I whispered these words to myself as the familiar feeling of regret, longing and disappointment sat in my stomach. In my head, I had failed and I had not achieved, I wasnt able to do the thing our female bodies were designed to do.
I have delivered three beautiful and healthy babies by ceasarean section. The first was an induction, where ‘failure’ to progress led to an emergency c-section. The second two births I went into labour naturally, but again ‘failed to progress’ and ended with emergency ceasars.
Particularly after the birth of my first child, my beautiful nine year old daughter, I was wracked with guilt and a feeling of failure that I wasnt able to deliver her vaginally. Even the term ‘failure to progress’ provides a cruel hint that there was something I did wrong, that somehow I had been inadequate. It took me a long time to come to terms with her birth, and I was determined to try for a VBAC with our second baby. Unfortunately, it was not to be and our third baby followed in the same style. A trifecta of casereans.
Our third child is now 21 months old, the birth feels like a distant memory and for the most part, I am at peace with the delivery of my children and can accept that it was not on the cards for me to deliver vaginally.
However, I was taken by surprise by the swiftness of the feelings of failure that came rushing back when I recently read a man’s proud post about watching his wife birth their child ‘naturally’. He described her doing it so instinctually, her body just knew what to do. Immediately, I was taken back to my three births and started to dissect where I went wrong, and how I might have changed things to have success. Maybe I should have gone into hospital sooner, maybe I should have called for the epidural to have a break, if only I wasnt hooked up to the foetal monitoring system, I would have been able to move more and help my body to open up.
But the truth is, it really does not matter. It happened that way because it was supposed to happen that way. I spent too long focussing on what went wrong, when I had the opportunity to show gratitude for my obstetrician for supporting me, for the wonders of modern medicine that allowed the safe delivery of my babies into my arms and for my healing and recovery which was smooth and swift.
I needed to share this today, not to share my birth story but because I know there are other women out there every day who understand this feeling too. I want you to know that you are not alone and although at times, you may feel like you have failed – you absolutely have not.
To the woman out there:
- Who delivered via ceasearan when they planned to deliver vaginally
- Who miscarried
- Who delivered a stillborn child
- Who has been trying to conceive
- Who used assisted reproduction to conceive
- Who wanted to breastfeed but could not
- Who does not want children but feels compelled by society to have them
- Who used all the drugs to deliver but wanted to go ‘natural’
- Who struggles with ante-natal or postnatal depression
- Who hides her body post-children
- Who is a single mum
- Who is searching for their purpose in life
You have not failed.
The fact that you have had these experiences makes you amazing, strong and resilient, even if sometimes you dont feel that way. When these feelings creep up on you, which inevitably they will, it is ok to sit with them for a moment or two. It is ok to acknowledge them and give yourself the opportunity to grieve and just feel.
But also remember, this does not need to define you, it is simply part of your journey that needs to be celebrated. The scars we bear can be our greatest gifts. They are the key to our vulnerability and our opportunity to make real human connections. I am choosing to bare my scars so that I may heal myself and support others to heal too.
Is there a scar you would like to share? Has adversity helped you to connect with yourself and others? I’d love to hear your stories.
Live, Love and Laugh