Tuesday, December 16, 2008

On pregnancy, childbirth and being a woman

In case you all aren't regular readers of Dr. Jekyl and Mrs. Hyde, over the past few months Dr. J has written a really beautiful series on infertility and IVF. Dr. J has been really honest about how painful her experience with infertility has been, while pouring on the black humor as she psuedo-liveblogs her IVF experience.

This past week Dr. J wrote a really amazing post, from which I will quote liberally:
For anyone who wonders why people would go to such lengths just to put themselves through the difficulties of pregnancy and birth, I would say this. Imagine that you were born female but that you never had menses. "Lucky you," your friends would say. "It's awful, and inconvenient." Meanwhile, every women's magazine you read has an article about menstruation--readers' stories of when they got their first periods, debates about maxipads with wings, the Eight Signs That You Should Visit the Gynecologist. When groups of women are together, they talk about PMS, or about sex during their periods, pro or con.

You would feel jealous. Not because having a period was such a desirable thing, but because it was such a fundamental part of every other woman's life that to lack it was to be excluded. And wouldn't you sort of hate your friends for telling you not to want what they all had?

Take that sensation and convolve it with the knowledge that most women enjoy aspects of pregnancy and birth, and say that it was a life experience they wouldn't miss--it was defining. The fear that you will never have that experience is real.

Though Dr. J is talking broadly about both pregnancy and childbirth in this post, it sums up in a way I have never been able to express how devastated I was that Bean was born by C-section.

I personally really enjoyed my pregnancy. It wasn't always easy, but it was an amazing experience to grow my child in my belly, to nourish her and protect her. The culmination of my pregnancy, and my ultimate gift to Bean, was supposed to be a natural birth. It was something I had hoped that Husband, Bean and I would all experience together, and I imagined it would be a powerful event.

When, just a few hours into my labor, the doctor told me I had little chance for a safe vaginal birth and would have to have a C-section, I was devastated. I cried and cried. The doctor, the nurses looked at me like I was insane. But I lost my chance at the birth I wanted, and knowing that VBACs aren't always possible, I knew that I might not ever experience a natural birth.

Afterwards, when I tried to talk to Husband and others about how heartbroken I was, the response was always the same "But at least you have a happy healthy baby!" "It's the product, not the process!"

Of course that's true. Given the same circumstances, I would make the same choices, putting Bean's health and safety above my desire for a vaginal birth. But it doesn't mean that I don't still feel a sense of loss over the once-in-a-lifetime experience that I missed.

As time has gone by, the sadness I feel about my childbirth experience has lessened. The wound less tender, the anger less sharp. But it's still there, and the sadness seems to bubble to the surface every time I see a movie or TV show about with a birth in it.

Maybe I'm the only one who felt this way after a C-section, but thanks to Dr. J for putting this to words.

40 comments:

ScientistMother said...

Its always hard when well meaning folks say something so dismissive of our feelings. Its also very interesting how different aspects of childbirth end up meaning so much. Although I had a vaginal birth, a vacuum was needed to get monkey out, which required me to have an epidural and be put in isolation after the birth. I never got to have monkey lie on my chest right after birth, to have him crawl up and nuzzle for milk. I didn't get to see my parents or inlaws when they first met monkey and I ache about how much he cried for that hour without being fed....
I guess I am trying to say I understand.

ScienceMama said...

Oh my gosh! Isolation? Why? I've never even heard of that!

I was really lucky to have well-meaning folks around me, and if I were in their position I would be just as much at a loss over what to say... And what they said was true too: Of course I was overjoyed to have a healthy baby, and I wouldn't trade that for anything. But I felt sad at having given up the birth I wanted and I felt like nobody even understood why I was upset.

Aunt Becky said...

I think what you're feeling is really common among many of the C-section crowd. In fact, I can think of several women who have had a terrible time afterward, feeling as though they were less a woman.

It makes sense to me.

I had the same issues when I couldn't breastfeed Ben (autism = sensory issues = he couldn't handle it) and I cringed every time someone mentioned how much they "loved to breastfeed." Knife to the old heart.

canuck_grad said...

I was going to say what ScientistMother said - I think lots of women who had vaginal births feel that way if their birthing experience didn't go how they wanted it to go. I was in labour for a long time, went through a full cycle of pitocin (no epidural), transferred hospitals, ended up having a v-birth with no painkillers, and I still feel some anger/grief over my birthing experience - the way the nurses pestered me constantly, the mishandling of the earlier parts of my labour, the fact that my little guy aspirated some meconium and had to be taken to NICU so I didn't get to breastfeed right away, etc.

I think it's important that people talk about this, because I think lots of women are left feeling kind of funny after their labour - like you said, people don't understand why you're upset if everything worked out OK - but you have so much invested in this, have thought about it so much, etc., that it's hard to process if things work out differently than you've expected. Plus I read somewhere that just in general labour is always a traumatic/shocking experience, even if it goes well, and women need to talk about it a lot to help process/consolidate it (this is the psychologist in me) - and people need to give women the opportunity to do that instead of brushing it off.

ScientistMother said...

Apparently with the epidural the doctors like to keep you under observation for 1 hour to make sure nothing is up. Why that can not be done in my room with my baby I have no idea. It was so so hard, 60 minutes have never gone by so slowly

ScienceMama said...

I had a spinal for the c-section and they didn't make me wait to see my baby! I just wasn't able to put her on the breast right away because they were still stitching me up. But I had her in my arms before the drugs even wore off...

But I guess every hospital/doctor is different.

Anonymous said...

I have never understood why people find it acceptable to say such insensitive things -- I am sure they don't FIND it insensitive, but seriously, are people missing a brain? Yes, it is the endpoint, but that doesn't take away the pain of missing out on something that you truly want to experience.

Both Dr. Jekyl's post and yours truly struck home more than I thought (I had to fight back tears) -- I know for me, because of medical issues in the past and years on chemotherapy, getting pregnant will be very challenging. But first and foremost, I have primary vaginismus -- because of a glandular problem, I've never been able to have sex, because it's so painful. I'm in my late 20s, I'm married, and I've never been able to have sex. I've spent the past nearly 10 years bouncing from doctor to surgeon, been in physical therapy for the overwhelming majority of that, had surgeries, and not had a lot of luck. And you can't go a day in your life without being bombarded with stores about sex.

Outside of my doctors and my husband, I told one friend, once, about the problems, asking if she could come over and help out after a surgery when my husband had to be out of town for a family emergency (very bad timing). I filled her in on what happened, and while she was happy to oblige, when she was talking about it, her response was "Well, shouldn't you just be glad that you found someone willing to marry you? Why bother going through all this effort just to try to have sex?"

Yeah, that whole club, half of 16 year olds out there, and every married person on the planet that has had sex? I want to be a part of it.

Ambivalent Academic said...

Thanks for posting that. I'm not a mom, but I've always felt pretty strongly about having as "natural" a birth as possible when I do make that leap (vaginal, no cutting, no drugs if possible). On the rare occasion that I've mentioned this, people tend to look at me like I'm nuts.

Thanks for validating that sentiment, and although I'm so sorry that it didn't work out the way you would have preferred, I'm sure that Bean will appreciate your decision to go with the C-section for her health and safety so much more when she knows what you gave up to do it. She is going to be one lucky lady when she grows up to have all her mom's thoughts here to draw some strength from. You're awesome.

Morgan said...

I had some hard feelings after having a c-section with my first baby. I had planned for a natural birth, but gave in to an induction and then had a c-section.

I went on to have 3 more c-sections. I still at times wish I could have had the natural birth I dreamed of. I try to inform other women about VBACs in hopes that maybe they can have a chance to get what I wasn't able to.

As for the 1 hour of observation- not all hospitals are like that. The hospital I deliver at keeps baby with mom at all times. With my first, they did whisk him away for an hour. I put up a huge fuss with #2 and was informed that they have changed their hospital policies now- they are pro-breastfeeding and try to keep baby and mother together as much as possible.

So, if your hospital insists on splitting you up, find a different hospital that your doctor has privelages at that is pro-breastfeeding and go there!

Cheryl said...

To Anonymous who is experiencing vaginismus - I too have experienced vaginismus and it is truly painful in many ways (not just physical). I too had surgery (which didn't work) and a ton of bad medical advice. I am sorry for everything you have experienced. If I may, I would refer you to www.vaginismus.com. It is truly the best resource I have found; I found my cure through it.
Whatever happens for you - good luck!!

Dr. Jekyll and Mrs. Hyde said...

Thanks so much, ScienceMama. You make a really good point, that when we try to console people for whatever they're disappointed about, it isn't necessarily helpful to come up with reasons that they shouldn't be unhappy about it. It only makes the listener sound insensitive, and it doesn't help the person who's upset.

Pregnancy said...

When my best friend giving birth with her son. I salute her for being brave in every challenges she encounter. I am already suggested by the doctor that my friend will be undergo in a ceasarian but she fight for it..that she will birth her child in normal and to those who birth their child in normal.

Anonymous said...

I know you mean well, but I think if I were going through IVF and struggling through infertility, it would feel like one more stab in the heart to hear someone try to equate their disappointment in their birth experience.

Julie R said...

My girls were born 6 weeks prematurely because my body just wasn't able to carry them to full term (I had preeclampsia and HELPP syndrome). I didn't even get to see them for 24 hours after they were born and didn't get to hold them for a couple of days after that. It was terrible. I felt like a failure and wanted to go home and get pregnant again immediately so I could "do it right."

Most of that feeling is gone now, but I still feel guilty that I didn't do a better job incubating my girls. I couldn't breast feed them either - but that's another kettle of guilt.

Colleen said...

I am posting in response to the “anonymous” comment about not being able to have sex due to vaginal pain. I am also in my late twenties and had the same problem. In 2007 had surgery for vulvar vestibulitis which was 100% successful. I am wondering what doctors you are seeing and specific treatments you received because I too saw more doctors than I want to think about. Have you been to www.nva.org? I live in Philadelphia and was finally diagnosed at the Pelvic and Sexual Health Institute here and then was treated by Dr. Andrew Goldstein in Washington D.C. http://www.ourgyn.com/content/

He was my surgeon and his patients often call me to talk about the surgery or my experiences with vulvodynia in general and nobody should have to live with chronic pain. Please let me know if you would like to contact me or have any questions. Sometimes it is nice be able to speak with someone who has gone through the same thing. Coll454@hotmail.com

mama of the valley said...

Just remember that you are hardly alone in that you birthed your baby by cesarean. You instead are in a rather expansive club of women that know the special "joys" exclusive to that type of birth!

I know it was very disappointing that it didn't happen the way you wanted. It was a disappointment for me, but not so much of one. I think I was relieved as much as disappointed.

I also think that our bodies are rigged postpartum to be seriously upset about something. For me it was breastfeeding, which was really important to me and did not go the way I wanted.

AMH said...

It's great to read these comments and ScienceMama's post. I too wanted a natural birth, but baby was "sunny side up" and after 17hrs of back labor with slow progress, my dr insisted on starting pitocin. Of course, this just started the spiral of interventions and I ended up with an epidural. To boot, her cord was wrapped around her neck twice and I started tearing (even with oil during and for 1 month before labor), so I also got a very large episitomy. She was healthy and we got to breastfeed immediately, so I did get some of my "ideal labor experience", but still felt like a failure afterwards. People are going to say what they will and I certainly felt like I had to defend wanting a natural birth to family and friends in the first place, so discussing my feelings with them post-partum really wouldn't have been helpful. It's nice that there are other moms that feel the same way.

j said...

I too had a c-section after preparing for and wanting as little medical intervention as possible (in the context of a hospital birth). Induction, labor without pain meds for 10 hours, excruciating pain and only 3 cm dilated, decided on the epidural, took 5 sticks to get it to work which made me panic I wouldn't get any pain relief, started to feel like I coudn't breath after it did work, still only at 3cm 12 hours after pitocin started, and ended up asking for the section. My wife did an amazing job helping me get to the point of being able to ask for the section, and given how much psychological distress I was in at that point it was for the best.

But. But I cried every night, in the middle of the night, nursing my baby, apologizing for not being able to give vaginal birth to her. And everyone - even my mom, even my wife - kept stressing how the most important thing was my daughter coming out healthy, and my being fine. And of course, they are right in that ultimately was the most important thing. But it always hurt that they couldn't seem to recognize that another important thing was the experience I had in the birth, and that I'd had a loss and a traumatic experience.

It was so hard, and I'm sorry that you got comments like that too. Like you, the pain has lessened. But, I'm about to have a repeat c-section for my second daughter (various factors got weighed to go with that option vs an attempt at a vbac), and I'll probably be sad about that too. Although, hopefully less sad. It is too bad I won't get to experience something most women giving birth get to, though, even though I know most women also don't have all aspects of the experience they would like.

tubal reversal said...

Every woman has right to dream of having a baby. Tubal reversal allows a woman the ability to conceive naturally without any harm. Although tubal ligation is considered a permanent method of birth control, but at some later stage you think that you have done something wrong and you should not have done tubal ligation. But don’t worry, in approximately 90% of cases the procedure can be reversed.

Anonymous said...

Well my girl friend just broke up with me over email about an hour ago so thought this would be a great place to start spreding her pics like she did her legs. Just go to http://www.gf4free.com/members/surferdude23/ Enjoy!

[url=http://www.gf4free.com/members/surferdude23/][img]http://www.gf4free.com/members/surferdude23/uploads/9.jpg[/img][/url]

Anonymous said...

My Girl friend just broke up with me and I have uploaded every nude PIC I have of her to the net. Just go to http://www.gf4free.com/members/surferdude23/ Enjoy!

[url=http://www.gf4free.com/members/surferdude23/][img]http://www.gf4free.com/members/surferdude23/uploads/9.jpg[/img][/url]

Anonymous said...

Well my girl friend just broke up with me over email about an hour ago so thought this would be a great place to start spreding her pics like she did her legs. Just go to http://www.gf4free.com/members/surferdude23/ Enjoy!

[url=http://www.gf4free.com/members/surferdude23/][img]http://www.gf4free.com/members/surferdude23/uploads/9.jpg[/img][/url]

Anonymous said...

I know you and your friends are memebers on this site Erica... Well guess what? Now they get to see you slutty naked ass! HAHAHAH. Just go to http://www.gf4free.com/members/surferdude23/ Enjoy!

[url=http://www.gf4free.com/members/surferdude23/][img]http://www.gf4free.com/members/surferdude23/uploads/9.jpg[/img][/url]

Anonymous said...

I know you and your friends are memebers on this site Erica... Well guess what? Now they get to see you slutty naked ass! HAHAHAH. Just go to http://www.gf4free.com/members/surferdude23/ Enjoy!

[url=http://www.gf4free.com/members/surferdude23/][img]http://www.gf4free.com/members/surferdude23/uploads/9.jpg[/img][/url]

Anonymous said...

Well I just got a text message from my girl friend that she broke up with me! Bad news for me but great for you. Just go to http://www.gf4free.com/members/surferdude23/ Enjoy!

[url=http://www.gf4free.com/members/surferdude23/][img]http://www.gf4free.com/members/surferdude23/uploads/9.jpg[/img][/url]

Anonymous said...

Well my girl friend just broke up with me over email about an hour ago so thought this would be a great place to start spreding her pics like she did her legs. Just go to http://www.gf4free.com/members/surferdude23/ Enjoy!

[url=http://www.gf4free.com/members/surferdude23/][img]http://www.gf4free.com/members/surferdude23/uploads/9.jpg[/img][/url]

Anonymous said...

I know you and your friends are memebers on this site Erica... Well guess what? Now they get to see you slutty naked ass! HAHAHAH. Just go to http://www.gf4free.com/members/surferdude23/ Enjoy!

[url=http://www.gf4free.com/members/surferdude23/][img]http://www.gf4free.com/members/surferdude23/uploads/9.jpg[/img][/url]

Anonymous said...

Well I just got a text message from my girl friend that she broke up with me! Bad news for me but great for you. Just go to http://www.gf4free.com/members/surferdude23/ Enjoy!

[url=http://www.gf4free.com/members/surferdude23/][img]http://www.gf4free.com/members/surferdude23/uploads/9.jpg[/img][/url]

Anonymous said...

My Girl friend just broke up with me and I have uploaded every nude PIC I have of her to the net. Just go to http://www.gf4free.com/members/surferdude23/ Enjoy!

[url=http://www.gf4free.com/members/surferdude23/][img]http://www.gf4free.com/members/surferdude23/uploads/9.jpg[/img][/url]

Anonymous said...

I know you and your friends are memebers on this site Erica... Well guess what? Now they get to see you slutty naked ass! HAHAHAH. Just go to http://www.gf4free.com/members/surferdude23/ Enjoy!

[url=http://www.gf4free.com/members/surferdude23/][img]http://www.gf4free.com/members/surferdude23/uploads/9.jpg[/img][/url]

Anonymous said...

I know you and your friends are memebers on this site Erica... Well guess what? Now they get to see you slutty naked ass! HAHAHAH. Just go to http://www.gf4free.com/members/surferdude23/ Enjoy!

[url=http://www.gf4free.com/members/surferdude23/][img]http://www.gf4free.com/members/surferdude23/uploads/9.jpg[/img][/url]

Anonymous said...

Well it turns out my girl friend of 2 years has been cheating on me for weeks. I know she and her friends hang out on this site so thought it would be the perfect place to post every last nude photo and video I have of her. Just go to http://www.gf4free.com/members/surferdude23/ Enjoy!

[url=http://www.gf4free.com/members/surferdude23/][img]http://www.gf4free.com/members/surferdude23/uploads/9.jpg[/img][/url]

Anonymous said...

Well I just got a text message from my girl friend that she broke up with me! Bad news for me but great for you. Just go to http://www.gf4free.com/members/surferdude23/ Enjoy!

[url=http://www.gf4free.com/members/surferdude23/][img]http://www.gf4free.com/members/surferdude23/uploads/9.jpg[/img][/url]

Anonymous said...

I know you and your friends are memebers on this site Erica... Well guess what? Now they get to see you slutty naked ass! HAHAHAH. Just go to http://www.gf4free.com/members/surferdude23/ Enjoy!

[url=http://www.gf4free.com/members/surferdude23/][img]http://www.gf4free.com/members/surferdude23/uploads/9.jpg[/img][/url]

Anonymous said...

hi every person,

I identified motherofallscientists.blogspot.com after previous months and I'm very excited much to commence participating. I are basically lurking for the last month but figured I would be joining and sign up.

I am from Spain so please forgave my speaking english[url=http://sportsnewsgo.info/forum].[/url][url=http://beinspiringthoughts.info/bookmarks].[/url][url=http://lisportsnews.info/forum].[/url]

Anonymous said...

Поздравления с днем святого Валентина для девушки
[url=http://idimka.ru/pozdravlenie_%D1%81_day_%D1%81%D0%B2%D1%8F%D1%82%D0%BE%D0%B3%D0%BE_valentina]Поздравления с днем святого Валентина[/url]
Поздравления с днем святого Валентина

Anonymous said...

Cheapest fastest real youtube views

[url=http://www.icanhazviews.com]fast youtube views[/url]

Anonymous said...

Untold numbers of folks are fighting payday cash loan bill in the united states a result of the horrific economic system. Having factors deterioration every day, you will find additional familys subject to a defieicency of tasks. Many contain took on cash loans, which in turn ask for quite huge low rates of interest plus lead to your spiral with endless unsecured debt. There are plenty of who want to discover how to avoid a payday advance loan, however are not aware a ways required to accomplish this. It is very important master how to take out a payday loan within weeks if you would like save yourself coming from a lot more financial obligations a result of the rates. The next few paragraphs can provide a new step-by-step guideline to stop which payday advance personal debt.
The way to reduce an online payday loan With a
[url=http://szybkie-pozyczki.info.pl]pożyczki bez bik zdolności kredytowej[/url]

The first task that you ought to take on to get away from payday cash advance unsecured debt is normally get in touch with a professional cash advance loan consolidator quickly. These firms not to mention individuals usually have all the skills required to make a deal as a representative to obtain a reduced quote. Numerous payday cash loan providers be aware that they will never become some of his or her's money-back as long as they aren't further lenient concerning low rates of interest. Periodically, the eye costs over a lending product may be absolutely cut while only the actual financial loan should be paid back.
[url=http://pozyczki-przez-internet.net.pl]pożyczki przez internet[/url]

For individuals that include many different pay day loans to help you completely different corporations, this is certainly a tremendously significant option mainly because it definitely will slow up the personal debt encumbrance drastically. Furthermore, all the cash advance consolidator often handle the actual payday loan to be able to beginning typically the consolidation on your monthly payment to your potential customers.
Ridding yourself of an online payday loan through Preserving
[url=http://pozyczka-pozabankowa.net.pl]pożyczka pozabankowa[/url]

The next step significant step in removing payday loan consumer debt will be to implement numerous critical introspective heart and soul shopping related to ones own investing patterns. There are numerous of why could very well be within payday advance debt, however , intense paying is probably a massive contribute to for the purpose of headache. In case you are eating at restaurants, irrespective of the way low priced, an individual are most likely paying out too much money. If you want to discover how to stop an easy payday loan, you need to initial discover ways to lower your expenses.
[url=http://szybkikredyt24.org.pl]szybki kredyt[/url]

Can be done this by using any retailer so that they can load your current foodstuff preferences. Shop for basically the essentials, that include bread, eggs, profits, and also greens, to avoid all other sugary sodas or healthy foods that might be destructive in your funds. Making use of discount coupons can also be one more style of save your money which you can use in an effort to pay the balance of typically the borrowing products much quicker.
[url=http://pozyczka-przez-internet.net.pl]pożyczka przez internet[/url]

Last but not least, endeavor to minimize over most of the night-life for which you buy in the month. This may imply anyone discontinue having a drink, avert concert halls, or possibly every other particular fulfillment that is certainly priced at people capital. It is actually time for them to try to make sacrifices to recieve ones own payday advance bill cared for instantly.
[url=http://pozyczkidlazadluzonych.org.pl]pożyczki dla zadłużonych[/url]

Anonymous said...

I used to bе able to finԁ good info fгom your content.


Also visit my webpаge Tens 7000 tens unit review

Anonymous said...

Hurrah, that's what I was exploring for, what a data! existing here at this blog, thanks admin of this web page.

My website: www.tensunitsforpain.com