I was debating on whether or not I should share a little bit about my birth story for a while. After much thought, I decided I would appreciate being able to look back on this post someday and typing all of this out would help me with emotional postpartum healing. My prayer is also that this post can encourage any woman who needs it. That she will realize that she is not alone.
I have been struggling. Struggling with all of these ‘what ifs’ that flood my mind at night. As I lay my precious girl to rest, I try to grab whatever amount of sleep I possibly can get. Despite being so utterly exhausted and sleep deprived, I can’t help but think back to the birth of this child. I had everything figured out. I had my mind made up for a long time that my labor would be natural and unmedicated and I would do anything in my power to avoid any sort of medical intervention.
At my 39 week appointment, I was diagnosed with preeclampsia. My blood pressure and my baby’s heart rate were dangerously high and my doctor said that I needed to be induced immediately. We began the induction process and they had me on magnesium to prevent seizures due to the elevated blood pressure. I labored unmedicated for 15 hours. My contractions began immediately and were 2-3 minutes apart, lasting 1-1.5 minutes. The magnesium only made things more intense, as it made me incredibly nauseous and I was bed ridden and unable to move during labor. After 15 hours and no progression, the doctor decided to begin pitocin and mentioned an epidural. She knew I was not wanting to receive medication, so she explained that it would help to lower my blood pressure and possibly help me dilate quicker. I agreed to it because I realized the dangers of my blood pressure being high for so long.
The epidural made me feel so dizzy and it knocked me out. However, my blood pressure dropped immediately and I knew I had made the best decision for me and the baby. After only three hours, I was fully dilated and ready to go. I was so ready to push my baby out when it came time. I was incredibly exhausted and just wanted her out and in my arms.
I pushed for 4 hours. I was so terrified and knew that I needed to get her out soon or things would not go the way I wanted. After already needing medical interventions, I was determined to deliver my daughter vaginally and have the most important part go as planned. But that was not the case. She was not in a position to come out and my pushing was only wedging her head even more. I ended up needing a c section and this tore me apart.
As they wheeled me away and prepped me for surgery, I was a wreck. I knew this meant I would not get to deliver my baby myself the way I had imagined and to be honest, I was also absolutely afraid of the idea of surgery. When my husband was finally allowed in the room, I could hardly see him. My vision was so blurred and I couldn’t comprehend much. I had hoped to hold his hand, but my arms were strapped to the table. I focused on his calming voice as I felt my body being tugged and jerked around.
After just a few minutes, we heard our baby cry for the first time. I was overwhelmed with emotion. We were so thankful to hear her cry and know she was okay, but I was still crushed that I didn’t get to see her face and hold her right away. They called my husband over as they weighed her and to cut the umbilical cord, and there I was; still strapped to this cold, hard table, as organs and layers of muscle and skin were being stitched back up. Unable to move. Unable to see my little girl. Unable to touch her. It was the most exciting and disappointing moment of my life. Part of me felt like I wasn’t even there. The most difficult thing was not even remembering the first time I held her.
To be transparent, I am still dealing with a sense of mourning. Mourning the loss of the birth I wish I had. Mourning the loss of those precious moments that I will never get to experience with my little girl. I felt like a failure as a woman and a mother because I was not able to deliver her myself. I tried everything I possibly could to have her naturally, but I wondered where I went wrong. I never expected any of this to happen and therefore was not prepared for the lengthy recovery process. The first time I was able to change my daughter’s diaper, she was already a week old. She will be one month old tomorrow and there are still many things I am unable to do with her that I wish I could. I am still dealing with not only recovering physically, but emotionally as well.
Before I went to my doctors appointment and all of this happened, I was at lunch with my parents. My mom said that she needed to tell me something and to not be offended by it. She told me that another woman said to her earlier that day that I needed to not be afraid of a c section. Of course I rolled my eyes because I had this grandeur plan of how my labor would be and a cesarean was out of the question for me. When the doctors came in and told me my baby was likely not going to be delivered vaginally, my mom leaned over and reminded me of this woman’s words. As I laid on that table in the OR, I kept thinking to myself that God knew what was going to happen. He had a plan all along and He knew I would need to hear those words, ‘to not be afraid’.
This whole experience has made me a stronger woman and has taught me so much. Although I still wish things would have gone differently, I must remind myself that I am no less of a woman or a mother. My body did not fail, nor did I fail. My baby entered the world in a way that was not what I had planned and that is okay. I became a mother the moment I had decided to put her needs above my desires and get her here safely. She is perfect and healthy and there is nothing more that I could ask for.
To all of the women who may have experienced something similar to my situation, it’s okay to mourn. Childbirth is supposed to be a beautiful and memorable experience and having unexpected complications can be traumatic and disappointing. Just remember that ultimately, it doesn’t matter how your baby enters the world. As long as you are able to hold them, at the end of the day, that’s all that matters. You are not a failure. Trust your body and trust that God has a plan. He gives me strength on the days that I am haunched over in pain feeling like my insides are going to fall out, trying to care for a newborn and running on no sleep. God gives mothers a love strong enough to conquer anything that may come up in their journey. I am so thankful for all of the things I am learning as I love and care for this precious little girl He has entrusted to me.