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?
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.