|Posted on January 7, 2010 at 6:03 PM|
Smile, "you have a healthy baby!"
Cesarean-art.com is one of the first sites I came across when recovering from my c-section. It is a collection of raw and expressive cesarean artwork by an anonymous artist who, though wanting a VBAC, was railroaded into a repeat c-section for the birth of her second child.
My jaw dropped at how powerful the images were... how well I could relate to what each peice expressed. I admired her courage and honestly for showing the world how her cesareans affected her, not to mention felt extremely grateful as she was one of the first that helped me realize I wasn't alone in my feelings.
The artist was gracious enough to take part in a Q & A for my blog.
Q. Could you describe the births of your children? How were the c/s
experiences different--if at all?
A. Like many, I had great hopes for the birth of my first child. I'm from Europe, and I got medical care from a traditional doctor as well as seeing a midwife in a birth center at the same time. The thought of a c-section actually never crossed my mind. It also never crossed my mind that a c-section would change future births since there were VBA2C women in my birth prep class.
All the women in my class gave birth, and mine was "late". The birth center did not take me anymore at 41 weeks and I was transferred to a regular hospital. I was advised a c-section without even having labor and agreed too hastily. It was sad, painful and really scary. I had no real support at the time from anyone and felt left alone.
Six years later, I was pregnant again, now in the USA. Looking for an OB was also the first time I even dealt with the US medical system. I was frustrated soon to find out the way things work about networks and being restricted to a certain hospital. During my first OB visit I was told I would have to have a c-section and was shocked. I also found that there was no birthcenter and no midwife would legally see me for a vbac. I didn't (still don't) have the guts for an unassisted birth. I tried to tell myself it wouldn't be "so bad" and that I was sort of OK the first time. But again it was really sad to have a surgical birth and never even have labor. My husband and family didn't support anything outside the c-section option.
So in October 2005 I laid myself on the operation table and they extracted my son. Technically, things went "fine" by OB's standard. But I remained very angry. I expressed anger and frustration to the OB regarding enforced c-sections but all it did was sending a red flag and I became labeled "problem patient". And, now that it was all done, I was even told that "you could have just left my office, then I wouldn't have done a c-section on you".
Now that I know all the details about why OBs don't do VBACs, not only always out of greed but because insurances basically make them to or they are scared of lawsuits etc I am still angry that I did not get any explanations.
Some more human emotion and explanation about the situation towards the patient (me) could have changed a lot of things I think.
Q. How was your physical recovery from your cesareans? Did they differ at all?
A. They both were horribly painful by my level of tolerance but nothing out of the extraordinary as I am told. I still find them humiliating.
Q. When did you start creating your cesarean art? What was your first piece?
A. I started with 2 images about 3 months after the birth. "The deed is done" and "Post Partum".
The rest was started about 6 months pp, when my "cesarean rage" was at its prime level. I had dug out so much information that could have been important to me before birth. But I had been naive and ignoring too many things back then and let them threaten me into the repeat c-section. Now I found out that you can't be forced, your baby won't die and so on. I was mad.
Some people have mentioned that I may or may not have taken the time to draw away from the time I took care of my children. I made everything at snail's pace, whenever I had my moments. The whole "collection" took about one year or so. It's not that I was in a hurry at all.
Q. What is your favorite piece and why?
A. I like "first shower" because so many women could relate to it. It's not pretty but it speaks volumes. Your in the shower alone, your baby is somewhere gone, you are in pain, can not stand straight and look at your battered body for the first time.
Q. One of your works is titled "Birth of PPD", did you have PPD after your second cesarean? First? Do you think your c/s directly contributed to that?
A. No, even though I didn't, I read that c-sections raise the chance of PPD or PTSD. Doh, I wonder why! It's a brutal act to say the least if you think about it.
I was lucky to bond with my children and get the hell out of the hospital asap. I love them and never held them accountable for anything. That's the thing so many don't understand. Hating your c-section says absolutely nothing about loving or appreciating your baby.
Q. Another piece shows a woman cutting herself with a knife across her abdomen, below the caption read, "OB claims I am irritating my scar", what is the story behind it?
A. My scar was red and irritated and the OB claimed I was irritating it. To me, that was another thing to add to the list of making me a "problem". At that point, I was disappointed beyond belief and decided never to go there anymore. Then I got the letter saying that OB felt the same.
Q How do you feel about the births of your children now some years have passed? How long did it take you to feel that you were starting to heal emotionally?
A. Now that I have met likewise thinking moms and people who actually understand what's going on, I can look back on everything in a less angry way and accept my story as a cautionary tale to others.
It's great to have met people through ICAN and other places that understand how I have felt/feel. My OB tried to make me believe that I was the only one by telling me "I've never had anyone angry over a c-section before".
I don't know if I would ever "get over it" but it did take a good 2 years to become confident in myself again in that aspect.
Q Did you feel creating your cesarean art helped in the healing process?
A. I don't know. It was very cathartic and the negative feedback I got when the site was picked up by a message board for medical professionals was awful. I had just put it up and it was torn apart by them first. Do they google for this kind of stuff?? It had a lot of arrogance, all sorts of "mental disorders" diagnosed by proxy and so forth. I only read because someone pointed me to it but I never wrote anything.
Later I got a lot of good feedback. I keep the site up for everyone to see for themselves wether they love it or hate it. I grew a very thick skin
Q. What would you say to a woman who is in the same shoes you were in 2005 while trying to find a provider who would allow a VBAC?
A. I really don't know! I'm not an authority or something like that, as I mentioned above I'm more of a cautionary tale. If anything, I recommend to be more proactive and find real-life support and knowledge through a doula or midwife to give you your information, not only your OB.
And if you don't really click with your OB, change the office before it is too late. In my case, I was told I can't transfer to another office after 20 weeks and I even believed it.I'd never have someone I don't feel comfortable with or who treats me coldly perform surgery on my body again.
Q Any words for women just starting down the path of healing from their c/s experience?
A. Get to know other women. Talk about it with someone who understands. Trying to reach out to people who don't really "get it" can be counter productive in my opinion. For a long time I had low self esteem after my 2nd c-section. The feeling of being treated like a lifeless doll during the c-section seeped into the image I had of myself. Of course it's not true, and slowly shaking this off through hearing others' stories helped tremendously.