This letter is a MUST READ for moms who think they failed at childbirth because they weren’t able to have a natural labor! Be encouraged with this post!
This post is part of the Dear Mom Letters series.
Dear Mom who thinks she failed at childbirth,
It’s hard for you to read blogs like mine. You want to be a “natural” mama, but you have a secret: You didn’t have a natural childbirth.
It’s not that you didn’t want one–you did. You tried. Honestly, you did.
But it just didn’t work out. Something happened during labor: The pain was too intense. Your baby’s heart rate was failing. You were fatigued and didn’t have the strength to continue.
You broke down and asked for an epidural. And maybe you had a C-section.
The doctors told you it was beyond your control. That’s your story, and you’re sticking to it.
But deep down inside you wonder if it’s true. You wonder if there was something else you could have done.
You wonder if you failed.
You feel like because you never got to experience childbirth in the way you had dreamed, that, somehow, you are less of a woman.
So when in groups of moms trading war stories of their childbirths, you stay quiet. You are ashamed. You don’t want people to know.
And when you do tell people, you feel like you have to explain yourself. Like they are somehow judging you or secretly shaking their heads that perhaps you just didn’t try hard enough.
Mama, I know you tried. And I know things didn’t turn out the way you had planned.
And because of that, you’ve grieved the loss of the birth of your dreams. I don’t think you are crazy. I have grieved my own loss of dreams.
It’s OK. Grieve a little if you have to.
But then let it go.
These things you tell yourself–they are lies!
And I am sorry if I–or other natural birthing mamas–have ever made you feel that you are a failure just because your baby arrived a little differently than ours did.
Yes, I am passionate about natural childbirth. I actually had a pitocin-augmented, epidural-relieving birth with my first, and I went on to have two natural childbirths after.
But you know what? None of that makes me a better mother than you.
There are many days I have struggled with thinking I am just not cut out to be a mother. Maybe you have as well.
But one thing you need to stop struggling about is the way you birthed your children.
Let that guilt go. Set it free.
There is more to life than childbirth. It’s a few hours of the lifetime you will have to cherish and bond with your child.
That medical birth or C-section may have just saved your child–or saved you.
I do have one request, though: Please do not take it personally when those of us moms who are passionate about natural birth seek to educate others on it.
Natural birth can be celebrated without demeaning mothers who did not experience it.
It’s time we stop these mommy wars and appreciate each other for who we are and not what we’ve done.
Dear mom who feels like she failed at childbirth,
You didn’t fail, Mama. You just didn’t. You are a beautiful woman who loves her children. God planted them in your womb, and you gave them life.
Go in grace, dear Mama. Go in grace.
Did you desire a natural childbirth but ended up not having one? Have you ever felt like a failure because of it? Share in the comments!
Want tips on natural childbirth? Check out my entire series on preparing for a natural pregnancy and childbirth here!
Thank you, this was well said. My son is six months old I still play that day through my mind, wondering what I could have done differently. I had 19 hours of drug free labour and then things went downhill and I had an emergency c section due to a cord wrapped around his neck. I constantly question if we made a wrong decision along the way. I recently read a story about a man with cerrebral palsy who is paralyzed due to loss of oxygen when he was born because of a cord wrapped around his neck. I feltit was God’s way of telling me that we made the right decision and at the end lf the day my son is happy and healthy. Thank you for this.
Daniele @ Domestic Serenity
Beautiful post Erin….supportive of the many emotional tugs a Mama will feel, regardless of birth experience. Thank you!
Hi Erin – For a long time i told people that i did not give birth they were taken from me. (twin girls – now 11yo). Nothing went how i wanted it in their birth. No vaginal delivery (baby A was breech). No epidural. General anesthesia. Then as i was coming out of the anesthesia i couldnt see anyone but i heard voices and then i realized i couldnt move. I panicked – big time. it took me a few years to get over the experience. Years. I never breast fed – i had terrible guilt about that – my husband didnt want me to – i wanted to try. They had me start pumping in the hospital – it hurt sooo much. My girls were in the NICU and I was having fevers (which kept me from them). No help or support was given. I gave up – it hurt so much. Then, in the time after the birth, i went to a new parents of preemies class at the Red Cross – i was the only mom who didnt breast feed. More guilt.
I am over it now – mostly – i only think about these things once in a while. But you are correct – that is not the only aspect that makes you a parent. My girls are thriving today, smart, talented and beautiful.
25 years ago this month, I laid in a hospital bed trying to give birth to my daughter. I labored 36 hours when finally, the doctor said “You’re at 5 cm, and not progressing. Your blood pressure is sky high, and you need a c-section.” So that’s what I did. I was 19 years old, my family wasn’t there for me, only my husband at that time. Fast forward 12 years. My second child comes along. I decided I wanted a VBAC. I wanted it sooo badly. Recovery from a c-section is difficult, especially when your husband is away at work and you’re left all alone to heal and nurture this new life. Well, this time I walked into the OB/GYN’s office, they put me on a monitor, and told me I was in labor, go home and pack my bag. I was only 35 weeks along. Since I had medical issues anyway, we let things progress naaturally. This time, after 16 hours, I had dilated to 4 cm, I thought “Well this is better than last time”, I was in pain, but optimistic, and determined to follow this through. Then something went horribly wrong, they lost her heartbeat, so we were once again whisked off to the operating room. She turned out to be okay, and I was sure glad, but I was also deeply disappointed in my body, for not allowing me to give birth the way I wanted to. Never feel ashamed of the choices you make when giving birth. Those choices are yours and not for people on the internet and social circles to judge. If you need an epidural, then have it. Everyone has a different pain threshold.
Beautifully said! I wanted to do things naturally just as my mama had but I’d had high blood pressure since I was a teenager regardless of not being overweight. My blood pressure kept rising and at 37 weeks it was up to 260/170. They did an emergency c-section and my daughter was only 4 and a half pounds in spite of being so far along. We had an incredibly hard time breast feeding but something fierce had come over me and we pushed through. 2 years later I got pregnant with my son and desperately wanted to have a VBAC. I had a better doctor this time who kept my blood pressure under control and had a far better pregnancy. But he was breach and wouldn’t turn. He was a scheduled c-section (which was way better than the emergency one!) but I was still disappointed. I never went into labor with either one. I don’t know what that feels like. I’ve excepted that now but still wish I could have had that experience. I love hearing other mama’s natural birth stories though!
This post was really encouraging to me because even though I had a natural delivery, things didn’t go how I wanted them to and I often feel like I failed at childbirth. It was not the peaceful, idyllic experience that people hope to have with a natural birth. By the end I was screaming in pain. My labor stalled and I had to drink caster oil to get the contractions going again, which caused horrible diarrhea and vomiting. I didn’t get to try a water birth. They say that if you don’t rush through the pushing, you won’t tear as much. I tore. Bad. After the birth, I was bleeding so badly that my midwife had to shoot me full of pitocin to get it under control. They say that if you deliver without drugs or an epidural, you’ll just bounce right back within days of delivery. Ha ha. It took a couple weeks before I stopped feeling like I’d been hit by a semi. I constantly have to remind myself that even though things didn’t go the way I wanted them to, my daughter was born safe and healthy and that’s what matters the most.
I had a birth plan—a thoroughly thought out plan that my husband was fully on board with. I wanted a natural birth, no epidural if I could help it. I wanted to be able to move during labor, to labor in different positions, to get in the tub, I wanted me and my husband to greet our little guy, not a medical team. Fast forward–36 weeks, 1 day, very (dangerously) low amniotic fluid causing IUGR (growth restriction), sent straight from my midwifes office by the OB —my doctors office is 6 midwives and 3 OBs, so they are very pro-natural birth!!– to the hospital for a C section to get him out before low fluid could cause cord compression and us to lose him. 4 pounds 11 ounces, totally healthy, no need for oxygen, warming or anything. Was back in the room with me within an hour. A blessing all around from God. Do I miss the fact that I didn’t get my natural delivery?Yes I do, but I’d do the c section all over again if the doctors said my baby’s life was at risk!!
What matters most is that the baby gets here…safe and sound. Yes…a natural birth is a beautiful experience, so I’ve been told. My son was born vaginally, but also with some mild complications due to suspected meconium inhalation and my husband didn’t get to cut the cord. I didn’t get to cuddle my son on my bare chest directly after birth either, however I don’t beat myself up about it. If it hadn’t of been for the team of skilled nurses working with my son he wouldn’t have lived. I think TV, and society in general has painted too pretty of a picture of a natural/non-medicated birth….clearly…it hurts…painfully true. Is it worth it? Absolutely! I think sometimes moms tend to speak of their natural birth experiences in such a manner as if they deserve a “trophy” of some form for doing it non medicated. Everyone has their own opinion. Giving birth is seriously LESS about YOU and more about GET the baby here SAFE and sound. Birth plans are great, but overrated. You never know what mother nature has up her sleeve. It is nice to have a health care provider who is open to decisions to medicate or not to medicate during labor/delivery. I’m blessed to have an easy going midwife that will deliver in a hospital who clearly has NO issues with my “wait and see” outlook on labor/delivery. I wish everyone had that!
Thank you. I most definitely did not have the birth I had planned on. Had everything “go wrong” except a c-section. I wish I had read this when I was grieving my lost birth story, but I am very thankful to God that I have been healed. One night as I was praying about it, crying because my body didn’t do what it was supposed to do, God said to me, “But you got a BABY out of it – and if that was the ONLY good thing to happen during those 48 hours, then that is enough.” And of course, God speaks truth, always. Because my son is enough, and I am grateful.
I didn’t have the births I wanted….but I didn’t realize it until years later. I had my babies at 20 and 22. I knew nothing about my options. All I knew was the a c-section would be the worst possible outcome, and thankfully, that didn’t happen with either. BUT, I didn’t know about midwives, water births, drug-free labors, or moving during labor. I was simply ignorant. I was strapped to a hospital bed with an IV both times. With Baby #2 I was induced AND had an epidural–a combination that, I believe, caused my daughter’s sensory processing disorder. I didn’t bond with her because my body didn’t get to naturally release that oxytocin due to the pitocin. Oh the things I know now!! Feeling guilty over what I didn’t know seems pretty ludicrous, since it won’t change anything, But I do feel JEALOUS of Mamas who know better and who are able to have the birth experiences I’ll never have. I wish I had known that I could question the status quo back then; but I didn’t. I’ve often wished for just one more shot at having a baby with a completely natural pregnancy and birth experience. I’m done having children, and I’ve made peace with it. Every once in a while, however, I do feel a twinge of jealousy for others who are experiencing what I will never experience. God is good and redeeming. My children arrived safely and were both completely healthy. I had no complications during my births. My OB was phenomenal. My husband was a rock star. I can be thankful for all of that.
Linda St. Laurent
Do we really think 100 yeas ago women sat around talking about their birth experiences? I think women have become so competitive against each other. Instead of working together to ensure positive birth experiences, so many leave it to the system which fails them. The system is not designed for positive outcomes. I have been a doula for 24 years. Women helping women both physically and emotionally makes a huge difference.
Let me start off with saying that I am beyond thankful for two healthy children and that I am safe and healthy as well. I also love reading about natural birth and hope that it truly encourages new moms to seek this positive and beautiful experience, but I have struggled terribly with my birthing experiences so here I go :)…With both of my kids, I have had pree. With my first child, they said induce and I said ok. After 2 hours on pit, they said cs and I said ok. I was the “perfect” patient. Then I mourned. I would wake up in the middle of the night crying, feeling like a failure. Everyone would say that I wasn’t but it didn’t matter. I would still find myself awake in the middle of the night sobbing.
When I finally got to the point that I could even try for another, I was determined to do everything right. I got a new doctor with fantastic VBAC stats. I hired the best doula in town. I did hypnobabies perfectly. I ate an awesome diet. I worked out. I researched everything. I was patient about going into labor naturally. At 38 weeks, I was once again diagnosed with pree and was put on bed rest with bp medication. I stayed positive. It worked until 41W3D. My bp started spiking to dangerous levels even with meds. We decided to induce the next morning. That evening, I drank a large amount of caster oil…and guess what, I was officially in labor for the first time ever. My doctor told us to come on in so they could monitor me, but that he would be patient with us, and he was. By noon, I was 5 cm, but my contractions had stopped. I begged for more time and they gave it to me. At 5 pm, we made the decision to go on PIT. I stayed positive despite my hatred for PIT. Contractions became intense. At 1 am, I was 9 cm and contractions hadn’t let up in about 4 hours. I begged for an epidural, but I stayed positive. I quickly made it to 10 cm and I began to push. I pushed for 5.5 hrs. Between pushing, I was vomiting and having to lay on my left side due to bp, but we kept going. I touched her hair. I just new this was it…then she just didn’t come. We tried everything. She was stuck. We went in for a cs. I told everyone I was fine. Once again, I was crying constantly. Once again, people said I wasn’t a failure. I said “I know” with a great southern smile, but I was still mourning the missed experience. Instead of having my child placed on my chest, I was feeling my uterus being ripped open; instead of getting to hold my child on my chest and try to nurse her, I was vomiting and the doctor was making rude comments about her hairy legs. So yes, I mourn the missed experience and I probably always will. Yes, I do feel like I failed in terms of birth (you wouldn’t tell someone who only ran 25 miles of a marathon that they succeeded..no, they tried hard, but ultimately failed). And I failed, but what I do hold on to is that I have a Savior and He loves me in my failures. He understands my pain even if I know that most people don’t. I know over time it will get better. I know that I may even have another chance at a beautiful birth experience one day, God willing. But I also know that I will find myself crying again over the births of my two beautiful girls and desperately clinging to my Savior.
You did great Leslie! Don’t think otherwise.
The doctor made rude comments about your daughter’s hairy legs???? What was that about?
It frustrates me that there needs to be a letter like this written to moms. Why do women put such pressure on each other to have the “right” kind of birth? Why do these details matter so much that it has made some feel like they have failed, or that they haven’t given birth but had their children “taken” from them, as one poster mentioned above? I understand there are reasons why some choose and feel passionately about so-called “natural” childbirth, but in the grand scheme of things, when all is said and done – does it really matter? I’ve had 5 children and have had pitocin with many, and epidurals with all. I never felt like I gave birth “unnaturally”. They all came out via the normal process. They have not had any complications from the births, and I have bonded beautifully with all of them as newborns. There seems to be such anger against all things “medical”, when modern medicine does a boatload of good for us moms. Far fewer of us die during childbirth these days than in years past. I am expecting my 6th baby in 3 days. I am scheduled to be induced and based on past experience, I’m sure I’ll have an epidural. I am 41, and have had 4 losses in the past 5 years. While I have felt the pressure – and, admittedly, the desire – to try to do things differently this time around, and take a more so-called “natural” approach, I just want the baby to be here safely – no matter how he or she gets here. My priority is the arrival of the baby, not the method by which the baby arrives, and so I have let go of all of those “guilt” feelings like “I should at least try once to do it this way”, and I am OK with that. I like what the author said about the birth process being just a few short hours of a lifetime – that is so true! Why let a few short hours affect so much? I hope my words and/or my tone have not been offensive – this topic just pushes my buttons sometimes, and I just wanted to share my feelings, and perhaps encourage some other moms out there who feel this kind of failure unnecessarily. I believe that whether you have medication, a c-section, or none of the above, birth is a beautiful and miraculous event in whatever shape it comes in. It is sad to me that such a beautiful time should be overshadowed by regret to not have done it “right”. Enjoy your precious babies, no matter how they arrived. That they are here, safe and sound, is what matters!!
AMEN Jennifer!!!!!! I’m so tried of the granola my way or the highway guilt piled on women. How many children have died or have complications from “natural” births mom’s selfishly place above the needs of their child. New mom’s are so impressionable and there is so much negativity out there about medicine. Pray, educate yourself, and get a good Dr, and then trust her/ him!!!. No need for 3rd world deliveries!
There’s nothing “selfish” about wanting to bring a baby into the world in the most gentle and peaceful way. The whole point of this blog post was to stop judgemental language. No “natural” mother puts her needs above her child’s. By the way, many 3rd world countries have better maternal/infant mortality rates than the US.
Psst. You don’t have to read crunchy blogs if you don’t like granola 🙂
I had a home birth with my first child but it was very stressful because I was a single mom with no support system around. I was excited when 3 years later I got married and we got pregnant right away. I was so excited to have the home birth that I had imagined with someone to take care of me and love us both. The morning I turned 41 weeks I had to go in for a stress test. I also happened to go into labor that morning. I called my midwife but she said that she wanted me to try to make it for the test if I could. My husband and I got in the car and drove to the hospital. They did a stress test on the baby and I was told over and over again that he was failing all of his tests. The midwife on call came and checked me and I was 5 cm. I was told that I could not leave. I had not said good bye to my oldest before I left (he was still sleeping), I had not packed anything, I was not ready. They put me in a room and hooked me up to all of these monitors. It took two people to help me get to the bathroom. I had no time to labor in peace from start to finish. Things started picking up pretty quickly and I could not take it. All I wanted was my birthing ball. I could not handle the pain strapped down to the bed. I could not make the call myself though. I had to ask my husband what to do. He said I should have an epidural. I did and the rest of the birth went smooth. Baby was born less than 2 hours later. I was fine for two days and then I just lost it. I cried for days and days. I am actually teary right now writing this. It was not the birth I had planned and I felt like a failure for giving into the pain. I hated myself for giving in. I guess I am still dealing with it a year and a half later. Thank for giving me somewhere to write this out.
Shea, you’re not a failure. Those are extremely difficult circumstances for anyone to labor in. Part of being able to deal with the pain means being free to move into the positions that feel best and enable us to cope with the things our bodies are going through. We were not made to labor lying in a bed. I know because I’ve been there (my story is below). Maybe you will have the chance again to do it differently. If not, or if you end up requesting an epidural again, remember what’s important…a safe delivery and healthy baby. That’s what really matters in the long run.
After reading extensively and reading again to my husband who hated to read, we decided we wanted a home birth. Slight complication, this was 1976 and we could not find a midwife in south Florida. We decided to do it anyway, we were very idealistic. However, after 48 hours of labor we decided to go to the hospital. Bad enough I felt like a failure, the doctor there (we didn’t have an OB either) proceeded to berate me for the risks I took, then overdosed me on pitocin, which hurt so much that I asked for demerol and he gave me too much of that, too. I remember to this day drifting in and out of consciousness, listening to the Dr tell a nurse that it didn’t matter, no one ever has memories when overdosed like that. Finally, my 10lb, 20″ blue boy made it out with the help of cutting and forceps. They literally stuffed him in an incubator and whisked him off to the new side of the hospital, leaving me in the old wing with the other uninsured moms. Of course they gave him sugar water, but after hours of pleading they finally let my husband wheel me across the hospital to hold my baby for the first time, since I was tied down for the birth. We went home the next morning AMA and I never looked back. I credit God and La Leche League with my successful breastfeeding experience with him.
I had all three of my other children at home in varying circumstances with and without midwives, long story. I was sure I would be able to see my grandchildren born at home, but due to medical problems they were all born in hospitals. But you’d better believe I dropped everything to be at 5 births, just missed another, doing all in my power to ensure the best outcome possible within the circumstances.
Having said all that, this letter touched me because I do tend to judge other moms for lots of things I think they could do better, and God pierced my heart with conviction as I read it. Thank you!
I can relate completely to this. I felt like such a failure after the birth of my first daughter. I wanted a natural, drug-free birth. Instead, I was induced with Pitocin (because my labor wasn’t moving fast enough for the doctor), ended up getting a shot for pain relief and then an epidural, plus the doctor gave me an episiotomy that I didn’t want. For a long time, I didn’t even like to think about the birth of my first babe…actually, 7 years later, I still feel disappointment when I think about it. After that, I was determined to do things differently. I saw midwives with my next three pregnancies, read books about natural childbirth, and prayed. God enabled me to have three natural, pain relief-free births, which has helped to redeem that first experience. But I can sympathize with other women when things don’t go the way they want them to, since I have been there there too. My fourth daughter was born only 5 days ago. I went in to the hospital two weeks before my due date because I had been leaking fluid. When the midwife confirmed that it was amniotic fluid and said I was going to have to be induced, I burst into tears and could not stop crying. I was so afraid that my first experience (where I was induced) was going to be repeated. However, she listened to my concerns and induced me with a pill in my cervix rather than Pitocin so that I was still free to move around, labor naturally, eat, and even get in the tub. It ended up being the best birth I have had so far, praise God. Many, many people were praying for me, and He was so gracious towards me.
This was great! Like many commenters said, the most important part of our birth process, no matter what kind it is, is a healthy baby. If the baby comes out, then there is no failure. Simple as that.
Thank you for this compassionate message. After 2 c-sections, I’ve come to realize that sometimes we confuse the word “choice” with “option.” Taking a route other than natural birth can be the only option for some women to safely deliver. There should be no guilt in a mom protecting her baby.
Thank you for writing this… I have 3 beautiful, healthy children from two birth experiences. My twin daughters were born prematurely at 34wks via c-section (baby A was hiney first) and were transported to a bigger NICU 2 hours after birth. That started 20 and 23 days for NICU. Then, when I was pregnant with my son, I had a birth plan for an unmedicated VBAC. I developed a blood disorder during pregnancy and woke up at 38wks bleeding. That led to an emergency c-section under general anesthesia. I have often felt like I’ve failed at childbirth… that I just laid there and my children were taken out of me. I wanted the perfect births… but got perfect children instead. I struggle remembering this sometimes, but this post helps remind me. Thank you.
While I was pregnant with my first child I read a lot of birth stories and did a lot of research on pain management and came to the decision that I would go as far as I could without any medication, if I made it through delivery that way, awesome, if not, that is gone too. I ended up with pre-e and was put on bed rest at about 37 weeks. At almost 40 weeks my dr. decided it was time to induce, luckily all she had to do was break my water to get things moving. Long story short I ended up getting an epidural and I was so glad that I did. I thoroughly enjoyed my birthing experience. I only had to push for
15 minutes, no episiotomy needed. It was an amazing experience! I got pregnant when my baby was 8 months old and I could not wait to repeat the experience! My labor was so easy the second time, I enjoyed walking around and being in and out of the tub for a few hours. I received an epidural and my dr came in to check my progress, found out I was already to push, only for them to finally realize that she was double breech. The second they said I was going in for a stat emergency csection I completely shut down. I lost a lot by having to give birth this way. I do not feel guilty in the least. I did however really struggle for the first few weeks being able to bond with my daughter. I love her to pieces and I am so glad she is here but having a csection was a very difficult thing for me and has left me unsure of whether I want to have any more children and risk having that experience again.
I have two children born via c-section, the first one due to placenta previa and the other due to the advice of my Dr. If I had the information I have today, I would have tried for vbac with the 2nd one, and I sometimes wish I had. My second baby ended up in the NICU mostly due to the c-section. As the years have passed and I find out more information, I get more and more angry with my Doctor for not fully informing me of my choices and the risks associated with elective c-section. But in reality, it wouldn’t change how I feel about my son, I love him to pieces and I rarely think about the day he was born. I have never felt like I “failed” at childbirth, I don’t really get the whole notion. You’re pregnant for 9 months, you give birth, and then you go about raising your child for the next 18 years or so. What is that one day in comparison to the hundreds of days they were in the womb and the thousands of days after they are born that you will spend nurturing and loving them? I so hope that mommies who do not get the birth experience of their dreams will put it (the birth of your child) in perspective and focus on the positive, you have a beautiful blessing to love! Give yourself permission to let it go and love your child! There is more to being a mom than the birth of your child.
I wish I had seen this before. I mourn/grieve every day because I was unable to have my son the way I wanted to–low-intervention, drug-free. I labored for 67 hours before I consented to an epidural. I labored another four hours before my son was born through emergency C-section. Because of my birth plan stating I didn’t want my water broken, the doctor refused to return to the hospital (despite being on call) to do it when I decided, after 13 hours in transition, that I wanted that intervention. By the time I had the emergency C, I had been in labor, with no food and little sleep, for three days. I took so long to recover from the anesthetic (I was begging for it every time they touched me in the OR) that I missed the Golden Hour with my son and struggled with bonding with him–a combination of the birth trauma and my postpartum depression. The entire hospital stay was a nightmare, and by the time we were able to go home, I almost immediately needed to be hospitalized again from dehydration and malnutrition because I was trying so desperately to breastfeed. That guilt has lain on my heart for every day of my son’s life, and reading this post (and the one about breastfeeding “failure”) brought me to tears because I realize what that burden is costing me now–a beautiful life with a beautiful son who is here, and whole, regardless of those first days and weeks. Thank you, so much, for this.
Thank you, Amanda, for sharing your story! I hope you have been able to set that guilt free! Go in grace, dear mama!!
I have 4 very beautiful children! I delivered my first vaginaly with an epidural, my second was breech so had a c-sec, my third was also c-sec because my Dr kept telling me all along he just felt it needed to be that way. Toward the end my husband and I discussed it, as I really didnt want another c-sec. In the end we decided that since we trusted our Dr we would have a c-sec. How grateful I was to my Dr for his feeling, as well as our trust in him, during delivery we found out that my baby was transverse, (sideways), which also caused my Dr to do a T cut on my uterus to get him out. My Dr then told me that because of the T cut, I no longer had a choice of a vaginal birth, that it’s too risky for the uterus to tear during labor, so baby number 4 also came via c-sec. I will admit that recovery from these 2 different types of births are dramatically different, and I would rather a vaginal birth, but I had 4 beautiful, healthy babies, who are all now beautiful, healthy large humans! All of that being said, I never felt like I failed or even questioned my decisions until some self rightous
Sorry dont know what happened. Anyway, until some self rightous person/people started talking very openly about how you aren’t a strong woman if you opt for a c-sec, or if you have an epidural, or use a hospital. Im sorry but just because you think what you did was tougher or makes you some kind of she-woman, that means nothing to me, and for you to try and make me feel less of a woman for not doing it the “natural” way, you should be ashamed! We are all women and we should be bonded by what we do and go through as such. I birthed 4 babies and went
Sorry again. I birthed 4 babies and went through every second of it the same as all the “wonder women” out there who think that since they did it the “right” way it somehow makes them better. Anyway, my point is in this rant, I respect what and how you decide to bring your babies into this world and would love the same, not to open facebook only to read that I am less of a woman because I had to have a c-sec. Like I said before, I never even questioned it or thought about it until I read somewhere, its ok dont feel bad that you couldnt do it. That is just stupid since the whole point is that our babies are happy and healthy!
I agree–no failures–just beautiful mommies and babies!
Thank you so much for this post! My daughter is 6 months old and I can still cry thinking about how I failed to have a natural birth. I know in the end it more important that she and I are healthy, but I still regret many of the decisions that were made that day. I hope that one day I can truly believe that I did not fail at that dream.
I just could not even read all the comments on this. Seriously???? Do you have a child? If so, you have not failed. How many women would give anything to have a baby…even with anesthesia…..this is just a selfish post…..why does it even matter if you had an epidural or a c-section!???
It matters. I had an unnecessary cesarean with my first baby. My doctor lied to me, told me my baby NEEDED to be born via cesarean and made me feel scared and out of control during a very personal event. If a mechanic told you that you needed xyz done to your car and you paid a high price for it when it turns out you didn’t really NEED xyz, would you not be pissed?? It’s like that, ONLY WITH THE BIRTH OF YOUR CHILD. My cesarean didn’t make me less of a mother but that doesn’t mean I didn’t have guilt and sadness over it. I wondered if I could’ve done something differently, could I have read different book, had a doula, gone to the hospital later, or all of the above?! I barely remember his first few days because of all the pain meds I was on. I didn’t hold him for at least an hour after he was born because I could barely lift my arms. My cesarean scar ruptured after the staples were taken out and the wound had to be packed for 6 weeks after. I developed cellulitis and had to be on antibiotics which caused thrush which cause even more painful nipples and nursing which effected bonding with him. All of this effected my mental state and contributed to postpartum depression which I could’ve very easily gotten WITHOUT all that I went through afterwards. Birth matters. A healthy baby is the ultimate goal but its NOT the only thing that matters.
YES- you are speaking to my HEART! After laboring for about 36 hours, I had endured enough pain. I needed that epidural and my little girl still wasn’t coming. No one was in distress, no one needed a medical intervention; momma was tired and so was the doctor.
Thank you, thank you, thank you for being so honest about this!
God bless you for sharing your heart. I never had a c birth, so the grieving never crossed my mind until a few months ago until a dear friend ended up having c after a long hard labour. She grieved, she felt like a failure because she was so close and just couldn’t quite do it. She wasn’t a failure of course. She birthed a beautiful, precious child. But there WAS grieving. My point in saying this? Some ladies don’t care either way, but some DO! Some care whole lot! So thank you for writing this post. Continue to extend grace and understanding in spite of those who take things wrong or look for argument.
Thank you for this. I wanted a water birth from the start. I didn’t know that I could say no to my doctor, that I knew my body wasn’t ready and that my blood pressure would stay down if they’d just let me lie down. But, in the end, she saved my life and the life of my firstborn. My pelvis is flatter than most, and his head did not fit. He was stuck in my hip for 2 days of an induction. They lost his heartbeat, only to find it and watch it climb and not stop climbing. I got a uterine infection that spiked my temperature. He is now a bright, energetic 8 year old who loves his brother (whom I wanted a VBAC for, but discovered then that my pelvis wouldn’t allow it).
There should be no reason to berate another woman because she could not have a perceived”perfect birth”. I am a womans health care professional, just this last week I cared for a 38.2 wk mother who felt her baby moving that morning, went to her doc appt and no FHT’s. Don’t tell me about grief, be grateful your baby is alive no matter how you delivered. Your baby is alive that’s all that should count. Women can be so vicious to one another.
You know, the longer I am a mother, the more I think that the childbirth thing is just the first of many I-know-best or my-way-is-the-RIGHT-way comments parents make to each other.
Okay, I only kinda believe that. I honestly think when parents (esp. moms) make those comments they are genuinely trying to help. Maybe we are all so sleep deprived we just say it in a really bad way – and don’t stop to think that maybe AFTER the fact is NOT the time to “help.”
But since I’ve been told all the things I’m doing wrong or that need “tweaking” with my parenting, in so many situations, I just kinda think we all need to let it ALL go. Birth is just the tip of the iceberg. I mean, I’ve had parents scold me for giving my kid Pediasure – even AFTER I told them it was the doctor’s orders. I’ve had parents insinuate that by not having TV, my child would develop auditory processing disorders. I’ve been told all sorts of well-meaning things, stupid things, helpful things, and annoying things. I’m betting we all have.
Last thought – I do NOT cherish my birthing experiences. That’s ok. I don’t enjoy playing Candy Land either. Neither makes me a worse mother. Parenting is about raising children, not about loving every minute, getting to do it “your way,” or even always being able to do/buy/have the “best” thing. Nothing in life is perfect… except perhaps their little tiny hands, beautiful eyes, and the first time they call you “Mom.”
This morning my sister in law gave birth to her second baby. She did everything naturally, in a birthing center. As far as I know everything went perfectly. And I’m JEALOUS! I have had three beautiful, healthy, babies. Everyone tells me that is all tjst matters. But I feel so frustrated, that maybe I could have done more. I had three hospital births, three induced labors, and three epidurals. I had complications with my first two, but my third was different. I fought for a natural, hospital birth. My insurance wouldn’t let me be in the hospital without being induced. The hospital would not let me go home since it was my third. In hind sight I think I should have just waited and not gone to the hospital until contractions started. But I had enugh bleeding for there to be concern. But my doctors didn’t want me having a baby in the parking lot. So I was induced, I fought to keep my babies heart rate normal, I fought to stay out of bed even though I had an iv and monitors, and minimal range of movement. 8 hours I fought with all of the hospital ness in my face, I was only at 6 cm when the doctor checked me. I cried. I felt failure staring me down. I couldn’t keep going. I didn’t have extra support. My husband just wanted me to be happy. The nurse didn’t really know what I wanted. I cried. I couldn’t go on. I was hyperventilating. The nurse asked me what I wanted. I didn’t know. I gave in to having an iv pain reliver It didn’t work. Just made me sleepy and I had to stay in bed. I gave up. I got the epidural at 7 cm.
Had I been told I was in transition I feel like I would have dug deeper. I would have kept fighting.
An hour later I gave birth to an almost ten pound baby boy. He came out perfectly in less than five mminutes.
My body went into shock and couldn’t stop shaking. So I just sat in bed and held my baby.
At the time I was very proud of myself for having gotten so far with pictocin and no pain reliever. But then I read stories of women who did have pitocin and no epidural and I feel like I failed. I feel like I failed as a woman. And we are done having babies, so this was it. My last chance to prove anything. I don’t feel pressure from other women. I feel immense pressure from myself. And sad that it wasn’t the birth I wanted. It doesn’t bother me until times like this. When I know someone who got the birth story I wanted. I need to let go of the jealousy, I pray God will show me how.
I’m sorry you feel like you failed. I did too and still sometimes do. But now my daughters are 12 soon to be 13 and are fine. They have no bad memories of their births. 🙂 Right now is what matters – you’re a good mom to 3 healthy, happy children. Look at them and smile and know you are a good mom.
Thank you. It feels good just be able to get the truth out. My husband is the only one I’ve talked to about it, and he doesn’t really get it, though he may try. And truthfully, I was most concerned for the health of my babies, as we all are. And that is what I prayed for, and God answered those prayers. He knew what was best.
Sometimes it’s just good to be able to vent! I’m glad you felt OK with it here! Come again!
Erin & Lindsey –
True – sometimes you do need just to vent and to people who will understand your feelings. I told my story when this post was first put up. And even if no one read it – it is posted. True my (ex) husband never understood and until I wrote it here I never shared it – but it did leave me traumatized for a time. Also, putting it here – not that it’s nice – but it’s nice to know that I wasn’t the only one who felt that way. Know what I mean?
But it’s the kids here and now and forward that we need to look towards.
Thanks for listening :).
I’m so sorry he never understood but feel free to vent here anytime! Thanks for sharing!!
I love this reply, Allison! Thank you!
I’m so sorry, Lindsey! I hope you will see one day that you did not fail! Hugs to you tonight!
I literally went to sleep and woke up with a baby. I had a very severe case of HELLP syndrome and was on my deathbed. The only cure was to remove my placenta (and baby of course). I went into the hospital with a bruise, no contractions or any signs of labor. I was 33+6. They couldn’t risk letting me go into labor or I woukd have bled to death. I never felt a contraction, I only felt sick from the magnesium. I had one unit shy of all my blood replaced and 9 units if platelets pumped into me before they could send me for surgery. No epudural, general. When I woke up in ICU, only then did I learn I had a healthy baby boy. I didn’t get to see him until almost a full day later and only for 30 minutes. The first week I only got to see him once a day. Since this experience, a home birth is completely out of the question for the next and odds are that I will have a medically induced early delivery for the next. I was completely robbed of the natural experience that I wanted. I was even robbed of feeling like I even contributed or worked at bringing my boy into the world. It was traumatizing and it is still very difficult for me to hear of these beautiful birthing experiences and not be reminded about how ugly mine was
Wow! I am so sorry you had to go through that, Teri! 🙁
Thank you! Cried a bit. Never realized that deep down inside I did feel like I gave in too soon – like I had failed.
I’m so sorry, Bre! I hope you can find healing!!
This really hit home with me. I had a very hard time just trying to conceive (it took about 3 to 4 years and I had to have help). I really did want a natural childbirth. I went to one of my last appointments before my due date to have the baby’s heart rate monitored. My husband even surprised me by showing up there. I told him it would only be about 20 minutes and we made plans to go out to dinner. Well, 2 hours later I am still hooked up to the monitor because baby’s hear rate was low and the doctor was not succeeding in making it go up. So, I was admitted to the hospital that day for overnight monitoring. Luckily I just had to walk across the street. The next day, the dr. decided to induce labor with pitocin. I started feeling small contractions. That night, they took me off of it to see if I would start labor naturally. So, there went Thursday and now Friday. Saturday, the Dr. checked and I was only 1 cm dilated, and I was starting to suffer from pre-ecplampsia The Dr. said that if I was to go in to labor, I would be in labor forever. She said that I would have to have a c-section, I did not have an option. She was on her way to get an operating room ready when my baby’s heart rate just dropped even lower. I was prepped for c-section in about 10 minutes.
I was awake during the whole procedure and I was able to hear him cry. He ended up inhaling meconium and he was only 4 lbs. and 15 oz. He ended up with an infection and was hospitalized for a week and 2 days, I was hospitalized for a week. I was able to get the c-section staples out while I was still there.
I hear other moms talk about how long they were in labor and how long they had to push, and I’m just sitting there saying nothing. I know I gave birth, I know that, but I feel like I did miss out and yes, I do feel like less of a woman for that. I keep asking myself if it was all my fault for this, was it the hypertension, did I not do something right, etc. I don’t talk about it. Everyone says, “Oh you will have another chance with your second.” The thing is, I can’t have any more. If I have to go through what I went through to get pregnant, no thank you. I hear women say, “Hey, I pushed out a baby, don’t mess with me, and I see those quotes as well. I am a mom and yes, my son is alive and well, but it just hurts sometimes.
Thank you so my for sharing your story, Jackie! I am so sorry you had to go through such a traumatic experience. 🙁
When my son was born 2 years ago, I had planned a natural birth with a midwife practice, and studied HypnoBabies, feeling confident in having a drug free birth. Instead, I went past 42 weeks, which forced my midwives to transfer me to the hospital OB because their license did not allow for delivering that late. So I went in to be induced (on Christmas Day, no less) and active labor started immediately just with the cervadil. I spent almost 18 hours in labor with no pain relief, and the hypnosis helped keep it manageable until I was checked and was only at 5cm hours later. They broke my water, still nothing. They gave me pitocin, still no progression. They insisted that I wasn’t “relaxing” enough for labor to progress, so I spent 2 hours or so getting shots of fentanyl and still had no progression, and the group of doctors and nurses and my original midwife (who came to try and support me) pulled my husband aside and said that my options were running out and that I needed to try an epidural if I had any hope left of avoiding a CS. So I caved and consented to it, all while crying and apologizing to my husband for being a failure. The epidural managed to make me immobile but did nothing for the pain, which was worse now that I was stuck lying on my back. My drug metabolism is very high, so after several dose increases over several hours and only 1cm of progress, my midwife convinced them to shut the epidural off altogether (but leave the line in if a CS happened), let the remnants of the drugs wear off and let me be mobile again and labor on my knees. Only then did I finally progress, and hit transition with no pain relief. I managed to deliver vaginally, also with no pain relief, which was actually the easiest and LEAST painful part for me. After he was born, he was covered in meconium and taken away from me to be suctioned very thoroughly. In the meantime, I hemorrhaged so badly that I ended up needing 2 bimanual sweeps, which was easily the most horrific thing I have ever endured, and was held down by all of the nurses and not given any pain relief for it until after I had finally stopped bleeding, during which they were stitching me up and not using enough numbing agent, so I remember feeling the stitches as well. My son ended up in NICU for a week because he refused to feed in any way. Thanks to the determination of the lactation consultant, we developed a very beautiful nursing bond, and not once did I feel like I didn’t bond with him. But 2 years later, I am still suffering from severe PPD and PTSD from the experience, and I am no longer able to have children, so I feel like there’s no way I can actually “do it right” or redeem myself. And today at our ECFE class the conversation of “amazing natural waterbirths” came up, and having to hear women talk about how it’s the best thing to do and how important it is…. I start wondering if I ever will feel like I’m going to be an equal, or if I’m always going to be the lesser woman to them because I couldn’t do what THEY did.
First of all, THANK YOU for sharing your story. I am so, so sorry you went through all that. You sound like an incredibly brave woman. I am going to say a prayer for you right now–for your PPD and PTSD and that those ladies talking about water birth will not get to you. You are NOT a lesser woman! I am so thankful you were able to bond with your son, and that far outweighs the “perfect” birth. I’m so sorry,Mama! You are brave, and you sound like a wonderful mother! <3
I labored at home on and off for nearly three days, could hardly sleep or eat, and was utterly exhausted by the time I got to the hospital. Yet I still feel like I went to the hospital too soon…I wish I held out, but it was my first baby and being inexperienced I was unsure how fast I would progress and I was terrified of not getting to the hospital in time. Once at the hospital, my midwives did not offer me much support during labor like they had promised during my visits with them. They mostly sat in a chair catching up on paperwork and left me and my husband to “fend for ourselves.” I was deeply disappointed in their bedside manner.
I labored naturally in the hospital for nearly 8 hours before finally giving in to IV pain relief. I did not react well to this type of medication and so I received an epidural shortly after while I was 8/9 cm dilated. In hindsight, I am SO disappointed in myself that I got the epi at such a late stage – I was in the home stretch!!! Or that the midwife ceven allowed me to get it that late, especially considering she had my birth plan which said I wanted a drug free birth.
Anyway, my baby did not take well to these medications – his heartrate dropped dangerously low and all of the alarms started going off and a team of unfamiliar doctors ran in – my midwife broke my water hoping this would help (she thought baby had rolled onto his cord). Didn’t help so she called the OB for an emergency c section. I was whisked down the hall to the OR and pumped with more drugs. I dont even know what they were. They wouldnt let my husband into the OR. I had lost my voice from crying and yelling so much. Miraculously, the OB checked babys heartrate one last time before operating and it had recovered! No c section – I was wheeled back and reunited with my husband in the labor room. I now had to wait a few more hours for the epidural and extra anesthetic to wear off so that I could push. Ended up pushing for 2.5 hours – I was hysterical for most of it, laying on my back was excruciating though my legs werent strong enough post epidural to push in any other position. Turns out I had back labor due to baby’s arm being up by his head. As a result I also got a second degree tear. He was born very healthy and alert and perfect in every way, took to breastfeeding right away, but bonding was seriously affected. I cried for months and mourned not only the natural birth experience I wanted, but I also feel extreme guilt for his extreme drop in heartrate as I know it is a possible side effect of the IV pain reliever I was given.
He was not born into the environment I wanted. I envisioned him being born into a quiet, dimly lit room with music playing, a calm, peaceful, and loving environment. Instead he was born into chaos with me screaming and crying, pleading for it to be over…
He is now 9 months old and I cant say the pain of this experience has lessened. I think about it less frequently than I used to, but the emotional scars remain deep. I fear having more children, even though my husband and I dream of a big family.
Its tough….birth matters, a lot. It can be very traumatic and cause PTSD. I can sit here and say that all that matters is the health and safety of baby, and while I am immensely thankful my son is healthy, my thoughts and feelings of regret and guilt over his birth experience persist…
I felt like a failure too, mostly because I kept thinking that I hadn’t been strong enough during the whole process, both physically and mentally. I remember clearly how an older nurse that was right next to me shushed me angrily for screaming (no, howling) as the baby was crowning. I wasn’t seeing my baby coming out, but I’m 100% certain at that precise moment her head went back inside at least an inch… I had felt so ashamed. Afterwards I couldn’t stop thinking about it, like I had done something wrong/bad for screaming when I was in such excruciating pain… Later on I was told by the OB that he had to perform an episiotomy in order to avoid a C-section. A week later I was informed by the NP doing my checkup that it was a 3rd degree episiotomy. It was an “aha!” moment for me. I felt shocked and at the same time grateful that it hadn’t been a 4th degree one… This is the first time I sit down to properly express myself about this experience, and I think it has helped me in reaffirming my belief that bringing a baby into the world is a very raw experience -before, during, and after- and that regardless of how “natural” it goes it is still a sublime act, a mysterious thing allowed by God for his glory. The only part that is absolutely under my control is my willingness to love His will at every stage of it. Thank you for posting this letter, Erin.
Oh for peace regarding my son’s birth! I was, regretfully, uninformed with my birth. I knew just enough to know what I wanted. But I didn’t educate myself enough on what I might need.
I was diagnosed with Pre-Eclampsia with HELLP syndrome Stage 2 at 39 weeks, 4 days. I didn’t even know what that meant. My OB sent me straight to the hospital for a c-section as soon as my husband arrived at the office. Upon arrival at the hospital, my numbers had improved enough for her to consent to Pitocin. Unfortunately, I was able put on magnesium to decrease my chances for seizures.
After 24 hours of inducing with no progression (due to the magnesium), my OB recommended an emergency c-section. I was put under general anesthesia, so my husband couldn’t even be in the room with me. The last thing I remember was crying as they put me under.
The next day, I overdosed on magnesium and almost died. My son was labelled as needing antibiotics which were given to him via IV. They later determined that nothing was wrong with him… he was just born via c-section. He still has developmental issues 5 years later.
So imagine my surprise and excitement at the possibility of trying to go a different route when I got pregnant earlier this year! I knew exactly what I would do differently and how I would handle everything.
Then I miscarried three weeks ago.
At my age (44), I doubt I will have another opportunity for a different birth story. It’s really frustrating and I’m struggling to make sense of it all. I have three friends who have all had home births (no less than 4) and/or unmedicated hospital births. Two of these friends are currently pregnant, planning on home births.
I guess I just assumed that when I got pregnant this time, God was giving me an opportunity at redemption. I guess that wasn’t His plan after all.
Thanks for this letter. And thanks for letting me and others share. Sometimes it’s not guilt, but sheer sadness. Sometimes it just hurts.
On a side note, I never labored with my son. I didn’t even have Braxton Hicks. I just went to the OB office and came out of the hospital a week later.
However, the day I found out I would miscarry, I had SEVERE cramps, laying in the tub for four hours. It has taken my body three whole weeks of bleeding and cramping to finally pass everything.
Seems completely backwards to me that I feel like I “birthed” blood clots but didn’t birth my son.
And as for bonding, he still isn’t as bonded to me as he is his father. I breastfed for a year through two bouts with thrush and him not nursing on me after four months. The pain of nursing was intense but made worse because of the pumping I had to do each time he fed.
So even though others will say that I have a beautiful, healthy son, which I mostly do, I still have the pain and memories (or lack thereof) of a difficult birth. Those can not be replaced or repaired or made different. Even my son won’t look at pictures of me in the hospital with him. That’s just not healthy. And it’s just not going to be magically ok.
I’m so very sorry. I am actually getting ready to write a post about my 4th birth, which was my most traumatic one. It has given me more empathy for mamas with traumatic births.
I am so very sorry for your pain. This is a safe place to vent. <3
I wanted so bad to have a VBAC but I was told today (after my dr made it sound like he would do it) that I would have to do it at the medical center an hour away from my house with a different dr. I just wanted to experience a few contractions but it looks like I’ll be having another c-section. He said I would have to go there incase something bad happened he may not be able to make it to the hospital in time. Which doesn’t make any sense. If something bad happens right away I won’t make it to the medical center in time! I’m so upset. None of his reasons make sense and he should of told me right away he wouldn’t be able to do it at our hospital