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Wednesday, January 2, 2008

The Wound That Can't Be Stitched

An OB cut my abdomen and now every year around this time I feel the need to spill my guts. This post is probably going to get (verbally) violent. In real life I'm a very nice young mother who loves her husband and her children dearly. Please know that today, however, I am speaking from my scar.

If you've noticed my counter box to the right then you know that my daughter's third birthday and the third anniversary of my section-surgery is just ten days away. Do you know that I haven't even cried about my section yet? Not once. I teared up a little while telling my "birth" history to my midwife, but that's about it. I WANT TO CRY! Desperately.

As my doula was driving me to the hospital to get cut she told me that everything was going to be fine. I told her I wasn't scared about the baby dying, I was scared that I was going to die. I didn't cry then. I didn't cry as I waddled under the blood-red EMERGENCY ROOM sign, or as I was handed a Property of Baptist Hospital gown and sent to the bathroom to change. When nobody could adequately explain to me exactly why it was that I was going to be cut, and as everyone stood around the hospital bed staring at the beeping machine I was attached to, and as my husband just STOOD there as I was wheeled past him down that ammonia-mopped floor. I didn't cry. When I was in that room with the metal table, needles, machines, masks and knives I didn't even cry. A needle in my arm, didn't cry. A needle in my spine, didn't cry. A pinch to see if I was numb, didn't cry. My arms tied down, a drape over my chest, not being able to feel myself breathe, I didn't cry.

The surgeon didn't even talk to me. I could have been a dead cow on that butcher block for all she cared. Maybe it's because I didn't cry. Maybe if I'd have cried she would have realized I was actually a real, live person with feelings and she was about to cut into me and leave a wound that she would be forever blind to and that would never heal. Maybe...

Then afterwards the morphine made me outwardly giddy and so no one knew that inside I was numb and horrified and dead. You're not allowed to have morphine forever so the next day I was weaned from the poison and given little white pills that were supposed to help. You have a new baby and white pills and sterile sheets so everything is wonderful and you should be so grateful. I didn't cry then because it physically hurt to cry. I was afraid that if I cried my stitches would burst open and I'd bleed all over the pretty white sheets, and everyone would know that I hadn't been a good little girl.

So I was a good little girl, took the pills, didn't complain and healed "nicely". I have a cute little scar to prove it. In the following weeks as I battled to nurse my baby and my scar I was too weak, weary and depressed to cry. The fear of my incision ripping open haunted me for well over a year.

Now here I am. It's January 2, 2008 and nearly three years after my section-surgery. I haven't "gotten over it", nor will I ever. I think that's fine and I don't believe it's unhealthy. I have since had a few birthdays (taking me to my mid-twenties and then a smidge beyond) and a vbac. While I didn't choose to have my son to help me heal from my section-surgery, I did wholeheartedly believe that it would. It didn't. It was a pretty good birth (though it was a planned homebirth turned hospital transfer) and I felt absolutely wonderful afterwards. With my section, I didn't know what birth was supposed to be and how fun it could be. All I knew was that I was robbed of something and that both my baby and I suffered because of it. After my vbac I saw what birth was supposed to be like. It made me mad! So, my daughter and I were robbed of THIS?! I was angry, outraged, shocked, sad. . . but I still couldn't cry.

I know those tears are inside of me. I feel them every day. They burn and they ache. I'm afraid that if I begin crying, I won't be able to stop. Because my pain is never going to go completely away, so why should my tears?


  1. There is a season for tears. Yours will come.


  2. Thank you for your story! I wish more people realized or admitted to how they really felt about their cesarians. Instead of walking around like Ohh this was fine and I'd do it again. I have been cut 4x's. I had natural births but being cut does something to you and having your baby taken from you it leaves you empty you feel like a failure and then like you I got angry. I got angry because I was told that I couldn't have a vbac because I had been cut before. I was angry that when I researched I found I could have had a VBAC and it was unnecessary to be cut open. I was angry because of Dr's allowing malpractice insurance to dictate what they do with a pregnant woman. I was angry and hurt that I was robbed the joy of birth! Thank you for sharing! Thank you! Hollie

  3. I had a c-section, and I'm going to have another one in a few weeks. I wish I could do this the "natural way," but I have to play the hand I was dealt and I'm making the best of it. I'm sorry you are still dealing with the psychological aspects of the c-section. I hope it is only something you think about once in a while. You say you think it's fine that you haven't "gotten over it," but you are mistaken. Carrying around such grief and anger is not only bad for you, but everyone around you. With respect, it is self indulgent. I read "YouShouldBeGratefulLand" and some of your other articles. Are you more angry that you had a c-section or that your baby was taken early and it was possibly the wrong thing to do? I almost lost my son and I know someone who lost her boy three days after he was born. I can tell you with all honesty that I would gladly endure anything if it meant my child would live. I cannot imagine a pain more searing or a grief more shattering than loosing a child. I look at my c-section scar and it isn't perfect, but I look at my healthy son and he is all that matters. Motherhood is empowering and a great sacrifice no matter how your baby comes out. The truly empowered loose childish self pity and are freed.

  4. Becky... I just discovered your blog today, and as I'm reading your posts, I am SO grateful that you bare your soul like you do. You capture in words EXACTLY how I felt (and still feel) about my c-section 2 years ago and about how even my amazing VBAC (8 weeks ago) can't cure those intense negative emotions. Many people do not understand. I'm SO glad that I found you- you are someone who does understand, so I know I'm not crazy! "The truly empowered loose childish self pity and are freed"- ARE YOU SERIOUS??? I am very offended. It is SO hard to talk openly about my births because those who choose repeat cesareans feel judged and threatened. It's not childish self-pity, it is crippling depression that stems from feeling deeply violated and robbed of something that could have been so beautiful.

    I praise the Lord for his faithfulness and supernatural healing and for the incredible birth of my VBAC daughter. I know I would not have appreciated it as much as I do if I didn't have such a traumatic birth with my son. Both births have changed me and I have grown so much because of them, and for that I am thankful. I just wish it had been different.

  5. I had a c-section 3 months ago for the birth of my first child, a beautiful baby boy. I was intervention led to another, and after 14 hours of labouring flat on my back confined to a hospital bed on a fetal monitor and later with an electrode which they hooked into my baby's scalp, surgery was deemed necessary as the best option for my son; his heart rate was dropping quite low with each push due to his cord being tucked under his chin. I came across your blog while I was doing some reading on vbac - it's one of the ways I cope. I am encouraged by your honesty. I have had a really hard time with my surgery, my scar, and feelings of inadequacy. I find that people who have vaginal births don't understand and don't know what to say, so they often wind up being insensitive simply because they don't know better. I have been asked "what's wrong with you" and "aren't you so disappointed" and have heard things like "the same thing happened to me but I just pushed through it" as if I have failed at giving birth. My mother had 4 sections, ranging from 17-27 years ago, and she is still bitter about having "failed". But when you start asking women and talking about this, there are a surprising number of us out there. I hope that you have a good support network, and I hope that time helps you heal, just like I hope that time will help me heal. Thank you for sharing your story - I know how difficult it is.