In short, cesareans are a common happening. Whether they are necessary or not can make little difference if it wasn't exactly what you had in mind for your birth. Giving birth this way can be a lot to deal with - physically, emotionally and spiritually. I do not have personal experience with cesarean, but I have had many friends, family members and some clients come to me in need if a listening ear after an unwanted cesarean.

At first it was my goal to provide information about coping with an unwanted cesarean in sharing the stories of these beautiful women. They have each coped and healed in their own ways and in their own time. They were both amazing and brave throughout their experiences, and after talking with them I've decided to just share their stories and their advice. I feel so blessed when other mothers open up to me and share their journeys. I am thankful for and have been touched by both of these stories.

Natalie shared with me the birth of her beautiful little Danica, born May 16, 2012. "My husband and I had been trying for over 3 years to become pregnant." Natalie had an ultrasound at 19 weeks and found that her baby was breech, unconcerned at this point, knowing that baby had plenty of time to turn. The weeks passed along and at 29 weeks she found that her little one was still ready to be born feet first. Natalie's obstetricians were not trained to vaginally deliver a breech baby. "After this appointment I was so scared, my worst fear was having to be stuck with a c-section. I was not a fan. I was reassured that baby had plenty of time to turn, even on the day of delivery. I hung on to that little bit of

"I was uninformed about preterm labor until 3:00 am on May 16th, 2012 when my water broke at 35 weeks. I called my parents and father-in-law, quickly packed a bag and off to the hospital we went. Luckily, registration didn’t take as
long since I was there only a week prior. I was then taken by wheel chair to the OB floor where they checked to make sure that my water had really broken. After that I was put in a labor and delivery room and where I received an IV. I informed them that baby was breech. You could clearly see her head under my right breast, very high!"

Natalie had an ultrasound to confim that baby was still breech. Upon finding that she was, she was informed that all five of her doctors were off call and that a doctor she had never met before would be performing her cesarean. "There was no option for me to say 'I want a natural childbirth', ever."

Natalie's experience was a little less than ideal for most people, from having the anesthesiologist try a total of nine times for a spinal to uncontrollable shaking. Through all of this she says that she truly felt that she was in great hands. "We all talked, laughed and cried, as my daughter, Danica Lynn Martin was born into the world at 7:00 am, May 16, 2012 weighing 6lbs, 4oz and 18inches long. She was beautiful, breath taking, and I couldn’t wait for them to reach her into my arms so I could kiss those cheeks!"

Danica spent the next 7 days in NICU. "The first two days were spent with oxygen, slowly weaning her hour by hour. The third day was spent on room oxygen, still hooked up to IV. That was my happy day, I was able to breastfeed her for the first time! She was a natural. The fifth day I was given the hope of us getting to take her home, only to be let down when we found out she was jaundice and had to stay. I was able to stay 3 days in the hopsital while she was in NICU. The fourth day they allowed my husband and I to stay in a room in NICU, since I was exclusevily breastfeeding. The last few days I spent at my father-in-law's house close by, since I was unable to breastfeed due to he being under lamps for jaundice. It was the hardest thing I ever had to experience in my life, leaving behind my newborn baby at the hospital. It was a nightmare, yet, looking back I'm grateful for being able to go to a place where I was able to actually take a shower, snack, and let my body have some much needed rest. She was a week old when we brought her home. Finally! We thought the day would never come."

Natalie is still thankful for a perfect pregnancy. She loved and trusted her doctors throughout the entire experience. While pushing herself with little rest after Danica's arrival, Natalie was determined to successfully  breastfeed her little girl. During her recovery, the traveling back and forth took a toll on her body. The positives helped make Natalie's experience more
so. "My daughter was worth it. I felt after each breastfeeding session that I had helped her, in some way. The bond we
shared during those moments were the most heartwarming to me. That's why I pushed myself, the traveling back and
forth. I knew her being skin to skin to me let her know I was still there, to protect her and help her get better to come home, where she belonged! My scar reminds me of all those precious moments of her being in my belly."

Natalie also has some thoughtful input and practical advice for other moms facing cesarean, "Try not to compare your pregnancy to someone else's. I listened to cesarean horror stories, causing me to fear the worst with my cesarean. My experience ended up being better than I could have ever imagined, despite her deciding to come early and having a NICU stay because of it. I'd also recommend plenty of rest, don't be afraid to tell family hours they can or cannot visit, you'll need it! My last bit of advice would be to wear the support binder and get up a move around. I pushed a wheelchair to the NICU from my room. If I felt tired, I'd use the wheelchair, otherwise I'd push it the trip and back. I feel it helped me from being too sore!"

Shantana's story is that of another breech baby. She also experienced high blood pressure, proteinuria and severe dehydration. "Our precious Gracie was born July 21st 2012 at 6:16 pm via cesarean weighing in at 8lbs 7oz and 20 ¾ inches long. Looking back upon the entire experience I am thankful to God, for I know that He was with us and that He helped us through it all. My c-section was not the experience I had hoped for when I made a birth plan for my little Gracie."

During a hospitalization at 37 weeks, Shantana went into a relatively quick labor. With a steadily high blood pressure, things went quickly for her once she was dilated 5 cm. "Within 15 minutes I was prepped and ready to go back for
surgery. Ryan (my husband) was given scrubs and enough time to make the needed phone calls to our families. I was thankful that my mom was already there. I was so scared. I can honestly say that life felt like it was going by in slow motion. I could feel my heart beating in my chest. I wanted to cry. I wanted to wait. But, mostly I wanted my baby to be safe. I was wheeled back to the delivery room and given a spinal. Ryan was told to wait outside until they had me prepped.They would come get him. However, because of my swelling the anesthesiologist was unable. After several failed attempts I was put under general anesthesia and Ryan was sent to the waiting room. I remember tears running down
my face, feeling lost without Ryan, praying inside my head and the doctor saying, “We’re ready on this end.”

The next thing I remember was waking up in tremendous pain. I literally thought I was dying. I could feel my wound and I didn't know anything about my baby. I remember crying and asking my mom if Gracie was okay." It would be three hours before Shantana would hold her baby girl for the first time. "I had plans for kangaroo care, I wanted to be the first to hold her, to feel her, to see her beautiful face but it had been three hours and it seemed I was the last.  No matter the pain I was in, the sheer excitement and pure joy I felt when I held her in my arms is a feeling unlike any other. In that instant, I realized I was indeed the first to hold her-in my belly, the first to feel her move, and although I didn’t see her face, the first to know her."
"Complications arose shortly after and my Gracie was put in NICU. The doctor explained that because she was born early and because of my blood pressure problems, she wasn’t able to regulate her own blood sugar and it kept dropping
below 30. She spent three days hooked up to every IV in the place it seemed. I had lost a lot of blood during the surgery so I was allowed to stay in the hospital. This was great because I was afraid I would have to go home without my
baby, and that terrified me. I was able to breastfeed her on the second day (although I tried to pump the first day to help my milk come in), within three feedings Gracie’s sugar began to regulate itself and slowly she was weaned from all IVs. Although I was exhausted and sore I wheeled myself down to the NICU every three hours to feed her. That was all I could do for her, but it ended up being the best thing anyone could have done. 

After, what seemed like forever, we finally made it home. Mommy, Daddy and our miracle, Ms. Lyndon Grace. I am blessed to have all that I do and although I would have liked for things to have gone much differently, I am glad in the end that Gracie is here, happy, healthy and above all - loved."

As a doula, I live for normal birth. I breath it. It's beautiful. I can't get enough. I often think of cesarean in a negative way, as so many are unecessary. In all honesty, three years and I'm still learning about it. I don't know all that I probably should about cesarean, but I'm getting there. It does my soul good to hear these stories, to see the beauty in these births and the love that these mamas feel for their children.

To my cesarean mamas - Take time to grieve for the birth you had pictured all along. It is entirely possible to be sad about your experience, and SO happy and thankful at the same time for your precious new baby. It's okay to grieve. You'll need time to heal physically and give yourself rest, all while caring for your newborn. So, ASK FOR HELP! Friends, family - anyone - most loved ones will be more than willing to help with cooking, cleaning and older children while you spend time caring for your little one and for yourself. Talk about what you've been through. Write it down. Tell a friend. Tell someone who's been there and heal together. Find a local I-CAN chapter. Let it all out! It's okay to feel what you're feeling and it's okay for others to know. Share here! Your story is beautiful and it deserves to be told.  

Cohen is my third baby. This is the first time I've written a birth story! I have considered many times trying to write about Gavin's and Cara's births, but I've waited far too long and the details are fuzzy. I don't think I could if I tried. It feels so wonderful to be able to write this down, so that with this birth I won't forget. It was the amazing experience that I wish all mothers could have.

Cohen Grey was born on October 1, 2012 at 1:26 am, safely (and quickly) at home, weighing 8 lb 6 oz, he was 20.5 inches long.

I had been having contractions on and off for around two weeks. I had once called Jo (my midwife) and her assistants, only to have them spend the night and travel home again the next morning. I was very worried about this happening again. If I knew anything, it was that I didn't want another false alarm. They were around three hours away and I knew how difficult it was for them to travel and lose sleep for no real reason. I was also worried that they may not make it on time if I didn't call, as was Jo, so that's what I did.

One day past my due date, which was September 29th, I began having a few contractions. This was nothing unusual and I wasn't convinced that birth was imminent. It was around 6 pm. I waited for a few hours and by 8 pm I thought it would be a good idea to at least let Jo know what was going on. They were around 5 to 7 minutes apart, so she decided it would be a good idea for them to come. I still wasn't convinced, and again I was very worried that they would be making the trip for no reason. About an hour into their drive, my contractions stopped again. I was extremely frustrated at this point, so much so that I was in tears as I called to let her know. We talked for a few minutes about what I was feeling and decided that it would be best for her to go ahead and continue on her way. It was raining out and it would take her a little longer to get there than it would any other day. I very distinctly remember her saying to me, "Stop worrying so much and just have your baby." I believe that her telling me that helped immensely with the progession of my labor. I also believe that my contractions stopped for those few hours because my body was waiting on her to arrive.

She did so at around 11 pm. I had been having a few contractions here and there for around an hour or so before she showed up. At that point, I still wasn't at all conviced I would have my little bundle that night. I was sitting on my ball as they walked in, hoping that it would help anything at all. I moved to the recliner and we all talked for a while. I honestly don't remember much of what we talked about. I remember Jo sending Nick (my husband) to sleep. I remember texting Carolina (my labor support and very close friend) that she should get some rest, I wouldn't need her anytime soon. I don't remember at what point I was no longer a part of the conversation, but I do recall being in my own little laborsome world, breathing and praying, still unconvinced - when my water broke. I knew that it broke before it did, if that makes any sense at all. I yelled, "Oh my God, my water just broke!" Everyone stopped talking and looked at me, and man did it break. Two seconds after saying so, it gushed EVERYWHERE.

I won't lie. I was a little nervous. I knew that my contractions would become much stronger now, and I was considering that I was 3 or 4 cm at that time. Haylea (Jo's apprentice) woke Nick and I jumped up and headed to the shower immediately. I wasn't in the soothing water for long when I realized that I wasn't able to stand. Nick helped me to my bed. I wanted to lay, to rest. I told him that I just knew that I coudn't do this. He reminded me that I was already doing this, and I heard Jo ask Sandra (Jo's assitant) to please turn the air off - which meant she thought my baby would be here soon. I asked her to check me. I needed to know how much longer I might feel this way. I was 9 cm! Already! The relief I felt was unexplainable. I was also shocked. I told Jo that I felt like I needed to go to the bathroom. She said, "Do you wanna have your baby in the toilet?" and I answered, "I don't care, I have to use the bathroom!" She reminded me how small my bathroom was, that she couldn't fit in there with me and she said, "That isn't poop. It's your baby." Somehow in the last 17 months since I had my daughter, I forgot what this felt like. And then I needed to push.

I was lying on my back and suddenly very uncomfortable in that position. I moved to my hands and knees and pushed for what seemed like an eternity. When his little head was finally out, Jo asked me to push as hard as I could. We needed to get the baby out and it couldn't wait. I didn't know at the time, but he had a nuchal arm (which was why I thought at the time that it hurt so much more than when Cara was born). I have no concept of how long any of this took, I just know that it wasn't long before he was earthside and in my arms. He was very quiet, but perfectly healthy and I was so thankful to just have him there with me - no cutting the cord, no taking him away to have this and that done. He was just there, and I was in love.

Carolina arrived less than 5 minutes after he was born. I had forgotten all about her! It all happened so fast, I was thankful my husband remembered to text her. I wanted her there during my labor so badly. Maybe next time I'll be conviced a little sooner.

Very shortly after his cord was clamped and cut, I really wanted to shower. I still hadn't delivered the placenta, and I felt pretty gross at that point. I handed Cohen to Nick and stood beside my bed to deliver the placenta and once again, it was straight to the shower. I recalled my first showers after Gavin and Cara. I felt weak and light headed those times, but not now. It felt great to be in my own home with my family, surrounded only by those I knew and loved.

After my shower, we all settled into the living room. I snuggled my baby and tried to nurse him. He wasn't hungry just yet. After a while, Jo checked him over and weighed him. When she announced that he was 8 lb 6 oz, we were all shocked. My others only weighed just over 6 lbs. My husband proclaimed that I had "made a real baby this time".. This day was full of laughter.
Then, it was time to check if I needed stitches. Nick was cuddled up to our little guy in the recliner, our others sleeping soundly in the next room, completely unaware of what had just happened. I couldn't wait for them to meet their new brother. I had minimal tearing and needed stitches. Yay. Thanks previous episiotomies and Cohen's arm.

Jo is an excellent midwife, but hadn't had to do a lot of repairs (which is actually a great thing!) so it took a while to fix me up. At one point during the stitches, my cat jumped through the open window and landed directly behind her head. Everyone laughed hysterically while rushing to put her back outside. 

After all was said and done, I attempted for the second time to nurse my sweet baby. We had some trouble at first, that
lasted for a few weeks. I later discovered that Cohen has a bit of a lip tie. We worked with it, and now I sit here typing this, nursing this 12 lb 2 month old who has stolen all of our hearts in the short time he's been here. I am so thankful for this experience. Our family has grown and grown closer together with his birth. I wouldn't change anything about it and I can't thank my birth team enough for supporting me in every way I needed and for giving me such positive memories that I will cherish forever.