My Traumatic Delivery: What I Wish I Had Known Then

traumatic delivery

I was overjoyed when I learned we were pregnant with our first child. We had tried for almost a year and my first infertility appointment turned into my first OB appointment.  

I had a preferred birth plan in place and my husband and I went to Lamaze class. I had heard mixed reviews from friends on Lamaze, but it was a great experience for us. I didn’t realized how nervous my husband was until I saw him on the edge of his seat. I paid attention, but thought, “This is great info, but I am going to have a “normal” vaginal delivery.

My gestational diabetes was managed with diet and exercise, but my endocrine system wasn’t happy and I started having trouble with hypothyroidism. I went in for my 38 week appointment on a Friday and my blood pressure was starting to rise, so my midwife decided to induce me. 

What followed was a series of unfortunate events that could be written in a delivery version of a Lemony Snicket book.


We checked into the hospital on a Friday night. There had recently been an ordeal about women having too many C-sections, which created some protocols before the hospital offered a C-section. I wasn’t worried about it at the time because this was not my preferred birth plan. Of course, it didn’t include being induced either. 

While my endocrine system was more than ready to be done with this pregnancy, the rest of my body was not ready. I was nervous about the delivery; I’ve never broken a bone, spent a night in the hospital, or ever taken more than a Z-pack. I was scared. 

They gave me some gel to start thinning my cervix (which had not even begun to dilate. Saturday morning at 6:00 a.m. they started Pitocin to help start contractions.

Later that day, they attached a monitor to track my contractions. Unfortunately, my son’s head was stuck at a cockeyed angle and kept hitting the wire so the readings weren’t accurate. So I was having drug-induced contractions that weren’t reading on the monitor. 

When you have a particularly long labor, things can get a little fuzzy; but here is what I do remember from an entire weekend of laboring on drug-induced contractions. 

I had an epidural after being poked eight times to get it in (which I didn’t find out until the postpartum nurse gasped when she saw my bruised back). I wasn’t given enough pain relief, so it had to be adjusted after a couple hours. Then the machine quit completely so I went with no drugs until the epidural could be changed for the third time.

The midwife came in and told me I had stopped progressing and could go home (after over a day at the hospital), or they could break my water. They broke my water at noon on Sunday. I finally felt a sense of relief knowing within 24 hours I would be done one way or another. 

After that I felt completely detached from my body. My normal strong personality was overtaken by this person that kept apologizing for EVERYTHING. It was like I had become a totally different person or was out of my body watching it from the sidelines. At one point, I was so tired, I remember not caring if I lived or died and not even caring about my baby (it still brings tears to my eyes to admit this). 

The Delivery

On Monday morning at 9:30 a.m., my son was finally born via C-section after roughly 51 hours of labor. I was not prepared to have a major surgery. My surgeon came in and joked about tying my tubes at the same time. I was not impressed, but too exhausted to speak up.

My (comedic) surgeon then couldn’t get my son out. His head was stuck in my birth canal due to the extended labor, so she had to cut me even farther to get him out. I didn’t feel pain when they cut me open but I could feel exactly where they were on my body, which was extremely unnerving. 

After a brief view of my precious boy, he was taken to another room to clean up and evaluate with my husband while I laid on a table getting sewn up; scared, exhausted, and alone.

The Aftermath

After a week in the hospital we got to go home. I was in a lot of pain, including a side effect of the epidural that made it feel like an axe had been driven into my head every time I moved at all. My husband and I were exhausted after a week of no sleep between the labor, traumatic delivery, and trying to take care of our newborn son in the hospital. 

I felt so disconnected from my body and even my son in the beginning. While I loved him so much and would do anything for him, I felt numb and so guilty that I didn’t feel connected. 

There was a random stabbing pain in my abdomen for 2 years after my son was born, and my body was lopsided from surgery. There was a deep sense of loss, but I couldn’t figure out exactly what it was. I was shamed by other moms for having a C-section, for having an epidural, and basically not having a great birth story. I already felt like a failure.

Childbirth was supposed to be the most natural thing in the world. Why had I struggled so much during mine?

My Healing

It took me years to fully understand the mental and emotional impact of my labor and traumatic delivery. I am thankful for a friend that helped me pinpoint why I was so let down by my delivery; since I identify as a warrior and someone who always fights for the people I love, I felt like I gave up during my labor. She gently said to me, “Can’t you see that you were just exhausted and doing what you needed to do to make it through?

I suffered alone and full of shame for YEARS because I was so afraid to admit that I had given up. No one ever shared a story like mine, so I thought it was just me. I couldn’t think about my delivery without quick, hot tears immediately rising along with shame and guilt.

That first conversation with my friend gave me better perspective. Having more conversations with trusted friends helped even more. One of my confidants reminded me how much I love my children and what I would do for them. Some women at church were chatting about their delivery, and for the first time I heard stories similar to mine. 

I slowly began to view my traumatic delivery through a better lens and with more understanding. I began to reclaim myself and the warrior I had always identified as over the years. I began to heal physically (after my second C-section with a stellar surgeon), mentally, and emotionally. I learned how to love my body and myself through this time.

I still had some issues from my internal C-section scar and sought out a specialist in Myofascial release, which is a style of physical therapy that heals both physical and emotional traumas. As she worked near my C-section scar, my entire body was flooded with a feeling of failure. As I worked through that overwhelming emotion, I felt a huge weight lifted. Now, have better range of motion in my pelvis and less back pain,  and feel so much lighter emotionally.  

What I Wish I Had Known Then

Get an advocate. Look into a doula. Have someone with you that will be your advocate, especially when you are at your most vulnerable. 

Educate yourself and know your options. I am so glad we went to a Lamaze class or I could have been completely unprepared for a C-section (because that was not what I was planning to have). 

Create a birth plan. You may not get the birth you want, but you get to decide if you want drugs or not, or if you want to have a VBAC or repeat C-section. This is YOUR birth plan and whatever you choose is okay.

Talk to someone. Find a great therapist or a trusted friend and tell someone how you feel. I would have found relief so much sooner if I had been brave enough to share my story. 

Share your story with others. It wasn’t until other women shared their stories that I realized I wasn’t alone and could relate. 

Look into post-pregnancy treatments like myofascial release, chiropractors, massage, etc. 

The bottom line is you are not alone. You do not need to suffer for years like I did. And if we all share our stories, whatever they may be, others will know they are not alone. Labor and delivery are never easy, but recovery doesn’t have to be alone.

If you need to reach out to someone about your traumatic delivery experience, please contact Postpartum Support International or check in with Moms Supporting Moms FM

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Christina works full-time in the cancer field with an office at home. She has been married since 2006, and has two children: a son (2010) and a daughter (2015). After staring at cancer all day, she found her passion in prevention and partners with the Juice Plus Company. She loves helping others find simple ways to add more REAL fruits, vegetables, and berries into the ones they love; especially those picky eaters, whether they are 4 or 45 (wink wink). Christina loves dancing, photography, good food, and connecting over great conversations. She wants other moms to know she is in the trenches of motherhood with them and it is okay to not have it together all the time. She encourages other moms with compassion, humor, and sharing authentic mom moments on this imperfect, wild, beautiful journey of life and parenting.


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