Tuesday, October 9, 2012

ICAN Meeting

Even before we scheduled our c-section with Danielle, I had gone to the ICAN (International Cesarean Awareness Network) website. I wanted to be informed about how I could have a c-section and make my chances of having a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) the best they could be. I used information found at their website and other places I researched to write a birth plan and talk to my doctors. I knew they had meetings, but never even thought about going to one, until yesterday.

My doula that I had with Nora, Ashley, had posted on Facebook to see if anyone wanted to go to next month's meeting. It turned out to fall on Adam's birthday, so another friend of mine (who has also had a c-section and VBAC, and is expecting again in December, similar to us) and I decided to go to this month's meeting last night. While I fully support the efforts of ICAN in making mothers more aware of their choices in birth, and letting them know that a VBAC is, in most cases, an option, I, myself, will not be going to another meeting. I want you to know while reading this that I understand that going though a c-section can be a traumatic event, and some women do suffer from postpartum depression (and some, who go through traumatic births, apparently suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder). These are often chemical imbalances in your body, and you aren't really able to control them.

At the beginning of the meeting we went around and did brief introductions (Hi, I'm Sarah. My first was a c-section, my second was a VBAC, and I'm pregnant with number three, who will likely be another c-section.) Most of the women said something such as, "mine was your typical reasons for a c-section... not progressing in labor properly." I didn't even mention that mine was scheduled, mine was because my daughter had a severe heart defect, mine was much different from all of your stories.

While, everyone (sans me) was sharing different parts of their birth, their feelings during and after their c-section, what they wished the medical staff would have done, and such, I stayed quite. I don't usually mind talking about Danielle and her story, but I didn't feel comfortable doing it here. Just about every woman in the room said that the worst thing people had said to them in reaction to their traumatic birth was, "at least you and the baby are healthy," and every woman said how much she hated it when people said that, and how much it hurt them in different ways. The first time one of them said it I thought about chiming in, but soon they were all saying it or agreeing with the statement. That is the point at which I shut myself off at the meeting. I couldn't handle not saying, "Well, yeah, they're right." There were a few points where I felt as though I needed to get up and walk out (not leave, because I still needed to give my friend a ride home!), but I stayed, and in hopes of getting something out of the meeting.

After that, I listened to them share how they had problems bonding with their baby for months and months, breastfeeding issues (or successes and how it was healing), and other things. One women shared how she had preeclampsia and her baby was in the NICU. She said that she didn't get to hold her baby until hours later when they wheeled her recovery bed over to see her baby. I was at least able to tell her that she's lucky she got to hold her baby the day he/she was born, as they wouldn't let me hold my daughter while I was still on the bed, and I wasn't really able to get up until the next day. What I didn't say is how in the few hours that I held her or was with her, I didn't get much of a chance to bond with her. I knew the moment I laid eyes on her that I loved her so much my own heart could burst. But I never got to build that nursing relationship, since I only nursed her once for a few moments (even though the doctors didn't want me to, the nurse let me).

I really didn't get anything out of the meeting, and I would never go back, but it was a funny coincidence that three and a half years after our wedding, I ran into our wedding photographer, Danica, (who was there, I'm assuming to drum up business, as she doesn't have any children), at this meeting. Worth it? Maybe, maybe not. But making it through the meeting was an experience, and one I will choose to not have again.

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