My daughter’s birth in February 2022 brought about a few surprising experiences. I was unprepared to face them. In fact, they scared me a little … caught me off guard. They gave me anxiety and honestly sometimes still do. However, I am sharing these experiences to provide encouragement that everyone’s childbirth experience is different and different is, well, normal.
I wanted what I thought was the “normal” birth – to use a yoga ball; to stand and walk while in labor. But my doctor induced me due to high blood pressure and the threat of preeclampsia. So instead, I had the “lay in bed groaning from out-of-control contractions” labor. Because my contractions were so strong, the doctors had to stop the induction medication and then restart it once they were less intense. Doctors and nurses monitored me around the clock and gave me additional medications to control my blood pressure.
Eventually, due to a uterine rupture, my daughter was delivered via an emergency cesarean. I had to go under general anesthesia and spend four hours in surgery. My baby had to stay in the NICU for over 24 hours after she was born. At times I look back and feel disappointed that I could not follow my birth plan … it was going to be perfect.
Breastfeeding my daughter was of utmost importance to me. I purchased all the things I thought I would need to be successful. Asked my doctor to send a prescription for a breast pump to my insurance company. Purchased nursing/pumping bras. Researched which bottles and pacifiers work best for breastfeeding babies. The list goes on and on. However, I never really started producing “liquid gold” due to my daughter’s traumatic birth.
We did not get time for skin-to-skin right after she was born. I had to stay in the hospital for an additional six days while doctors and nurses monitored me for preeclampsia. As much as I appreciate the nurses’ hard work in caring for me, the constant disruptions made it difficult to try to initiate breastfeeding. I still feel guilty for not being able to breastfeed my daughter and often think, “Gee, maybe if I had tried harder or done XYZ differently, she wouldn’t be sick as often, small for her age, etc.”
C-section childbirth is no joke. I had no idea how hard recovery would be. Do not get me wrong, I know natural childbirth is not a walk in the park and there are so many ways it can go south. I also know that if my uterus had not ruptured, I would probably be telling a different story about the surprises of recovering from a vaginal delivery. PSA: Anyone who goes through childbirth is amazing! Period!
I tend to overexert myself when I am supposed to be recovering from an illness or injury, and this was no different. I wanted to be there 100% of the time for my new baby, even if it meant overdoing it. However, not allowing myself to rest led to my incision not healing for six months. I had weekly check-up appointments after which my doctor referred me to the wound clinic. Babying an incision was exhausting and really made me resent having a C-section.
I do not think one is ever fully prepared for everything that could go on during childbirth. Surprises are bound to happen. Even after reading books such as “a guide to the most perfect labor and delivery” (this is obviously not the actual title), I had absolutely no clue my experience was going to be what it was. But I am so grateful for it because I can now share it with others in the hope that it can be an encouragement in some way.