Posted by: emjb | December 8, 2005


I’ve horrified everyone with my story of the traumatic, hurtful parts of Nathan’s birth, and those things remain true. But there are good things that are part of those memories, and I feel like I should get them down too.

First of all, my pregnancy was a pretty good one, right until the end. I think whatever prevented him from being born, his head or his size or some pelvic shape issues of mine threw everything off, but it probably wasn’t something that I had control over. I agonized a bit over whether I ate too much and made him too big, but to be honest, I didn’t really overeat–I really couldn’t handle a lot of sugar, actually. I may have eaten too many carbs, but protein made me sick, and I tried very hard to get all the vegetables in. If I had been on a diabetic diet, I’m not sure my calorie intake would have been all that different. I could have just undereaten and been hungry to try and keep him small, but that’s a pretty risky strategy–malnourishment is hardly a good idea. I didn’t gain a huge amount of weight, I never had gestational diabetes, and my blood pressure was exemplary.

I think if he hadn’t been prevented by whatever it was, he would have been born on time or early, which is what everyone expected. And I think I would have been able to get him out at that size. My body did everything it knew how to do, but his head just never descended far enough.

I know that I was very strong in my labor. Up till nearly the very end, I know that I was brave through some incredible pain–I would say the last two hours before I gave in to the epidural were probably beyond anything that I would have felt in a successful vaginal birth for more than a short time. Basically, I was in transition level pain or higher for longer than anyone should be, and I held out for longer than a lot of people would. I wish I hadn’t had to, you understand, but I think I deserve to take pride in the fact that I did. And even through the c-section and recovery, I called on all the bravery I had. I made jokes because making other people laugh made me feel better. I pulled myself out of bed to breastfeed Nathan and hold him. I made myself eat horrible hospital food to keep my strength up, and I dragged myself, pulling Nathan in his bassinet, down the hospital hall in my ugly-ass layers of hospital gowns to sit through a lactation demonstration at which I learned nothing I didn’t know already.

When I got the epidural during my labor, I had been on my feet for several hours, denied any real pain-relief methods or anything to eat but ice chips. And when I did get the epidural, I didn’t feel one iota of guilt. I still don’t. I knew I was at the end of my strength; I knew I would faint from fatigue and pain if I didn’t get relief. I was angry, I remember telling the midwife, not at myself, but at the fact that I didn’t seem to have any good choices.

And that’s what I’m still angry about. I did the best I could with the choices I had, but they, frankly, sucked. It’s ridiculous that our knowledge of birth and how to enable it is still so limited and primitive. It’s ridiculous that you can need major surgery and yet not really know why you needed it, or if there’s any way to avoid needing it again. I blame the sexism of a medical profession that until recently didn’t even include female models as part of the standard anatomy books, that still doesn’t effectively test new drugs on women as well as men. There is hardly any human medical event more common and more necessary than birth, and yet these huge gaps in our knowledge remain. It’s shameful, really.

Anyway, I have spent time being angry at my body, but I’m going to try to be through with that now. For one thing, I still have some concerns; I think I am still bleeding more than I should be at this stage, and I want to get examined by my own doctor when I get back. I still need to be sure that asshole surgeon didn’t damage me, or that something else didn’t go wrong. Until I know that, I won’t know if having another child is even an option for me. Even if it is, it will take a tremendous amount of courage for me to consider it…or blind stubborness.

And I’m torn between the desire to try again and prove myself (which isn’t really the healthiest reason to have a child, is it?) and never wanting to risk the fear and pain I felt this time. I would like to make that decision based on something besides fear or wounded vanity. But I’m not in a place to do that yet, so I’m not.

I sound very collected and together here, and sometimes I am, but I am still not entirely healed from all that happened. I am weaker and more broken than I have ever been, though I’m pretty sure it’s not permanent; I’m not afraid any more that I’ve lost myself. I have scars that I’d rather not have, but it’s still the same person in the mirror.



  1. I PM’ed you at mWT. 🙂

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