I think I have written about a dozen posts in my head since Luke was born, yet obviously I haven't actually typed any of them up and published them. There is so much I want to say, from the birth story to how the first two weeks have gone to how Clara is handling everything, yet there has just been no time. Oddly, despite it being our first day without my parents here helping, I seemed to have found a few moments to blog this evening.
I'll get to the birth story another time, but I will say that I had a c-section. Maybe some of you could tell from the picture I posted where Ryan is in scrubs (I'm assuming fathers don't have to wear scrubs for vaginal deliveries, but then again, I guess I wouldn't know).
Those posts I wrote out in my head and never published mostly had to do with a roller coaster of emotions I experienced about the c-section. To my surprise, in the days after coming home, I found myself unable to think about the c-section without tearing up. I was depressed, and cried a lot. I did think about reaching out to the blog world for help, but just never found the time. I'm going try to explain what I'm talking about, but I can't promise it's going to make much sense!
I do want to point out first, though, that any negative thoughts I had have nothing to do with the fact that I had to have the section; I feel confident in the advice of my doctor, I trust her, and I know she moved to a section for the safety of my baby and me (I hope I wouldn't have stayed with a doctor for 39 weeks who I didn't have complete trust in). I was induced for medical reasons (gestational hypertension, which did not reverse with bed rest), I didn't react well to the pitocin (my contractions were much too strong on even the lowest dose and they had to turn it off completely a number of times), and the baby wasn't reacting well to my contractions. His heart rate was too steady (instead of moving up and down which would have showed healthy activity) and even dipped dangerously low once (a very scary couple of minutes, I might add). Plus there was my ever-rising blood pressure and my failure to dilate (despite being fully effaced and my water breaking on its own, two things that served to unnecessarily get my hopes up).
Even though I sobbed when my very sweet doctor sat by my bed side and had "the c-section talk" with me at nearly 12 hours into labor, I wasn't crying because I felt I was being wronged by the medical community. No, I sobbed because, due to my body's reaction to labor, I had to give up the dream of a vaginal delivery and all that comes with it.
[*Disclaimer* -Let me say here that I know - believe me, I know - how blessed I am that I conceived, carried my sweet baby to term and delivered him, happy and healthy, into the world. I hope I don't come across here as ungrateful in any way. But, what I am about to describe are just the honest feelings I had following my section. I am posting about them here as a way to perhaps show someone else they're not alone in their sadness, as well as perhaps receive some helpful comments from readers who have also been through it.]
Immediately following the section things were fine. It went smoothly (I'll share details when I write the birth story) and I was pleasantly surprised with the complete access and opportunities for bonding we were given with Luke after his birth, which included them bringing him to me seconds after he was born so I could kiss him first, and he didn't leave my side for the next hour and a half. (I should also add that bonding was never a concern of mine since I know how easy it was to bond with my daughter whom I didn't meet until she was five weeks old).
I felt great in the hospital too and didn't want to leave. I could really get used to nurses around the clock!
It wasn't until I got home and reality set in that I started to get sad. I think it was a combination of things - the pain pills (which really helped me but possibly contributed to some sadness when coming off of a dose), an incision that was gushing blood, feeling just plain sick and tired from major surgery, rising and falling post partum hormones, and not getting any sleep.
Whatever the reasons, I will say that my sadness centered around the feeling that I didn't "give birth" to Luke. I tried to think of another way to phrase it because I felt phony saying that. And that was a weird mind game I was playing with myself, because if I didn't give birth to him, then, well... what happened?
Somehow, I felt less of a mother because I had had a c-section. And let's keep in mind, this is me, the same woman who knew she was already a mother to Clara, despite not given birth to her at all!
Clearly I wasn't emotionally stable.
I also felt defensive of my section; I was afraid others would judge me, that perhaps I didn't fight hard enough for a vaginal delivery, or that people would feel sorry for me. But then I would try to remind myself that this was a medical issue, there was just no other way around it and there was no other safe option.
In general, I just wished I had dilated enough and had pushed Luke out.
(I feel the need for another disclaimer here - please, please know that I am not suddenly a fertile myrtle who is whining about the manner in which her baby was born. I am just sharing my honest emotions experienced in the days following Luke's birth.)
I was also very weepy in general - I cried every time I thought about how much I loved Luke, how terrible I felt that I couldn't care for Clara, or how blessed I was to have two children. I cried...a lot.
From the little googling that I have done, it appears that the emotions I experienced after my section were normal. I have friends who have suffered from post partum depression and I don't think this is it. Praise the Lord, I am already feeling better so I'm guessing it was normal hormonal shifts following birth combined, in my own estimation, with post-c-section stress. Even today, our first day home alone as a family of four, I am handling things pretty well, if I do say so myself. And if there ever was a day to break down, this would be it!
So, I really hope you all don't think I'm crazy, or ungrateful. I was, honestly, shocked by the way I felt. I didn't know it was possible to be so completely over-the-moon happy and yet be sad about something as seemingly silly as the fact that I had to have surgery to birth Luke.
I think I started to turn a corner when I read something online that someone else going through it had written - that sometimes things happen that are out of our control, things that we wish had happened another way, and we can either dwell on them or pick ourselves up and move forward. I am choosing to move forward. I just had a beautiful baby, after all. That is not lost on me! And I know one year ago I would have killed to have had a baby, whether it would have been vaginally, via c-section or out of my belly button! Now that I am able to put things in perspective and the blues have worn off, I can see that a section is not the end of the world. Actually, it was just the opposite for little Lukie :)