Postpartum Grieving…A Delivery That Did’nt Go As Planned
You just had a baby! You should be totally 100% in love and happy right? Think again. Sometimes your birth does not go as expected and you go through a grieving process. Sounds a little crazy at first, but it is the case for many women. I went through a grieving process after my daughter was born.
I was 22 weeks pregnant and my baby was breech. The doctors told me not to worry about it yet, but of course I knew at that point, the baby wasn’t going to flip. My instincts kicked in and I just knew. At 32 weeks pregnant they still told me I had time for the baby to flip. That sinking feeling in my gut was getting stronger. I knew my baby wouldn’t turn. Some small part of me believed that if I tried hard enough and prayed hard enough that maybe my baby would. I tried everything to flip her, from holding a flashlight on my belly, to doing handstands in the pool to putting headphones on my stomach. Nothing worked. I went into labor shortly after 37 weeks and delivered a beautiful, healthy baby girl via c-section.
It sounds like things weren’t bad right? I should have been happy that my baby was delivered safely and that she was healthy. The problem is that the entire time I was pregnant and even before I was pregnant, I was hoping for a medication-free natural delivery. I felt like it was something, as a woman, that my body should have been able to do. I went through a grieving process getting used to the idea that my birth was not how I had always imagined it. I was saddened at the idea that my husband did not get to participate the way he wanted and that he didn’t get to cut the cord. There were a lot of things that I had set in my mind that would happen that didn’t, and there was a part of me that was crushed because of it. Shortly after my daughter was born, I was fine, but the coming weeks I felt ashamed and disappointed. I had to go through a grieving process to let go of what I thought should have happened.
I thought I was crazy being so upset about how things happened. I didn’t even talk to my husband because he just kept saying “all that matters is that you and the baby came out of it healthy”. Finally I talked to some girls in an online forum I belong to and learned that I was not alone. Many women went through the same feelings and post birth grieving process for different reasons. Some just imagined that the delivery would go a different way, some were traumatized by what had happened, and some just had a bad experience. There were even some women who were just like me, and some women who thought that their baby would come out and they would automatically fall in love. Sometimes that is not the case, and there is nothing wrong with that. Many of us just have to go through a post birth grieving process to get over what had disappointed us or what had gone a different way that we had imagined. Sometimes when you have a vivid idea of what is going to happen, and it doesn’t happen that way, it is a huge let down.
Through the grieving process I learned that having a c-section does not make me less of a woman than a woman who delivered vaginally. THAT was my issue. I felt like less of a woman. My grief went deeper than just being sad about a c-section. It also helped me greatly to talk about it. Some people don’t understand so don’t be surprised if you get some weird looks or strange comments. Find a support group online or in person and talk about it. It is okay to feel sad about your birth and the way it happened.
Regardless it is completely normal to go through, though it isn’t talked about often. It could however, be a sign of postpartum depression if it doesn’t get better after two weeks post partum.
My best advice is to throw out the step-by-step detailed birth plan and allow yourself the flexibility to take it as it comes. If you don’t want to eliminate a birth plan, just be aware that there may be bumps in the road and things could change. Of course make sure that anything you have strong feelings about is understood and known by your partner and your doctor/midwife/doula etc. Try to enjoy your birth for what it is and talk about it if it makes you sad.