C-section Awareness Month
April is the month designated to everything cesarean (c-section). Imagery and healing tips and kumbaya for all c-section warriors floods social media.
As a c-section warrior myself, I am glad that so much attention is given to this very important method of birth. I hope it provides some measure of comfort and education to all other c-section warriors.
Recovering from my c-section, I felt so disconnected to my body. It was one of the most distressing and unexpected parts.
C-section recovery: full of surprises
I didn’t read much or learn much about c-sections during my first pregnancy. The only thing I learned was that I didn’t want one. The books I read described it (I think I glossed over it). And during my childbirth prep class, they told us about them. But it mostly went in one ear and out the other.
Terror filled my body, the moment my world crashed and I became a c-section warrior. The memories and flashbacks would haunt me for a long time to come. But what made it particularly hard was that I felt so disconnected from my body.
My body didn't belong to me
In the weeks following my c-section, I felt so weird. I was particularly disturbed by the knowledge that my insides had been exposed to the outside. This really freaked me out and was a primary trigger for my flashbacks. I would wake up from nightmares in which my body was split in two right across my abdomen. It would take several minutes before I could convince myself that the sutures were closed and I didn’t have a gaping wound.
I was healing from a major surgery that I did not want (and possibly didn’t even need). At the same time, I was also learning to breastfeed for the first time. And I was experiencing all the normal postpartum elements as well (lochia, nightsweats, engorgement).
I didn’t recognize my own body. I was bloated and uncomfortable. For extra fun, I couldn’t get up from a seated position without help or weird gymnastics.
I experienced a trauma response to the birth/c-section. And I was embarking on a humongous battle with postpartum depression. In short, it was awful.
You are not alone
It took a long time for me to recover, physically, emotionally, and mentally.
Most of the healing I did on my own. Through sheer force of will, I pulled myself up from the depths of despair.
Getting some virtual help through ICAN was one of my lifelines during this time. I didn’t connect to the local chapter because it really didn’t exist in the form that it does now. But I connected online with others who had gone through unwanted c-section deliveries. Eventually, I did connect with an in-person support group in Minneapolis (where I was living at the time). Talking with others who “got it” and understood just how out of body you can feel and how violating it can feel, really healed me.
So this Cesarean Awareness Month I encourage you to reach out to a local support group for help on your healing journey.
And if group support is not an option, you might benefit from doing some birth story processing. I offer this as a special service as a perinatal therapist, so contact me today.