Thursday, April 2, 2015

The Scar Only I Can See

I have a scar on my left wrist I received when I was a little girl. I got it sliding down an icy hill in the winter. I was on my blow-up inner tube sledding down a hill and I hit a bump, went flying in the air, and slid on the ground. It wasn’t a soft snow. It was icy, hard and slippery. Somehow I managed to scrape my wrist and years later have the scar to remind me. There’s a scar above my right eyebrow where I had my eyebrow pierced in my early twenties. Then there is the scar that only I can see. I see it every day. It is my scar from my cesarean sections I had for both my boys.

I always enjoyed hearing other women’s birth stories while I was pregnant. It was intriguing to me to hear other women’s experiences. I would wonder how mine would be and was anxious to experience my own story. Labor with my first son Chase was a crazy ride, my own personal roller coaster. I labored for 17 hours before I was whisked away to the operating room for my emergency c-section. I was not prepared for any of it. He was not tolerating labor. Chase’s heart rate was continuing to drop and they needed to get him out fast.

It was traumatic for me. The moments before my partner, Jason, joined me in the operating room felt like hours. I was terrified. I felt like I was in my own personal nightmare. There were nurses scurrying around, bright lights shining down on me, and I could hear the doctors talking in tongues I did not understand. I wasn’t supposed to be lying on this operating table. I was supposed to be in that tub birthing my baby the way I envisioned him to come. This wasn’t the way it was supposed to happen.

I cried throughout the surgery. Eventually Jason was brought to be by my side. He was strong for me and I admired him for this. He watched the entire time so he could see our son when they pulled him out. Every second waiting for him felt like an eternity. I wondered if he was going to be okay. This wasn’t the way it was supposed to be. I needed to see my son. Then, there he was. Chase was born at 10:48am on a cold January morning. He was stable and healthy when they assessed him. He just had other plans for his entrance into the world.

It was difficult for me that I had to have a c-section. I cried for weeks. It was as though something truly valuable to me had been stolen. I would never get it back. People around me kept reminding me of the fact that I had a healthy baby and that is what matters. I agreed with that. I knew how fortunate I was to have this amazing, beautiful, healthy creature to call my own.  I knew some women never get to hold their babies in their arms. Others never get to have a child at all. For this I am blessed. I knew it then, I know it now.

It is my story though and it was not how I wanted it to be. I wanted to say how beautiful it was. How amazing that first moment was when I saw my child. Instead, it was one of the scariest things I had been through. My first moments were spent lying on my back feeling so drugged from my epidural that I was afraid to hold my own baby because I didn’t have the strength.

When I was pregnant with Wesley I was passionate about having a Vaginal Birth after Cesarean  (VBAC). My doctors and midwives told me that since it was my baby that wasn’t tolerating the labor and nothing to do with me, that we could try for a VBAC. I was very supported. I had a wonderful pregnancy with Wesley. I even ran throughout my pregnancy. I felt amazing in a way I had not while pregnant with Chase.

Then it was time for Wesley to come. It wasn’t easy anymore! I had started laboring but my body was not making process. We ended up doing an ultrasound and finding out he had flipped, he was now facing upward; “sunny side up”. I had the option to go straight to c-section or continue on. I was determined that I was going to VBAC. I would wait agonizing hours to have him come the way I planned.

As many of you know, you cannot plan these things! Almost identical to Chase, Wesley could not tolerate labor. Once again I was wheeled into that same operating room where I had Chase. At 6:45pm on a Wednesday evening, during a red sunset sky, Wesley made his arrival via c-section. Just like his brother.

We are done having children. There will be no more labors. I will be honest, over a year later I still harbor this sadness that I had another c section. Just the other day I read a birth story that was how I envisioned mine to be and I cried. Tears burned my cheeks. I envied this woman. I can’t change my stories and the scar I bear will always be with me. It is mine. Maybe someday I will be able to look at it and not feel the sting left behind. In moments when I feel the sadness I look at my two boys and feel overwhelmed by love and joy.

April is Cesarean Awareness Month

Post originally written and shared for VT Mommies in the fall of 2014.


  1. As a woman who always wanted kids but ended up unable to have them, I can completely empathize with your feelings. I love my stepkids fiercely and they have in many ways helped to complete my life - but there are still times I feel a deep sadness for the children I was never able to have. One can be sad for what they've lost while still being profoundly grateful for what they have.

    1. Very heart warming Kelly that your husbands kids have become your own. They are lucky to have you. Family is what we choose it to be and loving them like you do is a blessing to all of you!

  2. Thank you for sharing such a personal story, Crystal. It brought tears to my eyes. Although you are sad about what you missed, I am so glad that you clearly love and appreciate your boys so much. Beautiful post!

    1. There is a part of me that will always hold on to this I suppose...but what I was given in return is far more amazing and precious.
      Thank you Kara for your words!

  3. It is sad that there even is an "approved way" to give birth. This should never be the case! It should simply be a delight to have the privilege to hold a newborn in our arms.

    My five deliveries were were VB, but not alike at all. I too had sadness for the ways that my births did not somehow fit the "approved" ways.

    I was pushed into having a saddle block with my first, and upset that I didn't know that I had other options, and had to lay flat on my back for six hours after the birth, and not move.

    I was sad that I almost waited too long to go to the hospital with my second and had him so fast that I had no one with me.

    I was sad that I was pushed by another doctor to have a later baby induced, because they didn't want to take the chance of having her born too fast.

    I was sad that one of my babies was face up and I could have killed her by pushing too hard.

    I was sad that I hadn't been brave enough to try any of the alternate positions for giving birth with my later babies.

    Now that years are passed, and I am a grandma - I realize that there should be no sadness for the way a baby enters the world - just happiness that he or she is there!

    1. Thank you for sharing your story with me. You are right, pure happiness from the wonder of our children, and not how they enter the world, this is what truly matters.

  4. I am so happy you shared this. I also had both my kids via C Section and never experience a vaginal birth. I honestly don't think about it too much until it comes up in conversation among friends and then I feel a little sad. What matters most is that both of my kids survived (it was an emergency for both of mine too) and are healthy. Also, having my lady parts intact isn't that bad either! :P

    1. Yes, in the end that is all that matters; happy, healthy children! There will always be a part of me that will be sad about it. It's hard to explain and even reading this over I feel like I could add so much more to it. And unless you go through it, like we have, no one really gets it. Someone always has something to say and almost invalidate any feelings of sadness or loss we have. It was one of the toughest things to go through and if I think about it hard enough it brings tears to my eyes still. I do agree 100 % with you about the lady parts thing!!! :)