C-Section Stories: Sarah Butterbaugh
1. Briefly, please share the circumstances that led to your c-section birth(s):
For 36 weeks, I envisioned myself pushing out my daughter and having her thrown onto my chest for the special moment of the first time I laid eyes on her. Every time I thought of this, I would tear up and be so thankful. However, at 36 weeks we found out that our girl had settled into a breech position. The doctors tried to flip her and it wasn't successful so a c-section was scheduled for week 39. I had a few weeks to mentally prepare myself for this change of plans, but to be honest, it felt a little like a grieving process. I was disappointed I wouldn't be able to see the process unfold with a curtain in front of me or have that immediate skin to skin moment with the little girl I carried for nine months. That was an unexpectedly difficult thing for me come to terms with. The day came and my husband and I walked (yes, walked!...we lived a block away at the time) to the hospital and I felt a deep sense of peace. My daughter was coming and it was through a different door than planned...but she was coming!
2. What surprised you the most about having a c-section?:
There were a few surprises on June 14th. I'll start with what was a surprising struggle. As many people as there were in the operating room prepping me for the c-section, it was surprisingly lonely. Having my husband wait until I was prepped and ready to go was difficult. I don't like shots, I don't like being in pain (who does), I don't like not knowing what's going to happen (again...who doesn't) and I really didn't like going through those feelings without him. It was so strange to finally be prepped and have him come in right as they started the procedure. It also felt a little lonely to not see what was happening, to hear her "pop out", have them talk about how beautiful she was, wait the excruciating 30 seconds to hear her cry, and then finally get a very quick glimpse of her. It's like everyone got to see her first and have this experience except for me!
However, despite that, I was so deeply and pleasantly surprised that after they weighed, measured, and cleaned her off, they allowed me to do skin to skin with her. My heart was so happy and I held her for about fifteen minutes before surprising myself by asking for them to take her off me. I was feeling overwhelmed by the tugging and pulling of being sutured up and holding my babe. I thought I would feel an unbearable longing while Amelia was in the nursery and I in recovery, but the rest I was able to get was great. Once they put her in my arms again for skin to skin and the first feeding, it was like no time had passed at all.
3. What kind of support do you feel you received (from friends, family, healthcare team) after your c-section(s)?:
This was another area of surprise. I pride myself on my vulnerability on social media. I try to be honest about my struggles and expectations and the same went with my pregnancy experience. I posted on Instagram about my struggles with changing my mindset for a c-section and the outpouring of support from fellow moms that had c-sections was incredible. I was deeply assured that I wasn't alone with my feelings and with my experience.
4. What’s your #1 piece of advice/encouragement for a new c-section mom?:
As difficult as it is, try to rest in the knowledge that you’re not alone. You’re not alone in your initial feelings of failure and grief, you're not alone in your feelings of relief that maybe it won't be as painful (initially), you're not alone in your feelings of fear of the surgery experience. You are not alone.
Also, everyone will tell you to rest - so rest. Don’t try to compare your healing experience with friends and family who had vaginal deliveries (or even those with different c-sections deliveries). I had friends and family who were “up and at em” just days after their vaginal deliveries and I felt completely incompetent with my unbrushed hair and teeth and hurting body. I would feel good for a day, push myself the next, and regret doing so in the third. Healing is not necessarily linear and you need to be extremely patient with your body. Let people bathe you if you have to, even if your mom has to see your naked body since childhood! When people share their experience, take it as just that, their own experience and not the expectation or rule (even if they make it out to be that way).
5. How do you believe having a c-section birth(s) made you stronger?:
It made me stronger through my ability to cope, reframe, and deal with change. As much as a vaginal birth is empowering....so is a c-section. We created a life, I carried and nourished her for 9 months, I delivered her through a different but equally empowering way, and I love her with a fierceness I never knew I had in me.
Name: Sarah Butterbaugh
Your Profession: Adjunct Faculty
How to Connect With You on Social Media: @sarah.butterbaugh