I had my babies, but I didn’t birth them

by Andrea on November 10, 2011

I didn’t birth my two babies. I had them. I’ve come to terms with my first, his was truly necessary and without a doubt saved his life. The second, I’m still trying to heal from 7 months later.

I had Aedyn February 2009, he was what the Dr called hyper-mobile, all it meant was that even at 40+ weeks he was turning somersaults. He slept breech and then flipped vertex when he was active.

I had my birth plan ready, it was going to be completely natural, I knew I could do it. My Dr was 100% on board and he and the nurses were completely supportive. At 41 weeks my water broke. On our way to the hospital I remember it actually sinking in that I was going to have a baby that day! I’d been nervous for the past month about a possible C-sec because of the occasional breech position, but refused to think of it as an option. But there, in the car, a small voice in my head asked “Even if that means a C-section?”, I felt a peace settle then, that yes, even if I needed a C-section, I would be ok, I was going to be a Mom!

I arrived and was checked into my LDRP room. My heart sunk when the nurse looked at me and said, your stomach doesn’t look right and I can’t feel baby’s head, we need to get an ultrasound right now. Aedyn was oblique, not terrible far off, but his head was at my left hip. My Dr came in and offered me the option of a version. I’d have to have an epidural, but they could let it wear off before I needed to start pushing. Not ideal, but better than just going in for a C-sec.

By the time I was prepped for the version and they rechecked Aedyn’s position, he had rotated fully breech. The Dr was less than thrilled, but he was still willing to give it shot. To his surprise Aedyn rotated head down like he was sitting on a lazy-susan. Then they completley lost his vitals. Things erupted and Aedyn was lifted out of my abdomen 6 minutes later. Yes, we FLEW down that hallway!

I remember only a few things during those minutes, I was so worried about my baby. The Dr promising to do the best he could so I could have a VBAC and then them opening me up and the Dr saying “Where’d the baby go?” I could’ve told them that, the moment the Dr let go of him from the version, he flipped back full breech and curled himself as far up in my ribs as he could get. Still a moment of panic that I’d not really had a baby inside of me for the previous 41 weeks did flit through my head.

Then I heard something else, the Dr said, “Well, that’s why he was so mobile, his cord was so short!” it turns out that Aedyn’s cord was 1/2 to 1/3 of the length of the average umbilical cord. Had I birthed him vaginally, unless He dropped and was born in one push that placenta would have been riped away from the wall and he almost certainly would have been stillborn.

As soon as they checked his vitals he was handed to my husband. After my x-ray, since they hadn’t had to time to count sponges or scalpels, he was handed to me and I held him as I was taken back to the recovery room, he was nursing less than 20 minutes after being born. For a C-section, I really couldn’t have asked for a more supportive and caring Dr and hospital staff. They bent over backwards to do everything they could to follow the rest of my plan. It was hard, it wasn’t planned, but it was so necessary and done with such sensitivity that I ended up being ok.

Fast forward to 7 months ago, November 2010. I’ve moved halfway across the country and am seeing the only Dr in the county who will permit a VBAC. I hate the hospital postpartum policies, and am not thrilled with the L&D policies either, but it’s the only hospital in the area that will even consider allowing VBACs.

I felt my water break at 39w 4d, and because I’ve been GBS+ twice, I’m a little more than rushed to get to the hospital and get some antibiotics started. So I go in, turns out that I have a high leak, so they’re going to keep me, but not much else is going on. I was in tirage for 9 hours because the nurse was trying to buy me time, and because the L&D rooms were all full, seems like Jaron picked a pretty popular day to make his appearance.

The on-call Dr didn’t even attempt to come and see me, he made my Dr come down. They knew I was going to fight. But after 9 hours, absolutely no progress and no contractions, even I was starting to wonder what was wrong with my body. After I consented to a C-sec now rather than a possible emergency one in the middle of the night my water fully broke.

This is my deepest regret and I feel my failure. I should have said stop. I wish I had insisted that they wait a little longer now that my water was fully broken. That we see what happened. That…that something. That anything other than think about the Dr making a special trip on his day off, that the OR was scheduled throught he rest of the evening, that everyone was ready for me. That I didn’t want to cause a problem.

But I did think of those things. And my people pleasing side came out. I had my second baby that evening. Unlike my first, no one mad eany effort to help me through the pain of a failed VBAC and unplanned C-sec. After holding Jaron for a couple of minutes he and my husband were ushered to the nursery where they waited for nearly 2 hours because there were too many babies ahead of them.

Jaron was out like a rock when they finally came to see me. He didn’t nurse until much later. I felt horrible. Then I saw the nurses’ notes on me FAILED VBAC. Not that it made a difference. Not that any of them talked to me about it. It was just written there next to Jaron’s APGAR scores. FAILED VBAC.

Physically, I didn’t even really notice that I had a C-sec, physically I recovered so quickly it was miraculous. But I had to. I had family in town, but no one knew how to help. I had to take both kids to the dr all by myself the day I got home from the hospital. My husband was able to be there for the actual appointment and to help me get them back in the car. But we couldn’t afford for him to take off work.

My first night, all the family left. I was alone with my 20 month old and 4 day old and a huge gash across my abdomen. I called my parents and they did come over that night and every night for the next 2 weeks to help me get my toddler to bed.

But I never heard what I wanted to hear. That I’d done good, that I’d done a good job. That it was hard work. Because it wasn’t, all I’d done was lay there. And no one bothered to tell me that no matter what happened to get him out of my body. I did do good. I thought of my baby, I carried him for 9 months, I’d kept him healthy.

My husband I think wanted to, but he didn’t know how. I’m not even sure that he even knows how much I’m still deeply affected by it. For good or bad I’m fairly good at hiding it.

But it hurts, I see those letters on the nurses sheet when I least expect to. FAILED. It doesn’t matter that I know he’s healthy and I’m a great mom. I still FAILED. My body doesn’t work right. I’ve never dilated, I’ve never felt a contraction. I have two beautiful litlle boys that I feel like I didn’t earn. I feel like I’m not a real woman, that I’m defective. I know it bleeds over into how I see myself now, my figure especially. And I know that having bottled it up for the past 7 months has done more harm than good.

But I know…well, I hope. I’m not the only one who’s still struggling, who’s still hurt. Because that would mean that she’s not the only one either. And someow that possibilty gives me hope that maybe these feelings will diminish and not because I have a successful VBA2C next time around, but because I can actually absorb the fact that wether I have babies or birth them, I am not defined by that reality. It is what it is, but I am more.

By: Heather S.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Angelina November 11, 2011 at 8:56 am

You’re not alone. I recently had my 2nd baby.. by c-section. I wanted a Vbac even when I was overdue, but my body didnt do anything. I ended up having an elective c-section because baby hadnt engaged (like my first) and I hadnt gone into labour. Even the day of my section I cried so much because I felt like a failure, like my body was broken because I couldnt give birth naturally. And every now and then those thoughts pop in my head. We just have to try be positive and believe one day the pain will go away. Its such a huge deal and people dont realise how it can take its toll on us mentally and physically.


2 Andrea November 11, 2011 at 8:04 pm

Heather, thank you so much for sharing your stories! It is heart-wrenching to hear you say that you didn’t give birth. I want to tell you that you DID give birth. I used to say the same thing after my first cesarean. I felt like a fraud and I realized that those feelings, while valid, do not tell the whole story. That is why I started this blog. You did give birth because you made the choices you had to make in a hard and fast paced situation. You did GOOD.


3 stacy g November 11, 2011 at 8:15 pm

i am so sorry you didn’t have the support your deserved throughout these two pregnancies-birth-postpartum. it’s embarrassing that we can spend lots of money on technology and not enough on listening. i am a midwife and i see cesarean section births as BIRTHS. i don’t want to discredit your experience but IMHO, you DID birth your babies! I don’t mean to disrespect you, but you did give birth. You gave birth by c-sections. but, it’s still birth. you became a mama to those two precious babes. and, i believe each woman does exactly what she CAN do in the situation. Maybe it would have been different If… or If…but those Ifs were not there! You made the best decisions you could make. And, you are awesome for making hard choices- that’s a big part of mothering. I hope for your healing as you come to terms with just how wonderful you were to mother them while they were still on the inside and as they were coming out, as difficult as it was both times. much love to you, dear mama.


4 Una January 14, 2012 at 1:20 pm

I am sitting here in tears! Thank you for sharing your story – I have felt so alone :(
My first baby boy was born via c-section at 1:58am on Friday 1 August 2008. I was told towards the end of my pregnancy that baby was posterior and was not droping and that he wasn’t engaging – when I arrived at the hospital I hadn’t dialated as it was early labour and the Obgyn was called straight away to do a section – I was naive and I believed in my Obgyn’s opinion and went along with it – he scared me into believing that I was doing what was right and that this was the only way my baby would be safe…I walked away from his birth broken…I couldn’t believe that I had been so weak! It took me years…then I did all the research I possibly could to find out about VBAC’s in South Africa – there are very few Obgyns and caregivers here that will even consider helping you! I was obsessed, I went to extreme measures to find the right team…and I found them! My pregancy went well up to 32 weeks when I started passing kidney stones, I was in a lot of pain but refused to intervene as I wanted my VBAC…I stopped Aqua Aerobics to help me rest…I started a raw food diet from 36 weeks, my crates were packed and my birthing pool was ready. At my last check up with my midwife on the friday night baby was 100%, he was lying in the optimal birthing position and was engaged – she said it would be a stright forward easy delivery. Monday morning I drove my toddler to school…and had an accident – a guy drove into the side of us…I saw it coming…baby turned away from the hit before the car slammed into us…(maybe…maybe he listened to me and moved away from the danger)…baby was no longer in the right position and was posterior! I laboured from that monday – I had only dialated 3cm by thursday afternoon – my midwife and doula set up my pool in my lounge for the day to get things going! I cried as I felt I could do this…3cm is better than what happened on monday, tuesday and wednesday!!! They dressed me warm (it was mid winter) and sent me off to bed…I was on my hands and knees every 2 minutes for painful and long contractions…rocking to get baby to turn. They left and said to call once I felt my labour was changing…I was in denial! I was thinking, if this process has taken since monday it will still take a loooooong time, and if my caregivers left surely they thought it would too. My husband was getting worried as he could no longer calm me and I was shaking though contractions…he called my midwife at 10pm, she arrived 20 minutes later – I was 7cm…we rushed to the clinic…25 minutes later I went rushing up the elevator…into my birth suite ready to push at 10cm immediatley…I pushed and I pushed in every possible position…on my husbands kness facing him, leaning on the ball, on my hands and kness…I pushed and I pushed in the dead of night and the cold of winter…I pushed and I pushed…2 and a half hours later my OBGYN arrived as we decided something needed to happen…I took 10 minutes in the pool to catch my breath, endorphines rushing through my shaking body. The Obgyn did an internal and said he thought I could actually push him out…he broke my water and I got up back into position – hubby holding me tight as I squatted…one push and panic ensued…babies heartrate was dropping…I was pushed onto my chest with my bum in the air…I could smell soap as they tried to shave me whilst yelling at me to stop pushing (the force takes over as and there is no way to make your body stop…I was told if I couldn’t hold it…he might not make it)…my husband rushed off to sign the papers, they got me onto a trolley and rushed me into theatre…panic everywhere…I was told to stop pushing again…finally the Obgyn told me to sit and push into the mattress…I looked down…there was blood stained amnitotic fluid everywhere…I think they thought he was gone already…everyone seemed to be fighting in the OR…panic was everywhere…I was screaming for my midwife and for the spinal so that they could get him out…25 minutes later I lay parlysed waist down, my shoulder heaving and shaking…people holding me down…they cut without warning…my husband sitting next to me pale and cold…he saw him first…I didn’t hear anything…and there it was…a loud cry…my child was alive!!! They checked him very quickly and put him on my chest..the paediatrician rubbing him down…he was lying touching my nose…I could smell how clean he was and I could lay my hand over his head. I was so greatful that he was alive…I thought I had killed him as I couldn’t stop pushing!
They took him to check him when I was being stitched up…they asked my husband what his name was and as he said ‘Oliver’ he turned and all I could see were tears and disbelief…we had a son and he was alive! The Obyn came to me whilst still in theatre and said ’5 more minutes and he would have been the first to go’…we could have both died that night.
Oliver was born Friday 1 July 2011 at 01:33am – my boys are EXACTLY 2 years and 11 months apart – almost to the minute!
My ‘healing birth’ turned out like a nightmare and haunts me every single day…yes my child and I are alive…but I lived those 25 minutes believing I was killing my child.
The next few weeks were awful – I had a bad infection in my cut and my heart was broken…Olivers birth was seen as a failed Vbac and NOT an emergency section…people kept on giving me the ‘I told you so’ instead of a ‘sorry, are you ok, will you be ok, and how can we help you recover from your ordeal’…
It is awful that these SUCCESS BIRTHS (life saving interventions) are seen as FAILED VBACS…we did NOT fail our children yet we feel we haven’t earned them.
A few days after Olivers birth I lay in bed nursing him whilst my other toddler was babbleling in the background and I said to my husband ‘I will never be ok again I am now broken’…this was more than 6 months ago…and I can truely say that my statement that day was true…I am broken and wish I could fix myself somehow but I think I will remain like this forever :( broken and sad…I am a loving and caring mother ( they don’t know how broken I am inside – that part of me they will never see) i will never show them this part of me….


5 Joanne March 31, 2012 at 10:47 pm

Dear Una, Thank you for beng brave enough to tell your story. I was so saddened to hear you say that you are broken. Partly because I can relate, and partly because I now know that it doesn’t have to be that way. I also had an emergency c-section in July of 2009. I also felt broken afterward and thought I would never heal. However, I was determined to find a way and I didn’t stop searching. I did this for myself, my son, and my husband. I can now proudly say that I feel like a strong, wonderful woman and mother, and I am no longer haunted by my experience. I have learned the secrets to healing from post-traumatic stress.

Please visit my website and contact me either by phone or email. I used amino acid therapy and life coaching to help me turn my pain into a new calling in life. I am now becoming certified as a health coach and I am dedicated to helping mothers recover from traumatic birth experiences to lead happy and fulfulling lives with their family. My current website is only the beginning.

I would love to share with you how I have healed in the hopes that it will also help you to find your own healing. Please contact me soon and I will share with you how I have healed my heart and soul. I promise that I won’t pressure you to hire me as a health coach. Even if you just need some emotional support i am here. – Joanne


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