Scars remind us where we've been. They don't have to dictate where we're going

Monday, May 9, 2011

Thinking Too Much?

When E's birth story was published on the ICAN blog, I was still on my post-birth, amazing experience cloud nine. I am still riding that wave, but I find that, the further away from the birth I get, the more I am analyzing it, and I'm not sure that's a good thing.

Someone posted a comment on the story that, at the time, I balked at, but now, I think I'm beginning to understand a little more.  The text of the comment is below:

Thank you for sharing your story.  I too am a CBAC mom, although I did eventually go on to have VBACs.  Your feelings about your CBAC will ebb and flow, and will vary a lot over time, even when you have had a relatively positive experience.  But it's good when you can see the positive aspects of your experience and give yourself credit for the very hard work you did towards birth and during labor.  That helps so much with the healing.
Blessings on you, and thank you for sharing your story.  It's so important to hear CBAC stories too.

I still am uncomfortable with some of the tone--although I am sure that was unintentional--of certain parts of the comment (and I am pretty sure this comment was left by a woman whose blog I really enjoy, so I am sure she didn't mean it in anything other than a supportive and positive way), but in particular, the bit about my feelings about the CBAC evolving has been on my mind a lot lately.

I have been noticing the more I think back on the birth, the more I wonder "what if?"  I'm not sure this is a bad thing--after all, E's birth did teach me so much about which sensations, while incomparable and sometimes painful, are normal to experience during a labor.  It is a pretty unique position to be in, essentially a first time mom with regards to laboring, but to also have a scar to consider.  I'm not entirely sure it's a good thing either, though.  I worry that I'm spending too much time thinking about things I would have done differently if I could go back and do it all over again, and I worry that if I over-analyze it too much, I will wind up staying in my head about the birth experience, which is exactly where I don't need to be for next time.

Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if I could have just rocked my hips when B told me to?  Or what if I hadn't gotten out of the water? Or what if my mattress wasn't so soft and I was able to get on the bed and labor after getting out of the tub?  Or what if my baby weren't so big? What if I could have just gotten on top of the contractions for a second? And what if, when we got to the hospital, the questionable heart tones the doctor noted as the reason for the cesarean were just the normal decels a baby experiences during contractions, but he was being overly cautious as they tend to be with VBAC moms? What if I could have just gotten an epidural--would I have been able to calm down, continue laboring, and maybe have VBACd E?

I don't think wondering about all of these things takes away from the fact that I had a wonderfully transformative, empowering birth experience and a very positive CBAC.  I think it's probably pretty normal and natural for me to wrestle with these things the further out from the birth I get--of course, it's easy to think back and forget what I was feeling in the exact moments when I made certain decisions during the birth.  But I also wonder at what point I need to just accept everything that happened, take it as a learning experience, and stop questioning myself.

To be honest, I am scared that I will get to that place in labor again where I will panic, beg to transport and be sectioned again simply because I can't calm down and think clearly.  As I am sure many of you know, it is really hard to make rational decisions when you are in the throes of labor.  I have been toying with the idea of planning a home birth but remaining open to the possibility of transporting--preferably without the ambulance and fire truck thankyouverymuch--for pain relief.  I wonder if I have it in the back of my head that a non-emergent transport is OK, I may not be as likely to panic. And, perhaps, if I have a transport plan in place that includes pain relief as soon as possible upon arrival, things won't be as rushed if/when we do transport and I can (barring a true emergency) stop and consider all my options and make a choice that I won't look back upon months later and doubt.  Or maybe just knowing that I can transport, get pain relief and refuse a cesarean will be enough to allow me to relax enough to birth my baby at home.

Or maybe some level of analysis will come into play regardless of what kind of birth I end up with, I just don't know.  Do you find yourself analyzing your birth(s) be it cesarean or vaginal? RCS or VBAC?


  1. Just want to say that whether you do something particular or not in labor can be what your body does naturally & listening to yourself in labor is important, because your body knows what to do. I think what you will find with both your next pregnancy & labor is that it feels completely different. Having your affirmations, like "I trust myself" can be so helpful. <3

  2. Margaret, thank you so much for your insight and encouragement. I think you're exactly right. Next time, it will be a totally different pregnancy, labor and delivery with a different baby. I really need to be sure I'm tuned into that experience and not carrying baggage from E's birth into it.

    I have a lot of work to do :) Good thing I started early!!! :)

  3. I was so consumed by analyzing my birth right after it happened, that I was completely unable to bond with my baby. All I could think about was how horrible I felt, how much pain I was in, how miserable everything went. I thought of a million things I would have changed.

    Finally, I put my birth experience in a mental red balloon and let go of it. And this wasn't until around Month 2 post-partum. It literally took me that long to finally let go of it and then I was immediately able to bond with my new baby- I had to let another balloon go for the guilt over not bonding sooner. In fact, I let go of so many mental balloons, my mental environmentalist is filling littering charges against me. ;)

    There was this one comment during B's birth that still pisses me off though. I was mid-pushing and my midwife thought she saw vernix or something floating in the water. And she said, "oh this baby cant be 42 weeks, he's got to be younger than 40." Which I knew was a dig on me, because I hadn't told them in advance I was taking castor oil (even though I took it the day they said would work the best for them because they didn't have office hours). Like I was supposed to schedule my induction for them and what was convenient? I felt like that comment really ruined my confidence at a time when I was literally trying to get my baby out. And it totally destroyed me. I thought, oh no, what did I do? He's going to be so tiny and unhealthy, bla bla bla. Then his heart rate dropped and I thought, oh my gosh, if he dies, or is brain damaged it will be all because hes too young and I couldn't wait. Then he came out and was 10lbs 2 ozs and she had to eat her words. But it didn't matter, she ruined the process. I wasn't able to focus on how happy I was, only what a horrible mother I was. So, that part still really makes me mad. But there were so many other things that just sucked about it, that its just one of many. I will now put her and her comment into a red balloon :) There, done! And now I will find a different, less busy and self-obsessed MW for the next one :)

  4. Lauren, have I told you lately how I adore you? You always help me find a new perspective. I love the idea of putting things in balloons (lol at littering charges by the way).

    I'm so sorry your midwife said that to you at such an inappropriate time. We are so vulnerable in the midst of labor--it would be nice if everyone were careful with their words.