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You can read Part One here.
Eventually, my system begins to return to normal and those embarrassing bodily functions are making my nurses happy. I still can’t stand up straight but I can hobble down the hall. This means that I’m well enough to go home.
It wasn’t until we got home with our new baby that I began to feel like a failure. I know that may sound odd to people, after all, I had a beautiful and healthy new baby boy. Nevertheless, I felt like my body had failed me at the most important time in my life.
Like most other women, I’d had visions about what my labor and delivery would be like, but it hadn’t gone like I’d planned. I guess in some ways that’s an appropriate way to begin motherhood – after all, once you become a parent you find just how little control you actually have.
But back to the story.
I felt sad and I didn’t really understand why. I was thrilled that the baby was healthy because we’d already heard from my doctor that it had been a close call. The Pitocin they’d given me had put the baby into distress and my body just was not going to deliver him without medical intervention. I understood this on an intellectual level, but it still didn’t feel right. I didn’t feel right.
I wouldn’t feel like myself for a while – there is still that whole surgery thing to recover from, but there’s more to it. My body is definitely a wreck, but so are my emotions.
Emotions run high after a c-section
I’ve since learned that it’s not uncommon for C-section mommies to experience depression. There is so much emphasis put on having the perfect childbirth experience that the woman who’s delivery doesn’t go as planned is likely experiencing a myriad of emotions.
This isn’t to downplay the natural whirlwind that all new mothers feel. The hormone cocktail is potent no matter what kind of delivery you’ve had. But my doctor assured me that it’s natural for surgery moms to get an extra dose.
After a C-section, the new mother may feel depressed, anxious, regretful, angry, or sad. She may even feel all of these emotions at the same time. The rush of hormones pulsing through her body have her on a type of emotional roller coaster which will simply amplify any feelings she’s having about her birth. It’s not a fun ride.
Childbirth isn’t risk free
We often forget that childbirth carries certain inherent risks whether delivery goes as planned or not. The simple fact is that there is no easy way to have a baby, and even if our bodies were built to carry and deliver children, it’s still not without potential problems.
The C-section mommy is recovering from the physical trauma of childbirth while also dealing with her emotions.
Several other factors also increase the risk associated with pregnancy and childbirth including having had previous C-sections, maternal weight, and race. In fact, the death rate for black mothers is three times higher than that of white mothers.
This link to a pamphlet outlining the risks for natural childbirth as compared to C-sections is worth looking at http://www.pqcnc.org/documents/sivbdoc/sivbeb/8ChildbirthConnectionVaginalBirthandCesareanBirthRiskComparison.pdf. This information is not a scare anyone, but I believe that information is our greatest means of making informed health decisions. Everything a woman can learn about childbirth gives her a greater chance of being her own best advocate and understanding exactly what her doctor is proposing and why.
When my second and third pregnancies also resulted in c-sections, I felt much more prepared. Even though baby #2 was also an unexpected c-section, I didn’t feel any sadness that the delivery hadn’t gone as planned. I’m sure the fact that my doctor and I talked about the increased possibility of a second c-section helped. The embarrassing bodily function questions didn’t seem quite so humiliating either. And by the time the third labor stalled, I wished I’d just had them put in a zipper!
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