Pregnancy and labor were manageable for me. Hard, but manageable. I actually, as a whole, genuinely enjoyed being pregnant. My labors threw me some curveballs, but nothing that I couldn’t handle. Or so I thought.
The first time around, I didn’t know what to expect. Everything that was happening to me was a first-time experience and all I knew was that you deliver vaginally, and with Ruby, I did. My mom had three vaginal deliveries with all of her daughters, so I never in a million years thought about the term “C-section”.
During my pregnancy with Esme, the doctor mentioned at each appointment that the baby wasn’t head down. I really didn’t think much of it. She was healthy. She had a strong heartbeat. Everything else was so positive. Why did my doctor keep bringing up her position?
Finally, at 34 weeks, the doctor not only told me the baby’s position was not ideal but that I needed to work on getting her head down. My mom and I looked at the doctor and asked, “Why? What does this mean? Is there going to be a problem?”
The doctor basically explained to us that if the baby doesn’t go into the head-down position before labor, we most likely will need to perform a C-section to deliver her. I was nervous when I heard the word C-section, but I didn’t worry myself too much. I’m not one to freak out over things because I genuinely believe everything will sort itself out one way or another, even if it’s a way I didn’t plan for – it would ultimately still be okay. That being said, I followed my doctor’s advice and took every action I could to get the baby into the ideal position.
I tried EVERYTHING from swimming laps, standing on all fours, putting my feet on the couch and hands on the floor, putting an ice pack at the top of my belly so she’d get cold and turn the other way, moxibustion, anything – you name it. Some of the techniques actually got her to turn head down, but she would always eventually turn back around. It was so frustrating!
Even after all that, I went into labor at 38 weeks, and Esme was fully breech. The doctor performed an emergency C-section. (Read Birth Story here)
Post-surgery, I went into an emotionally dark place about it. I felt ashamed of myself, like I didn’t perform the way I was supposed to. Between my mom and my mother-in-law, no one understood the intricacies of a C-section. Everyone I had relied on for pregnancy advice had zero experience with this, and I felt alone in what I was going through.
After dealing with stomach problems post-pregnancy (which I’m still dealing with), random bouts of anxiety, heart palpitations, hair loss, and many other fun postpartum situations, I went to my holistic doctor that I usually only see for health issues like a sore throat.
I started talking to him about my digestive problems, and out of nowhere I began hysterically crying. I told him how I hated that I had to have a C-section. I hated that after those 9 long months I didn’t get to push my baby out. I hated that my second birth was different than my first with Ruby, and most of all, I hated that during the surgery I felt so sick that I couldn’t hold my baby right away. I was afraid deep down that because of the differences in delivery, something would be off with my bond with Esme.
The doctor suggested that my anxiety was stemming from the fact that I never really addressed these feelings about the surgery. It surprised me that I had brought these issues up to him, let alone cried and cried to him about them. But at that moment, it became very clear that it was an underlying thing that was upsetting me and probably causing a lot of my stomach issues, too.
Once I was able to talk about it, I felt an instant wave of relief. The doctor didn’t even really need to tell me anything. I knew what I was saying was irrational. I was able to let go (most of it), and it felt so good and so necessary. I still am dealing with anxiety every day but being able to talk about this specific feeling helped me sort it out and come out of the dark time I had been dealing with. I realized labor and delivery are different for everyone and every experience is different. There is no right way or wrong way, and no one should ever feel bad about how they bring their beautiful babies into the world.
My little Esme is different than Ruby, as she should be. They are both perfect, beautiful, healthy (knock on wood a million times) girls that I am so lucky to call my own. Their stories will be different, but that’s what makes their journeys so special. My relationships with them will be different and special and now, I’ve learned to love that.
Illustration by: Sydney Mastrandrea