Cross-post from ICAN Blog:
Jasmine Ojala is a mother of two children and a member of ICAN of the Twin Cities. In this post she shares her reflections on what she’s learned from her births.
I have learned and grown so much through my two birth experiences. I had a traumatic cesarean three and a half years ago and a beautiful unattended homebirth just under 2 years ago… but, I am still so raw and emotional when it comes to my cesarean… I know there are many others here who can relate… I carry a lot of guilt around for the decisions I made during my cesarean born baby’s pregnancy, labor and delivery. I know now that I was very ignorant about my rights, my options, the scientific facts, etc.
Thinking about the VBAC a lot today, and with every wondrous, beautiful thing that happened with my VBAC baby’s birth, it has made me mourn even more deeply what I missed with my cesarean born child’s birth. I should be happy that I even got to experience a birth like that at all, painless-orgasmic-peaceful, everything I wanted… but I am just even more angry now that I /really know/ what I lost out on before… My husband is so supportive, but I think he secretly thinks I should be "over" everything by now, especially since the VBAC. But, I am still talking about, pouring over and investigating anything and everything I can get my hands on even remotely relating to birth. He doesn’t get it. He understands that I do what I am doing now to help any woman I can, even if I only can help one…. But I can tell it is getting old for him.
Anyway, I recently did the thing where you write out the positive things about your cesarean experience. So here is my list in no particular order:
1. I am not so ignorant anymore. The cesarean brought me out of my self-imposed ignorance. That was one of the best things the cesarean did for me. It taught me that I have a mind and I can study and I /should /put that to use. And I have.
2. The cesarean served as a way for me to receive some attention that I was craving from my mother. That may sound horrible, and I guess in some ways it is, but I didn’t realize that until I started to make my list. My mother has never been a "mothering" type- I hardly ever saw her, much less spent time with her. But she sure was a-motherin’ me after the cesarean. It was nice to have a mom.
3. Recovering from the trauma of the cesarean provided me and my husband with the opportunity to communicate on a whole new level. We have always had great communication but I had trouble allowing my "weakness" or "vulnerability" out in the open. I don’t like to ask for help- I don’t like to not handle things myself. The aftermath and recovery from the cesarean eliminated all choice I had in the matter, and all the better too, we are even closer now.
4. The cesarean opened my eyes to birth in our culture and opened up my options and alternatives for future births. I know many other women have said this before, but I would not know what I know now and be the person I have become if it weren’t for the cesarean. It is a shame that a major, traumatizing birth experience is what I needed to shake my beliefs and values like that but unfortunately, in our culture, that is usually how it is done. I wish that could be changed. Why is it that I needed a sledgehammer to the guts in order to ‘wake up’??
5. The cesarean has also shown me my great capacity to love my children and myself. I have a love for my children that is open and endless. I know I would sacrifice myself for them in a heartbeat because I’ve already done it once. I have learned to love my body too- it tried so hard. I used to think it failed me, but the reality was that I failed it, and my body was so resilient. Despite all the obstacles I allowed in it’s way, I *almost* gave birth. My body took to healing itself right away and did a great job… I love this magnificent body and mind of mine that can conceive, bear, birth and raise such beautiful people!
6. I have learned much about my own strength and my abilities to cope and grow. I feel like I am a better person, a stronger person, a more patient person. I am a lot more empathetic than I’ve ever been before. I also have a deep respect for myself that never existed before. I see myself the way I really am, rather than what I think I "should" be.
7. The cesarean taught me that no matter how much control I want or how much I think I have, life isn’t fair and never will be. Sometimes things just happen.
8. I learned it is up to me to deal with the consequences of my decisions, good or bad- no matter who/what I may feel is at "fault." That is what I love about my cesarean.
But you know what- I still desperately wish I’d had a blissfully ignorant vaginal birth. There is much longer list of all the things I hate about my cesarean, but that is too familiar a story.