I wrote this 10 years ago, as I reflected on Devon’s 10th birthday.
I added the ICAN link at the end of Devon’s birth story, because recovering from a Cesarean is interesting. There is the purely physical aspect of recovering from major abdominal surgery. Then the emotional aspect really colors the whole experience.
Aspects that affect recovery
Depending on what kind of birth you had hoped for, depending on the reason for your cesarean, depending on how you were treated before, during and after your cesarean…. really hundreds of different facets can effect your recovery from your Cesarean.
Some women are completely fine with their cesarean section experiences. They had a good experience before, during and after. Some women take years to recover from their cesarean sections experiences. Both are normal and fine. But the women who take longer to recover need support during this time.
Too many people just focus on “you have a healthy baby” as if it doesn’t matter what you went through to get your baby into your arms. Birth is a HUGE life experience for the WHOLE family. It is not just about the baby.
I had been planning a natural, un-medicated birth so to have such an extreme different experience was completely unexpected. It was also a complete surprise to have my baby when I did. I was in shock for probably a good 2 weeks, that I had even had the baby. Rob and I kept commenting, “He isn’t even really born yet.” Because he shouldn’t have been.
Really, in many ways I was lucky. I had a true medical need for the cesarean. I wasn’t coerced into it. I was treated with respect. I felt like a hero, I had saved my baby. Yet, still it took years for me to look forward to and celebrate Devon’s birthday with just joy. The first few years I met that day with mixed emotions. Again, the scariest AND happiest day of my life I was “celebrating”.
I hear of many other women who had NO positive aspects of their cesareans (save a baby in their arms, though it may be days later when they get to hold their baby) They were bullied into their surgery, they were tied down, they felt the pain of the cutting and were ignored by the anesthesiologist. These women do NOT need to hear, at least you have a healthy baby. These women need to be able to mourn the birth of their baby. They of course celebrate their baby, it may be hard and take time to separate the two (birth and baby) from each other.
Listen to them, love them, accept their feelings. Tell them about ICAN, there are other women who have been there and can understand, accept them without judgement.
My physical recovery took a good 6 weeks. I felt like a drug addict the first few weeks. I needed those pain killers. I wouldn’t say I was dependant on them, but it was certainly a hard period as there were times that I felt like I simply couldn’t move without one. I can see how some people can descend into addiction if they’re burdened with an unbearable pain that can only be relieved with the use of drugs. I hope none of my readers or followers ever fall down this hole, but it’s at least comforting to know that there is help out there in the form of recovery centers – you can learn more about them online… But slowly I got better and at 6 weeks I could walk up the stairs with no problems. My scar area was numb for a year or so. I would have twinges of pain for a year or two. But then my physical recovery was “complete”.
My emotional recovery I guess took years. The first few weeks I was in shock. Even a year later I struggled with my emotions surrounding his birth. I didn’t know about ICAN then, so I didn’t know it was normal to have these feelings.
Years later, when Devon was 8 I was still struggling with feelings of guilt/distance from Devon. It was if we had this weird wall between us… a filmy wall, so we could see each other, but not really connect. It was by chance that I got to go to an Energy Healing workshop and there was able to clear my emotions from Devon’s Birth. It has changed my relationship with him for the better.
So today, 10 years later I would say I am fully healed from my cesarean. I am at a place where I am grateful for Devon’s cesarean birth. It has helped make me who I am. It was an experience that I learned from.
I am a proud member of the sisterhood of the scar. I cry with my sisters as they mourn their loss of normal birth. I support my sisters as they work towards healing. I rejoice with my sisters as they work hard to have VBACs. I am appalled with my sisters as we see the cesarean rate continue to grow and grow and grow. I work hard to educate women about normal birth and try to help prevent unnecessary cesareans. This is a sisterhood that does not want to grow. We want to help women stay out of the club. It isn’t a place that you want to be. But if you are scarred, know there is a sisterhood to help you heal.
Visit International Cesarean Awareness Network for more information and support!