Lessons Learned from 3 (VERY DIFFERENT) Baby Births

Earlier this week, I sent out an email newsletter in which I talked about one of my birthing stories.  Yes…I have more than one -three actually!  It’s taken me a bit longer than most women to write about my birthing experiences because quite actually I’ve felt like “What’s the point?” other than to make it seem like I am trying to draw attention to myself and wanting to gain sympathy from others.  You see -I am someone that in no way, shape, or form likes to be the center of attention, or to create a spectacle of myself.  I tend to be a very private, keep-to-myself myself kind of person.  But, it’s also in my nature to want to help people in any way that I can, and I’m learning through my business mentorship this year that one of the many ways that I can help others is to share my personal stories along with my professional knowledge.

I especially want to help expecting moms and new moms in any way that I can because I have been there -and am still somewhat there with a 14-month old.  I know firsthand how bringing a child into the world can make you feel so vulnerable, scared, and unsure of every decision and move that you make as a mother.  We ESPECIALLY beat ourselves up over, and sometimes even criticize other mothers, for the manner in which we birthed our children into this world.  From working with expecting and new moms, to simply interacting with them in everyday life, this seems to be a reoccurring theme amongst us ladies:  feeling guilt, shame, or failure because things didn’t go EXACTLY how we planned in our minds for delivering our little ones.  We periodically get caught up in the “what if” question game, constantly replaying in our minds how things went down during delivery and birth, and questioning if we had only done things a bit differently would the outcome still have been the same or better.  I know because I have been there.  So I hope my story helps to bring you comfort, support, and the realization that your thoughts are valid, but they don’t define you and your role and “worth” as a mother!  Now on with my story –

Recently, my mother-in-law was in town to help us with getting settled into our new place.  It’s taken longer than expected to get moved in with waiting on furniture to get here.  After working around the house during the afternoon, we decided to go out to dinner.  On the way home from dinner, she asked me something that provoked me to write this piece for you because I have wrestled with these thoughts from time to time, and there are probably some of you moms out there that experience similar ones.  She asked me which hospital I thought I had the best experience at with the delivery and birth of my children.

This question can lead us down the rabbit hole to a deeper discussion about all things related to childbirth, and it also made me recognize that I still feel slightly hung-up over how my first and second child were born.

You see, my first child, Torin, was born via c-section. He moved into the breach position very late into the pregnancy.  I did feel somewhat robbed of the “typical” birthing experience with him, and that my body had “failed” me since I delivered him via c-section -all I could think was “if I had only prepared myself better than this never would have happened”.

When he was born in 2007, most hospitals hadn’t yet started practicing “gentle cesareans”.  So after he was born, he was quickly cleaned off, checked for his vitals, placed in front of me for a few minutes while the doctor stitched me back up, and then wheeled off to the nursery for a few hours before I got to see him again.  I was then wheeled off to my hospital room to rest and begin recovering.

While I am thankful that I healed well and didn’t experience any complications from the c-section, I do remember feeling like I had been hit by a Mac truck the first time I tried to stand up and walk to the bathroom.  I felt absolutely gutted, helpless, and overwhelmed from the pain, fear, and anxiety over everything that I had just gone through.  I was scared about how I was going to manage caring for a newborn while making sure I allowed myself the proper care and attention to heal well.  I was anxious about whether or not breastfeeding would be a success right out of the gate—which it wasn’t for us—but we eventually worked it out within a few weeks.  Lastly, I loved this little baby so much, but I was concerned about how well I would bond with him over the course of the next few months of sleepless nights and long days.  Let’s just say I am especially someone who does NOT do well on very little sleep.  Needless to say, we found our groove and I was so in love with this little being.  Yet, there was still one thing hanging over my head -the WAY in which Torin was born into the world.

So when I became pregnant with my second child in December of 2006, I decided I was going to shoot for a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean).  My doctor felt very strongly that I and my body could handle such a delivery, and despite it being a successful VBAC, I still feel somewhat mad at myself for the way it all went down.  Quite honestly, it was because of all the complications I experienced during that second birth that I chose to have another c-section when I became pregnant with my daughter in 2014.

Back to my story…. I was in labor with my second child, Declan, for over 24 hours, and there was a small window of time before I could start pushing that it was looking like it would all come down to another c-section.  I was fully dilated, but I hadn’t completely effaced, so the nurses thought they would have me change positions to see if that would help progress me along.  At this point even though I was hoping for a VBAC, I was so tired that I just wanted Declan out and to be done with the whole process.  Nevertheless, the slight change in my position helped my cervix efface completely, and I was able to start pushing this little baby out.

I pushed over the course of the next three hours.  I wound up needing just about every medical intervention under the sun to help get him out…episiotomy, forceps, vacuum -and I also had an infection set in.  Needless to say, the birth of my second child did not go as planned and I can’t say that I would classify suffering through it as a rewarding experience.

Some women are able to relish in their birthing experiences (or at least they love to tell other mothers that they relished their birthing experiences). Other women are able to push through the pain and deliver their babies in no time flat, without the need for any pain medication or medical interventions.  I am happy for these women, because I wouldn’t wish the experience with my second child upon anyone. Unfortunately, I AM NOT one of those women! I enjoyed being pregnant and I am certainly a very strong-willed and determined woman, but the pain I felt in childbirth is like NO OTHER, and it’s something that I didn’t want to ever experience again if I was to have a third child.

Fast forward to 2014 when I became pregnant with my daughter, Brynn. I knew pretty quickly that I wanted to deliver her via c-section.  Periodically, I thought maybe I should give it another go and try to deliver her vaginally as well, but then thoughts of my traumatic birth experience with Declan flooded my memory.    Yes -it was an elective c-section, but my daughter’s delivery into this world was the best experience I could have asked for regarding childbirth.  And she was VERY healthy upon delivery and still is to this day.  Her c-section was a “gentle” one in which she was placed next to me while my doctor finished up the procedure, and she was wheeled into my recovery room with me, so that I could have skin-to-skin time with her as soon as I felt up to it, as well as the chance for us to get started with nursing right away.  I also healed from this delivery much more easily than from my other two deliveries.

With everything I know about childbirth, and with all of the work that I do helping mamas feel strong and prepared as much as possible 🙂 for labor and delivery, I can’t help but periodically question my own approach towards delivering my second son. There are questions that I still ask myself like:

  • “What if I had stayed home longer to give myself more time to labor and progress at home?”
  • “What if I didn’t ask for an epidural when I got to the hospital?”
  • “What if I tried to change positions more often and move around as much as my body would allow?”
  • “What if I pushed during delivery when I felt the need to push instead of waiting for the 10-1 countdown to go ahead and push?”
  • What if -what if -what if -.

I can wonder and question all I want about how things went down, but what good does that really do for me?  How does that serve me for the better and lift me up as a mother?  It only makes me feel worse, drives me crazy, and makes me like I failed at childbirth.  But here’s the thing: Who’s to say that I “failed” at childbirth, whether my children were born via c-section or a long and complicated VBAC?  It hurts me when I hear other mothers say the same things like “their body failed them” or they “weren’t able to do it own their own” when they talk about their own labor and delivery experiences.  I can feel their pain and I understand how they feel.

However, I think that’s why us women have to go into childbirth with a GENERAL plan, but we also with an open mind and more compassion with ourselves in case things don’t go exactly as planned.  Also, I think we need to practice kindness and forgiveness with ourselves after the fact and we need to learn to release these types of counterproductive thoughts.  It’s not fair to beat ourselves up over this because all of us deal with pain and stress differently -especially the kind of pain and stress involved with bringing another little squishy and sweet smelling human into this world.  Some women are able to labor and deliver at home with no complications at all, others are able to deliver in the hospital without pain meds, some would rather forgo the pain and opt for pain medication, and others would rather or need to deliver their baby via surgical intervention.  In my opinion, there are so many ways to birth a baby and one experience is no better than the other. It may be DIFFERENT, but it may be exactly what YOU, YOUR BODY, and YOUR BABY need…that’s it!  Nothing more -nothing less!!

SO if I may add one last thought, it is to stop judging yourself and especially each other! We tend to unfairly beat ourselves up enough. We don’t need to add to our troubles by beating up on each other.  You are a strong, capable, and amazing mother no matter how your children are/were born into this world.

If you’ve had similar stories or thoughts, I’d love to hear from you.

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