Tuesday, August 28, 2012

What VBAC-Lydia Would Tell C-Section-Lydia

If I knew then, would it have helped?

*If you've had a c-section, please don't assume this post is a list of ways I could have gotten out of a c-section...nope. This is a healing post, cheering C-Section-Lydia on.

I don't know all the right things to say,
even to myself!
That's how tricky c-section emotions are.
(Maybe all birthing emotions are?)

But regardless of the fact that I can't actually talk to the old me, and the fact that I'm not sure the old me would listen... I can't get the thought of it out of my mind...
talking to that me, now that I've come through the other side.

If you relate to this post, 
feel free to take the good stuff, that you like, that makes sense, and that applies to you and
apply it.
And feel free to decline anything that doesn't fit you or you don't find true. 
Because I cannot speak for your experience, and I don't assume that I can.
We all go on an amazing journey that is uniquely our own when we bring forth our children.
And I think we get the blessing of finding more of ourselves through the process(es) both on that day, and for years to come.

For the practicality aspect
Post c-section Lydia would tell pre-c-section Lydia
(Things I wish I knew ahead of time to be ready):
  • Buy a handful of dresses that you can nurse in (which are: dresses you can pull the neckline over or down on.) Dresses are what you will feel most comfortable in because they won't bother your incision. And that's what you'll feel looks best on your postpartum figure.
  • Tell Blake before he drives you around that being in the car is painful and you need him to go over any bumps, curbs, and curves very gently.
  • Look into these: c-panties (They sound awesome, but I didn't hear of them until too late.)
  • Your belly won't look like your non-c-section friends bellies, but that's ok, because it does get better and isn't permanent. Please don't compare yourself to them, its not fair, and its not helpful. It will take longer for you, but in the long run, it will not matter. Seriously, don't worry about it. I promise, it won't matter.
  • Your feet are going to swell up bigger than you can fathom (all the IV fluids after the surgery) wearing your gym shoes will help them stay a bit more manageable. (Drink lots of water to help flush it out.)
  • Because your feet swell up, try and grow your toe nails long before your baby is born, that way you can avoid the ingrown toe nails that happen from your toe nails growing into your swollen toe skin.
  • Your bad dreams are just from the pain killers, you are not going crazy. (Yes they are dreams, they are not really happening, trust Blake.)
  • (Seriously, blog readers, look away, this is by far TMI) If it sounds better to attempt getting that dreaded first bowl moment accomplished without the toilet and its positioning, go for it. Who cares? Have some chucks pads around and use those, in whatever position sounds good.
  • You will be able to do a sit up again. 
  • Your ab muscles were not cut during the surgery -- that was confirmed at the source. Don't let uninformed authors of off-topic books freak out you.
  • Even after you feel good, you will still feel your incision. The nerves will feel messed up for a long while (many months) -- when you touch the incision, you will feel it somewhere else. Don't worry, that goes away --- eventually your skin will feel sensations the way it always had. Also on occasion, your incision will have a momentary shooting pain --- even a year later. Even after your VBAC. 
  • (TMI again, especially for family -- look away!) Having a c-section does not get you off the hook for uncomfortable reunion-sex. Before you get back in the game have an honest talk with Blake about all your emotions, AND... clearly and specifically ask him to keep hands far from your incision -- the sensation is an instant mood-killer because it brings to mind your heartache (i'm talkin months on end for this scenario.) And since you pushed for two hours your cervix had a baby go through it both ways, so it does hurt vaginally as well. (Differently than after a VBAC, higher up.) It may just be effortful to enjoy sex after having a baby, no matter what. Someday it will feel better, but not for a very long time. But someday it will feel better.
  • Speaking of sex...breastfeeding hormones kill sex drive. Double whammy. Sad times. But that gets better eventually too.
  • There is nothing wrong with being sad, despite the glorious goodness of having your baby.
  • So far, I haven't found a "fix" for my feelings. The closest thing to it was acknowledging its normal.  
  • People who have not had a c-section cannot relate to you on the subject, please don't expect them to. And please don't take their comments too seriously, they don't know any better. And give yourself enough credit to know that: you know what you know, and that other people might be very wrong.
  • Share your heart with other c-section moms, its good for you.
  • ICAN is awesome -- not scary like you initially assume.
  • You milk does come in! Don't feel bad about the delay, you are not broken, you are not a failure! And yes this does commonly happen after c-sections (your not crazy or some strange fluke.) It will come in, and you will be your baby's only source of food for longer than you'd think! :)
  • While in I'm the breastfeeding subject...(this has nothing to do with c-sections, but I wish I had known) always wash your bras after one wear, never re-wear them while breastfeeding. That's a good way to get thrush! (And Hot water is a good idea for washing them!)

What Post-Natural-Labor Lydia would tell Post-Induced-Labor Lydia:

You are a super hero champion!
I don't care that you got the epidural, you are freakishly strong!
Pitocin is horrendous, and you experienced more pain in getting to 5cm than you would going through 6 natural labor and deliveries. Don't let anybody make you feel whimpy for caving in and asking for the epidural. Don't let anybody make you feel like they did something bigger and better than you did if they didn't get an epidural.
You are amazing!

Your body does know how to go into labor! There is no "can't labor" gene. You are not broken. Before they invented induction there was never a women who didn't go into labor --  there could be devastating consequences to some women or babies when labor waited a long time to start, but there was never a women who did not go into labor. Your body works just fine.

You are outrageously brave.
Take that to your credit.
Don't let the way someone else was brave, take away how you were brave.

The stuff you read about natural labor and baby bonding...
YES, God made the body in an amazing way. And yes, he made everything work together so well like that -- the intricate workings of hormones, and timing, and love.
BUT he is way, way, way bigger than one-way-thinking. He can make a way to bond with your baby regardless of method of birth.
(In fact you bonded faster with your induced-c-section-baby than your VBAC-baby.)

For the emotional aspect
Post-VBAC Lydia would tell Post-C-Section Lydia:

I would tell you...

You didn't do anything to deserve a c-section!
All the "if you only" thoughts, or even statements from others --- ignore them.
This is one of those times where the statement, "Life's not fair" is true.
There is no magic formula that makes it fair.

I would tell you...

You have been stronger than a vaginal birth all along! (I just didn't know it. I had no proof.)

I was expecting to need more strength to get through a VBAC than my induction turned c-section. I didn't. The VBAC took so much less. The way I've heard women talk about an "all natural birth" always gave me the impression that they had climbed the highest peak of hardness any person could. They always sounded like elitist to me.
As soon as Baby A was born, and J came into the room and I laid eyes on my first born...I knew I was strong. And not because I just had a VBAC. But because I all of a sudden knew how crazy strong I had been to have a c-section. And that's what I was most proud of in those first moments of "afterglow."

So I know now, that the way I felt when listening to birth stories after J was born (not strong enough, or good enough) was wrong. I have always been strong enough, always more than able.

I would tell you...

Yes recovery from a c-section is a big deal.
But having a baby, any way you do it, always takes recovery time,
don't take that away from other mommas.

I would tell you...

I was expecting a VBAC to heal me. To erase that it happened, or change all the feelings I had from it happening. It didn't. I still feel like a mess on the inside about it all. Only now I'm just more confusing, to more people on what's my deal. :) 
I guess a c-section is just a really tricky monster to tackle.

I would tell you...

Your VBAC did not improve you, and your heart, and your soul. 
Surprisingly your c-section did that. 
You are more now, made new in pain, than you ever would have been in your dream world.

I would tell you...

You will have the same opportunity to feel alone and different after your VBAC as you did after your c-section.
Its just hard to not push people's buttons in regards to birth. You will always recieve critiques along side support. 
Take your journeys and hug them to yourself. Take them and let them make you who you are made to be. Both of them!


  1. Wow, this was so insightful, and your whole site is just fabulous! As a pregnant FTM at 36, I'm thinking through all this in a much deeper way than I would have at 26. It's very refreshing to read someone else's thoughts that has gone though some different aspects, had a similar thought process as me, and is willing to share. Thank you very much. Look forward to reading more!

  2. Thanks for your comment Steph, it means a lot to me. I'm really glad that my experience could benefit anyone besides me in any way. It really blesses me heart to hear from women that they've gotten something out of it. I hope your pregnancy is going well. All the best!

  3. Thank you for sharing this Lydia. I'm a 36 yo mom now pregnant with my second. My first baby was a C-section (he was breech and despite trying through a very painful ECV, he wouldn't turn) and since then I've heard a few hurtful comments belittling the birth. One person basically commented (without knowing that I went through a c-section) that people who go through a c-section shouldn't really be celebrated on Mother's Day because they didn't go through the pain of labour! Another commented that I should feel the pain of labour at least once to appreciate childbirth. I think I appreciate the miracle of childbirth every time I look at my son and am in awe of the female body's ability to carry and nurture this other being inside our own till they are ready to come into the world. These are both comments from otherwise perfectly lovely people.

    4 years later, I still feel the need to defend and justify why he was born through a c-section. People seem to forget that a c-section is pretty major surgery and as moms we are choosing to have someone cut us apart so our babies can come into this world. Why is that not respected I wonder? They forget that our bodies need to be stitched up together and that we need to heal afterwards. That it takes our bodies longer after the fact to get back to normal. I'm considering a VBAC this time and I realized as I read your words that I'm considering this method to heal my heart just like you said. That and to feel credible again as a woman and a mother.

    Ok. Hormone overdrive. Totally tearing up. I just want to say thank you for sharing.

  4. Wow thank you for writing this. It's simply wonderful. I had a c-section with my son who was a week late and breech. Like other Mom's I've been told some judgmental things about my c-section. People assume it was easier, some tell me it was unnecessary...like you said the comments may hurt but they don't really matter or speak the truth. I am attempting a vbac now also, maybe like you and anonymous July 3rd said to heal my heart, but I didn't even know until now how true that was. I somehow felt I had robbed my son of a better birth, without considering the worth of all the things I had and have provided for him. In the end we do are best, we give our all that's what a mothers love is. Thank you.

  5. I decided to finally read your post today after a long time of having it pinned. I'm so glad i read it. I had a c-section with my baby girl and reading your post has somehow helped me understand that it's okay that i had a c-section and that even if i am able to deliver next time naturally that it won't make the pain of the c-section go away..and that it's okay i just need to come to terms with that. Thanks for writing this post.. i needed it!

    1. I’m so glad this helped in some way. There is an ache and I’m not sure how to make it go away, but I do want you to know it gets better in time. Every person’s heart heals differently, but we just celebrated my oldest’s fourth birthday, which also is the fourth anniversary of my c-section. This is the fist year I’ve done well emotionally with it all on the actual day. And that’s huge for me. So just keep being patient with yourself and allowing it to heal inside. This post may help you and those around you to work through it a bit more: http://walkingwithdancers.blogspot.com/2013/10/how-to-care-for-woman-whos-had-c-section.html


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