Usually the weeks and months after I give birth, I am so happy! I love caring for a newborn, nursing, snuggling, and looking into that precious little face. That face contains all of the wonders of the world, and I bask in the glory of it. Even in the midst of sleep deprivation, I feel the bliss of motherhood. This time I experienced something unusual for me. Amazing joy and deep sadness side by side. Sometimes in those rare moments of peace and quiet while nursing Annalise, I would begin to cry. I was so happy about my little girl, yet so sad about how she had to come into the world. The sorrowful thoughts kept coming, even though my life was so good. I had seen many women go through a C-section with strength and grace and never complain. Why was I having such a hard time?
My recovery was much slower than with my natural births. When I returned home from the hospital, I couldn’t walk and hold my baby at the same time. I would sleep any spare moment of the day and night and still feel dog tired. Yet that was not why I was so sad.
During the difficult days of pregnancy, I would envision my lovely birth and the ecstasy that would follow. That birth would make all the suffering worthwhile. Yet this C-section birth had not produced that bliss. In fact, as soon as Annalise was born and whisked away to the recovery room, I was left alone with a hollow feeling that went deep into my heart. To read the whole birth story read, “The Heartbreak and Joy of having a C-section.”
Having to give up my dream of a beautiful, natural homebirth had challenged many things that I had held to be true. It had shaken my faith in what I thought about life, what I thought about God, what I thought about my own body. It had challenged my ability to hear God’s voice. I thought that God had told me that natural, easy labor was my inheritance as his daughter, yet mysteriously I was denied access this time. I couldn’t figure out why. Scriptures God had given me during my pregnancy told me not to fear disaster. To me, having a C-section was a disaster. God didn’t design my body to give birth through an incision in my abdomen. If this thing could happen to me, this disaster that I couldn’t control or predict; what else would God allow to come into my life? What other catastrophic events were on their way? Maybe something could happen to steal the health and life of my precious baby. If I had so misinterpreted God’s voice concerning this birth, how could I ever be sure of hearing him again?
These thoughts are similar to the thoughts that any person has after a trauma, whether it is small or life altering. It occurred to me that this is a small part of what causes post-traumatic stress syndrome. A person lives through events that destroy their assumption that life is good, safe, enjoyable, and fair. They have to come to faith all over again. They have to find their way back into the arms of a loving father. It is a tragedy that once the horrible events are over and they are truly safe, they may never feel safe again.
I have lived through many such traumas. They don’t seem like much compared to what other people have had to endure, but they were earth shattering to me at the time. Each time I had to seek God again for the truth that would set me free and the love that would cast out my fear. Each time God would draw so near to my broken heart and bring healing. I would love to share what he has taught me, using my recent C-section as an example.
- Pain demands to be felt. Don’t shove it down or pretend it isn’t real. Don’t deny it because you think you should be strong enough to be happy in all circumstances. Suppressed emotions always surface in one way or another. Feel what you feel. Grieving is an important step to healing. God is close to the broken hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Revel in his closeness through your nights of sorrow.
- Don’t stay in your pain forever! What caused your pain may be the reality you are living in right now. Seek God for a higher reality, a reality that goes beyond what you can see. A reality that is forever.
My body was scarred and bruised from a surgery I had done everything to avoid. God had not answered my prayers for him to move my placenta out of the way. I felt betrayed. I had offered him my body as a living sacrifice, and I thought he would protect me from this.
I thought about my God, and realized that he could never betray me. It goes against his loving nature. Jesus was betrayed, yet he would never betray. He was scarred and bruised for my sake. He had proven his love for me. He COULD NOT EVER betray me. If he didn’t answer my prayers, it was because he had something better in mind. He would bring good out of this situation, even if I couldn’t see it.
- Ask Jesus to show you where he was and what he was doing before, during, and after the traumatic event. Read through your journal entries during that time or look at pictures taken during that time and ask Jesus to speak to you about them.
I read through my journal that I kept during Annalise’s pregnancy. I saw God calming my fears again and again, promising to protect the life of my child. He did that when I had spotting around week 15. He did that when I was having signs of preterm labor around week 34. He did that when the marginal placenta was diagnosed at 38 weeks. My little girl was safe in his hands the entire time. He told me not to FEAR disaster, not that a “disaster” would never happen. He was simply telling me that there was no disaster that I needed to fear because he was with me.
I also had a dream toward the end of the pregnancy. Annalise came out through my belly and she looked up at me with ice blue eyes. She was a serene as could be. This dream turned out to be very accurate. God had been preparing me.
- Talk about it with trusted friends. Many times they can see things with a clarity that isn’t clouded by overpowering emotions.
A week after Annalise was born; I was able to attend a birthday dinner for a friend. During the meal, I confided to the ladies that I still felt sad about the C-section. I was sharing about how I love to minister to other pregnant women, to pray for them and give them peace and confidence about labor. Now I wasn’t confident about anything anymore.
One of the women said, “Do you think you have more empathy now for women who have had a C-section?”
I most certainly did! She continued to say, “There are so many women out there who are feeling inadequate about some part of their mothering. Perhaps they couldn’t give birth naturally; perhaps they were unable to nurse. You are able to understand and minister to them.”
“Yes,” another friend chimed in, “God has just extended your authority.”
I had never thought about it that way, but it was really true. There was meaning to my suffering.
Another friend sent me a text before the procedure, because she knew I was very distraught. She said that God was increasing my trust in him. That has been true as well! I trust him more because he brought Annalise and I through beautifully. If a circumstance brings me closer to God, then it was worth it!
- Give Jesus the pain and receive his joy in return. He gives us the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness. He already carried the weight of all of our pain. Let him carry your pain right now and every day. (If it was another person who caused the pain; forgive, forgive, forgive.)
I kept giving him my sorrow, every time it resurfaced, even if I didn’t totally understand why I was feeling so sad. It became less and less. He already carried the weight of my pain so there was no reason for me to try and carry it. One of my favorite songs remind me to “Turn my eyes Upon Jesus.”
- Take care of your body. Your body, soul, and spirit are so interconnected; one affects the other. Eat good food. Take probiotics. Get some exercise.
Once Annalise and I were both able to sleep through the night, it was amazing how much better the whole world looked to me! For help with that, read “How to Help Your Baby Sleep Through the Night.”
- Thank God for everything you can think of, every morning, every evening, every day, now and forever. When you realize all he has given you, all he has already done for you; gratitude begins to eclipse the sorrow. Fill your mind with all the good things, and the disappointment doesn’t have room.
When I shared with my friends and family that I was going to have a C-section, I was overwhelmed by all the love and support and prayers I received. I would think of each person and feel so thankful for their love.
My homebirth midwives spent 7 hours at the hospital with me even though they couldn’t attend the birth.
My mother-in-law drove all the way from Florida to help.
My mom was so excited about the new little girl and brought me a rose and blueberries in the hospital.
My other children were amazing and took care of each other at home.
My husband Chris was a hero in the hospital. After the surgery, I felt uglier, weaker, and more pitiful than I ever had before. Yet I never felt more cherished! My husband tenderly helped me to walk, to go to the bathroom, to take a shower. He slept on that horrible hospital chair night after night and never complained about a thing!
Annalise has been one of my easiest, happiest babies. She is worth any pain I had to endure. Now when I see my scar, I don’t think about my disappointment. I think about my little bitty pretty one and I am so THANKFUL that she is here!
Looking back over my life, I can say that the worst of times were always transformed into the best of times because of God’s voice. When I am desperate, God always meets me and shows me his love. He always speaks words that impact me deeply. His words and his close presence during my times of sorrow have changed the way I see the world for the better. They have shaped the person I am today. Even though I still have to walk through hard times, I know that amazing joy is waiting for me on the other side. And I know that the journey is worth it!