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Digging Deeper…………

March 12, 2009

When I began writing this blog, I guess hoped it would challenge me as a writer but I never imagined that it would challenge me as a thinker. I just looked at it as a way to journal our experience, share it with friends, and remember the details we might otherwise forget. But, recently I wrote a post about my c-section experiences and I got a lot of feedback. Most of it was positive but a couple responses were pretty angry.

I firmly believe that everyone is entitled to their own opinion and I do see that many women feel traumatized by this surgery; however, I still do not understand why women are devastated by experiencing a cesarean birth. I am a “by any means necessary” kind of mom. Just get that baby safely here. And if you can do it quickly, even better. I hear that some women feel cheated because they believe doctors rush to do a c-section to avoid malpractice lawsuits. I have to say wait a minute on that one – malpractice lawsuits happen when something goes wrong – so if the doctor is trying to avoid a malpractice lawsuit, I fail to see why that is a bad thing.

But reading the responses made me want to dig deeper and uncover why I am so unscathed by my experiences. This what I came up with.

When we decided we were ready to be parents, my husband was excited – that means we get to try – a lot. I had other plans – sorry dear. I wanted a boy first – I have an older brother and he is my good luck charm. So I hoped if I ever had a girl, she would have an older brother. So, there is timing involved. My husband swore if we got pregnant the first month, I would be a single parent.

Me: Ooops. Count your blessings honey. Some people try for years.
Number One Hubby: Hmpf.

I had an easy pregnancy with Bear – but his birth – well that was a little more exciting. You can read here about how all three of my children were born in emergency situations. Yes, that surely tainted my judgment and fostered a lack of resentment. As I said, by any means necessary.

That first year went well. So, we started talking about adding to our family.

Hubby: Do we get to practice more this time?
Me:  I’d like a girl this time. There is timing involved, you know.
Hubby: I’ll take that as a no.
Me: Well, we’ll see – I’d like to just try the first month.
Hubby: Remind me again how do you feel about single parenting.

We got very lucky again. Flower was born 23 months after Bear.

Then a year later, we thought about starting to talk again.

Me: I am pregnant
Hubby: What? How did that happen?
Me:  (Looking at Flower and Bear)
Hubby: Yeah, I know that. But, does that mean we don’t even get to pretend like we are going to practice?
Doctor: Something is not right.

Baby Doe never made it completely into our family. I don’t know if Baby Doe was a boy or girl. S/he wasn’t with us long enough to get a name, just a place in our hearts. Baby Doe did not make it very far. We lost Baby Doe early. The first sonogram showed that our baby was measuring too small and there was not a heartbeat. Let’s wait about 10 days and see what happens. Maybe you aren’t as far along as you think you are.

Hmmmmmm. 10 days as in 240 hours as in 14,400 minutes as in, literally, a lifetime. Baby Doe’s lifetime.

My HCG levels were rising at encouraging levels. That got me through 10 very long days. But the second sonogram showed no growth, no heartbeat. My body, not realizing what was not happening, did absolutely nothing. So, I was scheduled for a DNC.

It is hard to capture those feelings. Not everyone knew I was pregnant – although I am glad I had told my family and close friends. Otherwise the loss would have been a silent one.

The people who were most concerned about our loss were people who had experienced the same loss themselves. I do feel it much more deeply for others now too. Miscarriages seem so unattended. So nameless and faceless and lonely. Solitary.

It’s not that often that I think of our miscarriage – remember I try to focus on the gifts not the disappointments – although writing about our experience made me shiver a little. There is certainly an emptiness in the experience. Writing about it takes me to the softness in my heart where sadness echoes memories that were never meant to be.  I think I was lucky that I was able to grieve our loss when it happened. So many women fight the sadness and move on a little too quickly. I did not have a choice. It was overwhelming and empty. Grief came to me in the quiet moments I was alone and allowed myself to think of what was not to be.

We never knew what exactly happened – just that something must have been very, very wrong.

We were told to wait a few months before trying again. Physically and Emotionally. Not me. Thank you. We started trying soon after. Hubby didn’t even ask about practicing. It was not as fun this time.

Six months with no luck and we decided we should count our blessings. Two children – one boy, one girl. We are very lucky. We can stop here.

Hubby scheduled an appointment for a vasectomy and was on his way to it when another doctor called him. He needed to go to his parents’ house immediately. His father was not doing well.

That following week my father-in-law passed away from a long, hard-fought battle with lung cancer. We had his funeral on a Wednesday and on the following Friday was Flower’s second birthday. I felt funny. Exhausted. Not really that hungry. Pregnant. But we had a lot to do and Hubby was just overwhelmed. I decided to wait until after the party to share the news.

My mother-in-law graciously asked us to continue with Flower’s party. She thought it would be nice to have something happy to do. She was right. It was lovely and a very nice diversion. Toward the end of the party, I heard hubby declaring our intent to be a two-child family. He laughed and joked. But his bottom line – “we are done.”

After everyone left, I asked him to sit down.

Me: We aren’t exactly done.
Hubby: Huh? Again with the no practicing?
Me: Apparently.

The first sonogram did not go well. We had to wait 10 days again. Luckily this time it was not a lifetime. Although it felt like one.

The second sonogram went great. The message typed on the screen was “send pizza”. Does that mean you see a heartbeat? Yes.

Some of my tests showed abnormal results and I ended up having an amnio. Everything tested fine and we knew for sure we were being blessed with another daughter. But something about a miscarriage can leave you questioning your entire pregnancy. What will happen this time? Will she be okay? We have all heard too many stories.

So, when I was in a car accident the day Angel was born and I heard very scary words in triage, I still was very unsure I would get to meet her. Hold her. Luckily for me and her, we both came out of surgery just fine. Three weeks early. Her little gift to me. Thanks honey!

I feel so blessed that my children are with me. That we survived pregnancy together. So, when I hear someone lament their c-section story, I don’t share their loss – even if we share similar scars. My scar is a physical reminder that I am blessed – it is a badge of honor. Some scars I guess are more emotional. And I understand they might not ever heal. I have sympathy for that sense of loss but, clearly, perspectives are different. I am not sure why they are unable to simply soak in the gift they have been given. Just look at their child and see that great fortune was delivered right into their arms via their heart – by any means necessary.  As  for me, I plan to continuing appreciating what is and forgive whatever was not.

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21 Comments leave one →
  1. March 18, 2009 10:19 am

    Thank you for your lovely and sensitive post. Your little ones are great gifts.

    I do know that some women who have had a c-section feel a real loss at not having been able to deliver vaginally. But the loss of a pregnancy or baby is a different loss, a different order of magnitude.

    The March of Dimes has created a Bereavement Kit for families who have suffered a loss. It contains fact sheets on reasons for loss and booklets that deal with the issues From Hurt to Healing; What Do You Say?; When You’re Ready to Try Again; and Resources. You can read about it at this link: http://www.marchofdimes.com/pnhec/572.asp. If you or someone you know would like to have one of these helpful and free kits, please send an email requesting it to the following address: bkit@marchofdimes.com. We will gladly put one in the mail.

  2. March 17, 2009 9:31 pm

    pam – and having an 18 year old is probably much harder than having a c/s 😎 I am so glad your girls made it safely here! Yahoo!

    Laura – I love how Kim says that – I have quoted her many times on that one! It is so good to see you here! I hope life is going smoothly for you! And you are so right, a gift by any other name is still a gift! Hugs1

  3. Laura permalink
    March 17, 2009 7:12 pm

    Ellen, You’re so wonderful to offer an explanation for your stance on your c-sections – but I hate that it was necessary. A life is a life, and however God sees fit to honor you with it – it’s a gift, and as another dear friend always says to me, you should never get your gifts appraised. I guess sometimes our gifts don’t come wrapped in beautiful paper, but that doesn’t make them any less a gift!

  4. pam permalink
    March 16, 2009 1:20 pm

    i 2 had 2 c’s! we have an 18 yr old who was 9 pounds 12-17-90!
    r 2nd c saved my daugther’s life 4-7-99. she had gastroschisis! which is..
    her intestines, bowel & kidneys were on the outside of her stomach (wall defect) she was in icu 4 2months & has had 4 surgeries since, last one 05. we didn’t know of the defect so if i didn’t have the c she WOULD NOT be here today.

  5. March 15, 2009 2:21 am

    Lynn- it amazes me that so many of us have stories – you are a strong women and I am glad your daughter made it. She is beautiful – just like her mom!

    Tottsmom – I don’t think you understand it until you have either been thru it or seen the pain from it. Most of us move on okay and so many of us are lucky to have other children. It’s just another chapter in this parenting journey. Your friend is lucky to have you! Just don’t be surprised if she doesn’t really want to talk about it – especially if she is pregnant now – although opening that door for her would be a tremendous gift!

  6. Tottsmom permalink
    March 14, 2009 11:33 am

    Thanks, my friend has a little girl 3 years old and THE cutest thing you have ever seen. Her last loss was after 3 months. The Doc says she is Ok, and no reason for the problems. Thanks for telling me that an acknowledgement of the loss is appropriate. We are praying that this one is going to be fine, but only God knows the answer.

  7. Lynn permalink
    March 14, 2009 11:08 am

    I, too, had a C-Section. My daughter was a week late, I went in for scheduled induction and nothing was progressing. Then her heartbeat was becoming irradic. Doctor didn’t want to wait around all day for me not to progress and put the added stress on the baby so we had the c-section. I didn’t care, just let me hear the baby cry. Which we did. I had had 2 previous miscarriages, one requiring a DNC. We always said 3 is our lucky charm. I’ve had 2 miscarriages since her birth and we finally decided we are truly blessed to have our daughter. Thanks for sharing your story.

  8. March 14, 2009 7:19 am

    Hey Lola – that sounds dreadful – I am glad that you made it to the delivery room!

  9. March 13, 2009 10:12 pm

    Thanks for sharing. Both of my pregnancies were horrible, one miscarriage and nothing but nonreassuring test results, my inability to gain weight and huge contractions from seven months on. The fact that we made it to the delivery room was big stuff, and I wouldn’t have cared one bit if I had the C-section that I should have had and didn’t. If the end result is a healthy baby, then that’s all that matters!

  10. March 13, 2009 9:29 pm

    Rhonda – hey you – I always love seeing that you have come to visit! Hugs!

    Chris – isn’t it so sad that I have known you for several years and we have never swapped these stories? I am glad your beautiful girls made it safely into your arms! And that tailless little callie is the luckiest cat in the world! I need her to come lick my tears away!

    Kathleen – I think there are clearly risks with any pregnancy – but I had no trouble with 3 c-sections – my doctor knew my history and was fine with Angel’s pregnancy – I don’t know if he would have encouraged a 4th child but I have reached my maximum capacity and never considered any other children. In fact, while I was pregnant with Angel my husband went back to get his vasectomy – the first trimester of her life in my womb was too similar to the miscarriage and I knew I could not face that again. Then I had my tubes tied. Over cautious, maybe – but no more babies here. 😎

    Tottsmom – I was so thankful that I had children before I had a miscarriage. I simply cannot imagine the fear that must follow a miscarriage that comes before any children. I was lucky to know that I could have children. But they say that one in four pregnancies ends in miscarriage – that shocked me – so statistically I guess I was bound to have one. I truly cannot say enough how important it is to recognize the loss of a miscarriage. Several of my friends sent me flowers and a few made meals. It truly has to be recognized. That is why I hate it when women don’t tell anyone they are pregnant until the second trimester. When no one knows they are pregnant, if something goes wrong, they are left so alone without any acknowledgment of their pain. It takes a very brave woman to get pregnant after a miscarriage – it is a scary pregnancy when something has gone wrong before.

    Stacy – I cannot imagine a second trimester loss – I am so sorry! But I am super glad that your little bundle of boy made it fully into your life! He is adorable!

    Josie – you should not be reading these post – you are pregnant – enough with the scary stories for preggos! 😎 Of course, being a doctor, you probably have enough stories of your own! Big hugs to you my dear friend!

  11. March 13, 2009 8:13 pm

    An old friend is sending you a very very big hug – thank you so much for sharing with us!!!

  12. Stacyyour sista permalink
    March 13, 2009 5:54 pm

    Thank you for sharing your experiences. We unfortunately had a second trimester loss before conceiveing our son and it is truly something you NEVER get over. Some people don’t get that.
    Our son was born six weeks early. My water broke and I went to the hospital and they insisted they were going to hold me over until I was 35 weeks to make sure his lungs were developed etc… After failing our non-physical stress test, 7 epidurals tries and 28 hours after my water broke I too had an emergency c-section. I am so grateful in so many ways for having had teh c-section. I do not follow the belief that you have to experience a vaginal birth in order to be a mother or whatever that philosophy is. I’m glad that your 3 that were meant to be arrived safely: )

  13. Tottsmom permalink
    March 13, 2009 3:02 pm

    I have a friend who is pregnant again after several miscarriages. Your post helped a lot in realizing that we, the outside world, do tend to brush off a miscarriage while the parents still need to grieve the loss. Thanks for the post.

  14. Kathleen permalink
    March 13, 2009 1:26 pm

    Just wanted to say how much I appreciated both your posts about c-sections. I too have had 2 kids via c/s and it is encouraging to know that you can have a 3rd. So many people have told me how unsafe it is for multiple c/s but similarly to you, I didn’t have a choice for my c/s but am thankful that my babies came out healthy.

  15. Chris permalink
    March 13, 2009 12:26 pm

    As I sit here I realize just how similar we are…It took 12 years, a few surgeries and many drugs for #1 and then 23 months later #2 with very few drugs. Our Baby Doe was a little over a year later, I feel blessed with the beautiful girls and decided no more drugs…..I need you to know that I am sitting here with a beautiful tailless Cali in my lap, licking away all the tears. Thank you for the writing and especially sharing this bundle of love.

  16. Rhonda P permalink
    March 13, 2009 10:24 am

    That was beautiful! Thanks for sharing!

  17. March 13, 2009 6:21 am

    Monika – I look forward to reading your story – it must have been so scary – I am so glad everything ended up okay – the journey through parenting is a big honking roller coaster! Seat belts on please!

    Badass – it may sound weird – but it really is not too hard to write about – i wish I had gotten to know Baby Doe but Angel probably would not be here if that were so – so how can i be sad to have been given such a gift? I took my first two pregnancies for granted and never realized how lucky I was. That is certainly not true any longer.

  18. March 13, 2009 5:29 am

    This must have been hard to share, and I thank you for doing it. I know a few people who have had similar experiences with miscarriages, and its hard to accurately describe the emotions one feels at that time.

  19. March 13, 2009 2:15 am

    lovely touching post… believe it not i am teary eyed towards the end… i had a very very tough pregnancy myself… had almost had a DNC in 3rd month when the kind doctor decided that no there is life and wheeled me back from the OT with my baby inside… post that I was on bed rest for most of the times and I didnt care a bit if it was a c-sect… I am proud that a baby came of that scar.. a life

    ur post has inspired let me see if i get time in the weekend i might do a post on my exp…

Trackbacks

  1. The Birth Story | Monika's World
  2. I am not joining the pity party……. « A Reason To Write - India

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