MY NOT SO PERFECT BIRTH STORY

boobI actually haven’t really spoken about my birth story much throughout the last two years. I think partly because it seems like such a distant haze, but also because I have such a visceral post-traumatic reaction to the whole thing. It was not my perfect birth plan. Not even close. If anything it was everything that I didn’t want and I carried the weight with me for quite a while. A little thorn in my side that irritates me when my mind wanders to that date. The date that was meant to be the best day of my life, and yet I was left drugged, scared and confused. I’ve decided to talk about it here, on my blog because, in a way, it is a cathartic experience to verbalize something that pains you. If this post helps at least one mother who has experienced anything like what I went through and feels some sense of peace and that they are not alone, then my job is done.

October 8th, 2013 my husband and I packed our bags for the hospital. Beyond overwhelmed, ecstatic and ignorantly ready to be parents. (I say that because a first time parent is completely ill-equipped for this next phase of their life. No book, having a niece, or class can ever prepare you for what is about to come. “What to expect when you’re expecting”? Puhleseeee!) Believe me. My child was 10 pounds (you heard me), chord wrapped around her neck (which we didn’t know at the time) and breech (the wrong way), I knew there was no other choice than to have a Caesarean.

Now, let me rewind to two weeks prior when we heard this news. I was waiting patiently in the OB office (which all you moms out there know can be hours, so patience really is a virtue) ready for my last check up before meeting my beautiful, perfect daughter. I had done it all. Done everything “correctly”; I didn’t drink, ate well, exercised, went to yoga and had read every birthing book. I attended 12 hypnobirthing classes, hired a doula to work with us and I was adamant that I was absolutely having no drugs (which was very in sync with the motto of our household). We were very seriously considering a home birth or a birthing centre. Every sign around me led to books like “Birthing Without Fear” where having a “real” vaginal birth is what we were destined to do as a woman, as creators. Images, like Kourtney Kardashian (yes, I saw the episode) where she heroically pulls her child from inside her out into the world like a primal animal and Gisele talking about how her drugless birth was pain free. So, as you can imagine when I heard the words “Tammin, I’m sad to say that there is no way you are going to give natural birth to this child and we have you scheduled for a C-section next week”, my world came crashing down. I felt like I had completely failed. I felt that because I couldn’t have a vaginal birth for my child, I was not a woman. I was just a vessel. I began to mourn my failure and loss. This was not my birth plan.

My husband and I waited before we went into the operating room (operating because it’s a major “operation”- no one really lingers on that part.) I remember vividly when I left him and walked into the freezing room. It was sterile. It was confusing and it was foreign. It hit me like a ton of bricks that I was alone. I was alone in this. This was not the warm image I had in my head with family around me, candles lit and my doula chanting some exciting words of encouragement. It was not where I thought my baby, the baby that I had created in an internal environment that was safe, would enter. And I was scared.

I was told not to move a muscle, which was hard because I couldn’t stop trembling. They injected a needle the size of my arm into my spine. Immediately my body reacted. My body reacted like it had been taken over by an invader, a poison and I began to shake. I started going in and out of consciousness and screamed for my husband. “Something’s wrong, something’s wrong”. I was quite forcefully pushed down on the steel metal table and told I was fine. Then they went to work. At some point my husband was able to join me but I was so confused and scared and unaware of much that was happening. A few things I do remember; the smell of my flesh as they cut me open, like burnt rubber. I think I’ll remember that for the rest of my life. I also remember the aggressive pressure and pulling that ravished my body.  The words “chords around her neck” stated in a medical tone. And lastly I remember that scream. That scream when she entered the world. That piercing scream that jolts your core. It is so primal that you would kill anything to protect it. And it kept going. The scream kept entering the room and I was not allowed to comfort her. The feeling of not touching your child after you first meet them is beyond anything I’ve ever experienced. It’s a physical pain, anguish, a sense of loss. A loss because you’ll never get that moment back when your child first sees the world, a world you are not in.

blogbirth4

After 15 excruciating minutes my child was placed on my chest. I remember the moment like it was yesterday. Even though I was in such a haze from the heavy drugs nothing can prepare you for the first moment you meet your child. I kissed her lips and I looked at her face and I knew her. It’s such a surreal thing but I just knew her my whole life. She had been inside me. Inside my thoughts, inside my goals, my dreams – she was a part of it all. She walked with me throughout it all. And at that exact moment I let go of every “should” I had been tightly clenched to through my whole pregnancy. I “birthed” my child. Believe me, I birthed her. Just because she entered the world in a way I wasn’t prepared for, I will not succumb to the belief that it wasn’t the “correct” way. It was her “correct” way and us Mothers should never live in any ounce of shame that our birth plan was the wrong one.

blogbirth3

Today my child is two years old. She’s thriving, she’s strong, she’s feisty. She’s perfect. I look at her and I’m so thankful that in a first world country we are able to give birth in many different, beautiful, and safe ways. I don’t know if my daughter, Phoenix would be here if I had fought to have “my perfect birth plan”. She had the chord around her neck twice and being breech she would not have descended. I’m thankful. Not for my traumatic experience, but for the medical means that intervene to save babies and mothers.

I’m not sure what will happen with my next child but one thing I know for sure, I’ll let go of every steadfast belief I have on birth and I will enter into my birthing experience with the fluidity to change. The process of birth is not always a fun one, but the product is undeniably worth it.

Tammin xoxo

CREDITS

  • Alice Kindseth

    Beautiful story. I felt like a failure with my first for not going without pain meds, as though I had to prove something to all the women who came before. After having just had my second without pain meds (no time!) I can honestly say, all that matters is that healthy baby being safely in your arms. Nothing else matters. Side note, if we have a third, I’ll be getting that epidural ??

  • This was so beautiful and heartbreaking to read. I am scared to death of medical procedures and needles so I can only imagine what you went through. Thankfully everything went well and you have your beautiful baby and husband with you 😀

  • nya

    I love your story it was a little bit sad and he a heartbreaking

  • Rosanna Mallozzi

    Thank you so much for this. I’ve had countless conversations where it’s been suggested that I took the easy way out by having a c-section. (I’ve had 4.). There is nothing easy about having major abdominal surgery. It infuriates me to be a part of such an ignorant conversation, which unfortunately happens too often. I’ve been told that maybe the doctors were in a rush so that’s why I had the section, or if we had been more patient, it would have been fine. No. That is not the case. With my first, we labored for hours and hours and tried to vaginally deliver my son without success. After a couple hours of trying to push without much progression and both our heartrates fluctuating high and low to dangerous levels, my doctors decided that the safest option for my son and I was a c-section. I trusted my doctors and I’m glad that I did. With my following three, all were planned but still came early, so I labored intensely for all of them. I do not regret having c-sections because I have four healthy and beautiful children. I think women should support each other and not judge something as magical as giving birth for not doing it “the right way”.

  • Courtney Countes Williams

    Thank you so much. This is absolutely everything in my heart that I’m so sad and angry about. My child is beautiful and perfect and I love her so dearly but I will always ache when I think about her birth. I feel like my body failed me in so many ways even though it made such an incredible, tiny human. She’s just over 2 months old so the memories are still very raw for me but I’m hoping with time that it will get easier.

  • thepharmersjournal

    Loved this! I’m currently 31 weeks pregnant and was told a few days ago I’ll pretty much definitely be needing a cesarean…. Not what I’ve been planning either but obviously I’ll go with what the professionals recommend.

    http://www.thepharmersjournal.com

    Xo

    • PigeonTheKid

      If it’s important to you, ask if you can do maternal delivery (where they guide your hands and you get to physically pull your baby out) and skin-to-skin straight away. If you organise this with your doctors beforehand, depending on your country/ state/ hospital, they are usually pretty accommodating. Just make sure that you stress that it is very important to you. Best of luck <3

  • Tarani Wheele

    Thank you for this.. i still cry and greive over my daughters birth… horrific memories..but beautiful all at the same time. Its not something that they support you with at all.. the emotional trauma us mums go through… and how clinical it all is
    ❤ to you

  • whitney

    What beautiful words! I had to have an emergency c-section at 36 weeks, and I still struggle with the idea that I didn’t “meet” my baby in the “right” way. Thank you for giving me new perspective and sharing your story! xo

  • Leenie Morales

    After being in labor for 21 hours with out dilating more than 5cm I was told that if nothing changed within the next hour I was going to be prepped for an emergency c-section. I immediately began to panic and cry. I felt like an extreme failure, especially that my pregnancy didn’t happen the conventional way. My husband and I had to go to a fertility center. So, I was feeling like a “fake” mother all around. And sometime between the crying and semi anxiety attack, I started to feel pressure and when the doctor checked me I was ready for a natural birth. It was all around a scary experience and having self doubt made things worse. I didn’t realize then, that no matter how I had my son, I was a mother.

  • Kathy Bond

    Tammin, I met you today in Fredericksburg Va. You mentioned your blog, I’m so glad you did! The constant battle you face as first time Mother and needing a C section is just awful. It took me a while to be okay with the fact that I didn’t get a chance to deliver vaginally or that moment of pure bliss every one talks about when they first enter the world. Laying flat on the table not able to more anything and hearing your baby but not being able to physically comfort them.. it’s awful. Thank God that we were fortunate enough to have major surgery and no complications from it and still have a beautiful child as the end result! Thank you so much for sharing your experience! You are so sweet by the way, so glad I had the chance to meet you in person!!