My daughter was born by emergency cesarean section, and even now, 17 months later, it’s an experience I have yet to process fully or come to terms with. Sometimes when I think about it, I’m completely overwhelmed by the sadness, frustration, anger, doubt and guilt I feel.
This is normal.
At all my post-partum check-ups, though, while I was asked question after question about my physical recovery and whether I had concerns about post-partum depression, no one asked me how I was coping with having had a c-section. The consensus seemed to be this was a totally normal way for babies to be brought into the world (and in the US it is–1 in 3 babies are now born here via c-section) and wasn’t my healthy baby all that mattered?
No one really seemed concerned about me, at least not beyond how well my incision was healing. The emotional scars went unaddressed. Because no one else seemed to think what I’d experienced merited concern, I felt silly for struggling with it, so for a long time, I just tried to forget. It’s hard to do forget, though, especially when friends and family and even total strangers are eager to hear your baby story, expecting a story about triumph over pain and a beautiful first meeting where your child is placed warm, damp, and completely fresh into the world on your chest. Especially when everywhere around you, there are newborns and new birth stories from others to remind you of what you experienced.
In the last few months, I’ve been working on talking more openly about what I experienced, remembering it, putting together the pieces of what happened and what went wrong. I’ve also found that hearing other women’s experiences with their c-sections have been incredibly helpful. While a story about a woman having her first time baby vaginally after a mere 6 hour labor sends me into despair, I find hearing from a woman whose story is different from mine–but with the same ending–and hearing how she handled that makes me feel stronger. What I’ve experienced and felt is normal and not silly at all. And maybe most importantly, I’m not alone.
I will be running a series of guest posts on my blog about other people’s experience with cesarean section, both because I personally find it to be healing and because I hope it will help others, too. If you’d be interested in writing about your experiences, please e-mail me. I don’t have many parameters around the guest posts for this series. It can be as long or as short as you like it, and it can include as much or as little of your experience as you feel comfortable sharing. My only request is that you remain sensitive to the fact that some of the readers who stumble across your post may be in a lot of pain and to try to speak your truth in a way that won’t hurt or retraumatize someone who is still in the healing process.
I look forward to hearing from you. Thank you!