I met with a friend the other day for lunch. A conversation about her work as a doula and current training to become a midwife somehow lead us to talking about my birth story.
The previous day I had to squeeze my way onto my midwives schedule for a GYN appointment because of some severe lower-abdomnial pain I was having. After a very long day at their office…a pelvic and an ultrasound later, there was no known cause for my pain! All the floating hypotheses are: endometriosis, severe ovulatory pain, GI-related condition vs. GYN, or (and the one that emotionally scares me the most) possible adhesions caused by my C-Section. The pain began to dissipate over the next couple days which makes ovulation likely the cause for my pain.
When she brought up the C-Section though as being a possibility for causing me my current discomfort and that, if it checked out to be adhesions, I would need surgery to remedy the problem, I lost it. I still carry deep emotional scars from having my C-Section. There have been times I have truly thought, “Praise God, I have finally moved on!”, and then something will jog my memory (a scent, like the massage lotion we used, or a song we listened to during labor) and bam…I feel all the hurt, and sadness, and feelings of failure rush back.
My midwife could tell I was holding back tears so she pulled me back into the office as the tears began to trickle down my cheeks. This particular midwife was not with the practice when I gave birth to my daughter so I had to give some back story but I explained that I had read everything I could and I was so militant and ready for my all-natural birth and I felt like I wanted it more than anyone I had ever known. I couldn’t understand how someone like me could have ended up the way I did! I told her about the circumstances of my induction, but about the fact that I felt as if I should have questioned it because I didn’t know what my “low fluid” level was and what was “normal”. She opened up my file right then and there and sure enough it was definitely low! She said she would have made the same call and if I had demanded to go home, she would have kindly explained the risk of losing the baby. I respected her answer and admitted that there is a good chance I was told all that the day of, but I think the minute I heard the word INDUCTION, all I heard is ‘YOU HAVE FAILED’!
As I continued talking to the midwife I told her about my feelings about how I felt that I had failed in my birth and that I didn’t ever once blame their office or the midwives who helped me in labor because I knew it was my failure and not theirs. She stopped me and said “Shannon…YOU DIDN’T FAIL!” She then asked something that was, I think, the key to this whole mess because the question alone wrecked me and opened a door to a place inside of me I had forgotten about. She asked, “Did you take a birthing class from an instructor?”. This question alone started me sobbing uncontrollably. I could not even speak the woman’s name it gave me so much pain. She then asked “Was it ‘SC’ with FBM Class?”, and all I could do was shake my head yes. Finally I was able to get out in words how this leader poorly shared material but then asked me to perform for her the final night of class. When I couldn’t, this prompted her to call me the next day and tell me how she was convinced I was not ready to give birth and that I was not going to do well.
In retelling this account to my friend over lunch she said something to me that has been quite revealing and healing at that: The paraphrase goes something like this… “You have to decide why your giving birth. Are you doing it for the birth experience or for the baby?”
I truly believe still that during my pregnancy and even my labor, I was focused on Mirabelle alone. It’s been since about 4am on June 29th, while I sat ALONE in my Recovery and Postpartum room waiting for my husband and daughter to join me that I turned inward and focused too hard on the loss of my ideal birth experience.
If the Lord ever blesses me again with a pregnancy, I need to focus on the life inside of me and birthing a child with a lifetime ahead of them, rather than merely that day, and making his/her life about that one experience.