I am honored to have Betsy of Betsy’s Photography here today to share her journey through an unplanned cesarean birth. We become mothers in so many different ways: through vaginal or cesarean birth, adoption, foster care, surrogacy — whatever path our lives take is unique to us and our families. I hope we can embrace one another and look to God as we relinquish control and find peace.
Another Response to the Undesired Cesarean Birth — Letting Go
Let me start by saying that there are a lot of resources for moms who are recovering from c-sections, who had cesarean births… maybe out of necessity, or possibly out of pressure from the hospital staff. But what I haven’t found very frequently is the resource that tells these moms it is okay to find peace and move on.
Most proponents for cesarean awareness are very vocal, and very adamant about the need to feel angry and violated. Maybe it’s just a vocal minority, but when I was seeking information to help me work through the process, the only moms who talked about c-sections were the ones who were still upset — even years later. And so it became natural, it seemed like the appropriate response. It seemed like the only way to reconcile the c-section was to achieve a Vaginal Birth After Ceaserean (VBAC) for their second birth. And wow, what pressure does that put on moms?
As the birth of my second child approaches, there are a number of things I can tell are different from the first time around. The first time, I was without fear. I had no trepidation about the birth process, I was confident everything would work out. This time, though, it’s different. I have had to assuage my fears of a second cesarean, of being put on drugs that will wreak havoc on my body in the postpartum months. My worries, of course, are founded on past experience. Murphy’s law — what can go wrong, will go wrong… and if it’s gone wrong once, it will go wrong again. Fear hovers underneath the surface of my excitement. It is waiting for an opportunity to taint the joy of of my son’s arrival into this world. Just as it waited for me in the months after my first birth.
My first child arrived into this world two weeks “late” (per the doctors, despite my disagreement on the due date), after an induction, 24 hours of labor, and ultimately a cesarean surgery. I was exhausted, fatigued, and in mourning. My grief, at that time, was not from the loss of the “birth I deserved” — but from losing my grandmother two weeks earlier. Looking back, everything screams to me as a reminder — “you are not in control.” My life is not my own. And I was trying so hard to be in control (aren’t we all?).
In the weeks postpartum, I did also “grieve” over my failure to have a natural birth. I felt like my body had failed me, like I wasn’t good enough — the works. Retrospectively, I think I was giving myself a way out, and escape from having to deal with the loss of my grandmother, the true pain and cause of my sorrows. But I didn’t know that at the time. When people would ask, I’d tell them things were going well, and that everything was great. I was still angry about the surgery, but knew that no one *really* wanted to hear about that, so I gave the desired answer. It’s interesting how we program ourselves to push our true feelings aside and put on a charade of sorts.
Through some of the mom groups I was in, I discovered others in my shoes, others who had been through an unplanned cesarean — and most were not at peace with it. In fact, the more I sought those who “understood,” the more moms I found who were outright angry about their births.
Learning to Let Go
It wasn’t until about a year postpartum that I met a mom who had a cesarean and was at peace with it. It took me by surprise, I have to say.
How could she have missed out on the birth she deserved …and be okay with it?
Why wasn’t she mad like everyone else?
I wanted to be in that place, to be that secure in myself that the circumstances of my birth experience no longer angered me.
I wanted to be able to let go. To live.
I’ve always wanted to thank this mom for opening my eyes to the other side of things, but sadly, we’ve lost touch and I can no longer do so.
But I am grateful to her for giving me another perspective, for helping me realize I did have a choice. Sure, I wasn’t able to choose how my son’s birth played out, but I could choose to be at peace. I could choose to let go. To live in the present. To be content with the blessings I have. To turn to God for peace when I can’t find it on my own.
We always have a choice. We have to choose to live in the present, to let go. Or at least start trying. Because the process of letting go is just that. A process. I’m so glad to have found another response to my undesired cesarean birth. No, it wasn’t what I would have chosen, but that’s beside the point.
Or, maybe, it is the point.
I’m not in control of my life.
No matter how much I plan or try to control my life, it will always play out in unexpected ways. My life is not going to happen according to my plan. And I need to be at peace with that.
Learning to accept the difficulties, the sorrows, the disappointments — those are all a part of life. We find peace, not by getting “our way” — but by giving up the illusion of control. My peace is eternal, unchanging. He is always there. God is my refuge, my peace, if I will but seek Him.
To the Mom Who Didn’t Want A Cesarean Birth
There are so many of us, but most choose not to talk about it. Know that you are not alone. Know that you don’t have to respond according to any status quo. Your response, your reaction, is unique to you. You have the choice to live, forever regretting that moment when a c-section became a reality for you. You have the choice (and the right) to be angry about it. But at some point (trust me), you’ll be happier if you choose to accept what happened and let go of the anger.
Don’t miss out on living in the present because you feel you need to “make it right.” This world is not “right” — it is imperfect. And letting go of our perfect dreams and desires is tough… but when you do, you can find peace, you can accept what happened, let it go, and start living with your full attention on what lies ahead.
Grieve your loss, yes. But rejoice in your blessings! Seek out what joyful moments you can find, look for the silver lining in the storm cloud.
What About My Second Birth?
A lifelong bookworm and creative soul, Betsy lives in Michigan with her husband, (soon-to-be-two) boys, and two cats (Betsy’s story). You can read more of her thoughts on life and creative musings at BPhotoArt.com. There, Betsy blogs about a hodgepodge of topics including fine art and portrait photography, parenting, capturing memories, and finding contentment in the journey of life. You can also find Betsy on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, and Instagram.