How I Found Peace After My C-Section

I can hardly believe that my sweet baby boy is almost four months old already! It has taken me a long time to write his birth story. For a while, I debated posting about it at all. Giving birth was the most bittersweet experience of my life, but it has been therapeutic to write about and talk about my C-section. I hope that sharing my story will help me as well as other mothers who faced disappointment in labor.

Every birth story is unique, and every one is both wonderful and difficult. Whatever your story is, I hope you have found peace and I hope that my story may help you feel that you are not alone.

I am finally at the point where I am truly grateful for the whole experience. I still sometimes wish that it could have gone differently, but I believe I learned a lot from it too. I am so thankful for my healthy, happy baby. But having a baby doesn't mean it's not okay to mourn over an experience I never had.

No matter how labor and delivery happened, every mother needs the opportunity to find peace. Well, here's my story . . .

*UPDATE* My baby girl was born Decemeber 31, 2021! Read about my repeat c-section here.

Sunday, June 9:  Three days before I went into labor


I swam laps that morning. It took me a whole hour, but I swam half a mile! I was so proud of myself and then I relaxed in the sunlight for a little bit. I was having Braxton-Hicks contractions like always, but they were irregular as usual. I started feeling them near the end of my second trimester. The doctor said that most women don't feel them at all, but the fact that I was didn't concern her. Contractions got stronger as pregnancy progressed, but it wasn't until a couple hours after my morning swim that they felt significantly stronger. I started timing them, and sure enough, they were regular.

I was so excited, especially because he wasn't due for almost two weeks. I knew early labor could take a really long time so I just texted Josiah and did my nails.

Nothing changed much over the next few hours. So, that evening, we ate Taco Time for dinner and then went to see the new Aladdin movie in the theater. Josiah watched me half the time to gauge how I was doing. Sure, I was uncomfortable, but I was able to enjoy the movie just fine.

I regret this next part, but hey, it was my first time having a baby. By 10:30 pm, my contractions were coming about 4 minutes apart. It had been about 12 hours since it started so we thought we should go in and see if I was dilated enough to be admitted. I say that I regret it, but I am also glad we went because, what if I really had been progressing, right? I certainly didn't want to have my baby in the car. In the triage room, they checked my dilation, but I was only at a 1+ so they sent us home.


We were disappointed, especially me. I didn't sleep much that night. I had painful contractions all day but I didn't want to go to the hospital just to be sent home again. We watched "Up" together and I couldn't sit still. I would bounce on my birthing ball for a few minutes, and then get on my hands and knees with pillows under my stomach while I rocked from side-to-side. I walked around and alternatively laid on one side than the other with pillows between my knees.

Later, I took a warm bath and tried my best to relax.

My brother and sister-in-law made Hawaiian haystacks for dinner and invited us to join them. They said they were going to get shave ice and we could come too. I was dying to get out of the house. All day, my contractions weren't coming any closer. I wanted to be sure this time, before we went to the hospital. 


That was a rough night. I didn't sleep; I just moaned and rolled around in bed. Finally at 3:00 AM I couldn't stand it anymore. We went to the hospital and guess what, I was dilated to a 1+. 

The nurse said the on-call doctor wanted me to stay for 20 minutes so the baby's heart rate, and my contractions could be monitored. It was so painful to lay on my side on that terrible triage bed. My back hurt with every contraction and I wondered if my baby was posterior. My right hip especially hurt. 

After fifteen minutes I couldn't stand it anymore. I wanted to be up and moving, it was so hard to lay still. I turned to my husband and said, "If they aren't going to admit me, I wish they would just let me go home!" Finally he just pulled the monitors off me and I started to get dressed.
I was putting my shoes on when the nurse came in. She was surprised to see that I was already dressed and said they needed to monitor me for just a few more minutes. She said, "You don't even have to undress again." So I groaned on the hard bed for a little longer then went home.

It was about 5:00 AM when we turned into our neighborhood. I vented to Josiah the whole way home. I couldn't believe that I hadn't dilated even one centimeter after all that time and after all those strong contractions.


We went back to bed but I didn't sleep. I just lied on my side and moaned through contractions. Poor, tired Josiah drifted off to sleep between every contraction and every time I started to moan again, he put pressure on my right hip for me.

I had a doctor's appointment scheduled for 1:40 PM that day, but at 8:00 Josiah called to see if they could fit me in earlier. We were keeping my mom and Josiah's mom up to date the whole time. I guess my mom told my sister that I was having a hard time. My sister called Josiah and asked if she could bring us some food before my new appointment time at 11:50. She brought me a Chick-Fil-A salad and a sandwich for Josiah.

Josiah was so stressed out that he cleaned the kitchen and washed dishes while my sister sat with me and comforted me. That was one of the sweetest moments. I cried as she told me how strong I was. I was so tired. I just wanted to sleep. I wanted my baby to come so I could sleep.

My husband put our hospital bag in the car while my sister helped me get in the passenger seat. With every contraction she told me I was handling it really well. I am so grateful she came that day.

About half an hour later, the doctor checked my dilation. "You’re a good four," she said and I burst into tears. They sent us to Delivery where I had to hang out in a triage room for the third time.


As I changed into my hospital gown, I felt a tiny bit warm and wet. When I came out of the bathroom and told Josiah I thought my water broke a super strong contraction started. I got on the bed on my hands and knees and Josiah pressed on my lower back. I shook all over as the contraction peaked and I was so excited. "This is it!" I thought. "Now, I can finally have my baby soon." I didn't mind the pain. I was just relieved that there was finally some progress. I was thrilled and ready to go.

The nurse came in and I told her I was sure my water broke. She asked me to lie down so she could check and a huge gush of water came out. In just minutes I was dilated to 5 cm!

So, they finally admitted me and I requested a warm bath. In my last weeks of pregnancy, I thought I would want to walk around during labor and move to distract me from the pain, but all I wanted was to be still so I could focus on relaxing. The bath was so helpful and I didn't want to get out. I was sort of meditating as each contraction came.

I vaguely remember hearing the conversation around me. The nurses were saying something about the baby's heart rate and my high body temperature. After a while, the nurse suggested I get out of the tub.


And this is where things get fuzzy. I remember lying on one side for a while, and then the other. I remember getting up once or twice to go to the bathroom. I remember when the nurse's shift ended, a new woman named Sheena was there to help. Through it all I was tired and hurting, but also confident and focused.

I just concentrated on relaxing and after several hours I was dilated to 7 cm. I was thrilled by the progress. Contractions became almost unbearable and I thought for sure that I was reaching the transition phase. As I moaned Josiah pressed on my back, especially the right side because that's where it hurt the most. All the while, our baby's heart rate kept dropping very low as my contractions eased off. His head was turned to the side, and that's why my right hip hurt so much.

I remember being very cold for the last few hours but I couldn't have too many blankets or the baby would get too hot. It turns out, I was developing a mild fever. 

The nurse gave me an oxygen mask and said something about how that might help the baby. I breathed deeply and groaned as long and low as I could until each wave of pain subsided. Then I would take the mask off and smack my lips at Josiah who would then put an ice chip in my mouth. I was too tired to talk. We fell into this rhythm for who knows how long.

Contractions became so strong and I had been feeling the urge to push for so long that I told Josiah a few times, "I can't do this." But every time, he assured me that I definitely could. I told Sheena that it was so hard to not push. She said I was still at 7 cm and I would hurt myself and the baby if I pushed at all. She told me to keep taking long, deep breaths. As contractions peaked, I counted to four in my head as I inhaled, then moaned as long and low as I could.

I remember the contractions getting so intense, the adrenaline pumping through my body made my hands tingle, then my face, then my baby bump. It was so extreme that these parts of my body became almost numb after a while. 

Eventually, the nurse gave me a peanut ball to go between my legs. She hoped it would encourage the baby to turn his head straight.

After hours of this, I noticed Josiah was really tired. When I asked how he was doing he said his wrist hurt from pushing so long on my back. I didn't want him to hurt so I told him he didn't have to push on me every time.

I don't know how long it had been, but suddenly I had to push. I had to. Josiah called the nurse in to check me: 7+.

My heart sank. How could I not have progressed after all this time? By my husband's calculations, I had been dilated at 7 cm and fighting through contractions for two hours. No progress. How could that be?

Baby's heart rate kept dropping. The nurse looked concerned. At one point, I told Josiah I thought I wanted an epidural. I had told him early on in pregnancy to encourage me to wait a little longer. I really wanted to have my baby naturally, but I knew that I would want out at some point. My sweet husband did just what I asked even though it was so hard for him to see me hurting so much.


Seven hours after my water broke the nurse checked my dilation once again. No change. She suggested I lay on my right side instead. As Sheena and Josiah helped me roll over, another maddening contraction peaked. I had to push! I almost did. I was afraid I would hurt my baby. I practically screamed, "I want an epidural!" He asked, "Are you sure?" I was.

The anesthesiologist was calm and quick. The prick in my back didn't bother me. I was even able to hold still through a contraction while he did it.

I asked Sheena if my friend, who worked in the Mom & Baby unit, was working that night and Sheena called her in. It was comforting to see my friend, Ashley. She was so happy that I was close to having my baby and she said she had saved the best recovery room for us.

After she left, I told Josiah I wasn't disappointed in myself for getting an epidural. I said he could finally rest. Then, I fell asleep for about an hour.

After I woke up, I remember shaking uncontrollably from my ribcage and up. I hated feeling so out of control. Sheena said shaking was common and nothing to worry about. I was still so cold and we didn't know yet that I had a fever.

Contractions were no longer strong enough to dilate my cervix. Baby's heart rate was okay for a while so they gave me Pitocin. I could feel contractions again but only a little bit. Then I was dilating, but his heart was in trouble again. It was around this time that Sheena and the lead nurse said I might need a C-section. I asked how likely it was, but they were hesitant to say.

Soon I was shaking like crazy again, even harder than before. My face and hands were still tingly. Sheena said I might have been shaking more because she had just told me I might need a C-section.

Josiah held me for a while and sang to me. Soon I was singing with him through the oxygen mask. The shaking subsided and I drifted off for a little while.

I remember opening my eyes, maybe a few times, maybe just once, and Josiah was sitting next to me, staring intently at the monitors, watching my contractions and the baby's heart rate. He looked worried and that scared me, but I was so, so tired I could hardly stay awake.

They put two monitors inside me by the baby's head, one for his heart, one for his oxygen levels. A little while later, they put some kind of artificial amniotic fluid inside me because it had been so long since my water broke and they wanted to avoid a dry birth.

At this point, I was so tired that I can't remember the exact order in which everything happened. I was dilated to 8 cm but his heart was still in trouble. I think they stopped giving me Pitocin.

He needed to turn his head straight. The lead nurse said if he would turn his head it could put the right pressure on my cervix and it might dilate all the way.

Lying on my right side, I opened my eyes and saw Josiah sitting by the window with his head in his hands. That broke my heart. It scared me. The nurses were so worried.

I was finally at a 9+. So close. The lead nurse tried to get his head to turn. I guess it kind of worked but she left soon after.

Sheena suggested that I don't push my magic epidural button again so I would be able to push when the time came. That made me hopeful. I told Josiah, "Maybe I will have a C-section, but I am going to try anyway." I said I would get myself ready to push.

She discovered that I had a small fever which indicated that I had an infection. She put antibiotics through my IV right away and said my baby would need them too after birth. I didn't realize that meant my baby would have to be in the NICU.

I could hear the monitor behind me as I laid on my right side. Josiah was still by the window. I could feel the contractions a little more; I could feel the need to push. That urge was constant. As each contraction ended, I could hear my baby's heart rate drop lower and lower on the monitor. My heart sank. It was so slow! Josiah told me that the baby's heart rate dropped down to 70 bpm. (It's supposed to be somewhere between 120 and 130)


Just minutes later, the nurse came in and said they would do an emergency C-section right away. I still can't believe the words that came out of my mouth. I cried and said, "I don't even get to push?" These words haunted me for weeks, but I will address that later.

Sheena said my baby was under so much stress, it was very likely he wouldn't be able to handle an hour or two of me pushing. I thought to myself that I could push him out so fast, but said nothing. I was sure I could do it. I was so close. I wanted that experience so badly, but it was more than that. I thought that I had failed my baby even though it is obvious to me now that none of it was my fault. A C-section is not the result of failure.

The doctor came in to explain the situation and as my husband dressed in a bunny suit, the nurses prepped me for surgery. Up until this point, everyone had said what they were going to do to me before they did it. But now, they were in such a hurry that there was no time to explain. Besides, the doctor was rambling on about why it wasn't beneficial to do delayed cord clamping. I didn't care.

All I could think about was how stressful it was to be so out of control. My baby was in trouble. I was numb, and powerless, naked and exposed. I felt humiliated, almost violated. Everyone was doing their best to help me but I was so upset that I couldn't think straight.

My heart broke again as the doctor explained what my baby had been going through for hours. He said it was like holding your breath underwater for 45 seconds then coming up to breath for two minutes. He told me to imagine the physical toll of having to endure that for hours and hours. He reiterated the concern that my little boy might not survive if I were to try to push him out.

I just cried. I was heartbroken that I came so far but was unable to finish. And now I was afraid that I my baby might die before they could get him out. Looking back, I don't think that was ever a possibility.


 As they wheeled me into the operating room, the anesthesiologist was there right away. He saw that I was crying and assured me that everything was going to be okay.

The room was so bright that, as I laid there, I couldn't see anything. I felt so exposed, so helpless. There were so many people, but Josiah was right there beside me. I asked when I could have more medicine. If I had to have a C-section, I didn't want to hurt anymore.

They put up a curtain so I couldn't see myself passed my chest. The anesthesiologist gave me anti-nausea medicine in the IV on my wrist. Standing at my head, he leaned over me and kindly said, "Look at me. If I look worried, you can go ahead and be worried too. If I look calm, know that everything is okay."

Then he asked me to wiggle my toes. I tried and didn't feel anything, but apparently they did move. He asked me to lift my leg. That didn't work.

It was around this time that I started shaking uncontrollably again. I remember trying to relax and thinking, "I need to stop my arms from shaking so I can hold my baby."

I guess they started to cut me open then because I could feel that someone was touching me. I could feel a tugging on my stomach as the doctor cut through my skin, muscle, and uterus. I could hear him grunting as he tried to get the baby out. Later, Josiah told me that someone had to reach up inside me and push from below as the doctor pulled on the baby's legs. My poor baby was so stuck!

My husband and I burst into tears when we heard our baby cry right away. And so, after over 60 hours of labor, our little boy was born on June 15 at 1:45 AM.

Our little guy weighed 9 lbs, and with a big head, no wonder he got stuck.


When I first saw my baby, I felt so sure that I had seen him before. What a sweet moment that was!

I was crying the whole time, but a fresh wave of tears welled up when I saw the big bruise on his head from being squished inside me for so many hours. 

While they had been prepping me for the C-section, the doctor said it was very likely I could have skin-on-skin with my baby right after he was born, but I guess he didn't tell anyone else that. I only got a glimpse of my baby boy and they took him to the side to clean him up and check his vitals. My heart broke.

I guess I shouldn't have expected skin-on-skin just because the doctor said it was a possibility, but I had dreamed of it all through pregnancy. I wanted my baby in my arms the moment he was out of me. I imagined him being pulled out and plopped right onto my hospital gown: a red, messy, blood-covered baby right there on me. Yes, that's what I wanted.

As they took my little boy to the side to clean him up, the anesthesiologist turned to my husband and said, "Feel free to take as many pictures of your baby as you like." Josiah looked at me, and I said through my oxygen mask, "Yes, go to him."

I craned my neck to see my baby, but the nurse was in the way. Then she happened to move just enough so that I could see his little leg. I bawled because I was so happy to see just a little bit of him. It felt like it was taking forever. I called to Josiah to ask him what was taking so long but there were so many different conversations going on around me and the oxygen mask made it so Josiah couldn't hear me.

Later, I said that it felt like at least fifteen minutes had gone by before a nurse finally brought our baby to me. Josiah said it had only taken a few short minutes. Those were the longest, loneliest moments of the entire birth experience.

Josiah explained that they needed to get all the fluid out of his lungs and that took a few minutes. And his heart beat spiked to over 200 bpm right after he was born. I wish I could have held my baby right away, but I am glad that my son was looked after. I really do believe that everyone did the right things at the right time.

Finally, the nurse brought him to me, all swaddled and content. When she pressed his warm, soft, little cheek to mine, I cried, and cried, and. cried. She handed him to my husband and I asked him to put the baby's cheek against mine again. He already had chubby cheeks! And he smacked his lips, ready to breastfeed for the first time.

I didn't get to hold my baby until after they sewed me back up and got me back on the hospital bed. My husband laid our son on my chest and I was wheeled back to the delivery room. It was calm there and the light was low.

Sheena said I could breastfeed my baby, but she was concerned that if she rolled me onto my side or sat me up, that I might vomit, which was dangerous after having such an invasive surgery. 

My arms were so tired after laboring and shaking for so long. I had difficulty holding my baby. So, I had to lie on my back while my husband awkwardly held our baby to my chest so he could nurse for the first time. It was one of the most bittersweet moments of my life.

Soon, they took our baby to the NICU where he was treated with antibiotics for two days. Thank goodness it was only that long. My husband and I were taken to the Mom & Baby unit and we finally got to rest for the first time in days.

I woke up the next morning when my breakfast was brought in. I ate as quickly as I could. A nurse came in as I started to climb out of bed. She was a little startled to see me getting up but I announced, "I'm going to see my baby!"


I can't count the number of times I cried, or how many conversations I had about labor and delivery. It wasn't very long ago that I was still crying as I pressed my baby's cheek to mine because that was how we touched for the first time.

I wished things had gone differently. I do know that everyone involved did what was best.

For a while, I wished I could have known that I would need a C-section so that I wouldn't endure so much pain for hours without medication. But I'm glad I got an epidural when I did. I'm certain that if things had gone smoothly, I could have birthed my baby naturally. That's good enough for me.

I'm glad the doctor waited until he knew for sure that I needed a C-section. The nurses did everything they could to help labor progress.

I had so many regrets. I wished I hadn't gone swimming that day. I beat myself up about it. I wondered if I put myself in labor when my baby wasn't ready or in the right position. Then I recalled all the signs that labor was coming soon. I'm certain my baby would have come at that time even if I hadn't exercised on Wednesday. 

 In the weeks following, as I processed the whole experience, I felt awful for saying, "I don't even get to push?" How selfish was I? My baby was under so much stress and I still couldn't let go of my hopes. Was it pride? Was it wrong of me to want a vaginal birth? For weeks, I felt weighed down by the guilt of wanting labor to go my way.

Now, I look at it very differently. My baby was struggling, but so was I. The experience was all so painful and overwhelming that it was difficult for me to think straight. I had dreamed of how I would have my baby for weeks.

 I was mistaken in thinking that a natural birth would always be best for me and my baby. But I also know that the only way I could have done it without intervention was if I prepared myself mentally beforehand.

In retrospect, I think it was wise of me to build a strong mindset. I know that if nothing had gone wrong, I could have had my baby naturally. I don't need to feel guilty because I didn't want a C-section even when my baby needed it.

I had given so much time and energy to prepare myself for a natural birth that it was difficult to let go of that mindset.

I am truly grateful for the way my baby came into the world. I am grateful for modern medicine and the people who worked tirelessly to ensure my baby and I were safe. I am so thankful to my husband who was with me at every moment. 

And I am so grateful for my sister who comforted and encouraged me, and my friend who looked out for my little family. Ashley not only got us the best recovery room; she also decorated the room and gave us tons of snacks. She also came to see me the next night and she wheeled me up to the NICU so I could be with my baby. What wonderful friends and family I have! It brings tears to my eyes just thinking about it.


My advice to all of you new (or soon-to-be new) moms is to let yourself feel what you feel without judgement. Having a baby is a wonderful and traumatic experience no matter how it goes down. There's no reason to compare birth stories. It doesn't matter if any other mom had a worse or "better" delivery than you.

And it's no wonder so many women go through postpartum depression. The physical trauma really takes a toll on a person's emotional well-being.

Someone might say to you, "You just had a baby. You should be happy." No doubt you're happy, but it's important to let yourself be sad too. Sorrow is not a bad thing. It heals us.

Soon after my son was born I realized that, just as it was unrealistic to expect my body to heal immediately, it wasn't fair to expect my heart to heal instantly either. Be kind to yourself.

Feel what you feel. Cry about it. Talk about it. Take the time to enjoy your sweet baby, but be sure to let yourself mourn without guilt.

Hi! My name is Kait. Follow this link to learn more about me and my blog 


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