Two memories of the hospital I CANNOT get over. Help?

I know I just posted about c-sections and sometimes I wonder how much babble about it my readers can handle, but I’ve been meaning to write about these issues for awhile and I wanted to address some of the comments on my last post… so I decided now was a good time for this post. Thanks for putting up with me πŸ˜‰

I feel I’ve made tremendous progress in dealing with my c-section. I still rant about it on occasion, but much less tears. I don’t know the stages of grieving… when does anger come in? I think that’s where I am. Some days I’m even like “yea I had a c-section, who cares? no big deal” and other days I’m still a mess. I think the “who cares” days are a coping mechanism, because of course I still care–a lot.

Two things in this post. First–there are 2 fairly recent realizations I’ve had about my c-section that I’m having trouble getting past. Second–a response to many of the comments on my last c-section post.

First… The hospital stay, the surgery, the mother-baby unit… it’s all blurry. Random memories pop into my head, even still. And right now, there are two that I absolutely cannot get past. They’ve been lingering in the back of my mind for probably a month now (that’s how behind I am on writing this post). These two things… I’m not sure I can ever get past… I get SO very angry thinking about them. Ok…. first….. I felt the pressure. I think it’s the closest thing I have to feeling anything of a natural birth. I’ve heard that when it’s time to push, you will know it–no questions asked. So obviously I wasn’t there, but I definitely felt the downward pressure. I remember getting really excited and when the nurse came in the room, I told her about it–in my super excited, smiley voice, like “the baby is coming soon!” But…. the nurse completely discounted my feelings. She told me the pressure couldn’t possibly be the baby. She made me think that maybe I had to go to the bathroom. Or that I couldn’t really feel it because I had an epidural. I remember being SO disappointed, my body physically slumped down. And I totally believed her. I thought “oh shoooooot, this isn’t it, I’m not close yet.” But I KNOW that’s what it was. I was at 8 cm and had just gone to +1 station. It breaks my heart. That was the feeling of him moving down (not being stuck), that was the feeling of Β the beginning of delivery. How much longer till it was time to push? How much longer did I need? a;slkjfd;alskjfda;lsdjf;lakdjf

The second thing… damned if I do, damned if I don’t. They told me I needed an internal monitor to check the strength of my contractions (because I wasn’t progressing “fast enough.”) They said if the monitor showed that my contractions weren’t strong enough, even with all that freakin’ pitocin, I’d need a c-section. I freaked out, they put in the monitor and after awhile a nurse came in to look at the charts. I asked her what the contraction strength looked like and she frowned and said it looked like they were NOT strong enough (= c-section) but that the OB would have to look at them. I freaked out some more. The OB came in and she said–well, the contractions are strong enough!–and I distinctly remember smiling and getting really excited. Oh THANK GOD! That means they’re okay and I don’t need a c-section, whoohoo!! ……. and then the OB continued her sentence… “So what that means is that they’re strong enough but they’re not doing anything. they aren’t doing their job. And we don’t know why. He’s probably stuck and too big to fit out. So, you need a c-section.” Heartbreak. I sobbed, immediately. WHY didn’t I realize in that moment what they just did to me?! I didn’t realize it for months afterward.

If the contractions are NOT strong enough, I need a c-section. If the contractions ARE strong enough, it means they aren’t working and I need a c-section. WTF?! CAN SOMEONE PLEASE TELL ME WHAT THE EFF WAS THE POINT OF THE INTERNAL MONITOR IF I WAS DAMNED EITHER WAY. PLEASE. WHY why why did I not see their nasty, sneaky, manipulative ways?!?!?! Why didn’t I notice?! The outcome was c-section in their minds no matter what the fuck the charts said. I HATE PEOPLE. and now I’m crying. Who can help me get past these two things?! BLAH.

Second… I got quite a few comments in my last c-section post telling me not to worry, it’s not my fault, etc. Thank you, really–I know you all mean well and are trying to help me out. But it’s so much easier said than done. I had an unnecessary c-section and I still replay that last moment in my head over and over. The moment we consented to the surgery. (I know it’s not healthy to play the “what if” game, but I can’t help it, yet). What if I said no one more time? What if I asked for 1 more hour? What if… ? So yes, of course I still feel like it was my fault I ended up with the c-section, even though I know you will all tell me it was the system that failed me. I’m not there yet, okay? I hope one day I will get there, absolutely. But I’m not yet.

So yes, there are long-term side effects of having c-sections and if I have any of them, or if Ryan has any of them, I will of course feel that it is my fault because I feel that the c-section was my fault. For now, anyway, that’s how I feel.

17 comments to Two memories of the hospital I CANNOT get over. Help?

  • Hello, I just clinked on a link to this blog posted by @mammamccan, and just want to hug you and tell you it will get better. 6 and a half years ago I had a very traumatic labour with my first daughter. Although the details are completely different, the resulting feelings of anger, impotence, violation, self-blame and furstration were identical. All I can tell you is that it *does* get easier, and that when my daughter was Ryan’s age I was in pretty much the same emotional state you are now. Time is a great healer, as is knowledge, and more experience. For me, counselling helped a great deal as did talking to other women who’d had traumatic births in appropriate forums, but the what really helped me to move on was having my second daughter 2 years ago (it took 4 years before I was prepared to even contemplate it again!) and that time, having exactly the birth I wanted.
    I did blog about both births, but it’s on a members only birth trauma site, so if you’d like to see, let me know and I can mail you.
    Take care – it will get better, I promise.


  • Beth Donahue

    Ahhh Em…my heart breaks for you. I also wish I would have known more about it all so I could have stepped up and said no, no, NO. I feel badly about that Em.. As you know, I stepped out of the room to let you and Steve make the decision and sometimes I wish I would have stayed in there….but again…it is what if and i should have’s which we all know are no good for us. You have made progress, Emily, and I am proud of you. You have become the most wonderful and loving mother ever! You have made it through bf and continue to do so. Ryan is so very healthy because of that! How nice – he didn’t even have one sniffle throughout the winter! Anyway, ya – Why did i not ask any questions? Can I take the guilt away from you Em? I am REAL good at stressing about things…so just move your thoughts over onto me. πŸ™‚ I’d take them any day if you would feel better. Love my baby girl.


  • Miracle Pending

    I can’t imagine what you’re going through. I tend to be a very vindictive person and would have started a law suit by now. Whether or not you “consented” to the surgery, I believe they may have subjected you to a surgery you simply did not need. My birth did not go the way I had planned either. I wanted a natural birth just as you did. And you know what? My nurse started to pull the whole “your contractions aren’t strong enough” bull with me too. I have no clue what goes through their minds.

    You’ll get better with time. Every traumatic event has a lasting effect. Have you thought of getting some therapy?


  • First off, I think your hurt and anger about the whole situation are perfectly understandable. Birth is a huge, crazy, amazing, life-changing event, and when you have to be cut open instead of delivering naturally, it’s a MAJOR issue, both physically and emotionally.

    My situation was a little different, in that Evan was breech from like 26 weeks. The doctor kept scoffing at my worries, telling me “oh, he’ll flip, don’t worry” but I knew deep down that this kid wasn’t going to FLIP. I did everything I could do in my capacity to make it happen, all of the bending and twisting and standing on my head crap they tell you to do when your baby is breech.

    I had weeks and weeks to come to terms with the fact that I might in fact need a c-section. I cried and agonized over it, even when people kept yammering “he’ll flip!”. Finally one day, two weeks before my due date, I went into labor.

    Get this. I already had a schedule C-section date, and was full-term, but they made me agonize in labor for 15 hours before deciding to do the c-section. They said since I was not 39 weeks (the OFFICIAL time they like to do a C-section) that I had to progress really far before they would do it.

    So, not only am I totally sad and upset about a C-section, instead of just doing it and getting it over with, I had to go through all of the legwork of a natural birth first. I am glad in some respect that I had the opportunity to feel the contractions though… it does make me feel like I lived through at least part of a normal experience.

    Anyway, I think I just totally used your post as a chance to relive my own experience, sorry for that. In my case I HAD to deliver C-section, knew it ahead of time, and it still bothers me to some degree. I can’t imagine what kinds of feelings you are navigating in your situation.


  • Jessica

    I’m so sorry you’re having so much trouble getting past this. I am the type of person to replay things from the past two and obsess over them, wishing I could do things differently, so I understand your mindset. You mentioned that you keep playing the “what if” game with yourself, but what if (haha) you played it the other way? What I mean is, you keep thinking, “What if I had said no . . .?” but maybe you should trying thinking, “What if Ryan had gotten stuck . . .?”

    You made the best decision with the information you were given at the time and you’re convinced it was the wrong decision. But what if you let yourself consider that maybe it was the right decision? You have no way of knowing what would have happened if you had done things differently, so it’s not really fair to tell yourself you made the wrong choice by giving into the c-section, etc.


  • Jessica

    Sorry, that was supposed to be “from the past too,” not “two.”


  • Sheena

    Hey Em! I wanted to comment on how the nurses made you feel about not being able to feel the urge to push with your epidural. As you know I too had an epidural and that downward pressure you felt, most likely was the urge to push (at least in my experience and whether or not you were fully dilated you can feel it!) I distinctly remember that exact feeling then telling the nurses to check me (not 30 minutes later, we were pushing.) I know it probably doesn’t help to hear this but on the other hand I think its important to share with you the same feeling and stand behind you, because you know your body better than anyone else! I’m sorry they treated you so poorly; they really should have been more sensitive to YOUR wishes.


  • hippie4ever

    I’m so sorry that you went through this. Don’t worry, talk about it as much as you need to, we’ll listen.


  • We indeed are listening! I very distinctly remember you posting your progress on twitter and how worried/lost/desparate you were feeling: constantly having new interventions and incomprehensible comments from the staff and everything spiraling out of control. Like Ruth said, this was a traumatic birth and it is going to take time to heal. Ranting about it, researching it, etc. – do what you feel like you need to do. The stages of grief are a bit of a myth – there are different stages for everyone and he order can be different as well as the time frame. I am a firm believer in giving these super-tough life experiences a positive ‘twist’ and already that’s what you are doing: sharing the information you are finding, letting women know your story, and becoming more informed yourself. Slowly the experience will turn into a part of you that you’ll draw strength from instead of being a source of guilt and anger at yourself.

    Don’t keep it all inside and every now and then think about how you’d like the outcome of this experience to be: is there a goal you could work towards? Because even though you had no control over your c-section and the things that happened prior, you do have the power now (and you’re already using it…).


  • Emily, sorry this is going to be a monstrous comment, but I’ve seriously been thinking about you probably daily, and since I’m getting closer to my birth, I’ve been terrified I’d come out feeling bad and have been thinking of what I can do to not feel that way, but I’m so grateful for you sharing your frustrations.

    I talked to a Lamaze lady today for a couple of hours and basically she had been reading my blog and stuff and she asked if my husband or I had any concerns about our birth. I thought about it for a second and decided to be honest…

    My biggest fear isn’t having a csection or things not going according to plan… My biggest fear is being disappointed in the way things end up, and having regrets about one day for months and months after. But then I said “you know what… I don’t really have a set ‘plan’ on what I want or absolutely don’t want, I’m flexible, and we’ll be able to make educated decisions, based on all that we know, so I think what I fear the most is people JUDGING the decisions I make… But I need to get over that.’

    Well, after I said that, she told me something that made me COMPLETELY understand where you’re coming from… She said they’ve found that a woman’s views of her birth, and how much she enjoyed it isn’t based on whether she had a cesarean, an epidural, or a vaginal, natural birth… It’s based on how confidant the woman felt and how much control she felt she had of the situation… If she felt like she was in charge during her birth.

    That along with good support and confidence make up the feelings afterward.

    I can see now that the root of your anger (and tell me if I’m totally of) is because you didn’t feel like you had much control of the situation and that they were making all of the decisions for you… Sure you agreed to a csection but you didn’t feel like you really had a choice in the matter and therefore weren’t in charge… leaving you feeling bad and hating the birth of your baby.

    I don’t know what it’s like to go through what you’ve been through, so I’m not going to tell you to “get over it” heck… if I went through what you went through and were putting the pieces together later like you are I’d be pissed to! But I hope you can ALSO see the positive sides, and know that you’re helping others! I hope that makes you feel at least a little bit better.

    But vent away! Girl, let it out!


    babydickey Reply:

    Jenn (FutureMama) – you are right on. I went in knowing exactly what I wanted and of course I WANTED to be in control. But they knew the exact buttons to push and things to say to take that control away from me. Like I didn’t have a choice. I picture them in the hallway saying – let’s do the internal monitor trick, that gets ’em every time! – which is pathetic and awful. Thanks for the comment and for being understanding and letting me vent. I went in so educated on every aspect of birth EXCEPT c-sections and how they try to force them…. so you are much more prepared than I was. And no matter your outcome, I know you will be an awesome mama and stay in control and enjoy your experience πŸ™‚ Can’t wait to hear about it!! Any day!!! πŸ˜‰


  • PS: I meant tell me if I’m way *off


  • Hey there Emily.

    I am a Mom of 4 born by 3 c-sections. The first was completely horrific and largely due to a stuff up by my midwife so I understand completely your anger and sheer frustration at a system that has ‘let you down’ terribly.

    There three things that I want to tell you that may help – either now or later.

    1) Forgive yourself – you did everything that you could based on the information that you had at the time. If you were to turn the what if around – what if you had insisted on going naturally and things had gone wrong?

    2) I am a firm believer in things happening for a reason (having kids will do that ;o). Believe that this was meant to happen and that someone/thing/the universe… was actually looking after you and your gorgeous baby. Do not worry about the possibilities of side effects – they will be nothing that you can not handle.

    3) Well, this is more of a gesture than comment this is a massive hug ((()))) It is bloody tough when things go so far astray from what you planned and c sections are the pits, but please believe that everyone – including you – was doing their best. That’s all anyone can ask for.

    As I said – I have 3 c section scars and each one is a story that I am damned proud of because each of those scars is a story that makes my kids unique.


  • Oh wow hun! I am so sorry I missed this when you posted.

    First thing, I am soooo sorry that you were treated this way in the hospital. Like nothing you did mattered and that you just needed to be patted on the head and told things were fine. It is all so condescending and so far from person centered care. You were taken advantage of, just like many women are in labor, and instead of being supported and told that things were okay and the pressure you were feeling was a good thing, you were shoved off and medicated more. It seems like always that one little thing always escalates into three or four or fifty. And in the end, it all boils down to you were supposed to be done laboring by now, but *obviously* your body doesn’t work, so your baby needed to be cut out. Such an awful view and so far from the truth πŸ™

    Second, vent all you want!! If people truly think you should get over it, then they don’t know how you feel. I wouldn’t wish a cesarean on my worst enemy, emergency or unnecessary. The emotional effects that come from that, along with the cesarean scar that you carry the rest of your life and endless. And myself, three years out from mine, I still have really bad days. Days where I just curse myself and my decisions and want to just get rid of my scar completely. I just want to be done.

    There is so much that goes into being a mother, and so very rarely do people ever think that the bad things will happen to them. Even in a birthing environment like we have in the United States.

    For what it is worth, I think you are doing amazing. You are writing about it, educating other women about cesareans and how to avoid them. You are educating yourself on what you can do differently with your next baby. You are absolutely incredible in every aspect of this situation. You are strong, you are brave, you are woman :).


  • Dear Sydney

    While I can’t relate to you situation because mine was completely different, I do hope that one day you’ll be able to play the “what if” game the other way around as suggested by Jessica.

    The one thing that I do know is that an internal monitor doesn’t = damned if you do, damned if you don’t. My doctor ordered one because I’d been contracting for so long w/o much progress, and the first contraction measured was off the charts strong. And while my Mom figured that meant they were going to have to do a c-section, my doctor wanted to wait it out a little longer and our next move would be to try a foley bulb to get things moving a little quicker. Fortunately for me, things started progressing fairly soon after the internal monitor was placed and I didn’t have to endure that.

    While I agree that your doctors and nurses should have been more informative with you … what if he really was stuck? What if the c-section was the best course of action for your’s and Ryan’s well being? My doctor ordered an ultrasound as soon as I got to the hospital becuase he knew how hard Sydney’s head was pushing down and he just wanted to make sure she hadn’t moved into a position that would complicate her delivery. Maybe there was more information that they didn’t share (which they should have) that made them believe a c-section was the only option for a safe delivery.

    I hope you are able to find some peace in seeing that you have a healthy and beautiful little boy and know that you are a wonderful mother.


  • Voyager

    While it is two yrs later that I am reading about your experience, I must say that I sympathize and empathize with you. I went from regular vag birth to hi risk c-section in 8 hours, due to hi-blood pressure (HPB) induced by labor. I had been given mag. sulfate to quell the HBP which killed my contractions so they gave me pit. which rushed my labor. I had the epi. and they turned it OFF when I got to 10 cm while keeping the pit. going. They made me PUSH for 3 HOURS before saying my baby’s head must be too big to get thru my pelvic opening, therefore I needed a c-sec. I could barely sign the forms because the pain was so intense due to the pit. drip.

    After all was said and done, I look back and think, if they had just let me progress naturally with just the mag. sulfate keeping my blood pressure down, my body would have loosened up with a naturally progressive labor and I could have had a vag. birth. But nooooo….it was rushed with the drugs and the knife. It made me never want to have another baby again. And I didn’t. I only have my one and she’s now 25 yrs old.

    I hope you’ve found some peace since your birth experience and that you’ll be able to be brave enough to have another baby one day. Blessings to you.


    babydickey Reply:

    Ohhh I am so so sorry for what you went through. ((Hugs))

    I did have another baby… 2 months ago, born at home <3


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