This post is part of the Scars for Love series focusing on Cesarean Awareness Month. Each week in April I will highlight a woman and her story leading up to the launch of Scars for Love. Please note – these stories are real, raw and sometimes painful or scary to read. Today’s story is from Alissa, who openly shares one of her hardest times.
After 502 days of relieving every single solitary detail of my labor, delivery, and complications that occurred after I was put back together again I read this book, “Cesarean Voices“, and it saved my life. It saved my family. It allowed my husband and son to have a mother and a wife who was able to be truly present in their lives. 60% of every single day until I found the International Cesarean Awareness Network was made up of flashbacks to a procedure and a process whose outcome I could not change. And, every single night before I went to sleep I spent hours reliving each detail of a week I could barely remember and yet would never forget. My heart rate raced, my body began to sweat profusely and I became short of breath as the memories took over by body and ravaged my soul. I was locked in a world I could seemingly not escape. Until I found this book, “Cesarean Voices“, I had no idea that a small number of women suffer from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) after delivery and that most of these women have experienced these symptoms after a Cesarean Section.
This book taught me that I am not alone.
I had an incredibly long labor (39 hours) before they decided to do a Cesarean Section. Once they decided it suddenly ceased being about me. To them I was no longer a person, just a process. They gave me a concoction of something to calm my stomach and then they all left the room for 30 minutes before wheeling me outside the OR where the medical student who was stoked to be doing “surgery” sat atop a medical waste container. Me, naked and scared that if I mentioned how unsanitary that seemed might be labeled a “troublemaker”.
They wheeled me in, laid me naked on a table with extremely loud music playing, fought over their new sterilizing procedure, poked and prodded and then the smell of burning flesh reached my nose while this blue sheet that seems to hang upright on the baby stories on TV was laid within inches of my face and threatened to send me into shear panic. I sobbed, openly, uncontrollably sobbed and no one asked me if I was okay.
They cut, and then they pulled so hard that I thought surely I must be dying, that this couldn’t be the same procedure that woman smiled to the camera about on TV. The air was sucked from my lungs, my ribs felt as if they were breaking as my son was being ripped from my body.
Once out, they swept him away without telling me his gender. And, when I had the presence of mind to ask someone said “girl” while someone else said “boy”. Then, only moments later I felt them putting me back together. I felt my insides being reassembled and it wasn’t only unpleasant, it was painful. They asked if I needed anything and I said “no”, they decided “yes” and knocked me unconscious with meds without telling my husband who just saw my eyes roll back in my head. “Hooray his son was here!” “Oh God is my wife alright?” How terrifying for him. What a mixed up mess we had gotten ourselves into. And, this was only the beginning…
After my C-section, no one can remember me asking for pain meds and yet my husband and parents say I needed them. But, I’m the patient, shouldn’t someone have asked me??? It’s my body, shouldn’t someone have asked ME? So they doped me up on morphine and then something much stronger as my stomach began to distend. I am told that it was hard as a rock and much bigger than when I was 9 months pregnant and it didn’t seem to be getting better. Just worse and worse by the hour. The result of my intestines boycotting their misplacement and refusing to work. So in went the NG tube up my nose, down my throat, into my stomach…pump…pump…pumping…
All the while my son had severe jaundice and was kept 24/7 in the nursery. This, the time, when every baby book, every nurse, every everyone says is the most important time for a mother and baby to bond and I wasn’t there. I held my son for about an hour the first week of his life. Because I was too sick to care for him. Because I couldn’t walk to the nursery. Because I wasn’t enough.
And for the rest of my life I will wonder if he is in someway scarred because his mother couldn’t nurture him and love him the way a mother is supposed to the very first week of his life.
And for this I will never forgive myself.
Alissa blogs at Have Stroller Will Travel about the humor of every day life, motherhood, and balancing a marriage where she and her husband work opposite shifts. Constantly on the go, there always seems to be new fodder for sharing. Come on over and say hello!