I had it all planned out. I was going to have an amazing, empowering natural childbirth. I had a cd of birth mantras. My husband was a trained and awesome labor support partner. My mom kept a bag packed in her car, ready to zoom out here and talk me through a fast and easy labor, just like she had. I read books. I took classes. I skipped all the "crap" about c-sections because I wasn't having one of those and didn't want to let the idea take up space in my energy field.
So, 18 hours into my wonderful, natural labor, my posterior baby was in trouble. He passed meconium (lots and lots of it--enough so that the midwife grabbed the OB on duty at Magee). His heart rate dropped and stayed at 40 (my midwife told me infant heart rates average 120...they typically do emergency c-sections at 90). Twenty-seven minutes later, my baby had been surgically removed from me, I was drugged with all kinds of crap, and I was about to enter into a depressed, traumatized, and fragile mental state.
So much for empowered birth warrior. I spent weeks sobbing for hours, wigged out on Vicodin, reeling from confusion, and struggling to mother a baby whose diaper I couldn't change since I couldn't sit up or walk on my own.
I didn't know that it was ok to feel the things I was feeling, or even have real words to describe my perspective. I didn't know other women experienced this, too, and I didn't know where to turn.
And then a google search led me to ICAN-online, where there was an article about the emotional impact of a cesarean. I cried again when I read this, but not in a bad way. I felt relief wash over me. I felt my bones settle and my tense shoulders relax. The women in the article articulated exactly what I was feeling. Their words gave voice to my pain. It felt like a miracle to read.
I kept reading. I learned about a thing called a VBAC. I learned there was an international community of women who will support me through the coping, mourning, grieving process. I found ICAN.
Now, in addition to the online community, I have access to a local ICAN chapter: ICAN of Southwestern PA. We've had 3 meetings so far, where mothers gather to share their birth stories, share their VBAC stories!, and support one another. As I gear up for mother's day this weekend, I want to thank ICAN for giving me the gift I needed most as a new mother: hope.