I’m delighted to have Jen from This Gal’s Journey guest posting today on her emotional recovery from her C-section! I am blessed to have Jen as a “real-life” friend–although we haven’t seen each other in 4 years! When we did meet, we hit it off immediately…and blogging has really helped “reconnect” us! Please be sure to pay her site a visit!
Guest Post by Jen of This Gal’s Journey
For as long as I can remember and was aware of what childbirth actually entails, I have wanted a natural delivery experience. The delivery of my first child could not have gone more smoothly. It was a text-book natural delivery, as evidenced by the 4 nursing externs (why they were called externs and not interns I don’t know), 3 extra nurses and 2 medical students my OB called in to observe.
So, imagine my surprise when my second and third babies were both born via emergency c-section!
All throughout my third pregnancy (which took place in Ireland – but that’s a different post for a different day…) I had been planning, preparing, and praying for a VBAC delivery – that is, a Vaginal Birth After Cesarean. However, when my water had been broken for 48 hours and I was still barely 1 cm dilated with the baby still at -1 station (WAY high up in my belly) after 6 hours on pitocin, I once again found myself being whisked away for an emergency c-section.
I thought I was prepared for such an event. After all, I knew there was a high chance of the VBAC being unsuccessful, so I had prepared myself mentally and emotionally for another C-section.
However, once I returned home I found myself really grieving the loss of the natural labor/birth experience I had so badly wanted. Having gone through both extremes of experiences (a natural delivery and a C-section delivery) previously, I knew the recovery time after a natural delivery was so much faster. Not to mention the level of mental anxiety, emotional stress, an emergency situation brings upon you and your family (for me, it would be just as mentally and emotionally taxing waiting on a planned C-section date in the case of a breech baby, for example).
So, what do we do when the hope/dream/plan for a natural delivery falls apart? How do we cope with the gamut of emotions? Most posts like this will focus on the fact that if you end up with a healthy baby in your arms at the end of the day, that’s the most important thing. Be thankful for that, etc. And I fully believe that!! No one is more grateful for the safe, healthy arrival of my children than I am.
However, despite the fact that they arrived safe and sound, I was still left reeling with crazy wild emotions I never expected to deal with. So, here is how I have coped with it and I hope you find these ideas helpful as well if you find yourself in a similar situation.
1. Let yourself grieve.
Don’t try to stuff your disappointment down and cover over it with platitudes and fake cheer. If you are sad/disappointed/angry about it, let yourself feel it. Process it. Talk to your husband, doctor, friend, doula, mom, sister, etc. about it. Write about it. Journal. Pray. Cry. Acknowledge how you are feeling, and let yourself walk through that emotion. I have a very good friend (*wink wink*) who was due the same day I was, who delivered just a couple of weeks after I did. She had the most amazing natural labor and delivery. When I read about it I rejoiced for her; and sat and bawled for twenty minutes for me. But after those twenty minutes, I felt some release and was able to move on to the next stage of my emotional recovery.
2. Don’t stay grieving.
Yes, let yourself feel those emotions but try not to set up camp there. Going over your what-if list of things you could have done/said/ate/worn differently 700 times is not going to chance how things went down. Walk through your grief/disappointment/anger; don’t live there. If you need to talk to a counselor to help process what it is that you’re feeling, that’s totally okay!
3. Celebrate the things that went well.
In my case, there was absolutely nothing I could have done differently that would have changed the outcome of my two C-section deliveries. However, I celebrate the fact that I was able to labor for a while during the delivery of my 3rd baby to see how things went, rather than being required a C-section straight away. I DID end up with a healthy baby, and that IS something to celebrate.
4. Give yourself grace.
I hate the terms “failed VBAC,” “failure to progress,” etc. because it makes me feel as though its a label of blame on my part. There was a part of me that felt like a failure because I couldn’t deliver my babies naturally. So much about having a baby – and parenting! – is completely out of our control. Don’t use the method in which your baby came into the world as a means of beating yourself up.
*Note from Erin: Jen’s friend was…me. And, let me tell you, even though she had just been through this traumatic experience, Jen was still such a great cheerleader for me and rejoiced with me as I delivered by second baby–and experienced my first natural birth.*
Have you ever had an unplanned C-section? What helped you deal with the wide range of emotions?
Jennifer is your typical American wife and mother living life, raising kids, and working, only she’s doing it in Ireland. She has been married to the love of her life, Seth, for 11 years and is extremely blessed to be mom to two delightful girls, and one hilarious little boy. Jennifer passionately loves the Lord, her family, music, dance, writing and chocolate. She writes at this gal’s journey.
Check out the other posts in this series:
- 5 Simple Tips for Combating Morning Sickness
- Reflections on my First Pregnancy
- 10 Reasons We Opted to Give Birth at a Birth Center
- Easing Leg Pain During Pregnancy
- Pregnancy Posts Around the Web
- A Tale of Two Births: Medicated vs. Natural Hospital Births, part 2
- A Tale of Two Births: Medicated vs. Natural Hospital Births, part 1
- How to Achieve a Natural Birth in a Hospital Setting
- Real Food Pregnancy Cheats/Shortcuts
- OB or Midwife: Finding the Birth Provider Who Works for You
- A Comparison of Birth Settings: Home, Hospital and Birth Center
- Resources for a Natural Pregnancy
- 10 Things Never to Say to Pregnant Women
- What Every Pregnant Woman Wants to Hear
- Hyperemesis Gravidarum: Much More than Severe Morning Sickness
- Pregnancy Posts Around the Web, Take 2
- Chiropractic Care During Pregnancy
- Breastfeeding While Pregnant
- Preparing for a Water Birth
- The Importance of Using a Doula
- A Sample Hospital Birth Plan
- Why We Chose NOT to Induce Labor
- 7 Ways to Naturally Induce Labor
- Maintaining Proper Iron Levels During Pregnancy
- 9 Natural Pain Relief Techniques for Labor
*I have included affiliate links in this post.