I failed at birth, not you. I’ll try to explain…

I was planning on writing another post on my c-section about a week ago because it was bothering me again. Then, randomly, I got quite a few comments from doctors and nurses on my “C-Section Thoughts and Advice” post that was written as part of my birth story. They all came on the same day and I’m not sure how… but it made for one hell of a day for me. I cried all day long, and probably most of the next day too. It brought everything back… and the comments were about how the c-section was MY fault… I couldn’t handle it. Where did these people come from?!

I realize I write my life on here to be exposed to everyone. I expected negative comments on my posts about vaccines, circumcision, epidurals, etc. But I never imagined in a million years that I could be attacked because I was complaining about my unnecessary c-section. Call me naive.

But I can see how people in the medical field would get defensive… especially if they’re one of the few good doctors who would never do such a thing as my OB did to me. They must get tired of being bashed stereotypically all the time. For them, I apologize.

BUT… 1 in 3 women end up with a cesarean. What percentage of c-sections are actually NEEDED? 3%. Three percent. Yet some 33% are given and that number is climbing. It’s SICK. And I just found out that 1 in 3 women experience fertility issues after having a cesarean. When I asked my doctor about the risks of this surgery, WHY didn’t she mention that? 1 in 3 in HUGE. That could either be infertility, miscarriages, or just difficulty becoming pregnant. Either way, I will forever blame myself if I’m part of this 1 in 3.

On to the title of my post… someone I know (in real life) had a c-section about a month after me. But it was elective… she asked for it. She recently wrote to me about how Ryan being here is all that matters and that me being upset about my c-section was upsetting her because cesareans don’t make you any less of a woman. I totally get that… and I don’t want anyone else to feel bad about their surgeries just because I do. Every experience is different. She chose hers, I did not. I feel like I failed, she should not. So I guess this is just a huge, general apology to anyone I may have offended. It is hard to talk with people about this who don’t understand how I’m feeling. I don’t know how to describe it to them to make them feel what I feel. Anyway… I wanted to paste what I replied to this girl… and I have a feeling this blog will become, in the future, a place where I post articles and facts about cesareans and VBACs. There needs to be more awareness. And let me just say, phew it feels good to get this out. I need to write it down every once in awhile. Thanks for bearing with me… because each of my “c-section rant” posts will probably sound the exact same, haha.

Here is my response to her:

Just because I’m upset about MY c-section and I think I’m a failure, doesn’t mean I think the same about others who’ve had c-sections. You chose to have one and had 9 months to mentally prepare. I had less than 2 minutes. A cesarean is major surgery and I wasn’t prepared at all. I didn’t think there was even a slight chance I’d end up with one–and having a natural birth was SO important to me. So yea, I’m a bit traumatized. People describe it as post-traumatic stress syndrome and many women go through post-partum depression because of it. So on that note, I think I’m dealing fairly well. But it’s still really hard and I still cry nearly every day about it.
Yes, having a beautiful and healthy baby boy certainly matters. But it’s not all that matters. Of course I’m extremely happy to have him, but at the same time, I can be extremely sad and upset over my birth. It’s not that I think I’m less of a woman, it’s that I missed out on the natural birth I wanted. On the magical, amazing, possibly once-in-a-lifetime event. And it’s that it wasn’t necessary. If I had NEEDED the c-section, it’d be a different story. I don’t know if you read the birth story on my blog, but Ryan wasn’t in distress, there was absolutely nothing wrong… I was just progressing too slowly and the OB apparently got tired of waiting around. I was at 8 cm.. I was SO close. But she took advantage of the fact that I was new at this (& had no idea what was going on), I was exhausted, I was in pain, and I trusted her. She took advantage of my trust in the medical system (which is pretty much down to zero now). She was not doing what was best for us, as there was nothing wrong at the moment. And she didn’t even say that as a reason for needing the csection. She said she thought he was too big to fit. But I was at +1 station which I later found out means the largest part of Ryan’s head was past the smallest part of my pelvic bone. Meaning he was on his way out and he was not too big to fit. Being an OB, she obviously knew that, but she lied to my face. And when I started sobbing about having a c-section, she just stared at me stone-faced and didn’t say a word. I was feared into it and I was forced into it. And to think about it and replay it (everyday in my mind), makes me shake. Makes me cry. Makes me pissed as all hell.
To some women, it doesn’t matter. But to me, it did. And when people say to me “a healthy baby is all that matters” or “all that matters is he’s here” – it makes me feel worse because I wonder what IS wrong with me that I can’t get past this?! Ryan should be all that matters. But that’s not fair. I didn’t NEED my c-section, I missed out on my birth experience, and I am mourning that, as crazy as that sounds to some people. I can’t help it.
What pisses me off more is that I asked my OB what the risks were of a c-section and she basically blew off my question. And I just found out now that 1 in 3 women have fertility issues after a c-section. If I can’t get pregnant again or I miscarry, I will blame myself all over again… it will all be my fault… because I wasn’t strong enough to say no ONE more time, I didn’t try hard enough, I caved.
I don’t mean to upset you (or others) who’ve also had c-sections. They are wonderful for people who need or want them. That’s just not the way I feel about mine. And no one but Steve and my mom really know what was done to me in that hospital and how the doctors took advantage of us. I’m not sure if your message was supposed to be a kind attempt to make me feel better? or if you just wanted to let me know that I should get over it (“who gives a fuck”) and that I was upsetting you. Either way… it’s not that easy for me. It’s going to take a lot of time. And I wish I could explain it in some way that could make people realize what I feel.

42 comments to I failed at birth, not you. I’ll try to explain…

  • Emily, my heart aches for you every time I think about your birth experience. You have every right to grieve for the birth experience you missed out on. Yes, Ryan is here and he is healthy and that is a wonderful thing. But don’t let anyone tell you that you should be over it already! Please continue to share your feelings as long as you need to!!! Please know that I am on your side and I am here if you ever need to talk!


  • Kathy

    Oh honey. I am so sorry. I am one of those women who ended up with a C-Section after pushing for 2 2/2 hours. I was so tired that I didn’t even ask for them to try the vacuum or to even put their hands in there and try to help him along. I totally feel you. I’ve always felt it was unnecessary and have been shocked as each one of my friends has gone on to have a C-section. I literally have 3 friends… 3 who have given birth the natural way. The one thing I will say is not to beat yourself up too much worrying about the infertility thing. They are talking about adhesions and there is no telling whether you will get them or not. I panicked when it took us an extra few months to have our second child, but we’ve been just fine.

    You can’t let fear and regret rule your life. This is a lesson I am constantly trying to teach myself as I tend to harp on things. I’m not saying you are, I’m just saying it will make things worse for you to keep worrying about this. You did what you did, you were a victim, you know better now and you’ll move on and learn something from it. I’m always worrying about money and the mortgage and the kids’ education, but in the end so what if we lose the house and lose everything? As long as we are all healthy that’s what matters. I’m still beating myself up about driving off with the Macbook on the car the other day, but shit happens and I need to take my own advice and let it go.

    Try not to worry about future miscarriages or trouble getting pregnant because it won’t help you heal from this trauma. Picture yourself getting pregnant again, with another beautiful baby and having him/her the natural way. You can be a VBAC mama!


  • Blair

    I know exactly what you’re talking about… I hope you can get past the feeling of failure, though. You didn’t fail, the system failed you. Don’t blame the victim. Hugs to you.

    One more thing, I don’t know where you got your stats but the WHO recommends the c/s rate to be 15%. As far as I know it is only in the 3% range in third world countries and that is an indicator that not ENOUGH c/s are being performed (and mothers/babies are dying) because of limited access to hospitals, surgery, etc.


  • Toni

    My heart aches for you when I read this. I did not have a c-section, so I cannot possibly understand what you are going through, but I wanted a natural birth and I KNOW I would have been devastated if it ended in a c-section. You did NOT fail, the system failed you, your OB failed you, those nurses failed you. You were strong, and you did everything you could, after a long labor, you were weak and they took advantage of your situation. I watched your labor play out on twitter and I was scared for you, all you needed was support, someone to help and defend for you while you labored in peace. I wanted to jump through the computer screen and save you. I couldn’t imagine spending my labor fighting off interventions like you did, you were doing wonderful, but you can only do SO much alone when your in a situation like that. After someone asks you over and over if you want your water broken, pitocin etc. you start to question yourself. It’s not your fault hun, you will grow/learn from this and help other women! <3 ((hugs))


  • AMEN!! Every time I try to explain to one of my friends or family what my cesarean did to me, I end up crying. Or I lie and say I am doing fine and everything is great.

    I spent a year in depression thinking there was something wrong with me for HATING the day my daughter was born. I thought I was a terrible mother because I didn’t love my daughter for a few months after her birth because I felt so dirty and broken. The only thing I did was breastfeed, because if I had failed at that too, I would have been more broken than I already was.

    And still, almost 3 years later, I still hear people tell me that my baby is all that matters and since it was 3 years ago, just move on. I have had trouble keeping a pregnancy after my cesarean. I am one of the one in three. If I had known that my choice to be persuaded and uninformed would cause me to have infertility issues trying to have a second baby, I would have found out all I could have and changed my choice.

    Even though you feel like a failure (as most of us do after a cesarean) you truly aren’t. The system failed you. Instead of protecting you and your baby so you could have a safe satisfying natural birth that you wanted, they swindled you into feeling like your body was broken and your child couldn’t fit. You were manipulated during one of the most trying times of anyone’s life, and you lost your will to fight. It isn’t your fault at all!

    And I agree with you about the 3%. My midwife has a 3% transfer rate, but less than a 1% cesarean rate. The cesarean rate we have now is causing more harm than good, and it keeps going higher every year.

    We are all here for you sweetie, and I am so proud of you for discussing this. It took me 18 months to do what you are doing in 8 weeks :).

    Hugs sweetie!


  • Lauren @ Hobo Mama

    I’m so sorry for the birth experience you had, and that you were lied to and disrespected by your doctor. I’m also sorry you’re feeling unsupported by people online, or like you’re stepping on toes. It makes sense that some people would get defensive, but it’s your story and your emotions, and you have a right to them. I hope you can find a way to grieve through the loss of the birth you wanted.


  • Oh, and one more thing. At the birth this morning, my midwife said something amazing:

    We were curious as to how our mama was doing, and she said she was curious as to where the baby’s head was. She told me, “The one problem is that if I ask if she wants me to check, she will say yes. And there is nothing worse than a midwife or nurse using their persuasion to start a chain of interventions that ultimately leads to places that no natural birth should go.”


  • Megan

    I can empathize with your feelings on the c-section. I had an emergency C/S too. My story is a little different than yours, but the ending was similar.You have every right to feel cheated out of the birth experience you hoped for.I am still angry at myself for the decisions I made. Like some previous posters said “The system failed you”.I was not as educated as you going into my delivery, and I’m just now researching and finding out about how intervention can lead to unnecessary cesareans. I’m glad you plan to make people aware of cesareans and VBACS.I plan on doing the same. I agree, there needs to be more awareness. My thoughts and prayers go out to you for fertility and a successful VBAC!


  • J

    I feel for you so much when you speak of your experience..and if I can offer you a flip side of the coin..I have had 3 csections..the first one after a 20+ hour labor and failing to progress…the subsequent ones because I frankly, I just didn’t want to go there again pain wise. I just want you to know I never take any offense for the way YOU feel. If anything, I totally understand why you feel the way you do..and you are so entitled…I’m here to support you any way I can. Don’t let anyone tell you how you ‘should’ be feeling! HUGS!


  • Vanessa

    I’ve been reading your blogs for months now – and I know how much your natural birth meant to you… I totally get that you have to “grieve” for your birth and its was a devastating end to what was the best day of your life. I’m a birth doula and in my training we had to watch the documentary called “the business of being born” – it was done by Ricki Lake after her first birth ended in a csection. It was truely an amazing awakening… it would be something to watch before you have a second child. Hope this helps a little.


  • Somebody

    As Blair pointed out, 15% is what WHO recommends but after looking at the stats only two countries with low infant and maternal mortality rates even come close to this: Croatia and Kuwait. Every other country comparable to the US have cesarean rates of 22-36%. This said, the United States also has very high rate of pregnancies involving multiple babies. This increases the amount of “needed” cesareans.

    I’d love to know where you obtained all of these statistics. Perhaps your cesarean was not warranted but many others are. 3% are only needed? One third of all women who have a cesarean suffer infertility? Have you stopped to think that many of those who have cesareans have complicated pregnancies to begin with? Heart conditions, epilepsy, multiples, etc: these all require surgery for the health of the mother.

    I also wanted to know where you obtained your information regarding a baby’s station. Usually at 0 station the widest part of a baby’s head has passed through the narrowest part of a pelvis. This doesn’t mean progression is guaranteed though. Unfortunately, unless you are dilating 1.5 to 2 cm per hour you are failing to progress. There are still serious conditions to be concerned about such as shoulder dysotia for women with narrow pelvic cavities.

    I understand you’re frustrated, angry, and depressed about your birth experience but spreading inaccurate information isn’t going to help anybody. Please research carefully.


  • Somebody

    To a previous commenter: Ricki Lake’s first birth was vaginal and she is quoted saying that it was a good experience. Please get your facts straight.



  • “Somebody” – it’s great you’re trying to educate us. So why be afraid and sign anonymously?? Why be so rude? I can handle the facts. I can handle someone correcting me.

    Just because there aren’t countries with that low of a cesarean rate doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be trying to get it that low. Maybe maternal and infant mortality rates are higher in other countries because the cesarean rate is also high. Right?

    I can’t remember where I read that -I’ll look for it- but it said 3% of cesareans are necessary and the rate should never need to be over 10%.

    Did you see the recent article in the NY Times? Here’s a quote from it: “Even the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has acknowledged that the operation is overused. Though there is no consensus on what the rate should be, government health agencies and the World Health Organization have suggested 15 percent as a goal in low-risk women.”

    AND it states that this Indian hospital has a cesarean rate at less than half the national rate even though more women there have higher risk pregnancies (diabetes and high blood pressure). They say it is because of the higher involvement of midwives.

    And I said 1 in 3 cesarean women have fertility issues, not 1 in 3 are fully infertile.

    Yes I’m aware some women had their c-sections due to complications. And maybe my percentages are off, but the fact remains the same–there are too many unnecessary c-sections, not enough support for VBACS, and clearly something needs to change.

    You’re right, inaccurate information isn’t going to help, but neither is presenting your point in a rude and demeaning manner. No one will want to listen.


  • I get what you are saying here. 100%.

    I also had an unplanned c/s with my first child, also a son. I also had people tell me (even my husband — but he has since done a 180) that “a healthy baby is all that matters”. They just couldn’t get it. I was upset about the c/s, and they just saw my healthy and beautiful son, and kind of scratched their heads.

    Keep writing here. Writing really helped me work through all of those upsetting and somewhat confusing feelings after the c/s.



  • mommydoula21

    I am so sorry for the loss you’ve experienced. The loss of a dream so many of us have had as woman. You SHOULD NOT have to apologize for feeling this way. Screw that!!! I just “love” how rude people take a sensitive, vulnerable moment and use it make others feel badly! I am also So sick to death of people defining what is “failure to progress” when every woman is different. Let me tell you, by the standards of most (and by most I mean pretty much all) hospitals, they would have considered my labor a “failer to progress” as it was exactly 48 hrs long!( oh and no epidural either) But, Oh my God, guess what!? I finally, in my body’s time, gave birth to a 6 lb HEALTHY baby girl! May I just add that at no time was she in any distress. My point? What so many would have considered my body just “not wanting to give birth” actually turned out to be a normal delivery, just not according to some doctors timing. Your story could have easily been mine and so many other woman out there too. Only by the grace of God did that not happen to me. I again say I am deeply sorry that someone violated you and made you feel in a moment of fear that you could not do what your body was meant to do. I hope that some day when the time is right, you can reclaim your body, your strength and your God given right as a woman and fight for a VBAC. Your in my prayers.


  • Okay, Somebody –

    Ricki Lake did have a vaginal birth, but she hated her experience. She had a homebirth with her next because of it! And it also pointed her in the direction of making the documentary The Business of Being Born and her birth Your Best Birth. And when she says her birth was incredible, she means her second birth, not her first. Next time watch the movie and read the book before you comment on something you obviously don’t know.

    And since when does not dilating fast enough mean you won’t have a baby? Failure to progress is a made up diagnosis that pretty much means you aren’t doing it fast enough and the doctor wants to go home. Where do you get your statistics btw?

    The WHO points out that the MAX cesarean rate should be 15%. And that is only because after 15% the benefits become outweighed by the risks. They actually say it should be less than 10% but give some leway in case your hospital only covers high risk or something else.

    Next time, read what the author of the post is saying. Try to understand where she is coming from before you pounce all over it with your thoughts.


  • Somebody

    “Just because there aren’t countries with that low of a cesarean rate doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be trying to get it that low. Maybe maternal and infant mortality rates are higher in other countries because the cesarean rate is also high. Right?”

    No, actually, it’s the opposite. Most countries in Africa have about a 3% cesarean rate. What do you think their maternal and infant mortality rates are in comparison to ours?

    I wasn’t trying to “pounce all over her.” I wasn’t trying to be rude either. I was simply pointing out that you’re misleading people who may be looking to you for ACCURATE information. Maybe if you had been properly informed of normal cesarean rates instead of taking the Business of Being Born as the medical journal of “normal” birthing, you wouldn’t be as surprised that this happens all the time.

    No, Ricki Lake did not “hate” her experience. She felt cheated, just as many of us here do. Yes, US, because while I had a vaginal delivery I feel cheated as well. I was guilt tripped into an induction, told I couldn’t handle pain and to have an epidural, then forced into a rupture of membranes in order to “speed” things along. What of it? Is this a reason for me to make up figures to explain where I am coming from, only to perpetuate ignorance amongst the pregnant community?

    If you want to encourage a decrease in cesarean rates, spread the word with scientific and unbiased FACTS from RESPECTED studies.


  • The Good Doctor


    Again, I wish I could make you feel better, but this is a journey. I did have a few things that I am interested in with regards to your post. I echo the desire to read the articles that refer to the 3% cesarean section rate and the fact that 33% of women with a cesarean have infertility issues. I am especially interested in the latter stats because I have not heard of this and if indeed this was a legitimate published piece of research then it would be helpful to dissect it right here for all the readers and break it down both good and bad.

    At our hospital we breakdown birth information and we have a primary cesarean section rate of 11% for the 16 physicians working at the hospital. Recently there were two that fell way above the rate and they were notified that they were being monitored. I think we need to police ourselves. That being said, some of the language used to describe your physician shows your anger and there might be things you could at least expose for her. She took advantage of you and lied to you? Then she should literally be reported to the medical board in your state because this is highly unethical and she should not be treating patients. It sounds like there are many unresolved issues and if she is not adult enough to bridge them with you then that is very unfortunate and maybe she shouldn’t be seeing patients.

    The NY TImes said that ACOG agreed the procedure was overused. I worry about the integrity of the NY TImes and I wonder where ACOG has that published. The cesarean section is overused but I believe that in majority of the cases it is not because of the supposed uncaring doctor who just wants to go home. I think it is the doctor who cares about him or herself that they defer to the cesarean whenever there is remote fear of a lawsuit. Even Ina May Gaskin was friends with a local OB that shared her philosophy and backed her up. Now it is difficult to find that back up because the dragnet of lawsuits has expanded so voraciously and it is every man or woman for themselves. The number of lawsuits is decreasing but the cash payouts are increasing in amounts. If a physician is sued and loses then their insurance company will drop them and they are done practicing medicine. Many malpractice carriers will tell physicians to look at as every patient as a potential lawsuit ……… nice huh? They also say that they would prefer we have a higher cesarean section rate and that we not do VBAC. We are getting squeezed on both sides.

    I would love to meet you someday and share a coffee and talk about this, because I think we could bring each other a “peace” of mind. Keep on blogging.


  • Have you ever looked at the studies coming out of the countries in Europe? Cesarean rates of about 10% with less maternal and infant morbidity and mortality than we have. There is a difference between what is happening in developing countries and what is happening in first world countries. And, I have actually read multiple studies and multiples books purely on studies of birth an the practices surrounding it. I don’t base my facts on The Business of Being Born. I base it on actual FACTS obtained from studies on birth, both in the US and different countries.

    I’m sorry you feel cheated with your birth. Too many of us do. But next time, instead of fighting about it, read studies. Research to find out the statistics and how our country ranks in the 40s for infant and maternal mortality. The lowest of most first world countries. There truly is a difference between Africa and the Netherlands.


  • Heidi J

    When I read this, I feel so sorry that you had the birth experience you did. I also selfishly feel blessed that my birth didn’t go that way when it so easily could have. I highly recommend going with a midwife next time if that’s an option. I truly believe I would have ended up with c-section if it hadn’t been for my midwife advocating for me.


  • Okay so this took me a while to think about but here I am. No I probably won’t be saying anything profound like some ppl on here THINK they are doing, but I will be saying how I feel about the situation.

    When it comes to topics like this I say Fuck it. Sorry, but I do. Emily, this is YOUR blog, last time I checked. If someone wants to be ignorant, come on here and say your facts aren’t true or pretty much you don’t have the right to feel upset and sad over what you went through then, eff that.

    You have EVERY right in the world to feel cheated out of something you wanted so badly. Like I told you already it broke my heart reding your entry because I could feel the hurt and pain you were going through in your words.Something very precious was taken away from you. A lot of people may not realize that when you’re in that hospital and dr’s and nurses and giving you the death stare, then yeah, it pressures you into doing things you don’t want to do. And they know that, they do it multiple times a day… on purpose. They know their power and it sucks.
    If I hear “the baby is too big” one more time, I swear I’m going to kill someone. I’m soooo sick and tired of that “go to line” that Dr’s use. Besides being a lie it’s just plain ridiculous! What the hell did they do back in the old days?!?! Just hold their kid in forever because labor was taking 2-3 days?!? Uh, no… the baby would end up being born! Because, omg!, that’s how God intended it to happen. He made our bodies alllll different and our body’s know when it’s ready for a big thing like giving birth! Same thing goes for the “failure to progress” bullshit! WTF?! Who says you are failing to progress?! The Dr who wants to get home and sleep cuz you’re taking too long? LMAO! Please, sorry but that’s what you’re getting paid for isn’t it… to be there for my birth, not make my birth happen on your own time?

    Sorry but this subject just kills me and it’s sickening that sooo many women go through it and a lot DO feel like you.

    So grieve, be sad, cry, be hurt. You have every single right in the world as a mother, Emily!

    I’m so sorry you had to go through this experience and I’m sure when you and Steve are ready then you will get pregnant again & then you can take the strength this had given you to stand up for yourself and your baby.


  • to the good doctor

    Can i come work with you?



  • Not sure if this is the same article you came across, Emily?


    We have had such similar experiences and now we sadly share the same fears. I had a group of about 10 midwives that I rotated between who were great. Of course in those last few critical hours I had a brand new midwife who literally ran to the ask the doctor EVERYTHING. She seemed like she no idea what she was doing. She only let me push for a about an hour. Then a team of 4 or 5 doctors came in and told me I should have a c-section. Baby wasn’t in distress. They thought he wasn’t coming down the birth canal fast enough. I was sobbing hysterically and the bitch of a doctor yelled at me like I was a little kid, “DO I NEED TO STAND SOMEWHERE ELSE SO YOU CAN LOOK AT ME WHEN I’M TALKING TO YOU?” I couldn’t believe a woman could have so little compassion for another woman who was so clearly in pain. I point-blank asked her if there have been any fertility issues linked to c-sections. “No, there hasn’t been anything proven.” I was shocked because I had read several articles about c-sections and infertility issues.

    You have every right to be traumatized. Everyone that says “Just be happy” can FUCK OFF! When someone goes through surgery or treatments to cure cancer do you say, “You shouldn’t be traumatized, you should just shut up about it and be happy that you are alive.” No one would ever dare say that.

    There are so many studies published and so many articles people are reading on the internet now. Anyone with half a brain can figure out that the c-section rate is getting out of control. She isn’t writing a report for school, she’s saying what she heard and how that scared her. Have a little compassion. Haven’t you ever heard or read something in an article that scared you!?

    “Somebody”, posting condescending remarks is not helpful. I question why you would post something this rude to somebody who is so deeply hurting? You said that being forced into an induction and getting an epidural put you through emotional distress and that you felt “cheated”. Imagine on top of those terrible feelings you already had you were coerced into a c-section. What kind of woman are you to belittle another woman’s fears and anxieties because you want to get into the nitty-gritty details of specific numbers? Your comments and lack of respect infuriate me. She was much more kind in her reply than I would have been.

    However, you did post something I found interesting. “Unfortunately, unless you are dilating 1.5 to 2 cm per hour you are failing to progress.” So according to doctor’s standards anything more than a 5-6 1/2 hour birth is considered “failure to progress”? Wow.

    I can’t read a unnecessary c-section article or birth story without tears in my eyes. Being told that you cannot do what your body is SUPPOSED to be able to do for you little one is heartbreaking. I hope that we BOTH will be able to have successful Vbac’s!


  • I, too, am appalled at the statistics on C-sections. I’m due with my little girl any day now and have been following your blog for at least half my pregnancy. I felt so terrible for you when I read your birth story. I think you’re very brave to air your feelings so publicly. Being a “journaler” and now a blogger myself (although mostly just to friends and family), I definitely understand how cathartic writing can be. And it is important to have constructive conversations about our birth experiences.

    I am hoping for a vaginal delivery and have hired a doula to help me through the process. If I need a C-section for a valid medical reason, I will make peace with that. I just really hope I don’t end up between a rock and a hard place having to make a split-second decision that I feel pushed into. It’s happened to several friends of mine, so I know it happens more often than it should. I think it’s mostly due to our ridiculously litigious society. If we weren’t so sue happy, perhaps doctors wouldn’t be so worried about covering their asses and would actually focus more on the way birth was meant to be and has been for a millennium.

    I hope you’re able to make peace with your delivery sooner rather than later.


  • Blair

    You may have seen this before because I think it’s a Business Of Being Born extra, but this is a neat little film about statistics and birth in the US. The author/host is Eugene Declerq, an expert in maternal mortality from Syracuse University. He is attending the NIH VBAC conference this week. He is a HUGE advocate for women and does a great job of breaking down why our c/s rate is TOO HIGH even when you adjust for factors like high risk pregnancies, multiples, mother’s age, etc. The video is short but I had the pleasure of listening to him speak for 2 hours at the 2009 ICAN Conference. Seriously incredible. I wish everyone would listen to him! http://www.orgasmicbirth.com/birth-by-the-numbers


  • Blair

    Um, just kidding, he’s at Boston University and not Syracuse. I don’t know why I thought he was at Syracuse. 🙂 And it was a DVD extra for the film Orgasmic Birth, not BOBB.


  • Sarah

    Have you taken a look at this link? http://www.drmomma.org/2009/12/c-sections-cause-infertility-emotional.html
    The title of the article is “C-Sections Cause Infertility or Emotional Trauma for 1 in 3 Women”. The study they quote if by the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.


  • RJ

    I felt the same way. Wasn’t really looking for a “natural” birth with my first, just knew the thought of surgery scared me. Doc complained repeatedly about how another patient was down the hall and had been laboring for hours. Told me a few weeks before that he would “do whatever he needed to do” and that he had delivered “hundreds” of babies and I hadn’t delivered any, so I should just stay out of his way. Had a cesarean for “pit induced fetal distress” – baby was born with 8/9 apgars – distress, my ass. I labored for 12 hours, but apparently didn’t go fast enough.

    It took me a long time to get past people telling me I should be grateful for my healthy baby and that her birth didn’t matter. It mattered to me. It mattered to me so much, and I didn’t expect it to. It mattered to my core.

    I have done so much to “get past it”, and it’s usually better than it was. But, my daughter is nearing 7 years old and it still matters. There are a lot of resources for support out there, and believe me, they help. The one that has helped me the most (literally saved my life – I was suicidal before I realized I was not alone) is the International Cesarean Awareness Network. (www.ican-online.org) Sometimes a person just needs a safe space without judgement or reservation, to say everything they are feeling. Blogging is great too – whatever you can do to speak your truth.

    (((HUGS))) from a scar-bellied sister.


  • Elizabeth

    You mention the NYT Article about the Tuba City Hospital (it’s at http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/07/health/07birth.html?src=sch&pagewanted=all).

    It’s an awesome article, and very eye-opening, but even that hospital has a c-section rate of 13.5%. Nothing like 3%. The World Health Organization advocates 10-15% as the level of clinically appropriate sections among low-risk women. Presumably, they recognize that higher risk requires higher rates of surgical delivery. I just don’t think that a 3% rate of surgical delivery is either realistic or appropriate.


  • I’m so sorry that you had to go through this and I completely understand why you want to talk about it. It helps to get it out. I was so scared of having a c-section and your birth story helped me. You helped me fight to not have a c-section and I didn’t. So Thank You!

    I still have regrets about my birth though. My doctor was coming in all the time threatening me with a c-section until I finally compromised with pit and because I knew how painful pit could be and because I was so exhausted I asked for an epi. I got lucky and the pit worked great for me. But I still regret it. I know that if I had had a c-section I would have the same regrets that you did. You shouldn’t let ANYONE make you think that you should be over it. One it hasn’t even been that long and two your feelings are your feelings. It annoys the crap out of me when I try to talk to my Mom about my birth experience and she says well you had a healthy baby etc.

    I can’t wait one day to hear your VBAC Twitter birth if of course that’s what you want 🙂


  • Okay, Emily, I feel soooo bad that you are still suffering from your birth experience!!! Obviously, as a non-mother, non-pregger, non-doctor, hell – non-dater! there is no way I can relate to you on any of this really. But as your friend, I’d like to make you smile a little.

    Today I read that there was a miracle birth in Australia – of a baby elephant that everyone thought had died. Check it out: http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/national/taronga-zoos-baby-elephant-born-alive-despite-expert-predictions-he-died-in-the-womb/story-e6frf7l6-1225839031581

    Love you and am SO disappointed I won’t see you and family this weekend 🙁


  • anon

    To Elizabeth:

    You are not correct that the WHO says c/s rate should be 10-15% among low-risk women – they are saying the total max c/s rate should be no more than 10-15% for ALL births. See the following:

    World Health Organization. Appropriate technology for birth. Lancet 1985; 2: 436-7.




    “The World Health Organization recommends that the caesarean section rate should not be higher than 10% to 15%.1 The caesarean delivery rate in Canada increased steadily from 17.5% of deliveries in 1994–1995 to 23.7% in 2002–2003.2,3 Moreover, caesarean delivery was associated with high maternal and neonatal complication rates and increased health-care costs.4–9”


  • Hi Emily. Been meaning to respond to your post for a while.

    What stuck out to me most was,
    “So yea, I’m a bit traumatized. People describe it as post-traumatic stress syndrome and many women go through post-partum depression because of it. So on that note, I think I’m dealing fairly well. But it’s still really hard and I still cry nearly every day about it.”

    I understand the feelings of failure, of feeling perhaps you didn’t making the right choices during birth, of fretting over the what ifs. I think with most births, particularly those that didn’t “go as planned” (remembering that birth can’t ever really be a planned event), leave women with a sense of “what happened?”. I understand crying out of disappointment or loss of what you’d had hoped would be the way things would go. I’m nearly 6 years out from my first c-section. I found myself unexpectedly in tears about it just a few short months ago. I get it.

    But what concerns me is that 2.5 months out from your c-section, you’re still crying about it nearly every day. It sounds like you don’t believe you have PPD, but if you’re crying every day about your birth, you may need to reevaluate that. Have you talked face to face (not twitter or blog) to a counsellor about your birth feelings? Perhaps someone from ICAN?

    The mind is extremely powerful; it controls the body. If you internalize your anger & disappointment over your birth, worry over fears of potential future births/pregnancy issues, you could potentially put yourself in a place where you will have issues with fertility & future births because you’re so frightened and angry over it. Finding peace with your birth is so important, so you can feel safe and comfortable and can go forward. You can arm yourself with knowledge, surround yourself with supportive birth partners, handpick your birth place, make your needs and desires and requirements know, empower yourself. But to do that, you have to get beyond guilt/disappointment/anger.

    ALL births are amazing. Every one. Find the awesome in your birth. Find where you were strong, and felt good, take that & build on it for your future VBAC.

    Have you read Birthing From Within? This book helped me SO MUCH in the healing process from my first C-section & to prepare for my VBAC.


  • 1st- thank you, thank you, thank you for all the support and kind words.

    2nd – to the “Good Doctor” – I agree with nursebrittney, can I come visit your hospital? It might be one I’d actually be willing to go to.

    I’m impressed with your stats and the 11% rate–and even more impressed with the warnings to the doctors who have rates higher than that. I wonder what the rate is at the hospital I went to- or really, what my OBs rate is. Will they just tell me that information over the phone if I call and ask??

    Also.. a few people have posted links to articles which are the ones I read and got my stats. One of them states that 3% of csections are actually necessary and that the % shouldn’t be over 10. They also cite research for the 1 in 3 women with fertility issues… again, it’s not complete infertility, just trouble getting pregnant again. And when I asked on twitter I got a response that was probably about that – 1 in 3 replies were having issues with fertility or knew someone who was following a csection. (I realize there is nothing scientific about asking on twitter and I may have more csection women following me, etc.- I’m just saying…)

    It IS terrible the pressure insurance companies put on doctors to not to VBACs, etc. and I don’t know what we can do about that. It definitely puts providers between a rock and a hard place. Just as we are feared into making decisions we may not want, doctors are feared into it as well. I get that. (But not in the case of my birth…)

    The Good Doctor, I’d love to meet you and talk with you. It seems you are so very willing to learn and connect with patients and wanting to do the right thing. Do you perform VBACs?


  • Kristin– thank you so much for coming here to comment. As you can see, you’re the only person I know in real life who has commented, even though I know a LOT of people are reading this. They just don’t know what to say, can’t relate, so they say nothing. You posting here means a lot to me. 🙂

    Kblogger– reading your comment made me teary eyed. You may be right… I haven’t talked about it in person with anyone other than Steve, my mom and a close friend. None of which have gone through this. I’m looking into starting an ICAN chapter in my city and am actually meeting with a woman about it this weekend (hopefully). I think that will do me a lot of good. So far I posted my story on an ICAN email list–and I think that is actually what sent some of these medical professionals here to attack me–sadly. So I am scared to write there again. You said- “find the awesome in your birth, find where you were strong and felt good..” — that part had me teary eyed because I don’t see any of that (at least not yet). But that is great advice, and I will try!!! I want to write another post soon about the great advice I’ve gotten and how I plan on making progress. Thank you so much for sharing and for your advice… I haven’t read Birthing From Within, but now I plan on going to buy it!!


  • The Good Doctor


    Unfortunately, I no longer do VBACs. I had been witness to two uterine ruptures (not mine but colleagues) and both babies died. Granted it is not 100, but I have seen two and I never want to see another one. That being said if a woman comes in who wants one I will certainly not try to talk her out of it and will refer her to one of my colleagues that do them. I also gladly share my cesarean rate. I have a cesarean rate of 27% (all cesareans) and then a primary rate of 11% and most physicians know their statistics I think it’s all about what the patients want to do, but someone earlier was talking about forcing hospitals and doctors to do things and I don’t think that is a very good option. Why would you want to go somewhere that is not supportive of your decision. Just as you guys say they can’t force you to have a cesarean you are using the same logic to force them to do your VBAC. There has o be a compromise in this situation and if there is none then maybe you can find someone who will respect your decision. The problem occurs in those small communities with no physicians that will do VBACs but there might be a hospital a few hours away. It is a pain, but I would prefer to deliver somewhere I was not making them do things, that is a bad situation for everyone


  • Good Doctor-
    I agree with not going to hospital and forcing them to do a VBAC- I can’t imagine that’d be a good experience at all. Is the email address you use when you post your real address? I have some questions I’d like to ask you… and maybe I could post them on my blog like a Q&A if you didn’t mind. If it’s not your real email and you don’t want to share it, maybe I could just write a new blog post with the questions and you could answer them in the comments section? And for my own curiosity… how did you find my blog? I appreciate you taking the time to comment.


  • Emily, you don’t owe ANYONE an apology. This is YOUR blog and you have expressed your feelings in a way that has helped you process and heal. It sounds to me like your friend is in DENIAL. The research shows that elective repeat c-section is more dangerous for the mom and baby. Of course she has the right to choose it, but I think she is projecting some of her own guilt onto you. She knows it was a selfish choice, and probably doesn’t want to hear how lucky she was to not have complications, or how it probably wasn’t the best choice. You don’t need “friends” like that tearing you down.


    babydickey Reply:

    Thank you. She is no longer a friend of mine, I actually haven’t spoken to her since this. And I agree, I think she was trying to make herself feel better about her decision.


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