Get Over It

A few months ago, while visiting my mom, she brought up something she found on Facebook.

“Oh, Julia, did you see that funny picture on Facebook? Of the pumpkin in the labor and delivery unit for Halloween? Wasn’t that hilarious?” 

“I saw the picture. I didn’t think it was that funny, but I thought about you and thought you might like it.” (My mom used to be a labor and delivery nurse.)

“You didn’t think it was funny? I thought it was hilarious. I thought you would like it!”

Why is she pushing me on this?

“I guess I’m still just a little sensitive about my birth experience. That pumpkin is obviously having a vaginal birth, and not everybody gets to do that, so I guess I just didn’t think it was that funny.”

“Julia, you just need to get over it. And the sooner you do, the better,” my mother said in a tone that rang in with a combination of a sigh and finality.

I sat in stunned silence from the sting of those words. Get over it. Get over my birth experience.

Having a baby is supposed to be the most wonderful experience of your life. You are supposed to feel awe and wonder at the amazement of your child. You are supposed to fall into a complete immersion of love as soon as you give birth and lay eyes on this new little person. You are supposed to say that having a baby changed your life, was one of the best days of your life, and you can’t imagine your life being any different.

You are not supposed to say that you had a terrible birth experience. You are not supposed to say that after 7 hours of natural labor and 5 hours of labor with an epidural, that the emergency c-section you had to have made you feel like a failure. You are not supposed to say that you have no memory of meeting your son because you were so over-medicated. You are not supposed to say that you had pain in your incision for 6 months following your son’s birth, because you should be healed by then and that seems like complaining. You are not supposed to say that even though you always thought you would want more kids, that experience makes you never want to be pregnant again. You are not supposed to say that even though you love your son, the day of his birth was one of the worst days of your life. You are supposed to “get over it.”

I grieved that comment for a long time. I grieved comments made by my mom and others in my family who have been insensitive to me about my birth experience. I am aware that the end goal of a pregnancy is a healthy mom and a healthy baby, and I am extremely grateful for the amazing gift of my son. But doesn’t the experience of giving birth matter?

Having a baby is a life changing event. If you have a positive birth experience, it can be awe-inspiring, spiritual, and life affirming (I’ve heard.) If you have a negative experience, it can haunt you, dishearten you, and devastate a piece of your heart.

My mind ran through a list of comebacks, but I choose to say nothing. I chose to sit there in silence and look out the window. I choose to dismiss the comment.

There was nothing I could say to make her understand, in that moment, the impact of those words. There may be nothing I can ever do to make any one else understand the way my birth experience has affected me.

My grief over my birth experience does not detract from the joy I have for being a mother. I feel truly blessed and honored to have my little boy. But I can choose to grieve and process my experience in my own time. It’s ok for me to have these feelings. It’s ok for me to gather the pieces and process the puzzle in my own way. I think that when a profound event happens in our lives, we never really “get over it,” but rather find that it holds less intensity with the passing of time. As a dear friend once told me, “There is no time limit on grief.” I couldn’t agree more.


115 thoughts on “Get Over It

  1. Pingback: Over The Moon | Elated Exhaustion

  2. There is no right or wrong when it comes to grieving and everyone’s experiences are different and feelings about those experiences should be respected. When pregnant with my babies, I was asked what my “birth plan” was and I could not come up with one. I kept thinking that I have no control how this baby comes out…it’s all up to him really. I’m sad that you felt or feel like a failure, but I understand, having gone through a similar experience myself. All the best.

    • I am so sorry that you had to go through a similar experience. I think you are right, that although the idea of a birth plan is alluring, there are so many variables and so many things that we do not have control over. On the other hand, I think that it’s hard to be in the care of people who want to over-medicate and care more about the outcome of a birth than the experience. Thank you so much for your kind words and for sharing a bit of your story. And congratulations on your one-year blogging anniversary! Good job, friend!

  3. I can totally see where you are coming from and how hard it would have been to hear those words. We all have great expectations of our birth experience. Everyone talks about how amazing it is so if you have a bad experience it can be quite traumatic!! I’m so sorry you had that experience. Hugs to you. This post was beautifully written. Visiting via SITS.


    • Thank you so much for your kind words and your empathy. I am so glad you stopped by! I am heading over to your site now. SITS is a wonderful blogging community!

  4. Hi Julia. I’m sorry that people use the “get over it” thing with you. In my experience people do that because they don’t want to be made to feel bad.
    I had a vaginal birth of my son over 21yrs. ago. After being given way too much pitosin and having the labor an elephant has, he was not delivered by the “right” person. My midwife was Muslim. I went into labor on a religious holiday and my son was delivered by the not so gentle, not so kind head of OB. An evil guy who had forced my mother to have a hysterectomy at 43(my current age).

    It’s nowhere near your experience, but the last thing I would ever do is tell anyone that their experience in child birth wasn’t traumatic, if it was. It takes different women a differing amount of time to come to terms with things related to their child. I would expect empathy.

    Sending thoughts of courage that you DO ask your mother to read this post. Very brave of you to write it as well.


    • Thank you so much for your sweet words and for sharing your story. I am so sorry that you had to go through such a traumatic experience and be under the care of someone who did not treat you with compassion. I am shocked by the outpouring of stories this post has received and saddened that so many women have had birth experiences that were traumatic and haunting for them.
      I think you are so right, “it takes different women a differing amount of time to come to terms with things related to their child.”
      I will try to gather the courage to one day share this with my mom. Thank you so much for your encouragement.

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  6. great post!
    I am fighting hard to ensure I have every possible chance at a good birth experience and it frustrates me no end when people just push that aside and say – the most important thing is a healthy baby.
    I lost my first child at 29 weeks and know more than anyone and understand more than most that a breathing, healthy child will be wonderful, but I also know after giving birth to her vaginally how powerful, connecting, wonderful and loving it was. I understand the need for intervention when needed but not as a matter of process that someone else dictates.
    Birth is very powerful for women – and that shouldn’t be taken away, even if intervention is needed, I think it can be done in a more caring and connected way.
    I understand your grief about this – but remember to be kind to yourself 🙂 and as for next time – ask, research, educate yourself – there is nothing to say next time you can’t heal some of those wounds 🙂

    • I am so sorry that you experienced such an indescribable loss. Your description of her birth is so powerful.
      This comment has inspired me; you are shattering the conventional wisdom of “the most important thing is a healthy baby.” I think coming from someone who has experienced both a powerful birth experience and the loss of a child, your words carry more weight than most people who spout off conclusions about birth.
      You have exactly described my beliefs here, “Birth is very powerful for woman – and that shouldn’t be taken away.” Like you, I also believe that intervention should be done in a more caring and, I love this, “connected” way. It is scary to know that interventions are done just as protocol, rather than on a case by case basis that considers not only the outcome of the birth, but also the experience of the birth.
      Your strength has both humbled and inspired me. I am terrified of getting pregnant again. Your strength to have a second baby is very encouraging. I wish you all the best and would love to follow your story. I hope you have the birth experience that you have envisioned. There is so much hope in the possibility of a second time being a healing experience.
      Thank you so much for your compassionate words and for sharing your story.

  7. I had a similar experience and was devastated. I did get over it. But not because anyone told me to. And I did end up having another child though, like you, I wasn’t sure I’d ever want to. That birth was a disaster too. So…I’m done. And happy.

    • I am so sorry you had to go through not one, but two devastating birth experiences. I would definitely be done after that too. I am so glad you are able to be at a happy place about it. I think you are so right…one day I will get over it. But not because anyone else told me too. Thank you so much for sharing your story.

  8. I am one of those people who kinds of tends to think “Well, if everything turned out OK, who really cares how it happened?” To be brutally honest with you! I realise that is coming from the perspective of being lucky enough to naturally birth both my kids. I’m sorry for your experience, and thank you for making me think twice x

    • I think you are right; it is very easy not to understand the depth of the effects of an experience we haven’t gone through ourselves. You bring up such an interesting point; even though my baby and I came out of the experience healthy, does the fact that I don’t remember meeting my son because of the way I was over drugged, and the fact that I had pain in my incision for 6 months, and the fact that I am emotionally scarred from this experience really mean that everything turned out ok? I think there are more aspects to everything being ok than just the fact that we survived the experience. But I understand that not everyone feels that way.
      You are so lucky to have had the natural birth experiences that you wanted. I wonder if you hadn’t been able to experience that if you also would have felt some grief for not having the experience you envisioned for yourself?
      I don’t know; these are certainly questions for thought that I’m not sure anyone has the answers to.
      Thank you so much for your honesty. I think this is such a multi-faceted issue. I really appreciate your thoughts.

      • Yes, you are right obviously – the fact that you didn’t have the birth you envisioned means everything didn’t turn out “ok”. That’s just another thing that I overlooked!
        You say I was lucky to have the natural birth experiences I wanted but I am one of those (few?) women who never really thought about the birth experience I wanted. So I don’t know that I would have felt “robbed” if it had have happened otherwise. Same with breastfeeding. I have a close friend who struggled to breastfeed all three of her kids for two months before conceding that her body just doesn’t produce enough milk. She experienced such a depression. I always felt a bit blase about that too until her experience. I was like “breast, bottle, whatever, as long as it’s not hungry” – and people would say “you CAN say that, you were able to breastfeed your two with no problems!” But it’s just one of those things I never really put much thought into either way. So I am trying hard to be more sensitive to women who had different expectations. Your post really gave me food for thought. Thank you for your honesty.

  9. Great point about grieving in your own time regarding a birth experience. I’ve found partners also go through that as well. Every time someone lumps all inductions together as acts of convenience I get frustrated. You can only do what you can with the knowledge you have at the time. And even then it is really out of one’s hands.

    • This is such an interesting take. I have found that my husband shares none of my grief for how my experience went. He was just happy we had a little boy. I think part of what makes it so hard is to feel like I am carrying the burden of the bad experience alone.
      I absolutely agree; “you can only do what you can with the knowledge you have at the time.”
      Birth experiences are all so different, so personal, and so life changing. And there is so little we have control over. Thank you so much for your perspective.

      • I’m so sorry you have to carry it alone, my husband often says that one of the “cons” to having another is the birth experience – we both had an awful time with both. I think you can be happy for a healthy baby and still feel like the birth machine just chews people up and spits them out. My mom is a labor and delivery nurse so I know from her perspective the goal is the healthy baby but what to her is just another person in a long shift is a once or twice in a lifetime moment for that mom. So there’s a huge disconnect there. If it helps to read it in black and white: you did nothing wrong.

      • Thank you so much for these sweet words. I think you are so right, the big disconnect is that most people in the medical profession treat labor like just another day at work, use medical intervention to keep women on a time table, and the end goal is a healthy baby. There is little to no emphasis on the experience.
        The big disconnect for me is also the fact that my husband, is in fact, a doctor. We are on completely different pages about the importance of a birth experience. I am so sorry you had a difficult experience, but am glad that you have your husband as a support system. It is so interesting to have people in your family who are a part of the medical profession and on different pages than you. Thank you so much for the reminder that I did nothing wrong. I would love to follow your story if you ever do decide to have a second, and I hope that you are able to have a positive experience. I have loved this insight from you.

  10. I love this post. I deal with grief in various forms, senses, instances all the time these days with my husband’s poor health. I was prepared to deal with the ultimate grief of losing him just last month. I know all too well that you just need time to “get over” bad experiences. And like you said, I don’t think we ever completely get over them. They become a little lasting part of us. I think “geting over” and “moving on” are totally differently things.

    • “I think “getting over” and “moving on” are totally different things.” Yes, this. Absolutely this. I am so sorry you are facing so much grief in front of you. I agree, these life changing events are things we will never get over, just things we will one day be able to move on from. Thank you so much for sharing a part of your story.

  11. Exactly. I remember something Mother Teresa said, “We cannot compare sufferings, for they are sufferings to us.”

    I can’t imagine what it was like to need a C section, but I can tell you I felt like a failure for developing PPD after my first and being unable to care for him without my mother’s help.

    I know I need to move on, but this memory shatters what my dreams had been for my becoming a mother, finally.

    Hard to “get over” — no matter what people tell you to do.

    • I think that is such a fitting quote. Even though some may not see the impact of our sufferings, that doesn’t mean they are any less significant.
      I am so sorry that you had to suffer through PPD. You are absolutely NOT a failure.
      I think that you have exactly described what I am still struggling with. It’s not just the event, or the aftermath, or the emotions about the experience. It’s also coming to terms with shattered dreams of the beauty of motherhood.
      Thank you so much for your supportive and understanding comments.

  12. I love the brave and the strong and the transparent that I see in this post.

    Discussing the “not supposed to’s” and opening a safe place for others to do the same? That’s really something, you!

    (I’m so, so sorry.)

    • Thank you so much, Galit. I am amazed and honored by the discussions that have weaved their way onto this space. I am so honored you are a part of the conversation.

    • You are so right, there is no way to hurry up your own healing process. I am so thankful to have found a blogging community where I can start to share and process my experience. Thank you so much for being a part of that.

  13. Julia, wow, these comments! What incredible stories and words here.
    I’m sorry this was your experience and sorry that you heard, get over it. You get through by getting through. And that’s what you’re doing. One step, one day, one word at a time. Thank you for sharing your story with us. I know I’m honored.

    • Thank you so much Heidi. I am truly humbled by the incredible dialogue this post has opened. These comments, these stories, these women, are amazing. “One step, one day, one word at a time.” Absolutely. And my dear friend, you know that it was you, who gave me those wonderful words I quoted in this post, “There is no time limit on grief.” You have been and continue to be an inspiration to me as I begin to tell my story in this blogging world.

  14. I think sometimes when people aren’t intimately part of an experience, it becomes quite easy to negate its impact. While I feel you went the high road, I know for certain in a situation such as this with my own mother, my mouth would not have remained silent!

    • I think you captured it exactly, “when people aren’t intimately part of an experience, it becomes quite easy to negate its impact.” Thank you for telling me I took the high road; I feel like a coward for not being able to piece together words to articulate what I was feeling/do feel about my experience. And of course it all touches on the complexities of the mother daughter relationship…which is a whole other topic!

  15. Pingback: Great Expectations | Grief: One Woman's Perspective

  16. It’s been over five years (and a second child/c-section), and I still haven’t gotten fully over it. I can’t even write about it yet – so good for you!

    I’d say that the only reason to “get over it” is if it’s affecting your everyday emotions and life in a negative manner. And then it would help to “get over it” together with an impartial 3rd party – or completely non-judgmental friend who will not say “At least he’s healthy.” And give you snacks and treats while nodding in sympathy.

    Take your time, be grateful for the good things, and get over it when *you* darn well please!

    • Thank you! My son is two-and-a-half now and I am just now starting to find the words and courage to share my story. It’s such a difficult thing to talk about!
      I don’t think it affects my daily life, but the major way it has impacted me is that I am terrified to ever be pregnant again, even though I always thought that I would have more than one child. But of course, that is a whole different topic.
      The “at least he’s healthy” line is the worst! Thank you so much, and I love your closing advice, I will get over it when I darn well please! 🙂 I love your voice and am so glad to have connected with you through this blogging world.

      • Honestly, getting pregnant with my 2nd is what snapped me out of the 11 month funk I had been in (punctuated by a giggling baby). Don’t be afraid if you want a second. At least not of the pregnancy…be afraid of them outnumbering you!

  17. Although it doesn’t do any good now, I so wish your birth experience had been different! I agree with the comments about “getting over things” – no one has the right to tell you how you should or do feel about an experience that is uniquely, deeply personal and your own. I’m sorry you’ve had to hear that, especially from your mom!

    • Thank you so much. I love these words, “no one has a right to tell you how you should or do feel about an experience that is uniquely, deeply, personal and your own.” Thank you for reading and sharing your thoughts.

  18. I’m a guy, so I’m going to use that as an excuse for being ignorant to the fact that a c-section could cause more than just a physical scar. Ignorant until now, that is.

    My sister just had a baby three weeks ago, and she had been talking to me about how she was definitely going to have drugs for the pain. “Bring em on,” were her exact words, I believe.

    But her biggest concern (besides the baby’s health) was that she wouldn’t have to have a c-section. I merely reassured her that “everything will be fine,” not really understanding the significance of what she was saying. So thank you for being so honest and really shedding light on it for me.

    And finally, I am sorry that your mother was so insensitive. Unlike giving birth, that is definitely something that I can relate to.

    • Thank you so much for reading this. I am so honored that you found a way to make this piece meaningful to you even though it’s not an experience you have had. I hope that your sister was able to have a birth experience she is at peace with. I think that you captured it perfectly with this line, “a c-section could cause more than just a physical scar.” Congratulations on becoming an uncle, and thank you so much for reading and sharing your words here.

  19. My daughter was born in less-than-desirable circumstances, so I completely understand where you are coming from. To make it worse, my first child was born at a birth center in the exact circumstances I wanted, so I had something to compare too! People are always offering judgement. You just have to try and ignore it, I guess.

    • I am sorry you had to go through a difficult second birth, especially after having your ideal circumstances the first time! You are so right, I think that we can not control the words or actions of others, only how we react to them. Ignoring them might be best.

  20. I live how confident you are in your right to your feelings and your timeline for handling them. There are so many women who end up being talked out of their response and then end up feeling bad about the experience and then on top of it all, feeling bad that they can’t seem to handle it the way others expect them to.

    • This comment means so much to me, because what you described is exactly the way I have felt for such a long time. My son is two-and-a-half and I am just finding the strength and courage to write about this.

  21. You are so right that the pain and disappointment of a birthing experience can leave you vulnerable and grieving. I, too, had a difficult labor and delivery, though it wasn’t a c-section. There was so much about the birth of my first son that did not go as I had hoped, but I guess that made it all the sweeter when the birth of my second son was surprisingly easy and everything I had hoped for. All the best…

    • Thank you so much. I am so sorry that you had to go through a difficult first experience. It gives me so much hope to hear about second experiences that go well and restore faith in the birth process. I am so glad you were able to have that second birth. Thank you so much for reading and sharing your story.

  22. I’m so sorry. It’s awful enough to have a birth experience like that, but then to not be allowed to grieve it is devastating.

    • I think you captured it exactly; not only was the birth experience difficult, but not feeling the freedom to discuss it has felt isolating and devastating. Thank you so much for your insightful words.

  23. I love hearing about birth stories that did not turn out “ideal”! (Are there any ideal births?! Hmmm…) The one time I felt like a failure regarding my son’s birth was after 36 hours of labor… and I only dialated to 2! WHAAAAAAAAT!? I cried! But that’s for another post another day! (Thanks for commenting on Angel Wings!)

    • You pose a good question. I’m not sure if there are any “ideal” birth stories, but I know that there are experiences that are positive for some women. I would have cried too! I’m sorry you had to go through that. Thank you so much for coming and sharing a part of your story.

  24. This is such a great piece, I instantly wanted to stand up and protect you from the insensitive comments from your mother and anyone else who has hurt your feelings about this. Pregnancy and birth is a huge deal for all women but also a very personal experience and it’s different for everyone. You DO have a right to your feelings and to take as long as you need to grieve. I had a horrible, difficult pregnancy and hated every long minute of it. I still feel a little weird/guilty admitting that but it was my experience. It doesn’t change the fact that I truly and dearly love my son and strive to be a good mom. Good for you for respecting your own feelings and being true to yourself, even when others don’t understand.

    • Thank you so much for this entire response. You get me exactly. I am so sorry to hear that you had a difficult experience as well. You are so right; it feels weird to admit that, but it is so powerful to own it and it absolutely doesn’t change the fact that you love your son and are a good mom. I am so glad you came by to read and comment.

  25. My very first birth experience did not go as planned. It was 5 weeks before my due date, I was strapped to the bed with IV’s and internal monitoring. I was in a “teaching” hospital and didn’t know half the people who were in and out of my room calling themselves “doctor”. I was in labor for 32 hours. I did end up having a vaginal birth but I had a postpartum hemorrhage that left me pretty close to death. My recovery was nothing like I expected and I felt alone and terrified. I’m adopted, my mom never experienced childbirth so she didn’t get why it was such a big deal to me. It took a long time to get over it. I am so sorry that you did not have the birth experience that you hoped for. You most certainly do not have to “get over it”. Gah!

    • I am so sorry you went through that birth experience. It is so scary to be placed strapped down in a bed with all these monitors and all these strangers coming in and out when you are just trying to being a life into the world. It is terrifying and I’m so sorry you were subjected to that. That was part of my experience too. I think you have described the aftermath feeling exactly; alone and terrified. Even though I am saddened to know that you went through this, it is comforting to know that you were able to heal from it in time. Thank you so much for your support; I think having a baby in such difficult circumstances is a pretty big deal…definitely not something easy to “get over.”

  26. You speak to one of my fears of having a child: That terrible birth experience. I know it can happen. I know it does happen, and that scares the crap out of me. Kudos to you for owning your grief. There’s no time limit on grief, and there’s no judging other people’s feelings. People have their own feelings, and none of us can really say that one way is wrong or right. I know I certainly can’t.

    • I am so sorry to scare you away from having a child! I think that there were a lot of factors that went into the way my experience played out the way it did. If you do consider having a baby, one of the most important things I could tell you do to would be to research and understand your choices and options. Decide what is important to you, and then interview caregivers to find one that aligns with your values. I think that even though most of my experience was out of my control, had I been under the care of someone who shared my values and beliefs about birth, it could have played out differently.
      Thank you so much for your compassionate words. “People have their own feelings.” You could not be more right.

  27. Hi Julia. I’ve never had a baby, so I can’t speak to that feeling of failure. I can speak to the complexity of mother daughter relationships. Maybe your mom really doesn’t understand. Isn’t that ok, though? Your experience isn’t her experience. She might have chosen her words a little more carefully. Hell, back in the day didn’t they knock mothers out entirely, and extract the kid with instruments? Ok, maybe I’m reaching back into medieval times. I completely agree there is no time limit on grief. I’m just thinking we need to accept that not everyone will understand our grief. I don’t understand, but I do empathize with your pain, and I’m sure your mom does too, even if her words don’t fit the message.

    • This comment has really made me stop and think. “Maybe your mom really doesn’t understand. Isn’t that ok though?” This struck me as very poignant. I guess that I haven’t been ok with the fact that I feel alone in this, and that I feel like my mother and to some extent my husband, don’t understand what I went through. But this really struck a chord with me, because you are right, this is my experience, not any one else’s. I guess that it’s just hard to carry the burden of such an experience by yourself. It feels very lonely and overwhelming. You hope, as with any significant life experience, that those closest to you could offer support for your feelings about the event, even if they don’t understand why you feel that way. Thank you for making me think about this in a bit of a different light.

  28. I think that perhaps the fact that I came from 10 years of infertility, a difficult pregnancy, and the doctor was afraid she would lose me AND the baby, made me grateful for my C-section. It wasn’t my dream but none of this had been my dream … except for the baby! And he was perfect. I understand though feeling pain and being told to get over it. And the uneasy friction between mothers and daughters.

    • I am so sorry you had to go through that struggle, but am so glad that you were able to have the baby you dreamed of! The c-section was certainly a big disappointment to me, but that’s not the only reason that my birth experience was traumatic. It was also a combination of a lot of other things, including that I was so overly medicated that I don’t remember meeting my son, that made this such a trying experience for me. Every woman’s birth experience is different, and I am so glad c-sections are not traumatizing to everyone. I am grateful everyday to have my sweet little boy. And you are so right…the relationships between mothers and daughters can be full of friction.

    • Haha, this makes me laugh. Partially, because I could probably never be gutsy enough to pull it off, and partially because my husband is a medical resident, and his “joking” answer to put his patients at ease when they ask him if it will hurt is, “I won’t feel a thing.”

  29. I had a pretty hellatious birth experience the first time but somehow I didn’t dwell on it (a rarity, for me) – in fact it didn’t really occur to me that “my” experience was something I might have needed to process or grieve over until about 7 years after the fact! Strange but true.
    And oh, mothers…and daughters…can be so complex, huh?

    • I think your last sentence nailed it; even though my birth experience certainly was not ideal, the fact that my mother doesn’t realize that makes it that much worse. Those relationships have so many layers of complexity.
      I’m so sorry that you didn’t have a good first birth experience. You are amazing to be able to not dwell on that. I will get there one day. 🙂

  30. This is quote from my favorite author. There is truely no time limit on grief.
    “And I felt like my heart had been so thoroughly and irreparably broken that there could be no real joy again, that at best there might eventually be a little contentment. Everyone wanted me to get help and rejoin life, pick up the pieces and move on, and I tried to, I wanted to, but I just had to lie in the mud with my arms wrapped around myself, eyes closed, grieving, until I didn’t have to anymore.”
    ― Anne Lamott, Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son’s First Year

  31. I’m sorry for your experience and that it fell so far short of your expectations. I also had an unplanned, unwanted C-section with my first, because he was 3 months premature. Talk about feeling like a failure – my body couldn’t even carry the pregnancy full term! I, too, was drugged, and not allowed to see my son while teams of doctors worked on him, and not allowed to touch or hold him for several days, despite me deperately feeling like I was missing out on the initial bonding I was supposed to be doing. Fast forward 10 years to the birth of my 3rd baby, who I had to fight tooth and nail and finally drive 1.5 hours to a hospital that would let me have a vaginal birth after that c-section. And her birth was so exhausting that (and I’ve never told anyone this before) I was sort of ambivalent about her while they weighed her and cleaned her up – and I carry a lot of guilt for that too, since we’re expected to fall in love and be flooded with Mommy Hormones and butterflies and rainbows immediately.
    I guess what I’m saying is that a lot of the pain and damage and disappointment we end up with are caused by unrealistic expectations that society sets up for us. That’s not to say you aren’t entitled to your grief; I’m just saying it’s not your fault or any kind of a failure on your part. **hugs**

    • I am so honored that you shared your experience with me. I am so sorry that you had to go through the terrible ordeals you went through with your babies. I totally understand the feeling ambivalent part; I was so devastated, drugged, and exhausted that it took me a long time to bond with my son. Now, of course, I love him more than anything, but it took me a long time to get there. I was never officially diagnosed with postpartum depression, but am positive I had it. And yes, you are so right, you are expected to be filled with all this amazing Mommy love immediately, so that when you aren’t, you feel guilt and failure, and it seems too taboo to even talk about.
      I agree, so much of this disappointment lies in unrealistic expectations and the fact that if it doesn’t meet those expectations, you are not really supposed to talk about it.
      And of course, you did not fail, and you are an amazing mother, but I know that that is a conclusion we each have to reach on our own before we believe it.
      Thank you so much for sharing. I am so glad to have found you!! Big hugs to you!

  32. Telling anyone to just ‘get over’ anything is hurtful and insensitive. I get it. My first son’s birth was BRUTAL. I accepted that nothing could change that experience and basically talked about it to anyone that would listen. I shocked my friends who’d never had kids before and was bluntly honest and open and cried a whole lot. It helped. I was absolutely terrified that my second birth would be like my first and was so pleasantly surprised by it’s ease. It was exactly how I had dreamed it was supposed to be the first time so don’t despair. If you choose to have another you may be pleasantly surprised too.

    • What an honest word, BRUTAL. I am so sorry that you had to go through that. I am so proud of you for being able to talk about and process it with the people closest to you. I am also so happy for you that your second birth was a good experience! I am terrified to be pregnant again, but it is so reassuring to hear personal success stories. There is so much hope and possibility in the idea that a second time may be different.

  33. There are times I hesitate answering on posts that are emotionally charged because of the possibility of things being taken the wrong way. I thought about this for a while and I want you to know that what I write are my thoughts and you can ignore it if you choose. The point of my comments is to raise possible food for thought and not anything else.

    Firstly, I agree that grief is unique to each person and there is no time limit.

    I also agree that often times people don’t realize how their comments are being misconstrued because we all view life from our own viewpoint and it is work to step out of the box and see things from someone else’s point of view.

    And I am sorry that you are in emotional pain from the experience.

    The big thing that stuck out for me when I was reading about your experience was how many times you used the words “supposed to”. In two paragraphs it was about 13 or 14 times if I counted right. And I sighed because once again we women feel cheated because we haven’t lived up to the “supposed to”.

    There are no two people who are alike in this world or who will have the exact same experience in anything at all. I don’t know about you, but I know that I find myself way to often obsessing about the past or future instead of living in the now, in the present which is a present, a gift.

    I think you might enjoy these two TED speeched by Brene Brown.


    • Thank you for your thoughts. I think you are so right, that one of the hardest things to do in life is live in the now. Some of my favorite quotes are “Wherever you are, be all there,” and “Yesterday’s the past, tomorrow is the future, but today is a gift. That’s why it’s called the present.” I firmly believe all these things, and I also try my best to live that way everyday. Most days, I am able to fully enjoy my son and my job as a stay at home mom, and I am immensely grateful to have this life. But then there are those moments when events from our past sneak into our minds, and it is that, that I still have to take time to process.
      You are so right, the “supposed to’s” are such culprits into the worlds that we create for ourselves.
      I also am always apprehensive to post on some posts for fear of my comment being misconstrued. I think you worded your thoughts very respectfully. Thank you so much for reading.
      I also tried to click the link and it didn’t go through.

      • I think we are human and yes, that’s why our past sneaks up on us and our hopes for the future nag at us. The question is how good we get at recognizing those moments faster and learning to be present in the gratitude of the moment-which is a lifelong quest btw.

        As far as the link-look on the right side of the page and you will see two links to two of her speaches (one about shame and one about vulnerability)

  34. Oh, Julia you know I understand this probably better than anyone. There are things that I endured and encountered that are still unbelievable to me. I was able to bounce back relatively quickly, but mind you those 5 days in the hospital were probably darker than anyone could imagine. I made the decision to openly talk about, sometimes even obsess over, my experience and keep no secrets or emotions buried deep down inside because they might be too shocking. Then something just transitioned for me and it became less of a disappointment and more of a blessing that I actually lived through it and went on to thrive. You never “get over it.” You just find a way to shove it out of the way and stand up to it. During the hard times, I felt like a failure and like a crazy person when that experience crept its way into my daily thoughts. Now, when it tries to eat away at me I just stare it down and say “yeah, that did happen, and yes it really was that bad. case.closed. so, what’s for lunch?”

    • I am so, so glad to have connected with you through this blogging world. I am so sorry that you had to go through such a painful experience with the birth of your sweet boy. I am so proud and amazed by your strength to openly talk about and process your experience. I love your last line, “Yeah, that did happen, and yes it really was that bad. Case closed. So, what’s for lunch?” You are such a strong and inspiring person. I am hoping that this shift comes for me soon, so that I can put this behind me and go get that lunch. 🙂

  35. Sorry you had such a difficult and disappointing birth experience. I do think you need time to mourn the birth experience you didn’t get to have. I have 3 children and 3 very different birth experiences. My daughter and 2nd child ended in an emergency c/s..which was my worst nightmare. Like you I don’t remember much and had a very long and painful recovery. My son and 3rd child was a scheduled c/s and a COMPLETELY DIFFERENT experience. It was AMAZING…low stress, enjoyable, positive etc. If you do decide to have another child in the future I wish you the best birth experience ever.

    • I am so sorry to hear that you had a difficult time too, but it is so wonderful that you had a good experience the next time! Thank you so much for sharing your story. It is such a comforting hope to know that with every birth, there is a new possibility of a good experience.

  36. Your experience in yours alone and only you can hold on to it, let it go, make it a part of you, grow from it, learn from it, accept it, dwell on it or let it suffocate you. You have the right to move through your grief in your own time…I think we do idealize the birth experience. We may go into it with a preconcieved notion (probably from the movies) of how everything is supposed to go. When it doesn’t go that way does it mean we failed? As much as we want to exert control over the experience (with our birth plans and preconcieved notions and breath control)–most of what happens is out of our control.

    • You are so right, about all of this. I think that is one of the hardest lessons in life; learning that there is so much we are not in control of. I hope that one day I will be able to let this go, or at least not let it be such an intense moment of my life. But for now, I have finally found peace with the fact that it’s ok for me to grieve it and process it in my own time. Thank you so much for these encouraging words and the reminder that even though we don’t have control over our life experiences, we do have control over how we handle them.

  37. I bet your mom just doesn’t want you to hurt about it anymore, and thinks the best way to help you is just tell you “should.” Grief doesn’t have a time limit, for sure.

    • I think you are right. I’m sure she has no idea how much those words affected me and I know it would never be her intention to hurt me. I so agree, grief does not have a time limit. Thank you so much for reading.

  38. Tara and Michelle hit what I was thinking as I was reading it. We absolutely should claim our truths AND we need to let ourselves off the hook for the high expectations we have for our births. I agree with your idea that grief has no time limit. I have three close family members who are in that boat with you, and one of them became a very outgoing advocate for birth experiences. I am sorry that your experience wasn’t what you planned and your support structure didn’t honor your disappointment. Good luck, Erin

    • Thank you so much for your comforting and supporting words. I am so sorry to hear that some of your family members had similar experiences. Good for one of them to go on and become a birth advocate! It’s amazing how much these pivotal experiences can shape our lives.

  39. I too had a birth experience that left me unsettled. We had to have an induction and I was immediately placed in bed, had my water broken, and given pitocin. I ended up with complete internal monitoring, on oxygen, and got an emergency c-section 7 hours later. While I was still in the hospital, my grandmother and my aunt informed me that I did NOT experience real labor and left me feeling like I had failed being a woman. FAILED.

    I am so sorry that your mother has said this. In my opinion, I don’t think you’ll ever truly “get over it,” but I hope that you are able to have a better birth experience the next time. I am hoping that it helps heal the feelings of inadequacy I have as well.

    • Oh, sweet friend, I am so, so sorry that that happened to you. it feels so very upsetting to have no control over your body, your birth, and your baby. I am so sorry that your grandmother and aunt said that to you. That is terrible. You did not fail. You are an amazing mother. But I so get that feeling, because I feel/felt that way too.
      I am so glad to hear that you may try for another one. I am so terrified to get pregnant again, because I don’t think I can go through it all again. But then there’s the comforting hope that the next time it would be different, and maybe that would restore our feelings?
      I am so glad to have found you and can wait to see how the rest of our stories unfold. 🙂

  40. Despite your birth experience and disappointment that it was not quite what you wanted it to be, I’m so happy that you delivered a healthy baby. There are many women who would give anything just to deliver a healthy baby in any manner, so I’m sure some sentiments may spring from lack of being in your shoes.

    • I am also incredibly grateful to have a healthy little boy. I cherish him everyday. But I guess that’s kind of what this post begins the dialogue on; shouldn’t the experience of having a baby also be a part of the equation?
      This post certainly isn’t meant to offend or upset anyone, just to express my own personal experience with the birth of my son. Thank you so much for reading.

      • Our first son was via c section because the chord was wrapped around his neck. With our second son’s delivery (called a v-back), I had an epidural; he was considered a high risk delivery because of the previous c section. With our daughter, I had no medication at all. Three entirely different types of deliveries, three times of day (night, noon, morning), three very different children in every way. I really had few expectations. With each, I was just happy our children were alive and healthy. Our middle son was killed by a drunk driver when he was 19 years old, so I understand the concept of loss and things not going quite as one would hope.

        I think, for some reason, there is now much more emphasis on having a positive birth experience/story than there used to be when our children were born and many more expectations of the way things “should” be. Things change over time, don’t they?

  41. I ended up needing a c-section with my first baby after 12 hrs labor and 1.5 pushing (he couldn’t get past my bones), so I understand your feelings. I love your take, that you don’t get over it, it just holds less intensity with time.

    • I am so sorry you had to go through that. It sounds like we had very similar experiences. Thank you so much for reading, I hope that we both are able to come to peace with our births, even if that means it will take a lot of time to heal.

  42. I keep waiting for a similar picture to show up where the pumpkin is having a c-section. Where is the creativity, people?

    I also had two terrible birth experiences. I was lucky to have providers who asked me how I was feeling because they knew things had not gone as planned. It helped to talk about it and eventually laugh. Have you considered seeing a therapist who specializes in birth trauma or joining a support group (either online or in person)?

    Also, I can attest, as a mental health worker, that no one in the history of the world has ever “gotten over” anything when commanded to do so. It actually makes things worse, as anyone who has ever said it to me after I missed the McDonald’s breakfast time can testify.

    • Hehe, yes where is the c-section pumpkin?
      I am so sorry to hear that you had not one, but two terrible birth experiences. I am glad that you were in the care of people who cared about not only your outcome, but your experience. I have never thought of going to a birth trauma support group; I didn’t even know things like that existed! I may have to look into it.
      And I totally agree, the “get over it” command never works, no matter what the subject matter. 🙂

  43. I really despise it when people tell me to “get over it”…
    Thing is, they don’t understand how this impacted you. So they’re trying everything they can to help you well “get over it”…thing is their way of helping is actually making it worse and your mom is going about it the wrong way.
    I get this.
    This is a wonderful response and I hope that you share this with her.

    • Thank you so much, sweetie. You are so right, the advice “get over it” is pretty much the worst “advice” a person can give. No one should ever tell you that either. You are such a strong person and have tackled so much. I hope that maybe one day I will gather the strength to share this with her.

  44. This was a great post. The expectations we set for our birth stories are so high. It’s hard when they don’t play out like we wanted and we need time to deal with that. Your bravery to say how you feel about your experience is tremendous. I think many of us don’t know what to do when we are faced with such honest from another person. I’m sorry your mom’s answer hurt you.

    • Thank you so much. I think you said it exactly, “The expectations we set for our birth stories are so high.” I think there’s this notion that having a baby should be magical, and if it isn’t, we aren’t supposed to talk about it. It has taken me a long time to start to find words to explain my experience, but I am so glad that I am starting to talk about it.

  45. There is definitely no time limit on grief. I had a birth experience that left me feeling breathless, sad, feeling cheated, out of control and just a little freaked out about my upcoming 2nd labor.

    No one has a right to tell you to get over it. Take your time, sweetie.

    • I am so sorry to hear that you had a deflating birth experience. I am in awe of your strength to go through it again, but then there’s the comforting possibility that the second time will be different. Thank you so much for your comforting words. I can not wait to hear about your second one’s arrival. I am wishing all the best for you and hoping that this time your birth unfolds in a much more positive way.

  46. I agree with Tara, the house of should is a dangerous place to live. All you can be is exactly who you are and its amazing the courage it takes not to “get over it” but to be able to sit in that place and live whatever truth arises in that moment.

  47. great honesty here. I love that. we need to stop saying what we are “supposed” to say or feel and start claiming our truths, even if they look different from someone else.

  48. Aw, I’m sorry. I don’t have kids, so I can see how people can be thoughtless in their assumptions/comments about labor. Though your mother should have been a bit more considerate…

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