Cesareans Don’t Just Scar Your Skin

I have never taken a picture of my cesarean scar.  I don’t look at it, I pretend it doesn’t exist.  It helps that it is barely 4 inches long, and so low that it is covered by hair, and so pale that even if there wasn’t hair you could barely see it.

Being pregnant again has made my scar come out in more ways than one.  I can feel it most every day.  It gets little twinges and stretchings as my uterus is growing.  As it does this, I am realizing I need to completely come to peace with my daughter’s birth, and the scars I hold on both the inside and the outside.

In planning an unassisted birth after cesarean, I didn’t realize how much fear and distrust I held against myself from the delivery and cesarean section.  As I was trying to write the birth that I want to have, I couldn’t do it.  I kept having visions of surgery, and general anesthesia, and a baby in the NICU.  I put it all off, and finally last night realized what I needed to do.

Last night on twitter, one of my favorite people @shh_she_sleeps wrote and posted her cesarean birth story.  I knew it was an emergency cesarean, but I didn’t know what happened.  I clicked to her story, and instantly was in tears for her.

(You can read her birth story here, but make sure to have tissues handy).

I cried for the pain she went through, for the loss of what she wanted.  And through the tears I realized, even more than I had before, that sometimes emergency cesareans leave much deeper scars than unnecessary ones.  The knowing that this is how your child HAD to be born, and yet hating that it had to be that way.  You can’t be angry at a doctor or midwife or nurse, you feel that it is your own body that failed you.  Your own body that didn’t protect your baby so it had to be surgically removed from your abdomen.

This mother writing her story is so strong.  She is amazing.  It took me 18 months to write the story of my daughter’s birth.  And then almost three years to even say it all out loud.  She is doing amazing.

Healing comes from more than just pushing things away.  When you have scars that run deep, such as from a cesarean section whether necessary or not, you have to deal with the fear and uncertainty of what that does to the future.

My cesarean caused my three miscarriages.  It hurt my fertility.  It made me angry and bitter for a long time at women that had vaginal deliveries.  I still have rages of jealousy when women choose what I wish I had, and then had beautiful births.  I am working through this all to let go of my fear and anger at what happened, but it is taking a lot more work than I thought it would.  Coming to terms with a major surgery that could have been prevented is not fun.

There are so many women holding in scars from their surgeries.  So many women that change the day of their birth of their child.  So many women that don’t realize there is something better out there.

Around Christmas, my friend @babydickey was barrated into an unnecessary cesarean section.  She nodded her head and the cesarean was done for no reason besides she was a little slower to dilate than the doctor wanted.  She has already started to advocate for other women.  She started an ICAN chapter, which she holds in her home.  She is already miles ahead of where I was.

Another friend, @birthbabiesblog, has had two cesarean sections.  One was pushed, the second was necessary.  She has since advocated for women.  She started an ICAN chapter in her area, is now a Regional Director for ICAN, plus she has a few blogs all over the blogsphere educating women about pregnancy, birth, and cesarean prevention.

Another friend, @sylkozakur had a cesarean with her fourth child.  Ended up pushing for a long time, and the baby wasn’t descending.  Even as necessary as it was, it can traumatize deeper because it feels like the body has forgotten how to grow and birth a baby.

My friend @devaskyla has had three children.  Her first was a cesarean, and her next two were unassisted birth after cesareans.  Her first ended up being a cesarean because her water broke before labor, and doctors are too scared to wait for labor to start on its own.  So much pressure to do what is safe for your baby, and they pressure you into things that aren’t needed.

The most powerful story of all, if powerful is even the right word comes from my friend @Preparing4Birth.  She had a cesarean with her first, a VBAC with her second, a CBAC with her third, and a VBA2C with her fourth.  Such an amazing woman.  She is now head of Preparing For Birth, teaches childbirth classes, is an incredible doula, and is President of ICAN.  The story of her CBAC shows where her power came from.  Shows that she truly is one of the best women to be leading ICAN.

So many of the scars from a cesarean are below the surface.  They can change us so we are terrified of birth and schedule cesareans for the next so we have a sense or control, or they empower us to change what happens either for ourselves or others.

Working through the emotions left after a surgery where your child is born is so hard.  So much has to be done to understand what is needed to finally be at peace with the experience.  I wish I had the answers to it all.  I wish I could help other women understand that it is okay to love your child but hate the day they are born.  To help them prepare so they are less likely to even have a cesarean.  To truly believe in their own ability to birth their baby.

It is your body.  Work though all the scars how you need to.  Take the time to do it.  And most of all, remember that us other cesarean moms are here to talk to if you need it.

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15 Responses

  1. Sitting here in tears. When I was preparing for my birth I learned all about c section risks and recovery. Not once did anyone, not even my birthing class instructor or midwife mention the emotional scars it would leave.

    So grateful to mom’s like you and the others mentioned in this post, who have helped make my journey to recovery a lil smoother and a lil less lonely.

    • I so wish there was more help after a cesarean by practitioners. They seem to think that as soon as you are physically healed, everything is great 😦

  2. I still second guess very decision made with that birth. What could I have done to make it better? What if I had pushed to wait on inducing? Etc… I try to Console myself with the fabulous baby I have who is still breastfeeding at over a year old, but I still have regrets. For the first month, I was angry at myself, at my doctor, at my doula (who was right about inducing too early), at my husband. Never angry at Lucas, though. He was innocent.

    Doctors have no idea the mental anguish a c section can cause.

  3. My story is so similar to @SylkoZakur’s in so many ways. Irregular/Unusual contractions, hours and hours (five for me!) of pushing. Except for instead of medical induction, mine was castor oil because I was IMPATIENT and miserable. I hate myself everyday for the decision that I made to take that tablespoon of castor oil. I believe that it is what began my labor (too soon, even if I was 41w5d) and set the wheels in motion for a baby that wasn’t ready to be born, couldn’t get through the birth canal, resulting in a c-section that I will always hate and always regret.

    • I am so sorry sweetheart. One of my clients in a previous birth was “naturally” induced and ended up with pitocin and a very traumatic birth. She was able to have a beautiful birth with her second, and let her body do what it needed to do without kick starting it.

      You will have an incredible birth with your next hun. You are already so far ahead of most women. You are amazing luv.

  4. I hear you, that everything leaves more then just physical scars.

  5. Thank-you for sharing your story and the stories of all these wonderful women.

    I have had 2 cesareans myself, the second being just over 3 years ago. It was an unnecessary cesarean where the doctor had no intention of me having a VBAC and bullied me into it; the healing process has taken time. A big part of my healing occurred during my doula training when my daughter was a year old, and later starting an ICAN chapter in my city.

    I think you are much stronger than I was when I was preparing for my VBAC. I stayed with the same OB and didn’t listen to the voice in my head about considering looking into finding a midwife. I really hope you end up having a beautiful, empowering and healing VBAC.

  6. Hey I had to change my URL… Can you replace the link w/ http://www.whilesolsleeps.blogspot.com

  7. My mother had an emergency c-section for undiagnosed placenta previa. Nobody explained beforehand what was wrong, and even afterwards nobody took the time to make sure she really understood why it had been needed. She was never able to carry a pregnancy to term afterwards, and has always blamed the c-section.

    I haven’t had a c-section – I’m very thankful, my labors were 25 and 23 hours, so I could’ve well had one had I had hospital births – but I know how true this is from listening to my mother’s pain even decades later. That is a huge part of why the cesarean epidemic IS a big deal.

  8. […] aspiring midwife who just found out she’s pregnant with her 2nd child. I really enjoyed her post Cesareans Don’t Just Scar Your Skin. I think the grief that can accompany a c-section isn’t something that is talked about…like […]

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