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.