My daughter was born healthy and I recovered well after the surgery, but I felt like I missed my own birth. I thought I was OK with having a C-section until a few months postpartum when I started to feel emotional pain from the surgery. My birth had felt chaotic, out of my control and scary, and it was hard to remember the small details.
Even if you think you won’t have a C-section, educate yourself! When it was time for mine, I felt lost and clueless. Afterward, I would suggest talking to other women about how you feel about your birth. You’re not a bad mom for having feelings of grief because you didn’t get the birth you wanted. And remember: Just because you gave birth via C-section, you’re not a failure at being a woman or giving birth, and you’re not any less of a mom.
Brandi Angelloz and Nathaniel, 3 weeks.
Reframing What it Means to Have a Successful Birth
“I felt like I had failed by not having the natural birth that I wanted so badly.” Brandi Angelloz, Baton Rouge, La.
I was planning for a natural water birth in a hospital setting. I had a midwife and a two-page, typed birth plan. I went into labor at 11:30 p.m. on my due date and labored at home until my contractions were about three to five minutes apart. At that point, we went to the hospital and the very first thing I asked about was getting in the tub, but I was told I had to wait until I dilated to 7 centimeters.
After 10 hours of labor, the midwife checked to see if I had progressed, and she decided to monitor the baby, “just to be safe.” I was only 4 centimeters dilated and in a lot of pain. And even worse, my son was expe- riencing pain as well. His heart rate deceler- ated every time I had a contraction. At this point, I decided to have an epidural. But after 14 hours of labor, the epidural wore off: I was in pain again, my baby’s heart rate was still decelerating with every contraction and I had only progressed to 6 centimeters.
When my midwife said it was too dangerous for me to attempt vaginal childbirth, I felt like I had failed myself and failed my son by not being able to deliver him the way I had been planning for months. I had a wonderful nurse who held me while I cried and tried to prepare myself for emergency surgery.
During the C-section, they discovered that my son’s cord was wrapped around him six times, five times around his body and once around his neck. This had caused him to experience intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) and he only weighed 5 pounds,
7 ounces. His first four days were spent in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).
Physically, my recovery was easier than I thought it would be. I got up and walked down to the NICU to see my son, Nathaniel, as soon as they allowed me to, because I knew how important both moving and seeing him would be for my recovery. Mentally, how- ever, I had many ups and downs. The best advice I can give to anyone who finds herself in my situation is, “Don’t beat yourself up.” I wouldn’t choose an emergency C-section as my ideal birth, but it saved my and my son’s lives, and for that, I’ll be forever grateful.