Friday, April 12, 2013

... and I am BEAUTIFUL...

The response I received from my recent blog post journeying into the depths of my soul and caesarean experiences was both humbling and moving... in many ways.
My purpose was to create discussion and support, (did you know it's Caesarean Section Awareness Month?) and to simply share what I experienced, my emotions, my thoughts, my struggles...
I am okay, and for those that offered forums and groups for further support I am thankful... because my hope is that other women saw those comments also and are able to draw support and some healing from those places also.
Every day is different, some days I am completely in love with where I am at and what I survived (strong word yes, but that's MY feeling). But more and more I am feeling LOVE. Possibly more so now than ever.
I do not want my children to see a mother who struggles with her body, as much for my son as for my daughter. They both need to see what a strong beautiful woman is... not a superficial beauty... that real, raw, deep beauty that comes from a woman's soul.
I discuss with my children how they were born, they hear their birth stories, and they know what birth is, either caesarean OR vaginal... and they understand on their level... It's gorgeous!
So I want to share... I am flawed, I am imperfect, I have scars... AND I AM BEAUTIFUL! 
much love to ALL women! Mothers, sisters, daughters, aunts, grandmothers, grand-daughters ... you are ALL beautiful!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

I have scars...

I have this scar on my stomach, it's from the birth my children, I do not see it as beautiful, I do not see it as a reminder of the most joyous days of my life, I do not see it as something remarkable.

I have two scars on my uterus, one horizontal, one vertical... robbing me of any chance (no matter how small) to ever birth a child naturally.

The scar on my stomach reminds me of this and it's taken me a very, very long time to be ok with it. I rarely look at it, and like a part of me it is mostly numb to the touch... and still hurts just the smallest amount.

This is my journey... I share it because I feel passionately about woman's strength and fierce protection of her children, because we as women are hard on ourselves, and we compare ourselves, and we struggle... I hope this opens conversation and acceptance and awareness of women's journeys of caesareans.

- I do know some women choose caesareans, and I admire and respect you for that. It is individual, and it is about choice. Sometimes that choice is your only option left, and sometimes that choice does not feel your own. And sometimes that choice is the matter between life and death! I understand that... this is an emotional journey.

It took me a long time to come to terms with how my children were born. It was no easier the second time around. With every story I heard of childbirth, if a woman had 'birthed' her baby vaginally I envied her. Even knowing on a logical level that regardless of how a woman births there may be trauma, I felt I had been ripped off... by mother nature... by the red tape and timelines placed on me by the hospital... and now even after coming to terms with my children's births I still feel something was stolen from me, because there are a lot of "what if's". (there is a lot of medical junk in my journey, caused by the first C-section which would unlikely have ever been an issue had things been done 'properly' in the putting me back together post birth of my first born. But that is a whole other journey.)

I had researched my options of childbirth, I attended calmbirth, I prepared my body, I did meditation, classes, acupuncture, homeopathy, naturopathy, independent midwife meetings, relaxation, rolling around on a ball, massage... I felt my body was able... I believed in the ages of women before me birthing... I believed in my heart I could, I WOULD birth my baby.

Two days in to a failed induction process (I was over 2 weeks 'overdue'), a series of interventions I would likely have refused had I not felt under some form of pressure... (was I naïve?) ... my body had decided enough was enough and I signed my birth choice over to a surgeon... exhausted and deflated. There was no other choice... I had "failed".

So when my daughter was born from my body, and I heard her cry, and I asked what the sex was, and my husband went to be with her I felt little relief, and a whole lot of sadness. I cried, she cried, my husband cried, and we were all crying for our own reasons. A lot of the moments after were a blur, I remember looking at her through tears and telling her I wished it was different, and that I knew this wasn't what she wanted. I already felt I'd failed my first moments as a mother... a great start!

It took me a long time to really bond with my daughter, and a long time (by hospital standards) for my milk to come in... not surprising given the almost 1 litre blood loss I endured through the surgery. I threw every effort into my breastfeeding, hoping that would help, and eventually, it did. My daughter and I slowly grew into a beautiful team... and while I loved her deeply, I do not look back fondly on those early days, she was breathtakingly perfect, and healthy, but it was hard... very hard.

Just over a week after she was born, and after my determination of feeding and expressing every two hours, I felt that wondrous feeling of a full boob... FINALLY... I had succeeded at something.

It was a long journey...

Two failed pregnancies, a lot of tears, and just over two years later we entered the all too familiar journey of being over-due with our son.

I had prepared again for a natural birth, had attended calmbirth, a debrief of my daughters birth, kinesiology, acupuncture, homeopathy, meditation, I was ready for a VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Caesarean).

I went into labour on my own around 10 days over, and a day before the hospital had planned for me to come in to rupture my membranes. It was irregular but definitely labour... I had my show, went to hospital to get checked and was admitted because they didn't see it fit for me to go home... (I was pretty vocal about this NOT being what we wanted.) Yet after a night in hospital and almost no sleep and intense and irregular contractions I was sent to the birth suites and after having my membranes ruptured and a whole lot of nipple stimulation things picked up very quickly... until...

The 'pain' changed... my previous scar was rupturing and I was rushed off again to surgery for a caesarean.

I voiced my opinions, made damn certain my child would be given straight to me and not taken from me (as my daughter was). This happened.

I was able to stare at my baby boy through tears of a little sadness, but a lot of love... he was ready to meet us and was quiet and beautiful. I instantly loved him.

Around half an hour later he had to go with my husband, I was messed up, as I later found out, and needed to remain in surgery for a good 90 minutes. I knew something wasn't right, and later found out that a second vertical incision needed to be made in my uterus because of a complication with the first, which then led to issues putting me back together, and I promptly begged to be knocked out.

Bonding with my son however was pretty beautiful... I was in my own room, sharing a bed with him and well and truly aware of how much my body had been through and was not hard on myself.

As time went on I felt upset at missing out on the births I had hoped for, I do still mourn those births, and I am accepting of that. To this day the most upsetting thing is that I feel the option to birth naturally was taken from me by surgical failures, however, I am a mother and a woman, and I do find elements of fault with myself, we as women are good like that.

I have two beautiful, amazing, very different children that I love more than my heart can imagine. I am blessed, and I am lucky. But don't ever (as well meaning as you may be) EVER say to me that the most important thing is a healthy mother and a healthy baby.

I am familiar with loss, and I know the heartache of mothers who endure childbirth to a baby born sleeping, I see it in my volunteering with Heartfelt, and I cannot express how deeply I feel for every mother who has endured loss. I am not trying to steal away the importance of a living beautiful baby, but emotion does not know logic, and I will forever wear the scars and the pain (yes physical pain of a growth in scar tissue which is excruciating at times... all due to the caesarean surgeries) of the births of my children, and the emotional pain of the struggle to bond with my children, to miss out on the first moments and never get them back. 

The love of my children is deep, but the loss of the births I believed I was entitled to, and the scar that reminds me of that is an emotional challenge EVERY DAY.

But to mothers who have birthed (and you HAVE birthed, your body has BORN children) through caesarean I offer you this thought:

"For all of you strong and beautiful Mothers who selflessly gave birth on an operating table ... recovering for only two nights in a noisy hospital room after undergoing major abdominal surgery, discharged and sent home to take care of your newborn 24/7 while your body was still healing ... I stand in sacred respect and deeply honour you." --Patti Ramos