What’s so Hard to Understand

I think most people know I’ve had two c-sections. Ben’s was an semi-scheduled c-section because my blood pressure was going nuts. Katie’s was planned because it was clear my uterus wasn’t going to cooperate with any plan that involved it working to remove her. Most people also likely know that I nearly died after Katie’s delivery. If you haven’t heard that story, you can read about it here. So I come at the c-section discussion that’s currently happening from a different direction than most.

Having watched the discussion over the last couple of days about The Mominatrix’s Guide to Sex: A No-Surrender Advice Book for Naughty Moms and a couple of throw-away lines that she put in the book about women with c-sections, I’ve come to the conclusion that neither the Mominatrix or ICAN (International Cesarean Awareness Network) really have a good argument.

I don’t think anyone is precisely a villain here, but I do think that both sides would benefit from laying off the rhetoric and the antagonism and try, instead, to focus on empowering women (one of ICAN’s stated goals and one of the Mominatrix’s stated goals, somewhat ironically). Both groups had a radio show yesterday and the contrast between them was striking.

The Mominatrix had as her guest a woman who had what I can only describe as an atypical reaction to a c-section. I’m not saying that she didn’t experience what she did. I do believe that she did, but to hold her experience up as something that is normal or more typical than it really is does a tremendous disservice to any woman who has a c-section and who can’t manage as well as this woman did. I know that I could not have done without painkillers after either of my c-sections. I wasn’t on them too long, but not using them at all wouldn’t have been possible for me. She must have incredible pain tolerance. Her scar is apparently minimal, which again, is wonderful FOR HER, but it is an atypical experience. Because the last entry into that area was an emergency one for me, my scar is less than attractive. It’s not a horror show, I did have an excellent surgeon, but it is not as neat as the first one that I had from Ben. You can see that he was in a hurry and trying to do what was best for me rather than worrying about the appearance of it. I was troubled by the Mominatrix saying that women who have had c-sections should “lighten up” and that they should “have a giggle” about being tighter in the vagina and let it go. It’s easy for her to speak because she hasn’t had one.

What troubles me more is that after she’s been informed how much it hurts people (whom she is presumably attempting to empower in the bedroom) to refer to them as lucky, she continues to do it. I’ve read her book, which likely puts me in the minority of the people discussing this issue. It’s well written. It covers a huge array of sexual topics and I think does help to encourage women who are feeling less than sexual after the birth of a child to find their way back into the bedroom. I think that’s fabulous. It goes much farther than I would, but it’s a good book. She has a great “sexual resolution” challenge going on right now that seems fun and inspired, and, according to her radio show will likely be available as an e-book at an e-retailer near you in the future. Again, I say wonderful. She’s doing a service (and presumably making a profit), but she doesn’t have to get there by beating up on other women and that’s what her continued use of the word lucky appears to be to me. She appears to be doing it simply to get a reaction at this point, and I find that unfortunate from an otherwise inspiring individual.

However, I also think that ICAN started with a wonderful goal in mind, but they seem to have lost sight of that goal in their desperate pursuit of “natural” childbirth. On their radio show it was several women discussing how horrible their c-sections were, how horrible their sex lives were, and how much they wanted to have a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) or an HBAC (home birth after cesarean). I truly do understand feeling like your choices were taken away and I do understand not wanting your life or your health or your mental well-being to take a total back seat to your child’s. I do.

Most people thought I was insane for insisting prior to my OB agreeing that we needed to do a cesarean for my first child that I was sure something would go wrong if I went into labor. I was certain. I knew it. Ultimately, the decision was made for me and we did the cesarean. So, had my situation not descended into an emergency one, I would have had an elective cesarean. That’s not something I typically discuss, but I recognized, and subsequently my OB has agreed with me, that the risks far outweighed the benefits in my specific case.

So, in that vein, I can’t speak for women who were trying to labor and who, for whatever reasons, ended up having a c-section. But when I hear women sharing things like, “My husband said he wishes I never had a c-section,” I have to wonder, would he have been okay with it if you had died trying to birth your child naturally? Would it have been alright with him if your child had died because you absolutely didn’t want to have a cesarean? The other thing that disturbs me on this side of the discussion is the number of women who rush in to assure those who’ve just had cesareans that a VBAC will fix anything that’s broken in your sex life. Again, much like with the c-section mom mentioned above, that is one person’s experience and it is JUST as dangerous to make this generalization as it is the other. Not every woman will have the same experience of a VBAC (or an HBAC or whatever). If the goal is truly to empower women, then the goal should be to SUPPORT women with the experience that they’ve had and to encourage them to make peace with that experience.

I recognize that I’m in a different category from women who have tried to labor. So, no, I don’t understand how they feel either. But, and this is a huge one, they have control over how they feel and how they frame their experience. I fully, completely understand being traumatized from a birth experience. I was. I know my husband’s situation was incredibly traumatic. I know that he argued with doctors about trying to put in a central line for me — to the point that my OB managed to pull me back into my head long enough to explain what he wanted to do and why he wanted to do it in order to get my consent. I know P badgered the pulmonologist until he was convinced that being intubated in these circumstances didn’t carry the same risks for me that being intubated due to my asthma would. He did that because he knew I would not consent to an intubation unless I was completely convinced there were no alternatives left to me.

I know that I was, and to some degree still am, not willing to trust anyone but my OB. I don’t even want his partners to touch me. I don’t like his nursing staff touching me. I almost had a complete meltdown when my staples needed to be removed and the nursing manager said that she was going to let someone practice on me. Unsurprisingly, my OB took the staples out himself. That was three days after I was released from the hospital — after staying for several days in the ICU, one day in the cardio-pulmonary stepdown unit, and one day on the maternity floor.

Because of the IV infiltration in one arm, I could not hold my daughter for weeks unless someone gave her to me while I was sitting down. To this day, as in right this second, I still do not have enough strength in that arm to hold her (or my son) for more than a couple of minutes. This is something that I am having to work on. There is no estimate of how much strength I can get back, if I can get it back.

The problem that I have is watching so many women beating themselves up because they didn’t deliver vaginally or feeling like they’ve been “robbed” of an experience. I’m sorry. I don’t understand that line of thinking … and to that end, I do agree with the Mominatrix. You have a choice about how you experience life and how you respond to the things that happen to you. You can allow things that happen to you dictate your self-worth. Your choices, sure, but many of the women involved in the ICAN discussion really didn’t have choices. The thing is, you have to allow yourself to grieve, and then you have to find your way forward.

I’m not saying I’m past what happened to me, not by a long shot. I think there are a lot of women (and men, for that matter) who will need a lot of time to get past the things that happen in the birthing of children, but I think the decision to dwell and feel bad about yourself because of something that happened is a choice that you make. I think that the goal of pregnancy shouldn’t be the “birth experience” or having one’s body “do what it was designed to do”; the goal of pregnancy should be a live baby at the end.

I’m disturbed by the use of terms like “birth rape” and “oppression.” The former is flat out offensive. It is not the same as rape and it is a term that simply should not be used. The latter, yes, I see the medical establishment making it difficult for women to “get the birth experience they want” post-cesarean, and I agree that VBACs should be more commonly allowed, but I do think that if they are, those having them should have to sign a waiver stating they will not sue if something goes wrong as a result of a VBAC they insisted on having. That’s my feeling on it.

So. My point? The Mominatrix is in the wrong for continuing to press on a button that she knows is sensitive. That’s not being a sarcastic, sassy person; that’s being a jerk. ICAN is in the wrong because they’re not really empowering women to feel better about themselves after a cesarean. I’m not sure I completely understand their true purpose; I’ve read their stated goals and I understand a key one is to reduce the number of cesareans performed, BUT that doesn’t help or support the women who have already had one. I had hoped to find support for my experiences, and what I encountered instead were people wanting to know if I reviewed my medical records personally and if I was sure I needed that first cesarean. That certainly doesn’t feel like support to me. Perhaps it is in their world, I’m not sure.

For the record, these are my opinions. I feel as strongly about birth options as a friend of my who is sometimes known as the Cesarean Goddess. Read her post here. If you are interested in more on this topic.

51 thoughts on “What’s so Hard to Understand

  1. You hit the nail on the head, on every point actually.

    Having a healthy sex life is a decision. If you have been so traumatized by your birth experience that it affects your sex life you really should seek help. We as women should not let how we birth determine the outcome of our sex life or our enjoyment of sex.

    I believe love is a choice. I also believe having a great sex life is a choice.

    Four c-sections. Two bad ones, two great ones. One abdominal hysterectomy. Still loving and having great sex.

    aka the Cesarean Goddess

    • I’ll add to that or the rest of our lives, either. How you give birth shouldn’t be what makes you decide whether you have a good life or not. It really shouldn’t. I would hope that there’s more to this than just birth. I really do.

      To me, pregnancy and birth were a means to the role I wanted to play in my life: mother. If I’d had to get there by a different route, I was ready to do that, but through some sort of freak of nature accident I managed to get pregnant . . . twice.

      I’m very lucky to be alive and I know that. Maybe that’s why the Mominatrix’s use of the word “lucky” bothers me. Because the really lucky ones are the ones who nearly die and make it back. Hmm. I’ll need to think about that one for a while.

  2. Hello Adjunct – I just want you to know that Birth Rape is real, is criminal battery, punishable by law, and nobody is saying that it’s always tied to cesarean. It CAN be tied to cesarean, but a cesarean is not usually birth rape. The only time a cesarean is rape is when a mother is forced to have one against her will. It’s illegal. It’s unethical. And it is most certainly birth rape. We have the right, in every state, to informed consent. No consent? Then it’s rape. It’s actually called “rape by instrumentation.” Birth rape can occur with any forceable touching or penetration, whether with hands, or with instruments.

    Anyone who thinks that moms need to “get over it” obviously have NO understanding of PTSD. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is NOT something a mother can just DECIDE she’s no longer feeling. It’s not possible. We don’t tell victims of war that they’re not allowed to have PTSD because some other soldiers came back okay, do we? This is no different. It is a clinically diagnosable and treatable issue, and correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m assuming you’ve neither been treated for it, nor have you treated anyone else for it.

    You may not have been affected the way some mothers are, but that does not mean that kind of trauma does not exist. Telling women to suck it up is no better than what Mominatrix did. Anyone insisting mothers are not allowed to feel this way – a way that is recognized by actual mental health professionals – is not in the business of helping moms or babies or families. I would love for you to research this issue – and not become one of these “women” – http://thefeministbreeder.com/women-are-the-problem-with-women/

    Women’s health rights are being thrown under the bus every day, and it’s unfortunate when other women won’t even pay attention. That is why I’m planning on using my law degree to fight for these women.

    • I’m sorry. Maybe you read someone else’s blog entry and then put this comment on mine. I absolutely did not say that moms just need to “get over it.” I even pointed out that I’m not over my own traumatic birth experience, but that I recognize I have a choice to make that the focus of my life or to try to work to move past it.

      It’s also clear that you didn’t read the link that tells my birth story, or you wouldn’t suggest that I wasn’t traumatized by my birth experience.

      Elsewhere on this blog I’ve discussed the fact that as a result of that second experience I have a diagnosis of PTSD and am being treated for that. So yeah, I have experience with that, but thanks for discounting it. It seems to me that you, and your sisters at ICAN, are far more invested in making sure that you demonize the women who have experienced cesareans and who are finding ways to move through the experience instead of living in it every day.

      I put every freaking disqualifier on this post that I could think of. This is my experience; this is me a year plus after the experience realizing that I have a choice how I proceed.

      I didn’t get to that point by myself. I’ve had help. Good, high quality help to get there. I even said it can take a long time to get there, but it should be something that women (and men) work towards. Either you get stuck or you move forward. That’s a choice.

      • Okay, so in one sentence you insist you’re NOT telling moms to get over it, and in the very next sentence, you tell mothers not to dwell on it. It’s not dwelling – PTSD is something that is an ongoing process. Many mental health professionals recognize that once a person has PTSD, even if they are treated, they can have recurrences for the rest of their lives when triggered – like I’m sure so many mothers were by Mominatrix’s statements.

        You also insist that birth rape doesn’t exist, and I say you are wrong. To tell these mothers that they’re lying is inflammatory and hurtful. And then your commentors turn around and blame the rape on the mother, saying she should have been more educated. Many women ARE educated, and even if they aren’t, blaming them is nothing but woman hate. Do you (and I mean you, the commentors) also think it’s a woman’s fault for getting sexually assaulted if she’s wearing the wrong type of clothes? I don’t care what a woman does – rape is NEVER her fault, and for any thinking woman to say otherwise is all kinds of gross. Rape is rape- regardless of a medical degree.

        And to the commentors who think this is all about an “experience” – it’s NOT. This is about serious trauma. Do you tell soldiers traumatized from war that they shouldn’t be whining about their “experience?” I mean, as long as they made it out alive, that’s all that matters right? No matter what kind of insanity they went through to get out alive? What you have here is a few people totally uneducated on the realities of real trauma – and if they are educated, they don’t much care about other women’s trauma – only their own.

        It’s not helping these women. I realize that you probably don’t care – but would you say these things right to the faces of the 100+ women who poured their hearts out in my comments section? Would you tell them, while they’re crying over their experience, that they shouldn’t dwell on it? Before you write things on the internet that are designed to “help” other women, ask yourself the basic question – would I really, truly say this to their face?

  3. I love what you say here:

    I think that the goal of pregnancy shouldn’t be the “birth experience” or having one’s body “do what it was designed to do”; the goal of pregnancy should be a live baby at the end.

    For me that was ALL it was about.

    I was scheduled for a C-section with my first b/c she was breech. Fortunately I went home searched online and found some tips for natural exercises to help the baby move. Thankfully, she flipped herself around that night and the next morning she showed herself in the U/S to be in the right position.

    My second baby was breech for a while near the end, but also flipped.

    I was able to deliver both vaginally, but I’m pretty sure that if I’d delivered either of them through C-Section that I’d just be thankful for technology and medicine that was able to help my baby come safely into the world.

    My babies being born safely is all that mattered to me.

    I can imagine that some women really look forward to the birthing process, and I admit I’m not one of those women. So I feel for them if they missed that opportunity.

    Perhaps it has something to do with the fact I almost missed having babies at all (I was infertile for 3.5 years) that the delivery was not where I placed the importance.

    Overall, like you, I really believe in supporting women where they are at. You can’t change the past, so let’s all help each other move forward.

    • Thanks for this. I was worried for a minute there that I hadn’t actually gotten that point across. It’s not about saying you shouldn’t feel this way or that you need to forget about it and enjoy the baby.

      If you’ve been traumatized by your birth experience, get good help so you can process the experience and THEN work toward moving on.

      I do know what you mean. I wasn’t supposed to be able to get pregnant (three different gynocologists said so). So imagine our surprise when we found out I was pregnant with Ben :).

      I honestly believe it would be better to support women where they are; encourage them to get help if they need it; and, try to help them move beyond the trauma and back into “real life.” It’s what we try to do for our military veterans suffering from PTSD; I think we should do no less for women who have suffered trauma.

  4. O God, here we go.

    I had diagnosed PTSD after my first cesarean section. There were things that took place during my surgical birth that definitely did not have informed consent over. However getting that baby out alive was pretty damn important. Things could have been handled differently, no doubt.

    While I didn’t just “get over” having PTSD, I did take action in getting help for myself and not allowing it to cripple me as a woman, as a mother, and as a wife. If you have PTSD, get help. I believe in birth trauma but there is also healing from it and there is a choice. You can chose to wallow in it, or you can chose to get help. You can be a proactive person or not. No decision is a decision.

    I’m about as supportive of women and their birth choices as it comes. However, I think there are groups with agendas that work hard in invoking fear, rage, and pain where there really was none at all. Using terminology like rape in reference to cesarean sections is one of them.

    Most women when it comes to birth hand the control of their bodies over to other people. The give their choices away and they do not educate themselves. Health care providers should not be made the scape goats because a woman decided to be passive when the outcome is not what she wanted. There comes a time that we, as women, need to take responsibility for our own choices and decisions, and doing nothing as I said previously is a choice.

    This is the information age. Clinging to ignorance is really no longer an option.

    I am all about changing the climate of birth in this country and reducing the cesarean section rate. However I am not for placating mothers into poor me status. Our birth experiences are not the sum of as mothers or as women.

  5. Hi Adjuntmom,
    I really appreciate you sharing your thoughts and experiences. I’m sorry to read that your experience with ICAN wasn’t what you hoped for. But I think it’s misguided to characterize a very diverse organization the way that you do. ICAN has chapters all over the US, Canada and some other countries as well. As part of my local chapter, we have supported women who have had all kinds of births, including cesareans that they chose to have based on their own comfort levels, medical conditions, etc. We focus on empowered birth, whether or not it is natural or includes interventions. I think this is true of more ICAN chapters and participants than you might think. There may be some very vocal, passionate voices that get heard more than others, especially in the blogosphere, but my experience is that ICAN is a very supportive, nurturing organization.

    • I don’t know that I was attempting to characterize the entirety of ICAN with what I said, but I suppose it does read that way. I was really talking about my experience of ICAN and my experience with it is limited to the blogosphere. Perhaps I’ll check out a local group and see if that works better for me.

  6. I too had 2 c-sections. In my first pregnancy I desperately wanted to have a totally natural delivery.

    Then I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes. I was getting an ultrasound a few weeks before my son’s due date.

    The ultrasound tech looked quizzical, pulled in a second tech who reran the same measurements, and then got the doctor who ran the measurements a third time.

    While I held my breath, the doctor (perinatal medicine, not my OB) said my son’s head was larger than full term and couldn’t be delivered by someone with my skeletal structure.

    They showed me the measurements. I was convinced. There was no conflict of interest as the diagnosing doctor had no interest (fiscal or personal) in the manner of my delivery.

    When my son was born, everyone in the maternity hospital commented on how he must have been a c-section (his head was enormous).

    My OB is an excellent surgeon. My recovery was average and without trauma. We got hit by a tornado 2 months after the baby’s birth and I began my own ugly education in PTSD.

    After my nerves quit jangling too loudly to think (about 3 years later), our second child was on the horizon. I read about VBAC, but decided (for myself- especially in light of my age) that it was not for me. We had a second planned c-section. Beyond the baby arriving one day early, everything was textbook.

    Although I did not have gestational diabetes in my second pregnancy, our daughter’s head was just as large as my son’s had been. This, for me, answered the question of whether my son’s head size was related to the diabetes (which had been carefully regulated and observed) or not. Apparently, Jim and I offer big head genetics in full force.

    Birth is a gateway experience in parenting, but it is rarely the only experience. As adults, we experience set backs all the time. We need to care for ourselves in proactive ways (which can require professional help).

    Dwelling on any trauma when it’s laden with the original emotions depletes me. I needed to progress beyond the terror and vulnerability to live my life again.

    Maybe for some c-sections are a choice and for others they’re more like a car accident. Life doesn’t deal anyone identical cards. What I CAN control is how I choose to play the hand I’ve been dealt.

    Adjunctmom, I really admire you for writing about this.

    • Thanks. I knew your history pretty well, but I appreciate you taking the time to share it here. I agree about the dwelling and it does take time to get from oh my god this happened to me to okay, I can find a way to process this and start moving on. Each woman has to move on her own schedule, but we can try to make that path easier for her.

      I love the card playing analogy. I think that at some point it does become a choice. Do I stay here and keep reliving the nightmare or do I try to find help so I can get myself out of this place? What that point is likely differs for each woman, but I wonder if we don’t help people stay mired when we never make the suggestion that maybe there is something else we can do here.

      I know that for me, I needed to focus on the fact that I nearly died for a while. I needed that to help me feel grateful for still being here. I needed that feeling of gratitude when I was getting treated like crap for formula feeding, when people would tell me I hadn’t “really” given birth because I had cesareans, and, honestly, when Katie underwent her surgery in October, I still needed that to remind me that I’m here. I wouldn’t have been any other way, but I’m here and that’s something awesome even when I can’t use my arm or can’t move the way I want or whatever.

      And I admire you for writing about yours. Thanks for being here!

  7. I haven’t read The Mominatrix nor the ICAN, but I agree with you that we need to support one another and never minimize another person’s experience.

    Pain is real for each person in different ways and for different reasons and we should never judge someone for their experience.

    THANK YOU so much for your comment on my post the other day. I am sorry you too have had to experience depression and anxiety.

  8. Just for the record… ICAN supported me immensely. It is only BECAUSE of ICAN that I was able to write my birth story and go from being a victim of cesarean to an activist for women. I understand, as ICAN does, that cesarean can be necessary. But I also recognize, as ICAN does, that in MANY MANY cases it is not necessary. ICAN works to reduce unnecessary cesareans. Asking you if yours was necessary may simply have been to determine what way of support was best for YOU.

  9. I would just like to say that healing begins with saying what is bothering you outloud. I applaud you for saying what is on your mind.
    I am pregnant with my second child and didn’t find the ICAN website til I was in my second trimester. After the birth of my daughter by C-section, I endured months of post pardum depression and had a horrible time breastfeeding. I too had to be delivered because of high blood pressure, but mine happened to be caused by family coming into town for the birth. I know that it could have been avoided, I knew that before I even found ICAN. My Doctor induced me 2 weeks early and performed a C-section after 33 hours of labor that would not progress. The next day, his partner came in to check on me cause he was on a plane flying to some island for a vacation.
    I do think that ICAN is a great source of information on the web regarding C-section prevention and that each person takes something different from the forum boards. Some Moms on the site are very ‘natural birth’ minded, but that is all. You have to have a filter on you mind when you visit sites that deal in child birth. Everyone has an opinion and if it helps them heal by letting it out, let them scream it to the world.
    No, a VBAC does not make everything better in my mind. I simply, looked at the data and choose what I thought would be better for me and my child. It does seem like in our world today that many Doctors would rather we have the children on their schedual rather than the babies and I don’t like that one bit. Maybe ICAN didnot help you with what you needed. I hope that you can find a forum that will. I don’t know if this post will help you any, but if writing a blog about it does……… Just let it all out.
    Don’t be too biased when it comes to ICAN. I know many people it has helped……… including me.

  10. This is the paragraph with which I really started to doubt your “middle of the road” presentation of the issue. Perhaps there is no middle of the road?

    “I’m disturbed by the use of terms like “birth rape” and “oppression.” The former is flat out offensive. It is not the same as rape and it is a term that simply should not be used. The latter, yes, I see the medical establishment making it difficult for women to “get the birth experience they want” post-cesarean, and I agree that VBACs should be more commonly allowed, but I do think that if they are, those having them should have to sign a waiver stating they will not sue if something goes wrong as a result of a VBAC they insisted on having.”

    That is where you really started shutting down voices. And adjunctmom – there is a “get over it” message in your original post. If you have to caveat so much, then expect push back and roll with it. Feminist breeder makes some very important points which should be addressed rather than glossed over due to her assumption that you didn’t suffer from PTSD…

    Then Kim @beautifulwreck says this:

    “Most women when it comes to birth hand the control of their bodies over to other people. The give their choices away and they do not educate themselves. Health care providers should not be made the scape goats because a woman decided to be passive when the outcome is not what she wanted. There comes a time that we, as women, need to take responsibility for our own choices and decisions, and doing nothing as I said previously is a choice.”

    Oh dear…

    But, there is no middle of the road perhaps even amongst us scholars. I say this because ICAN gave ME the space to mourn my birth experience which was far less traumatic than adjunct mom’s. ICAN empowers me! I needed and need ICAN and the women who gather there to understand why I responded emotionally to the cesarean the way I did. I’m a scholar of women’s bodies and medicalization so I thought I’d understand what would happen to me as I moved from the natural setting to the operation room. But as you all note above, its complicated… Each woman has a new story.

    (An aside: what I see is a very interesting split in the discourse – positive “controlled” and individualized thinking versus feeling oppressed by a medical bureaucracy. I might recommend Ehrenriech’s latest “Brightsided” for more food for thought on the role “positive thinking” places in our culture currently.)

    An acquaintance of mine did die after her c-section this past fall – ten hours after her baby was born. My end goal is for BOTH baby and MOTHER to be alive. I wonder if she signed a waiver?

    • I feel the need to reply to your comment, because I understand so much of what you are saying and because – if this is the first time you’ve read here- I also understand why this post comes across to you as it does. But as adjunctmom is someone with whom I have communicated with about this a LOT, I can tell you she is not a “power of postive thinking solves everything” person.

      It can be tough to make clear the difference between “I think the mind can overcome ANYTHING” (which I KNOW she does not believe), and “I don’t think you should blame EVERYTHING bad in your life on this one thing.”

      My first birth “experience” was an AWFUL unplanned C-Section and was horribly traumatic, and she would never tell me it wasn’t nor do I believe she’d infantalize me and tell me I should have better educated myself that first time – a labor not going as planned can be a panicky time.

      I missed this discussion because I was having a baby (better experience this time, and though it wasn’t what I wanted, I feel pretty good about it). I am beyond busy right now, but I did want to take a moment after reading some of these comments. I can see why this post struck the nerve that it did, but after everything else she and I have shared, I needed to say something about who she has been TO me (and she has been wonderful and supportive).

      I am very sorry about the loss of your friend. I was terrified that would be my story was well and am feeling blessed that I am here to be with all of my sons.

      • Oh, yay!

        A new baby “somniac.” How is he? How are you?

        Thanks for trying to clarify some of what I was saying here.

        You’re absolutely right, of course, that I’m not suggesting just paste on a happy face and “get over it.” I am saying that if you’re a few years out and the birth experience is still the focus of your self-worth then perhaps it’s time to get some help so you can make peace with it. Not get over it, necessarily, but find a way to focus on other, better experiences.

        And I could have said it better regarding the end result. My “birth plan” was one sentence long. “Whatever it takes to have a healthy, living baby and a healthy, living mother.”

        Having said that, my comments here were based on my experiences and how I feel. Nothing more; nothing less.

  11. Thank you for this thought-provoking article. I have met people on the two sides you describe, and I also see how they are not helpful. However, I have yet to meet a woman who has had a cesarean, in any circumstances, at any stage of her life who is not, as you put it, finding her way forward. Whether this means deciding it would be less risky (physically or emotionally) to have a scheduled repeat cesarean or to have a VBAC/HBAC, whether to privately work through it emotionally, or to attend ICAN meetings, or to speak out about their cesarean experiences – these are all ways of finding their way forward. If people seem to continue to be hurt, that just means they have a ways to go before they find peace. If people seem to be very vocal about the harms they perceive they’ve done to them, perhaps they are trying to present the other side across from the woman you’ve described above. All in all, what I’m trying to say is I agree with your point, and I really think you’ll find few people who are not on the path you suggest.
    Also, you say the best thing to do is to support people to find peace with the experience they have had; for many women, that means being heard and understood when they say “it was awful” first, before they can start making peace with it. There are very few places in our society where a woman is allowed to say anything but “I’m so darn happy I have this baby!” and get that support. ICAN is one of them. If you want to be a part of helping women find peace, open yourself up to the ability to say, “yes, I hear how much that hurt you” as the first step toward supporting their journey toward peace, and fill the role you see empty, by encouraging baby steps out of that painful place into acceptance and strength.

  12. As a member of ICAN for years I did not find support that much of you say you have. In fact one of the things I found is that many of the members and leaders picked apart women’s experiences that felt their cesarean were necessary or did not have strong opinions on their c-sections one way or the other. I was actually told by a member of the ICAN online support group that I could have had a vaginal birth if I had just waited and not gotten impatient. I also had members from that same group dismiss me because I did not wish to VBAC after much research. There was NO SUPPORT for women who wished to have repeat cesarean sections.

    I am for information and support in helping cesarean birth mothers achieve VBAC. I am also for reducing the cesarean birth rate. What I am not for is enabling women to wallowing in victimization or insinuating that if they are not injured by their surgical births something is wrong with them. Currently there are members on the online support group for ICAN that openly state that cesarean sections are NOT birth. A slap in the face to women who had necessary cesarean sections. They dismiss women’s concerns about rupture and/or other complications that could arise during VBAC. Support is often lent to women who are making dangerous decisions in regarding pregnancy and birth that have resulted in still birth or neonatal death. There was a reason I was banned from ICAN. It was because I was vocal about these very things. Letting women know its okay to not chose VBAC or have backup birth plans to give them a better birth cesarean birth experience was seen as wrong.

    I am amused and also saddened that Adjunctmom has written this well thought out post about HER EXPERIENCE and Feminist Breeder comes here and does the very thing she is supposedly against. Trying to tell HER how to feel and DIMINISH her feelings and tell her that she doesn’t know what she is talking about. Not everyone who has a cesarean, even a traumatic one, is going scream “rape” and fall into the trap of playing victim.

    Truthfully, I probably agree more with Feminist Breeder on more issues than not. This however is not one of them.

  13. I wanted to post because I feel awful about your impression of ICAN. To be clear, I’m not even a member of ICAN and I just attended my second meeting today but joined their yahoo group almost two years ago but left after my son was born 16 months ago.

    I had a much different experience than you did and I feel awful that you feel ICAN isn’t empowering. I found ICAN after I had two c/s (one an emergency and one a repeat c/s for breech twins) and I was pregnant attempting to VBA2C. I was shown statistics, recommendations for supportive medical providers and supported me in my choices whether it ended in another c/s or not. I was able to have frank discussions with women who said, do what it is you feel is best. Here is some research, here are some statistics and led me to find my own way.

    ICAN changed my view of birth and allowed me to see how the choices I made would affect the outcome of my birth. I was able to VBA2C and I felt empowered, enlightened and stronger for it. Not because I felt like I missed something with my other children but because it was what was healthiest and important and it was my CHOICE. I felt that it was the medically responsible thing to do for me and my family.

    I’d like to say I’m pretty middle of the road with my births: one unnecessarean that I blame myself for, one repeat c/s because I felt it was safest, one VBA2C and now going on to have a home birth. But these are my choices, my experiences and my life. I don’t think it is right for any of us to devalue the experiences of another mother. If someone felt as if they were raped during birth, who am I to discount those feelings? Who are you to do that? We each own our choices and our lives and it is very hard to walk in someone else’s shoes especially when you can’t identify with the emotions behind their statements. To make a statement that you find someone’s feelings offensive just seems absurd. Its a woman’s feelings, maybe she was forced into a c/s, or maybe vaginal exams were preformed against her will… saying get over it is not empowering. Its demeaning and insulting. You and I are lucky that we don’t equate our births with rape… some women aren’t as lucky.

    I think your statement is a very personal one. You had a bad experience with ICAN (and with all the women I’ve met and all the literature I’ve read and the webinars I’ve attended) it seems quite isolated. I am by no means, an expert on ICAN but you seem to have taken a stance that seems quite foreign to me and a lot of other women who do interact with ICAN on a daily basis.

    I read the Mominatrix blog, her response and chose not to listen to her justification for saying that women with c/s are “lucky.” I refuse to give her my money or my web hits as I feel she is irresponsible and insensitive.

  14. So, I have read your comments… and the comments to them. I see where you are coming from, and while I disagree with some aspects, I can appreciate your point of view. The only reason I feel any need to comment is one sentence:

    “I agree that VBACs should be more commonly allowed, but I do think that if they are, those having them should have to sign a waiver stating they will not sue if something goes wrong as a result of a VBAC they insisted on having.”

    I appreciate that you are not on a quest to destroy VBAC… my only comment back is that should we also have to sign waivers to not sue if something goes wrong with the c-section which may (or may not) have been truly necessary, because the OB insists it is the “safer” option? (Even though the statistics show it is often not the safer option)

  15. (I can hear a new article broiling in my brain right now……)

    but for the moment I think the biggest point for me is that every woman feels and experiences and deals with birth in her own way. and NO ONE has the right to denigrate or belittle how that woman feels. I’ve met women who’ve had, in my personal opinion, rather easy births that were completely traumatized afterwards. Inside I might shake my head and think “you have no idea…. it could of been so much worse….” But I will never tell that woman that her Birth was NOT traumatic… because I am not her. I wasn’t there, I didn’t experience it, I don’t know the underlying causes of the trauma, and can never truly put my self in her shoes because I am me, not her. Therefore I try not to judge any womans birth experience- be it vaginal or instrumental or surgical.

  16. I am not going to play into the personal attacks and blaming of women. I will say this though, adjunct mom: I think you could probably be a great support for women, but that means supporting women who’ve faced injustices you may not understand. Supporting women means educating yourself on the major oppressive issues we face and at least recognizing them, if not working toward solving them. Nobody said you had to experience birth rape – we are just saying that it is very Anti-woman to insist that it doesn’t exist.

    This reminds me of the incident over the summer where a female DJ in LA insisted that she supports breastfeeding, but thought that it should be illegal to do it in public, and that any woman who did breastfeed in public was gross and being disrespectful. She THEN decided that any woman fighting for breastfeeding rights was a whiner and “playing the victim.” Sounds like exactly the same thing that’s happening here. If we’re going to support cesarean moms (or ANY mom) we have to acknowledge the work that needs to be done to TRULY support them.

    I would hope this comments section does not turn into what the Momslant comments did – a disgusting display of junior high attacks on anyone with an alternate experience or opinion. It’s just really embarrassing to watch grown women act that way – implying that anyone who doesn’t agree with them is gay – insulting the people who comment there, etc. What Mominatrix did here is refuse to acknowledge that she was insensitive to some moms, not ALL moms, but a very large number of them. I fear you are and your “cesarean goddess” friend are doing the same exact thing. You have the opportunity here to NOT let that happen. You have the opportunity to say “wow, I didn’t realize there was such a thing – sorry for saying you women are making it up and playing the victim – in the future I will be aware of that issue.” It is a horribly misunderstood issue in our society, and women need enormous acts of support to overcome it.

    There’s nothing defeatist about learning something. Be better than Mominatrix.

  17. FB says “What Mominatrix did here is refuse to acknowledge that she was insensitive to some moms, not ALL moms, but a very large number of them. I fear you are and your “cesarean goddess” friend are doing the same exact thing. You have the opportunity here to NOT let that happen. You have the opportunity to say “wow, I didn’t realize there was such a thing – sorry for saying you women are making it up and playing the victim – in the future I will be aware of that issue.” It is a horribly misunderstood issue in our society, and women need enormous acts of support to overcome it.”

    I have a long history with the birth community. My previous handle was “OnTheFence” and you can go to places like MDC if you would like to do a search. My nick name there was the Cesarean Goddess because of my support of women and wide range of knowledge about cesareans, VBAC, HBAC, etc. I am familiar with birth trauma, having had experienced it myself, however I have and will always take exception to terms like “rape” in conjuction with birth. This term is used to incite anger and also used to turn women in to victims. I also want to address that the MAJORITY of women who have surgical births DO NOT believe their cesarean sections were a violation of their bodies or their babies, nor do they see it as rape. I have talked to THOUSANDS, LITERALLY thousands of women about their surgical births and only a small group of women feel the way you have describe. Most women who have no issue with their cesarean sections or little issue are not banding together on the internet to talk about it, but those who do have issue, become vocal.

    Mominatrix didn’t claim to be talking for all women who had surgical births, yet you seem to be doing that – especially by making this about women as a whole and using terms like “large numbers”. The truth is the majority of women who have had surgical births are perfectly okay with how they gave birth. There are also those of us who did have traumatic cesarean birth experiences that would NEVER classify our situations as rape or wallow in victimization. It infuriates me that I will read about a woman who had a normal cesarean section and calling it “rape” or “trauma” because they didn’t get their ideal birth. Some of us know real birth trauma, where our lives or our babies lives were at stake. Our trauma has more to do with lives that could have been lost, were lost, or reproductive organs lost than just not getting a vaginal birth.

    I help women. Not a week goes by that I do not exchange emails with doulas and midwives or mothers about their upcoming births. I’ve spent years working with women on getting the births they desire or at the very least a birth they can feel good about even if it doesn’t go as planned. I would rather empower women in a way that lifts them up than letting them stay stagnant in negativity.

    • I have 100 times that I do NOT speak for all women – neither does ICAN. But you insist that I am, and that’s flatly a lie designed to detract from the intelligent conversation that COULD be taking place. Nothing more can be said.

  18. Thank you for saying what I have been thinking for several years! I, too, have had a similar experience, not with ICAN, but with an online group purporting to support women post-birth which I suspect has many common members. I was told that I wasn’t a “real” woman because I’d had an emergency c-section for what may or may not have been dubious reasons and wasn’t bothered by it. And then when I CHOSE to have a second c-section after much research and discussion with my doctor, it was like I had signed a contract with the devil!!

  19. studentmom – I’m sorry, but I don’t believe for a minute that anybody on an ICAN forum told you that you weren’t a “real woman” for having a cesarean. I call shenanigans. IF that had happened, whoever said that was a total moron and probably would have been booted off the ICAN list post haste. ICAN does NOT allow that type of behavior.

    One ignorant person does not an organization make.

  20. FB said “I’m sorry, but I don’t believe for a minute that anybody on an ICAN forum told you that you weren’t a “real woman” for having a cesarean.”

    Are you calling her a liar? Because I can tell you right now I believe her. I am floored by your audacity. That to me is saying YOU don’t care about this woman’s experience and making it personal.

    Let me tell you things I have been told by so called birth advocated including women from ICAN

    “You really didn’t give birth”
    “You didn’t try hard enough to have a vaginal birth” (note my uterus and cervix were deformed)
    “Your mothering suffers because you didn’t give birth vaginally”
    “You know nothing about what its like to be a real woman when it comes to birth”
    “You didn’t trust birth”
    “You don’t deserve to have any more children because you are not giving them the best birth” (I guess they wanted my babies to die)

    I can tell you that currently that a few of these women ARE on the main ICAN list. Interesting enough – where are all the archives to that group? Hmmmm and I just love that heavy moderation by MDC. But I have people who can vouch for me. I’m not a liar and things like this are said to women all the time who are comfortable with their csections or at least see the necessity of them. You might as well be the anti-Christ if you CHOSE to have a repeat cesarean section.

    You are guilty of the very thing you say you abhor.

    I repeat – I have read your blog. I probably have more in common with you and agree than disagree. However I will tell you I have been a part of the birthing community online years before you even had children and have been treated with pure vileness. I doubt you ever got hate mail from women saying you didn’t deserve children or that they hoped you would miscarry because you were going to chose to have another cesarean section. I have.

    Two years ago after Storm Bride negligently let her child die in attempt to have a HBA3C I bowed out of these types of discussion and faded into the background. When you watch women make dangerous decisions that kill their babies to avoid having a cesarean section. It cuts you to the CORE.

  21. Forgive me for a moment, but I’m thinking in venn diagrams…

    I would hope that anyone, whether they have been “turned off” by ICAN or are the most steadfast ICAN supporters, whether or not they are natural birth advocates, whether or not they have experienced cesarean sections, whether or not they have had a VBAC, whether or not they have even birthed at all would recognize the following:

    Not all c-sections are traumatic for the mothers undergoing them, but this does not negate the possibility (and the reality) that *some* are.

    Not all mothers are disappointed by their birth experience (whether vaginal or cesarean section), but this does not negate the possibility (and the reality) that *some* are.

    All mothers who are disappointed by–and especially those who feel traumatized–by their birth experiences should be received with non-judgmental support. Validating a person’s feelings does not mean that one is allowing another to “wallow” in their “negativity.”

    Not all traumas involve life-or-death situations. And not all “traumatic” c-sections (or vaginal births, for that matter) are the result of life-or-death situations.

    Not all those who have experienced traumatic births would describe their experience as akin to rape. But *some* do.

    Not all those who describe their births as “birth rape” have had cesareans. Some are describing vaginal births instead.

    And I feel pretty confident in claiming that all people who suggest that a VBAC OR a repeat cesarean will fix anything that’s wrong person’s sex are speaking out of their asses. 🙂

    Long story short, no one should be conflating the two (or three) “sides” of the above statements. None of the above experiences or descriptions cancels out the other.

    Now obviously, it would be ludicrous (and even insulting) for someone to describe ALL c-sections as traumatic or as “birth rape” or even as disappointing! But it seems equally ludicrous and insulting to belittle or dismiss ANY mother who describes her birth(s) in this way. (And I’m not suggesting that you are actually doing this here.) And this might have something to do with the many ways in which “trauma” can manifest itself during a birth. (continued…)

  22. Sometimes, the trauma really does come down to a matter of life-or-death. And that is certainly not something that a person should be encouraged to “just get over.”

    But other times, the trauma manifests itself when a person is “duped” into an early an unnecessary induction that leads to a c-section. Or (*trigger warning**) when a person is literally forced down onto the hospital bed so that her OB can insert an amniohook into her vagina, or when she is given a pudendal block against her will (neither of which are emergency obstetrical procedure).

    Doulas and L&D nurses I know and have worked with have seen these very things happen. And I know that this anecdotal evidence does not “prove” the *prevalence” of these occurrences, but the anecdotes themselves should serve as adequate testimony that they *do* happen. And as far as I can tell, forcibly inserting instruments into a woman’s reproductive organs against her will is battery at the very least and, upon further interpretation, rape.

    What’s more, the inherently sexual (which shouldn’t be confused with erotic) nature of childbirth can bring back past experiences with sexual abuse, and this in and of itself can lead to a traumatic birth experience. Repeated vaginal exams, insensitive comments, having one’s arms “tied” down during a cesarean, not being able to see the surgeons working on one’s reproductive organs–these can all be “triggering” and even re-traumatizing experiences for a mother.

    So sometimes (if not many times) the traumas extend well beyond feeling “robbed” of an experience. (continued…God, I’m long-winded!)

  23. On that note, while I would agree with you that a healthy, living baby and a healthy, living mother are EXCEEDINGLY important and SHOULD be the primary goal of any birth, these goals in no way cancel out the importance of a woman’s birth experience. We humans are complex creatures, and we can simultaneously feel overjoyed by our healthy babies and still feel devastated by the way those babies came into the world (or even by the effects their births have had on our sexual enjoyment). Allowing this devastation to take over one’s life certainly is problematic and is probably a signal that one might want to seek out therapy and/or anti-depressants and/or a support group, such as ICAN. But simply feeling this devastation deeply does not seem to be indicative of a *problem* with one’s emotional life. And having certain wishes or hopes for one’s birth–or even regretting that one can never experience those wishes or hopes–does not seem to be *inherently* problematic either.

    Finally, I am really, truly sorry that your experience(s) with ICAN have soured your opinion of the group. I think that ICAN’s general goal of supporting ALL women’s birth choices through education and advocacy and empowerment is still central to their general work.

    • I couldn’t agree more with your (triple) long-winded post 😉 Thank you for stating so well how I was feeling!

  24. Wow, thefeministbreeder, if you would take some time to read what I actually wrote you would see that what happened to me was NOT on an ICAN forum, but rather another internet forum frequented by women who invoked the name of ICAN frequently. I am glad that you think that ICAN would not stand for that behavior, but there are clearly many members who — while they may be smart enough not to say it there — certainly feel that way. It’s not just one internet idiot, but an attitude that pervades the anti-c-section crowd.

  25. I’m coming late to this discussion, and haven’t read all the comments, so pardon me if this repeats any previous ones.

    I appreciate the honesty of the author, and I found it incredibly enlightening to see another side I hadn’t thought of. To be clear – I have never had a c/sec, so I won’t pretend to understand what it’s like. All my births were uncomplicated vaginal births. So, I speak cautiously.

    I think that it’s important for women to understand that sometimes it’s necessary to really confront and explore any negative/traumatic feelings about their experiences with cesareans (or any birth, really) in order to get to the point where they can move on and heal. And no one can put a timeline on that. It’s not so much a choice as it is a process that takes a different amount of time for each person.

    I really think that ICAN, like any other organization, will have its members who fall a little farther away from the middle ground than others, and perhaps this mom had her encounter with one of those, who may still be learning to assess well what information an individual mother needs in order to feel supported.

    I know that I, as a labor doula, need to accurately decide exactly what and how much information one of my clients needs in order to make her decisions confidently. Some moms appreciate getting EVERYTHING they can lay their hands on, while others just need an overview of basics to feel well-informed and confident. Who gets to decide that?

    The individual woman.

    I just think there is a time and a place for everything, and that if we really pay attention, we’ll learn quickly how to see the right timing for the words and deeds we choose.

  26. Holy shit, Adjunctmom. What a Pandora’s box. For what it’s worth: I love Kristen Chase (The Mominatrix) as you know. And I’ve never heard of ICAN. I had an emergency c-section and a VBAC. Was I robbed of the birth experience I had planned for the first time around? Totally. Did healing from the c-section suck? You know it. I was a mess for my baby’s first three months. My VBAC was awesome. I’d have 15 kids if they all came out that way, but the birth was followed by a very rare condition related to pregnancy that caused me incapacitating pain to the point that I couldn’t walk. For almost a year. And that also sucked. Birth is awesome and it’s traumatic and it’s different for every woman. The comments above are so heated that i seems we ladies are losing site of what is truly important which is to validate all birth experiences. And to focus on the fact that the children, OUR children, were the ultimate product of these experiences regardless of how they went down.

    • Hey!

      Welcome to the minefield. Watch out for hidden triggers as things may explode around you.

      I think you’ve hit on a point that I was also trying to make (though, it’s done much better here: http://herbadmother.com/2010/01/a-good-birth/). I have no experience with natural childbirth, labor, or any of the rest of it, so I can’t speak to it.

      I do know that it can be horribly traumatic in its own right to women. I know that the after effects of birth can be traumatic as well (witness my near death experience, your incapacitating pain, and Her Bad Mother’s experience).

      What I was trying to get across, and apparently failed to manage, was the idea that this group that is supposed to be helping and empowering women doesn’t really seem to be doing that unless the women in question fall into line with specific expectations (wanting a VBAC or an HBAC, being devastated by the c-section, are horrified when someone jokes about c-sections and so forth). And I readily admit up there, and here, that may be just my experience of it, BUT I claim the right to talk about my experience just as each them claims the right to talk about theirs.

  27. Amen. I don’t regret my emergency c-section with my daughter, and I’m more than sick of having to defend it as medically necessary to people who assume I must be ignorant/misguided/etc. I’m pregnant with #2 and hoping for a VBAC, but I don’t feel like my identity as a mother or as a woman is bound up in how I give birth (or how well my body handles pregnancy). It seems like many people miss the fine line between “education to help women make informed decisions” and “let’s just say it’s always unnecessary and/or harmful because we think most women are too stupid to evaluate details.”

    I’m (quite obviously) in the camp of “all that matters is a healthy baby.” And it is. I wouldn’t be pregnant otherwise. I don’t enjoy pregnancy, nor does pregnancy do wonders for me (starting with the fact that this is my second pregnancy in which I started throwing up early and often, and which I continue to do for the entire darn thing, despite large doses of Zofran and other anti-emetics).

    If I want to feel physically empowered, I’ll run another marathon. I’ve done it once already–and did so while still nursing my 20-month-old who was more than happy to accompany me on most runs and nurse afterward.

  28. Hi! I couldn’t reply to you above, so I wanted you to know we are all doing well. This was an interesting discussion to find when I checked back in w/ you, given how my week has been!

    I hope I didn’t overstep above – it just seemed to me, in light of all you and I have discussed, that what you were trying to say led some foks to a place I know you don’t go! And I had to say so…

    I can only imagine logging onto my personal blog, where I talk about my personal experiences, and having all of these comments. Wowie.

    I don’t have time to track back and read everything that led to this, so that’s about all I can say. Loved the hot chocolate advice. I’ll check in w. you again in a few weeks when you are wildly famous for your controversial views. ; 0

    • You absolutely did not overstep. No worries.

      I gave up trying to explain myself because I was just getting more and more upset.

      It’s more having all these comments that pretty much invalidate the experience that I had because I don’t believe that ICAN is living up to its goal to empower all women who’ve had a c-section and I find that depressing.

      Honestly, the way I explained it here is what happened. I read Kristen Chase’s book (it’s great, by the way, if a little out of my league, so to speak). People got very upset about a comment she makes in the book about women with c-sections being lucky. She did a radio show; they did a radio show.

      I had an opinion and I shared it. The irony is that Kristen has been far more gracious and I really feel like I was so much harder on her.

      For the record, though, I’ve talked about the use of condoms in the eighteenth century, down to a rather vivid description of the application thereof, to a mixed group of academics (if you’re reading Mominatrix, it involves a ribbon). I think I could handle stating my experience and my feeling that at some point (and though there’s no arbitrary time frame, I feel safe in saying if the kid in question is in elementary school and you’re still stuck on the kid’s birth, you’ve probably reached that time), you do have to decide to GET HELP so you can move on, and if you don’t, that’s both a choice and a decision itself. That doesn’t, as you well know, mean paste on a happy face and get over it. It means exactly what I said, GET HELP.

      • You sayin’ I need professional help? (kidding:) Well, OK, as long as there will be drinks. And cookies (now that i don’t have to shoot insulin all day).

      • I’ll make sure there are drinks and cookies. We can be a support group of our own.

        Based on what I know, but please correct me if I’m wrong, I don’t think you feel that you are less of a woman or that you are going through the motions as a mother and wife because you didn’t birth your first child vaginally. There are so many women who do, and I can’t help but think that there has to be some way to support them that doesn’t place all the emphasis on a vaginal delivery. You know?

      • Sometimes I feel I am going through the motions in many things, but that’s life. It comes and goes. I am not hungry or without shelter and love, so I’m good.

        I was disappointed by M’s birth – mostly because it FELT like we were misled about many things. Maybe we were and maybe we weren’t and we’ll never know. I went to the surgery crying that I didn’t want it, and M had stablized so it was not an emergency. Mr. Coffee told me that the staff seemed pleased w/ how many C-Sections they were doing that night and that it also seemed like once I signed the consent forms (when it looked like it might BECOME any emergency), that the staff was going ahead no matter what.

        They did tell me that M NEVER would have made it out the usual way, and maybe that’s true – that’s the part I will never know. The traumatic part was that something happened w/ the anesthesia, my blood pressure plummeted, something was said about losing blood flow to my brain, and I don’t remember much else. I have a picture to prove that I held M right off, but I don’t remember it. I thought I was dying as I sent Mr. Coffee off w/ M, though (obviously) I didn’t. Maybe I fainted again. I don’t know. I am not a fainter.

        Sometimes I still feel sad when I think about this, but I am no less M’s Mommy and it doesn’t define me. It’s one of those things that happened, was awful, about which I grieved, and sometimes stil feel sad, but I can also never know for sure what was needed and what wasn’t. We’re both still here. M is my best buddy in the world, and it’s OK w/ me if he agrees until he goes off into the world. I adore being his Mom.

        We switched hospitals and care givers for this go and I need to write up a nice post on the hospital we used this time. The building was old and crappy, and the care givers were AWESOME. My anesthesiologist was a goddess, she talked to me the whole time, told me everything she was doing, gave me choices,kept me calm. She downright empowered me during a time when I was actually helpful and very, very scared. It’s funny – the facility was VERY NICE where I had M, but that’s about all I can say good about it.

        K’s blood sugar at birth was low enough that there was some consideration of sending him to the NICU (which thankfully, didn’t need to happen), so I am glad we didn’t wait. That last week, my blood sugar finally stablized and since it hadn’t been stable, even w/ insulin, up until then, I began to worry about what THAT meant! I went in scared, not knowing if I was making a mistake – and came out sure that I had NOT made a mistake. I wish all care-givers were as good as the ones I had this time.

        As for being less of a Mommy or a wife, well then – I wouldn’t be C’s Mom at ALL if I felt that way. We joke that Mr. Coffee delivered him (since he’s the one that made the 17 hour plane ride w/ the screaming 11 month old).

        I would never tell ANYONE that they didn’t experience what they say they did, but I do agree that if we get “stuck” on a bad experience – ANY bad experience, help is a good thing to seek. And speaking for MY experience, I can say that even homeless and jobless, help is available (the level of care in the indigent clinics is actually quite high as the folks there are NOT in it for the $).

        Geez, I do go on, huh?

        In short, I am sometime sad about it, but no, it doesn’t define me. Now, for those drinks…

        (sorry if you get this more than once; it won’t post!)

      • Hey, I was popping anti-anxiety meds every four hours for three days surrounding Katie’s birthday. I think that means I’m not “over” it, and I honestly don’t think I’ll ever be “over” it.

        BUT it does not define my life. It was an experience, I had it. There are times that it overwhelms me or I get frustrated because there are things that I used to be able to do that I can’t do now (though I hope someday to be able to do again), but I try like hell not to make my whole life about the way Katie was brought into this world or the after effects of the way she was brought into this world.

        I’m fourteen months out from the experience. My doctor says I’m doing fabulously for that period of time and not to worry because things will continue to get better the farther down the road away from it I get.

        I believe him. I believe him because I know it’s true. There are still days, tomorrow likely to be one, where I miss my grandmother with an intensity that is completely overwhelming. In a very short time it will be nine years since she died. 95% of the time, I go about my life and I don’t really think about it and I don’t dwell on it. But there’s that 5% of the time when there’s something I wish I could share with her that I feel the loss keenly.

        The therapist I used to see said that’s normal when you get far enough out from the experience. What’s not normal is if every single minute of every single day is completely mired in what could have been many years after it happened. In some cases, many, many years.

        I feel like I’m being judgmental here, but I’m really trying not to be because it’s not that I’m judging as much as I’m saying, there’s so much to life that allowing those really bad experiences to define the whole thing is such a shame. I want better for everyone. Am I making sense or just rambling?

      • I have been so hungry that cried from the pain of smelling someone cooking chicken – hungry enough to eat other people’s trash. I have been homeless. I have been abused and sexually assaulted. I have buried loved ones, among them an old friend who froze to death in his sleeping bag by the side of the road (and whose body was found by a prison road crew 2 years later). I have wondered why I made it through and he didn’t.

        I have been high as a kite with happiness from good Latin jazz and salsa dance alone. I have felt I would burst from love of my first child. I have sat watching the sunrise in my own home, with a full belly, listening to Stan Goetz, playing with a cat, knowing that THAT moment was among life’s finest.

        I now have a wonderful job (which, sadly, I don’t love), a wonderful home and family (which I do). I founded an organization that, among other things, has awarded 3 scholarships to women in my professional field. I have sold *many* of my paintings and a couple of my stories.
        I have read almost every piece of fiction that has crossed my path….and watched WAY too much TV.

        All of these things and many more define me. Not one of them alone. Not even being a mother, though that will be about 60% of me from any years to come…

        I understand what you mean. It’s tough to have opinions – which we need to have to be people – and still balance that with the desire to be as non-judgemental as humanity allows…

      • On other (less) words, I know we are both “there but for the grace of God” people, but that’s not the same as never having opinions…

        This post might have confused me if I had NEVER come here before, but everyone has opinions! And I do understand.

        Sorry for the rambling, I am still on pain meds.

      • What was really fascinating in the comments was the number of people who made assumptions without reading the other post. Trust me when I say the hit counter clearly demonstrated not many people went to the one that talks about my birth experience.

    • On the bright side? They seem to have gone away now.

      I have strong opinions about how women treat other women. You know that. Unfortunately, all of this just proved my point. I’d honestly hoped they would disprove it. Frustrating in the extreme.

      I will admit to massive jealousy when you had Moose the day after I had Katie and you were home long before I was and you got to have Moose with you. But only in that, I wish it could have gone so well for me way, not in the I *hate* her way, you know?

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