Photo Credit: Katie Lacer
Dear C-section Mom,
I understand. I’ve been there. You are not alone. I hear you. I see you. You are not alone. You don’t have to tell me how hard it is. I know. I see your tears. I know the pain. And I understand. I know it’s hard to explain. You don’t have to explain to me. Sometimes, people think they understand, but they don’t. I understand.
It’s not easy to lose your dignity (as all moms do whether they’ve had a natural birth or caeserean). It’s hard to ask a nurse to fix your catheter because you’re uncomfortable. It’s embarrassing to ask a nurse to lower you onto the toilet, put on your mesh underwear or wipe up the blood that dripped onto the floor because you can’t bend. It’s no fun to have a nurse give you a suppository because you’re unable to do it yourself in the privacy of the bathroom. (For all these reasons, this is why the image by Katie Lacer moved me beyond words as did the post written by Jill Krause.) I’ve had two C-sections. The first was unexpected and the recovery was excruciating and slow. My pain medication did precious little, (in fact I wasn’t lucid for most of the first 24 hours post birth) and I was able to do even less. The second was premeditated, the anticipation unnerving but the pain meds worked and my recovery was much faster and the pain was quite bearable. I’ve been there. I get you.
To the C-section mommy who hoped to have a natural birth – I understand. I know the heartache of sitting in a room hearing birth stories and knowing that you never got to experience the work and then the great reward of pushing your baby out. I know how you feel that you missed out. I know that, sometimes, you feel like you failed. I know that you feel like you didn’t do the hard yards. It’s no fun knowing that your baby didn’t get all that good bacteria because he/she wasn’t pushed through the birth canal. It’s hard when your baby has trouble feeding because he/she wasn’t clicked into place in the birth canal and needs to see a chiropractor to sort it out. I understand.
To the C-section mommy who didn’t go into labour – I’ve been there. Knowing that your baby isn’t “ready to come” makes you feel like you’re making a bad choice and that you’re robbing them of developing in the best environment. Choosing your baby’s birthday instead of going into labour is not easy. Feeling as if you’ve missed out on how your body was designed to bring your child into the world sometimes makes you feel like less of a mom. I understand.
To the C-section mommy who went into labour only to end up on an operating table – that was me. I know the excitement of the unknown and the anticipation of the moment you’ll hear the words, “I can see the baby’s head! You’re nearly there!” only to end up not hearing those words and to have no part in giving birth to your child – it’s hard.
To the C-section mommy who doesn’t remember the birth of her child – I had a small taste of that and I feel robbed. So if you had to go under general anaesthetic or lost consciousness, I cannot imagine the sense of loss that you have. I am heartbroken that I can’t remember the first time that I held my second daughter. I have tried and tried to recall those precious moments but all I see in my memory is the time I held my firstborn. I feel for you. I understand the sadness you feel because you can’t remember looking at your baby’s face for the first time or the joy of feeling that tiny body in your arms at last. And I am heart-sore with you.
To the C-section mommy who wasn’t lucid because of IV drugs – I know how you felt. The physical pain is real. But having an out-of-body experience, hearing yourself slur your words, feeling dizzy, swallowing nausea, fighting falling asleep because you don’t want to miss anything but falling asleep anyway, feeling as if you’re falling, getting pins and needles, seeing stars, etc., it, feels like a cruel joke on top of the physical pain and limitations. I’ve been there. I understand.
To the C-section mommy who had excruciating pain for ages – we seem to be in the minority. And I am in there with you. At first, I thought I clearly had an exceptionally low pain threshold and was a coward. Everyone I spoke to seemed to cope, to manage the pain and to find it bearable. It was far from bearable the first time. I couldn’t walk on my own for days. The pain was crippling. I didn’t sleep flat on my back for weeks. And only in week 6 did I feel normal again. I flattened all my pain meds. I couldn’t believe people managed to drive after two weeks let alone function. I am one of the few with you. I understand.
To the C-section mommy who didn’t bond immediately – I feel the fear you felt. I know what it’s like to feel like something’s wrong with you because you didn’t feel an instant attachment to your baby. But how can you, when you are high or sleeping because of heavy drugs or you do not even have the physical strength to even lift your baby off your chest because of the incision in your abdomen? It’s a horrible and unnerving feeling to be subject to. I get you.
To the C-section mommy who felt the weight of judgement – oh, how I understand. And maybe no one is judging you. Maybe you are only projecting your insecurities. But I know the feeling. It’s almost as if you’re too scared to say or do anything for fear of what people might say or think. Did you really have to have a C-section or was it just a preference? The pain cannot be that bad! I was up and driving my car five days after my C-section because I had to, so suck it up. I was back to my normal house work a week later; there’s no one to do it for me. I had no option but to carry on; you’re overreacting. Other C-section moms have carried on; why can’t you? You really are using other people to do things unnecessarily, like go downstairs to make you tea – honestly, surely you can do that yourself! The list is endless! I get it. I’ve lain awake at night worrying that people think I’ve made a mountain out of a molehill and that I’ve had an “all-fall-down” when I should really have just sucked it up and soldiered on as so many women have done before. The weight of it all consumed me. And I felt guilty and as if I really was a coward. It hurts. I understand.
To the C-section mommy who suffered through guilt – I’ve felt it and I know how you scold yourself that you’re overreacting. I know how you feel you can’t ask anyone else to hang up your washing or pick up that tissue you dropped on your bedroom floor three days ago because it really hurts to bend. I know the guilt you feel not walking your guests to the door because you’ve walked up and down one too many times and your body is feeling it. And sometimes, you do it anyway because they are probably thinking that you are making a big deal out of nothing and you’re being rude, even though they haven’t seen how much you’ve already overexerted yourself that day. And you know you’ll pay for it later. I know how you feel useless and helpless and that you really should do more because you really cannot expect SO much of other people! It was so hard to watch my husband (he is amazing!!) do everything while I sat on the bed doing sweet nothing! It killed me to ask him to do anything else because I felt I’d been so lazy! I understand it’s hard. I’ve been there. You are not alone.
To the C-section mommy who had to just keep on – I’m sorry! I’m sorry that you didn’t have time to let you body heal. I’m sorry that you didn’t have the support and help that you needed. I’m sorry that you had to carry on despite the medical advice and despite the pain. I’m sorry that you feel the trauma caused to your incision because you didn’t have the opportunity to recover. I’m sorry that you had to navigate those first terrifying and taxing weeks on your own – it’s hard enough with a new little person in your life but even harder when you can’t recover from major surgery. I’m sorry!
To the C-section mommy who had another child at home – how?!? If you didn’t have help, I applaud you and haven’t a clue how you managed! Well done! It must have been one of the hardest things you’ve ever had to do! Because, even with help, it was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do! I know how your heart breaks when you can’t lift your firstborn up to kiss their head better. I know the tears you swallowed when you couldn’t lift your child up when they sobbed at your feet for a cuddle. (My firstborn fell asleep the other day on the floor near the door in her room and I couldn’t move her to her bed. I wept after someone else had to do it for me.) It’s hard enough bringing a new baby home to your eldest who has had all the attention, has only ever known your care – no nanny, no playgroup. Now add to being incapacitated, unable to pick them up and comfort them – I know! It is heart-breaking.
“They won’t remember it!” people say. Maybe not! But I will!! The look of betrayal and hurt in those big eyes. The cries for mommy in the middle of the night to pick your child up. The pleas for cuddles. The feelings of inadequacy that you can’t even lift your child onto a change mat. The sore toes and bumped heads you couldn’t lean down to kiss better. The look of confusion and hurt in your child’s eyes that a baby could lie on your chest but he/she couldn’t sit on your lap. I don’t know about you, but I feel like the mere thought of these times will still give me a lump in my throat in years to come.
To the C-section mommy who is indifferent to C-sections or would happily choose to have another – know you are blessed. You are truly blessed to have had a positive experience. So, be considerate in what you say to other C-section mommies who found it hard. You may have found it easy but please don’t expect that everyone did or should have felt the same as you. So if you loved your experience of a C-section, be glad that you didn’t have to face any issues and lend your support mommies who’ve battled.
And to the mommy who will have a C-section – don’t despair! I didn’t write this to terrify you. There is one thing that makes a C-section worth every ounce of discomfort – you will hold the child that you carried for months in your arms, just like every other mommy! And that, is what all mommies want at the end of the day. – a healthy baby! Ask any of us and we wouldn’t hesitate to go through it all again! No birth is easy. Natural birth has it’s own set of complications. C-sections are quick. You know that once the anaesthetic kicks in, your baby will be wailing and flailing in the arms of your gynae minutes later. And now, you have the option of a gentle C-section. You can still have skin-on-skin and hold your newborn while you are being stitched up – you don’t have to wait. I started breastfeeding in recovery. There’s no need to wait. You can request to have the screen dropped so you can still see your little one enter the world. And, at the time, there is no pain. You can lie on your back and enjoy watching the birth of your baby. It’s still such a special time! And I would redo those moments over and over! They were the moments I met my child. And nothing can take that away! Those moments will be stored and treasured in my heart forever!
I wrote this for mommies who’ve struggled with C-sections so that you know you are not alone. There is something liberating about solidarity. There is something freeing about knowing that others have walked the road with you. And sometimes, when you feel you can’t speak, it’s a real release to hear someone else speak for you. Mommy, it’s hard but you are not alone!
As I read this to my husband, I felt like I could let my emotions go; let the tears run and process my feelings about C-sections. It is easy to wallow in self-pity and it has been hard trying to end this post in a way that encourages you and lifts you up. I was sent an article by my dad, and, I was a bit sceptical when he sent it because of the title.
Again, I thought,
You don’t understand.
But I determined to read it anyway and try to do so with an open mind. Hard as it was, I was challenged to think about this brief time of hardship as a time where a lesson could be learnt. Honestly, I still feel self-pity. That’s the ugly truth. But there is a reason I experienced birth this way. And, I want to grow through this time rather than feel sorry for myself, difficult though it may be.
“In fact, the very trials that have caused me, for a time, to question God’s goodness have been the means by which He has shown me just how good of a Father He is.”
I have questioned the goodness of my Heavenly Father and why I had to go through a C-section. I don’t know yet. Maybe my epilepsy would have sent me into a convulsion during labour. Maybe it’s to be able to comfort and empathise with other C-section moms who need someone who understands. He knows.
“So rather than viewing suffering as an inconvenient, senseless glitch in the plan, let’s look at it through the lens of the gospel truth. From that vantage point we will be better able to trust that whatever cross God has asked us to carry, it will be used by Him to accomplish His good purposes.”
I need to trust that His plan is perfect and that there is a reason He allowed me to have a C-section and not a natural delivery.
“But Christ has allowed my suffering to help free me from the prison of trying to be my own god and to teach me to trust in Him, lean on Him , and find rest in Him as the One and only true God who is in control and working out His good and loving purposes in my life. Trying to control our lives is exhausting and, eventually, we will crash and burn. In God’s grace, He sometimes allows circumstances that strip away our ability to control our surroundings in order to free us from the vicious cycle of self-reliance and teach us to rest in His loving purposes and faithful promises,”
And this could very well be the reason. I love to be in control. When I’m not, it feels like my world comes crashing down. There was nothing I could control about having C-section. In those frightening moments, I could not control anything! I had no part in bringing the baby into the world – I couldn’t even control my legs or bladder movement! The only thing I could do was hand my life and the life of my unborn child into His hands (as I should anyway!) and trust Him, lean on Him for the strength I needed (and still need!) and know that He works everything out for the good of those who love Him. He will give me strength to do anything because He has overcome the world. So take heart, Mommy! You are not alone! I understand, but even better, so does He!
Photo Credit: Katie Lacer
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