Thursday, April 25, 2013

Raw and Real-C section Postpartum

I've been wanting to write this post for a while. But I just haven't been ready. Please be gracious.

Postpartum....the things they never tell you! I read lots of books about pregnancy, delivery, etc...but nothing could have prepared me for postpartum. I obviously knew of postpartum depression and know people who have dealt with it. But I honestly thought that after you have your baby, you were either depressed or you weren't. I didn't realize the thousands of different emotions you could have in between.

I think that's why my postpartum emotions (as i like to call it), were so confusing to me. I didn't feel depressed at all. I didn't have any thoughts of hurting Paige or myself, but I did feel things. Different things than I had ever felt before, and I just didn't really know how to process or express them. I figured that since I didn't feel depressed, I was fine.


Ya'll know I didn't want to be induced, let alone a C section. I still feel 100% that how Paige was born was the right way. I have no regrets about being induced, trying for the epidural, or having a C-section. Looking back, it's probably the only way she would've ever come out of me. I know this logically.

Moving on.....

I wasn't emotionally or physically prepared for a C-section. I knew people who had them, even close friends. So I knew I would be sore for a while, that it was major surgery, blah blah blah.......I wasn't too worried because I was in America and had my mom (super servant who loves thru acts of service!). I figured I would take it slow and be fine. My doctor kept telling me that my hormones would be all over the place and I would cry at commercials and get easily upset at Daniel for no reason at all.

But that didn't happen. I wasn't really emotional or all over the place. I cried about 3 times. And mostly it because I was just tired. I didn't feel all sappy or out of control.

I want to be real about my emotions. I wish someone had talked to me about postpartum, specifically c-section postpartum before i had Paige.

Here is my story:

The first time I saw Paige, she was being carried out of the operating room to get all cleaned up. I realized she was perfectly healthy and downright beautiful and I cried. I was so thankful she was healthy. About 30 minutes later, they brought her to me to nurse and do skin on skin. I knew she was my daughter, but it felt strange. I was shocked at how strange it felt to hold and see her. I didn't bond immediately with Paige. It was a daily process. We had to get to know each other. I think it was because I didn't deliver vaginally. I didn't push her out. I didn't see her come out of my body. Someone just handed her to me and told me she was mine. It was very strange. Obviously I had been pregnant for almost 10 months so I knew a baby was inside of me. But it was so weird to not see/feel her being delivered and all of a sudden she was there.

A few days after we brought Paige home, she had a night of crying, fussing, and refusing to go to sleep. I laid in bed the entire time (6 hours to be exact) watching (and bossing) Daniel take care of Paige. I told him what I thought she needed and what to try. But I didn't do anything (other than feed).I felt completely paralyzed-I couldn't move. I feel awful that I didn't even try. 

A few days later I realized why. 

Because I felt like I was unable to birth Paige on my own (getting the epidural, having the c-section), I felt that I was unfit and unable to be a mom to her and take care of her. I felt so inadequate and weak. Not like, I'm a first time mom and I'm still trying to figure things out. I truly felt like i was incapable of being a mom. I was unfit and didn't have what it took. Because I had tried to have Paige vaginally and was unable to, I was afraid to take care of her, to console her, to love her-fearing I would fail in those areas like I felt like I had failed at childbirth. 

I had to force myself to hold her sometimes. It took a conscious effort to bond with Paige and to be vulnerable. Not because I didn't love her. But because I felt like I wasn't good enough to be her mom. I was afraid to get close to her just to let her down again.  I felt like I had already let her down by not being able to have a vaginal birth. In my mind, everyone else was much more capable at loving her and caring for her. I felt like I was on the sidelines watching. 

I felt like I hadn't earned my child.

I was talking to a friend on the phone about 2 weeks or so after having Paige. My friend had also had a c-section and put into words exactly what I was feeling. It was so freeing to realize that someone else knew what I was feeling and I wasn't insane. She put the perfect words to what I had been internally struggling through. I talked to another friend later who shared very similar feelings as well after her C section.

I felt that because I didn't push Paige out, I had taken the easy way out (even though I did labor for 13 hours). My c-section was necessary, yes, but it wasn't an emergency surgery, because she was breech or in danger. I had friends who had c-sections because of breech or other complications. I saw theirs as necessary. I didn't see mine that way (at the time.) Because I did choose the c-section I felt like I was telling Paige I couldn't hack it. I didn't have what it took, so I took the easy way out. 

I felt so guilty. 

When people asked about the delivery, I felt compelled to tell them the whole story so they knew that i had tried. I needed to justify my decision and the c-section. I assumed they were all judging me for not being able to hack it. Probably no one was....but I had convinced myself.

I felt like a bad mom. 

For weeks, i felt that every move I made, every decision, ever little thing I did was being scrutinized. I felt my family, friends, and strangers were watching me like a hawk to try and make up their mind if I was a good mom or not. Sadly, there were a few things that people said/did that didn't help the situation. A few "harmless" remarks made me feel like the worst mom in the world, and that I should just give up. I convinced myself that Daniel wished he had married someone else. Someone who would be a good mom to his children. 

I felt misunderstood and alone.

When I tried to share with other people, everyone said "well you got a healthy baby and that's all that matters."  FALSE.  Having a healthy baby was the most important. In the big picture, Paige's health was more important than my emotions and struggles. By a long shot. But I don't agree that it was "all that mattered." I know that people meant well with their words, but each time I tried to share and heard the same lines, I felt more isolated and misunderstood. I read an article that said yes, having a healthy baby via c-section is important, but it's still okay to be disappointed with the birth itself. Which is how I feel. I'm beyond thankful that Paige is healthy-especially with the kidney situation. But I have to allow myself to feel disappointment that her birth didn't go like I wanted or planned. Those feelings are too strong and too real to disregard them. I can't tell myself that she's healthy and to get over it. I need to experience the raw hurt and disappointment that came. I would've loved to have an all natural, vaginal birth. That's not what happened. I had to walk through and work thru that valley of emotions to get to the other side.

The first several weeks I struggled. Hard.

I felt that if I left Paige's side, someone would think I didn't love her. If I left the house at any time without Paige, I felt guilty and judged the entire time. I thought that a good mom would never be able to leave their newborns side. And that clearly made me a bad mom. I knew i needed to just breathe and have a little alone time. I logically knew that it was probably healthy for me. But the guilt was so heavy.

After that initial conversation with my friend, and realizing i wasn't crazy for how I felt, I started to read c-section postpartum articles. I was surprised and thankful to read many women felt the exact same way I did. It was so reassuring and comforting to know that I wasn't alone or the only person to feel the way I did.

I did talk to Daniel a lot about what I was feeling. I'm so glad I did. I generally process everything internally, then talk about it after I know how I feel. Daniel listened to me. He could not relate to what I was feeling. But he was supportive and reassuring, and prayed for me. He loved me through it. 

It's still very fresh though and not too far below the surface.  Someone was telling me the (vaginal, natural) birth story of another friend, and it was difficult to hear. I was so excited for my friend who was able to have the birth story they wanted. But it was a huge reminder that i didn't. 

I think time was/is a huge healer for me. Time to process my emotions, time to heal, and time to bond and fall ridiculously in love with Paige. I was wounded. But I feel healed. I no longer struggle with these feelings. They are still there sometimes...but they are no longer a part of my daily thoughts. Each day they get further and further away as I choose the Truth.

I daily had to choose Truth, and not lies. I know the enemy used my vulnerability and raw, open wounds to try and take me down. Sometimes I felt like he was winning. Maybe at times, he was. I read this very timely post by my friend, that hit a little too close to home. It's timing was perfect for me. But in the end, I chose Truth. I know that Father created Paige to be my daughter. He chose me to be her mom. 

I was chosen. 

Not because all the good moms were taken and I was what was leftover. But because I am the best mom for Paige. (even now just writing that sentence was difficult. Because it doesn't always feel true, i have to continue to believe it.)

I love Paige. Each day I'm amazed at how deep my love is for her, and how I cannot imagine my life without her. I feel bonded to her in a way that only a mother and daughter can be. My heart aches with love for her. 

Thank you for listening to my story. I hope that if anyone else has gone thru this, or going thru it now, know you are not alone. It's okay. You were chosen too.




  1. You are very brave, and this is beautifully written.

  2. I love your heart and I wish I could hug you tight. Because YOU really are incredible in every way.
    The end.

  3. I haven't been in your shoes. Not exactly. I delivered differently. BUT I have had such a different time this time around (Will's one but I still feel like I'm going through it) with postpartum. I bonded very differently with both of my boys (I bonded WAY faster with Will but emotionally felt very different on the inside) and I reacted differently as I recovered and got myself going again. Emotionally the second time around was SO much harder. It is SO tough to be a mama. I'm so thankful you wrote this post. I'll be thinking about you!

  4. Thank you so much for sharing this, and for being vulnerable and expressing your feelings. As moms, there is so much pressure to do things the "right way," but none of us really have it figured out! There are so many pressures to bond immediately like magic, and there is a learning curve. They need to learn us, and we need to learn them. That's where the beauty is in motherhood - really learning each other. Just like marriage, that takes time. I've tried to describe motherhood this way: when you get engaged, you really think you know everything there is to know about the person you're marrying. And then you get married, and there's a learning curve! It's a new level that you can't understand until you walk through it. Same thing as a new mom. You spend 9 months thinking you KNOW this baby, and then they come out and you don't! Too many people hide these feelings out of shame, insecurity, etc. but if we'd all talk about it, we'd realize how very, very, very normal it is. I think every mom deals with it. So thank you! And even though you birth didn't turn out the exact way you wanted it, as you know, God had her birth story planned since the beginning of time. And you DID give birth to her. You shared your body with her for 9-10 months, and even now with nursing, and you brought her into this world. The way we give birth doesn't make us any more or less worthy of motherhood - as you said, for some reason, the Lord chooses us for these babies, and you are the perfect momma for that sweet girl. :)

  5. Thank You for sharing your story. The more I read,the more I heard my own heart. I had the exact same feelings, emotions, quilt, when Ellie was born. It was so hard to share my feelings without feeling quilty I was feeling that way. Having C-sectoin with now both my girls still breaks my heart to even talk about. Yes, I have wonderful healthy children, and I am blessed. But the unexplainable feeling still about not giving birth to them naturally haunts me just talking about it everyday. If you have never experienced a C-section, then it is, I'm sure hard for others to understand. I have never experienced a natural child birth and never will. I will never know the feeling (people say happens) when your child is put into your arms for the first time and you are overwhelmed with passion. I first saw both of my kids for the first time laying on a table across the room. I could go on forever. But thanks again for sharing your story, and if you ever want to visit, I'm here to listen, share, and definatly understand. Amber Snook