to labor. Then an hour or two later my labor slowed and they put me on pitocin.  Around 2:30pm my world changed. Nurses and doctors started to bustle around me and no one explained what was going on until I got upset. They had me moving from one side to the other to try to reposition the baby. But if I laid on the side they needed, his heart rate dropped and he would go into distress. I was at 10cm and "ready" to push until the surgeon came in and said I have to have an emergency c-section. My heart sank. I started to cry and say no I didn't want a c-section but they insisted, along with my MIL telling me that the doctors knew best. What was I to do at this point? The baby's head was stuck in  my birth canal and he was in distress. I signed the papers and they took me to the OR once it was ready. I hadn't slept since Saturday night and it was approaching Monday evening. I was tired, heart broken and defeated. When I heard the sound of my baby cry, I felt joy, sadness and desperation to see him. I couldn't see him because of the sheet they had up to block my view of the surgery. I held Jayson from the OR back to my suite. I breastfed with no complications and I slowly healed from my traumatic surgery. I had a beautiful healthy baby boy and I was so happy he was here, no matter how he got here. I love him and will forever have a special kinda of love for that day, along with a small aching twinge of sadness. Do I regret my c-section, no. I have Jayson and it was worth it. Do I wish things had gone differently? Yes, I wish I had been more educated on birth before it happened. But I can't change what happened, I can only learn and be educated for the next time. I was lucky to have Jayson when I did because my MIL flew out for her two weeks the morning before I went into labor. My mom flew in the following day for a week. If I had been two weeks late, I would have been completely alone and still possibly have had a c-section with out any help.

On December 22nd, 2008 I found out I was pregnant with my 2nd child. I was bound and determined to have a VBAC. I searched high and low to find a doctor that would allow this to happen. I waited 13 or 14 weeks before seeing my first OB due to this search. The first OB I saw was not a pleasant experience at all. I told her my fears of another c-section, especially since I again would be giving birth with out my husband due to deployment. I now had a toddler to tend to along with a baby and a c-section made that seem impossible. When I told her these things, she had the nerve to say "Then why did you get pregnant?" I told her "It was a surprise to all of us" and she responded with "You know what a condom is right?".  So now not only am I dealing with having to find a doctor that will help me along with a VBAC but I'm dealing with an OB that tells me that I shouldn't have children while my husband is deployed?! Needless to say, I complained to the office manager and switched OBs. That's when I started seeing Dr. Davis. She was a wonderful doctor. I loved her as my OB. She told me how she felt with out being harsh or cruel. She gave me her opinion when I asked for it but followed my wishes. Until I was about 7 months pregnant, our plan was to do a VBAC. That's when other components of my life came into play. My husband was deployed and it wasn't looking like they were going to give him leave and he would miss another one of his child's birth. So in hopes that with a set date and a Red Cross message, he would be sent home for a surgery birth. I booked a repeat C-section. It was looking awesome! He got approved for the leave from his company, and from his battalion. He had to go see the Sergeant Major of the Brigade to discuss his leave for this date - Aug 17th, for the birth of his child. A sacrifice I made for my husband to be home for this and they denied him the leave about 4 weeks before I was due. His company commander tried to get him on ADVON to get home before I gave birth, that was denied because they wanted people who would go back and set up for the brigade coming home, not people going home for personal reasons. They tried to get him on the first flight home with the main body so he would be here on time. I didn't find out he wouldn't be on ADVON until it was to late.  He was on one of the last flights for his company/battalion, in September. I drove 14 hours from Newark, OH to Fort Riley, KS just 4 weeks after having surgery so my husband could see his little baby boy. I skipped my 6 week postpartum check up for this. This c-section was the easier of the two. Recovery was a breeze and I felt great just a short week after having Elijah. I had help via my mom and mother in law because they knew when to ask for time off of work in the horrible economy and I again was not alone going through recovery of a c-section. What if I had gone through with a VBAC and it had ended in a c-section? What if my family didn't have the option to drop what they were doing to come to me to help through recovery? My experiences were the best they could have been. Don't try to make me feel bad or guilty for them.

For those of you who push natural birth onto other women, you don't know their circumstances. Yes, I wholeheartedly believe that women should be given more education on the birth process but do that before they have been hurt and scared. Do not make those of us who can't change what has happened to us feel guilty or bad for the decisions we have made (educated or not). I would go through with Elijah's c-section all over again for the slightest of chances that my husband would have been there. I knew the chances were slim but that was a sacrifice I was willing to make. That makes me an awesome mother.

I breast feed. I breastfed Jayson until he was 11months old and that's when he switched to cow's milk. He and I weaned together. He was ready to be on his own doing his own thing, since he had been walking for 2 months already. I exclusively breastfed him so I didn't think twice about whether I would do it again for Eli. Eli had lots of "issues". At first he had jaundice very badly and I had to have him on a biliblanket for 4 days to help eliminate his jaundice and help him pass the bilirubin.  I also had to breastfeed him every 2 hours until his jaundice was gone, until the tests came back clear. Not many women would do that but breastfeeding for me was my way of feeling complete as a mother. Eli had reflux and colic. He cried and puked all the time, no matter what I ate or did. He was on medication for reflux until he was 6 months old. Then he got teeth and started biting me. Around the same time I started losing my milk. I tried to increase my supply through teas, drinking lots of water and taking prenatal vitamins and nothing was working. My child was hungry, screaming crying at me and I felt helpless. There was nothing left for me to do. I broke down and I now supplement. Our life is better because of the bottle or two a day that my son drinks. My son is a happy, healthy baby. He's a screamer but that's just him and I've come to terms with that. He doesn't cry because he's hungry and I'd rather not go through that night crying when I realized that I couldn't do what my son needed. I couldn't feed him, he was hungry and I didn't have the milk to feed him. I am a better mom for recognizing my weaknesses and not letting my child suffer over my pride.

I am an advocate of educating pregnant women, women trying to conceive and new moms. Don't dwell on what has happened but what is to come. If I had known more before having Jayson, I may not have had epidural and never had a c-section but I can't change what has happened. I can only share my experiences in birth. Maybe they will remember them and know what to do when the time arises.

Please don't try to make me feel guilty for what has happened to me but understand that I did what I had to do and I have two beautiful baby boys. Share my experiences so other moms know if it happens to them, what to do and what not to do. And if their birth ends in a c-section, do not spread hate and anger but understanding and sympathy. C-sections are usually not our first choice, it is usually our last chance or hope.


  1. Traci, you have no reason to feel guilty! You know I'm an advocate of natural birth, but I'm also an advocate of informed choice, and making choices based on the information you have on hand! I wholeheartedly agree that you made the best choices you could! I back you up on them 100% and anyone who doesn't just doesn't understand!

  2. I'm sorry. Traci I don't know if I ever said anything to you to make you feel guilty for your choices but a recent conversation with a friend/coworker who has had two c-sections made me realize that just by being me I had made her feel bad about her sections, (the first of which was totally unecessary and pushed on her by a Dr. who played on her ignorance and fears - second was a scheduled repeat because VBAC in Oklahoma is next to impossible).
    I am a huge advocate for natural birth, like the post above but I feel like the pendulum has swung and I am finding the balance. I'm finding that what is right for me might not be right for everyone and no matter how strongly I feel it isn't my job to push it on others. That won't stop me from speaking out about my feelings when I feel women are being mistreated or the medical system is incorrect but it has helped me to temper what I say to individuals about their individual situations. Does that make sense?
    I definitely believe that c-section rates are too high and things need to change. But that doesn't have anything to do with you. I can see why you made the decisions you did BUT even if I didn't it wouldn't be my business... that's still a lesson I'm learning :)

    That said, thanks for sharing your stories. I hate that you felt you had to write them from a defensive standpoint. We're all just moms, doing the best we can and we need to spend time being supportive of one another not picking each other apart.

    I didn't know about the issues you were having with feeding Eli. I know that must have been hard. I struggled with having to put Ethan on formula when I got pregnant with Carson and lost my milk supply - it was only about a month but I had been so determined to breastfeed for a whole year and it broke my heart. But like you said, having a healthy baby who was not hungry was the most important thing :)

  3. I've had a natural birth and a c-section. It doesn't matter how you give birth, they are still your children and each experience is different. Any woman who spouts that they can't bond with their baby due to a c-section is full of it. There is 9 months to bond, and I don't care what kind of birth I have, as long as they are alive and healthy.