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This past weekend my son turned two. We had a nice party in the backyard with family, friends and other little kids running, crawling and jumping around. It’s so much fun to celebrate the day this amazing little person came into our lives and completely changed how we see the world.

In addition to wishing my son “happy birthday” some of my friends also wished me a “happy birthing day”. I of course appreciate the acknowledgement of my role that day, except I wasn’t able to receive the well wishes the way they intended. Instead I can’t help but note to them I didn’t really “birth him”, he was cut out of me.

I think most people believe that whether vaginal or cesarean its all giving birth. After all, a baby that you grew inside of you came out. Unfortunately, I don’t feel that way about my son’s birth.

During my pregnancy I did my research and decided that I was going to have a natural birth. At about 26 weeks in, I changed care providers to midwives that delivered at a hospital with a great reputation for supporting natural births, as opposed to the “baby factory” my original hospital had the reputation of being.

I did everything my research suggested would lead me in the direction of having a successful intervention-free birth.  The one thing I did not do, was even allow the possibility of having a c-section in my head.  It wasn’t on my radar.

When you’re pregnant, most doctors practices will not let you go past your due date by more than 1-2 weeks.  I went in for my 40 week appointment showing no signs of early labor, so I was asked to schedule my induction. While I resisted as much as I could, I scheduled it for just days before I would be 42 weeks, hoping he would come on his own before then.  He didn’t.

After spending 49 hours in pitocin induced (and epidural free) labor, I had still not dilated. Not even a little. That moment that my midwife checked me, and there was no change, was the moment I felt like a failure.

I had tried so hard, but I couldn’t do anything about it.  I couldn’t force my body to work the way it was supposed to. I couldn’t walk, or breathe or position myself any better than what I had been trying those 2 days. The birth I wanted so bad had slipped away and I was crushed.

The first moments of my child’s life were not with me. Once he was put on my chest I couldn’t hold him because my arms were tied down. I could barely smile for our first family picture because my teeth were chattering so bad. My first hours as a mother I wasn’t able to get up to hold him when he cried.  Then, when you throw in the struggles I had with breastfeeding, my confidence in myself as a mother and as a women was pretty much nonexistent.

On a day to day basis, I’ve been able to cope with my emotions of the situation. I know I tried my hardest and did the best I could, and that I can’t control everything (tho I would like to!).  But the day before his birthday was an emotional one for me; as I think of the joys he’s brought to my life, I can’t help but think about the pain and sadness I felt from the experience of getting him here. I wonder what went wrong, why didn’t my body respond, what could have I done differently; I feel broken.

I definitely wonder how this will effect my next pregnancy, if I’m so lucky to have one. I know that it will effect the birth options available to me.  I also know many women have their own birth stories and scars to go with them, and I wonder how they feel when their children’s birthdays approach.  I’m sure I can’t be the only one to experience this mix of emotions; celebration and sadness.

My silver lining in all of this is, I continue to educate myself on birth and women’s rights.  There is a lot of work to be done, and I’m a big advocate for women educating themselves on their bodies, their care providers, hospitals and using facts and evidence based care, to hopefully have a positive birth experience.

Without my knowledge and research I would have most definitely been pushed into a cesarean much earlier. Instead, with support of my midwife, I was able to labor, I was able to give it my all. It may not have worked out the way I wanted, but I’m so thankful for the ability to try, and for my little boy.