It’s been six weeks since you gave birth to your first precious baby. You finally feel strong enough to leave the house with just the diaper bag, car seat, stroller, and baby wrap. Today is a “play date” with your birth education class. You are excited to show off your newborn but you are also anxious about sharing your birth story. Why? Because it didn’t go as planned.
You had spent months with these other pregnant women planning an all natural, drug-free, no intervention birth. You had spent weeks poring over books and blogs, adding details to your birth plan and emailing the updated list to your doula every day. But it didn’t happen. Labor didn’t start on its own, your baby’s heart rate kept dropping during contractions, the pain was intense and so much more breathtaking than you had expected. After hours upon hours, the words you had so feared were spoken: “Cesarean.”
You don’t know if anyone else in your class had a cesarean. You aren’t sure if you can tell your story and truly be heard. But you go anyway – surely you have enough of a bond with these other moms that you’ll still be a part of their community. After arriving and getting settled, it happens – someone innocently asks how your birth went. As your heart starts to race, you choke back tears and reply, “I had a cesarean.” The idle chatter around you slows and stops. The moms start looking at you, then sharing glances with each other. The comments start:
“At least you have a healthy baby.”
“So many people have cesareans these days, it’s no big deal.”
“Well, maybe if you’d stayed home longer to labor, it wouldn’t have happened.”
“Did you hire a doula? You should have had more support.”
You whisper, “It’s okay, I’m fine. The baby is fine, it’s all good.” You just want them to move on and stop talking about it. But you can’t help feeling like an outlier. Like you don’t belong or fit in anymore. You start to wonder, “Who sees me? Who really understands what I’ve been through?”
We see you. We welcome you with open arms. We can be your community.
ICAN (International Cesarean Awareness Network) is dedicated to supporting women recovering from cesarean births – not just physically, but emotionally and mentally too. Our support groups across the world offer you a local community of women who have walked the same path as you are now walking. Women who share the mixed emotions that come with an unplanned birth outcome. Women who believe a healthy mother is important and necessary.
If you feel like you haven’t found your community after a cesarean birth, please reach out to us locally and online.
Find your closest chapter here: Find us on Facebook here:
We are here to educate, advocate for and support you.
Photography Credits: Alex Pasarelu; Frank McKenna; Cristian Newman; Corinne Kutz – www.Unsplash.com