Sunday, January 12, 2014

Birth Diaries #3: Chantal and Penny

Today is the third post in a series here titled Birth Diaries. After the traumatic birth of my son, struggle with postpartum depressionjourney to peace, and perseverance to breastfeed, I've felt called to talk about these experiences and raise awareness. I want to use this space as a way to connect with other mothers and help one another with love and grace. So often as women we are shut down, and aren't given a place to explore and express our emotions, especially if we have had an unexpected birth experience and are struggling to understand our feelings about it. I hope this serves as a place to learn from each other, offer support and education, and give others a chance to empathize and gain perspective. Please contact me at if you are interested in sharing your story.
Hi everyone. I'm Chantal and I blog at Scattered Seashells, about parenting, our life in South Korea, and all sorts of other lifestyle topics. I'm happy to be here today talking about my birth experience, because I share many of the same feelings as Andrea here. Thanks for reading!
Over two years ago, my daughter was born via cesarean. To date, it is still one of the most difficult things I have ever done, and I think about it every single day. Birth has a funny way of doing that. It changes more than your life, it changes your mentality, your emotions, your body. Having a cesarean rocked my world, and not really in a good way. My path to cesarean was not as typical as most go. After discussing birth options with my husband and taking a Bradley Method class, we were geared up for a full-on natural birth. It was going to be hard, but so rewarding. However, some time after 38 weeks my daughter turned breech. I had been fearing this would happen because my family has a history of breech babies... and it did. We found out at my 39 week appointment, when I was excited to be checked for my progress, that I had been feeling her head wedged in my right rib, not her butt. The midwives at the hospital immediately referred us to OB care.

The OBs said to schedule a cesarean right away. We refused.

At the time, we were living in Hawaii, and there was not a doctor or midwife on the island who would deliver a breech baby. Having an unassisted home birth wasn't a choice we were comfortable with. The only options were cesarean or get this baby turned around! For a week, every day we were doing something to get her turned. Acupuncture, chiropractor visits, handstands in the pool, inversion table, music, hot and cold packs... anything. She wasn't budging and I was getting discouraged. I remember that last week of pregnancy was filled with anxiety and sadness, and not the happy anticipation I should have been feeling. I didn't even want to go into labor! Not until she turned. No amount of encouragement helped. I was down and out. On my due date, a kind OB checked her position to find she had one foot up and one foot down, and explained that if my water broke her cord could prolapse, which was terribly dangerous. He didn't pressure us to schedule a cesarean, but said that we should think about it. I'm thankful for his patient and understanding words. We went home and had to make some tough decisions.

The next day, I went into labor.

By the time we made it to the hospital 12 hours later, I was hardly dilated, and they confirmed that she was indeed still in the same position. Six hours after that, at 1:05am, she was born via cesarean. A healthy, beautiful baby girl. Cesarean3
I don't remember much of her birth, and that kills me. I remember being led to the room by a nurse, and other nurses telling me congrats as I went, even though I didn't feel so excited about it. I remember walking into the surgery room by myself and it was so cold, so sterile, so bright. I remember not feeling nervous until the anesthesiologist was about to do the spinal, and then I asked for some anti-anxiety medication. I don't remember my husband coming in, but I can see him beside my head. I remember feeling like I was on a boat as they rocked her out. I don't remember them showing her to me for the first time. I remember chatting with the anesthesiologist for 45 minutes, though it didn't feel so long, as they stitched me up. I do remember the first time I actually got to hold her and breastfeed her. Recovery was difficult. I suppose it was probably standard for a cesarean, but what did I know? For a week, whenever I stood up or walked, I was out of breath because of the pain. I had to lie down a certain way to even be comfortable. I was popping major pain meds to get by. I could hardly take care of my daughter, and I hated that.

The worst part, I was afraid of my scar.

I was afraid to touch the incision site for six, maybe even eight, months. Months. Even now, it's all I can see when I'm naked. It hurts still, at random times. It's numb. It's uncomfortable. I should embrace the area because ultimately, this is where my daughter was born, but I hate it. Now, two years later, I'm an advocate against unnecessary cesareans. I've accepted that mine was needed in the end because the risk of danger to the baby was high, but I will not accept my cesarean as a whole. I am not at peace with it. I still harbor strong feelings about it and I'm not afraid to tell people, because I know SO many other women feel the same about their births.

And you know what? I grieve.

I grieve over the loss of the birth experience that I had wanted so much. I grieve because I still don't know what it's like to give birth the way my body was intended and designed. I grieve for the other women who feel the same way I do, who wanted a certain experience but didn't get it because it was just out of their control. I grieve, and that's okay, because it's how I heal. Giving birth is hard enough. We should be able to do it the way we want, right? BestieShoot4

Hand and the Heart


  1. Chantal, thank you for sharing this difficult story. You are brave for baring your soul and sharing so honestly. I hope you're able to find healing and peace over time, and I pray that you will one day get to experience birth the way you hoped you would the first time. You have a beautiful daughter & family - it's great to meet you - going to pop over to your blog to read some more!

  2. Oh Chantal, I really felt your story. My daughter was also breech and it was such a shock. I recently wrote about my experience as well. Thank you so much for sharing and as Nancy said I hope that you will come to find complete and total healing emotionally in your own perfect time.

  3. Thank you for your comment! Breech babies are always such a surprise. I'd love for read your story as well.

  4. Thank you so much Nancy. I appreciate your lovely comment!

  5. Kelli K (Pretty Prairie)January 13, 2014 at 7:05 PM

    Thanks for your story, Chantal! I totally feel the same about grieving the fact we don't know what it's like to give birth the way our bodies are intended too - this has been my main struggle. It's so good to hear other people have the same emotions.

  6. Sounds like one strong, articulate mama! xo

  7. Thank you so much for sharing your heart Chantal! I hope it brought more healing into your life knowing how your words have impacted others! You're amazing!

  8. It's so amazing connecting women and knowing we aren't alone, isn't it?

  9. Spoken from one strong mama to another!:) She is living in Korea right now would probably like her IG feed!

  10. Yeah! Come on over ;)

  11. I think it's a tragedy that we haven't felt what normal labor is like. I'm sad about that!


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