Early this morning I woke up to make sure Little Mirchi was tucked in, covering her with the blanket she always kicks off. After tossing and turning in attempts to fall back asleep, I opened up my social media in defeat and the first article to pop up was about C-Section Mamas. Immediately after reading it the memories of my labour came rushing back.
“And in these moments, a c-section mama must hold onto the strong and fierce love she has for her baby. She lets fear wash over her…and then she lets it drift away. She know that in this moment, this is what is best for her child, even though “what’s best” means a major surgery with real wounds and scars. Even though “what’s best” means letting go of a dream or a vision of birth that she’s been building up for the last nine months.”
I remember the guilt I felt when I had to have a C-section, the way so many people thought it was a “shortcut” to childbirth (even though I had been in labour for over 12 hours). I remember the detailed explanations people would ask for to justify the surgery. The healing time is something I don’t even want to remember, the way I felt useless on bed rest, the way my body went through major shock and my milk was delayed, the way they had to rush away my husband and newborn child immediately following birth, not giving me a moment to soak in what was the most beautiful moment in my life to date, the birth of my baby girl.
In honor of April being Cesarean Awareness Month and Little Mirchi’s birth month I wanted to share her birth story and a few ways I helped get over that new mom guilt.
On a beautiful April night, almost two years ago, we were blessed with a precious baby girl and life as we knew it would never be the same.
During the last trimester of my pregnancy, friends and family often asked me if I was nervous or worried about anything. My answer was always no. I had heard that moms-to-be frequently questioned themselves “Can I do this? Will I be OK?” Those thoughts never really crossed my mind. “It’s the most natural process,” I thought, instinctive and nurturing — how could I not be OK? After all, this was something I had always wanted, to become a mother.
We tend to build up the “ideal version of parenthood,” what we think is perfect for our little ones and ourselves. I too had certain ideals that I didn’t blink twice about. My delivery was going to be natural (no medical intervention), I would try and stay at home for the bulk of my pre-labour and only go to the hospital when necessary, we wouldn’t give formula — our little one would be exclusively breastfed, etc. My husband was fully on board and neither of us gave our “plan” a second thought.
At my 38-week appointment my doctor explained to me that our little one was not engaging, she was in birth position but was too high up and if I did not go into labour naturally by 40 weeks he would induce me. Induce? I hadn’t even given a passing thought to the fact that I would need to be induced. During those two weeks I tried every natural trick in the book, whatever Indian old wives tales my mom had up her sleeve — I did it, drank it, ate it.
I continued to stay active by walking, climbing stairs, doing squats, I was determined to stick to “the plan.” 40 weeks rolled around and I found myself, laying on the hospital bed waiting to check if our little one was ready for her appearance. Unfortunately there was no progress and after monitoring her heartbeat, I was admitted and put on Pitocin. Seeing my disappointment, my husband and mom reassured me that everything else would be fine and this was just a small hurdle. And so we waited.
The contractions started and soon after so did dilation. As the hours passed, the doctor came in every few hours to check on the little ones progress (she still wasn’t moving down). My contractions were getting closer together, I was dilating more and more, surely it was just a matter of time. After 12 hours of labour and several progress exams the doctor explained to us that due to complications with the little one and my body we would have to proceed with a cesarean. He left the room due to an emergency and stated the nurses would be in to prep me and he would be back shortly for any questions or concerns. I was stunned.
This was not how it was supposed to happen. I asked my husband to speak to the doctor to see if that was the only option. Every nurse that entered the room was asked the same question. After several nurses and the doctor explained that this was the best route for sake of the little ones health, our so-called “plan” went out the window and I was taken into surgery. Forty-five minutes later I heard the most beautiful cry ever. Our daughter was here, with a plan all of her own.
After delivery and settling back in our room the nurses explained to me that due to our little ones size they would be monitoring her blood sugar levels every few hours. While trying to satisfy her hunger I kept thinking about delivery and what caused everything. Was it something I did? Was it nazar (evil eye)? Day two the nurses came into the room explaining that our little ones blood sugar levels were dropping and glucose water would no longer suffice.
We would have to supplement with formula while my body recovered from trauma mode and wait for my supply to come in. This was the breaking point. Why? Why were things not going according to plan? I had taken such good care of us during pregnancy, stayed active, ate healthy homemade meals, watched and read positive things. Why was my body not responding to the changes, was I not ready for this, was I not good enough? A rush of emotions swept over me as I began to question myself as a mother. I suddenly understood the doubt new mothers have.
I was lucky and blessed to have an amazing support system (my mother and husband) that ensured me I could only control what was in my hands and I was doing the best job possible. It took several days for me to let go of the guilt but once I did, I realized the grief I was giving myself was only making it harder for me to enjoy motherhood. After speaking to a few close friends I was surprised to hear that they too went through similar waves of emotions, parallel hurdles, and the same doubt. Some had harder times then others dealing with the frustrations and no one to talk to. I sit here now, staring into my little one’s big brown eyes, knowing that I did and will try and continue to do what’s best for her without worrying about a “perfect plan” and the sooner I get rid of the guilt — the happier we’ll both be. Having a cesarean, feeding my child formula to satisfy her hunger didn’t make me any less of a mother.
For any mom to be or new mom my advice to you is as follows:
Cut yourself some slack: Whatever you do or have to do to keep yourself and your little one healthy is for the well being of your child. Don’t beat yourself up if things don’t go according to plan, not everything does and that’s OK.
Talk about it: Share your feelings with someone you feel comfortable with, whether it be your partner, parent, or close friend. You’ll be surprised how much better you will feel just by confiding in someone. You may even find that they too felt the same way at one point.
Ask for help: You will find yourself trying to be superwoman by juggling no sleep, adjusting to a major life event, a recovering body and a newborn that needs you 24/7. Take all the help you can get when you can get it. There is nothing wrong with asking for support and in no way will it make you any less of a mother.
ENJOY this time: Enjoy each and every second of this amazing new journey. The only thing your baby wants is your love. Don’t stress the little things and take time to soak in your newest blessing.