Birth Story: My CBAC & the Practice of Acceptance

Print Friendly

By Sheetal Daswani

Seeing the phrase “MY CBAC” in print can occasionally have the power to be painfully debilitating. I so strongly yearned for a VBAC. Yet, when I search deeply into my own psyche, I am confronted with the fact that I got everything I wanted for my baby out of my CBAC. I did not get everything I wanted for me, but I got everything I wanted for my baby. It is a powerfully bittersweet dichotomy really, because I gained so much from my labour, yet I was unable to cross the finish line. At times I am humiliated and at other times I am humbled by this.

I wanted a peaceful birth. I wanted an intervention-free labour. I wanted to go into labour on my own. I wanted to see what it felt like to have contractions and to dilate. I wanted to reach 10 cm. I wanted to use hypnobirthing. I wanted to triumph over a contraction so much so that I wouldn’t feel pain. I wanted to see my baby’s birth. I wanted to discover the baby’s sex. I wanted delayed cord clamping and I wanted no separation. I wanted my baby to benefit from a natural labour and to be alert and peaceful upon his first feed. I wanted to be in a soulful and spiritual synchronicity with my partner and my doula. I wanted to feel empowered and to have a truly supportive and amazing birth team at my side. I got all of those things. I got them all. So why am I still heartbroken at times?

“You have to keep breaking your heart until it opens.” – Rumi

I gave myself to the process of birth. I trusted it unconditionally. I let go in every way that I could. I completely and entirely surrendered to my body and to the universe. I spent the years after my first cesarean truly soul-searching and working very hard on myself, to heal, to be at peace with my first birth story and most importantly to relinquish the concept of control. This took years of spiritual practice and yoga. When I got pregnant this time around, I felt empowered, peaceful and relaxed. I had no fear, no tension and no anxiety. I finally understood the connection amongst mind, body and soul, as it relates to pregnancy and birthing.

When I began having regular contractions on my due date, I was so elated about being in labour, that I felt no pain at all. They were just waves, sensations with a purpose. I don’t think I have ever felt so deeply spiritual yet primal at the same time. A few hours into it at around 2am, I went into my kitchen and stumbled upon a single black beetle. My thoughts lingered upon the creature for what seemed like eternity, and then I drew myself away from it to go and research the symbolism of its presence in my home. I learned that beetles have wisdom that is sacred and deep. Beetles speak to us about being grounded, methodical, pragmatic and steady in order to get to the root of what we desire. They teach us how to be tamed by the small and gentle because of their simple, unassuming presence. Their hard shells also speak of protection. It was no coincidence that I crossed paths with this beetle. It was a lesson in maintaining my strength and staying the course toward a peaceful birth. What was the root of my desire? A peaceful birth. What was my purpose in this equation? It was to be a protective shell for my child. That is all.

Upon reflection, there are a few things that strike me as truly amazing. My interaction with the beetle and learning of its role in my story was one of them. Another was opening a book of quotes by the great poet Rumi, upon a page that said, “These pains you feel are messengers. Listen to them.” I suppose on some level then and there I must have known that I was having a son, my Rumi, and that he was already guiding me. The next page read, “I closed my mouth and spoke to you in a hundred silent ways.” These two quotes piloted the experience for me. Another amazing thing was being told that I was already 7cm and stretching to an 8 when I arrived at the birth center. I got to that point with my partner and we did it on our own. We got to 8cm without feeling any pain. Hypnobirthing worked. Yoga worked. My body worked. My mind worked. It was a powerful moment. Getting to 10cm was even more powerful but, this is where the heartbreak comes in. I was at 10cm for 8hours and my son would/could not descend. Getting so close to the finish line is almost harder than not getting anywhere at all. I could feel the VBAC coming, I could smell it, I could almost taste it, but then it got taken away. Why? It could have been because my son was posterior or it could have been because I might have cephalopelvic disproportion. I may never know. Whatever the reason, it is irrelevant. If I cannot practice acceptance after years of yoga, then I am a fraud. So, I am not going to agonize over it any longer. I am writing my story and I am letting it go.

“Put your thoughts to sleep, do not let them cast a

shadow over the moon of your heart.

Let go of thinking.” ― Rumi

rumi 1To my sweet son, Rumi, you are a wise spirit that knew the perfect time to start your journey with us. You are the result of a fantastic equation which even our most advanced mathematics cannot derive. Each life is bookended by two traumatic events, and even though the central character entangled in these events never retains a single memory of them, they define us all. Your birth was one such defining moment for you. I hope that on some level you know how hard we worked to give you the most peaceful and gentle birth possible. Although your name did not get painted onto the ‘Tree of Life’ at the birth center, a photo of yours and your sister’s sweet faces are on its wall. You both may not get to places in traditional ways, but you do get there. I thank you for teaching me things about myself and about your father that I never knew, and for teaching me about humility and acceptance in the most beautiful way.

rumi 2

Sheetal Daswani is a mother, human rights defender, writer, VBACtivist, yogi, doula, dreamer.  She has been a Human Rights Education Consultant since 2003 for non-profit organizations such as Amnesty International, and has authored educational materials on issues including torture, child soldiers, refugees and resettlement, equal access to quality healthcare, and gender based violence. During her first pregnancy, she began to investigate human rights issues associated with birth, and what she discovered precipitated her to become a Doula. Sheetal currently resides in Trinidad & Tobago with her family, where she works as a Doula who hopes to inspire her community to view birth though a human rights lens. She aspires to equip those around her with the tools needed to promote sustainable and meaningful social change with regard to prenatal care, labour, birth and beyond.

Comments

  1. Michael says

    Your story, like your Life’s socially-conscious endeavours, is profound and empowering, Sheetal, and I deeply respect and congratulate you for sharing it. You are making an encouraging and, I believe, sustainable difference in your circle(s) of influence – to borrow loosely from the imagery of Rumi – and for this I am truly Proud of you. Grateful too, on behalf of the circle(s). M.

  2. Kim says

    You did everything you could to give your baby a safe, peaceful birth that would set him off on the healthiest foot possible and you succeeded. Think of what the outcome might have been had you not protected your Rumi by allowing all the standard interventions or having another c/a without allowing your body to begin labor first. You may not know exactly why he didn’t descend, but you got him safely as far as you could, so I say job well done, mama. ❤️

  3. Helen Rubin says

    Sheetal – I must say I was impressed when I was in Trinidad staying with friends a few years ago, to see a baby being comfortably nursed in the presence of two men, uncles of the mum! I hope that is still the case island wide. Please continue your work in earnest, it’s so important. Congratulations on both your babies!

    Living here in the US (a British immigrant) in 1977 and 1981 my two C-section babies went full term which to me is critical considering so many modern/early interventions/elective C-sections (second one I was going for VBAC) and with each I went into labour naturally at home and was able to wait until contractions were close before going to the hospital. I took a Lamaze class with the first and Bradley with the second – I think Bradley was better.

    What I remember most about the second birth was the amount of support I had for me, my oldest son (then 3 yrs old) and my new baby – my parents came before the birth and stayed for a month. Trial of labour was just the way I’d read about it in the books, time between contractions! With the first born I experienced a long painful labour followed by an emergency C-section, 5 days in hospital, husband home for a week and then…”you’re on your own”!

    There was never a question of me not nursing our boys as is often supposed post-C-section. Both nursed for over 2 years and each weaned naturally, the second later than the first. I remember that when my second born was home I said “This one’s going to be raised my way”. I believe I was physically stronger because of the support I’d had in those first weeks from my parents.

    I’ve never assumed that my C-sections were unnecessary – my first baby failed to pass through the birth canal despite appearances, size and tests to the contrary, and the second had the cord around his neck. He was born with a droopy mouth which still bothers him (only visible when he cried as a baby and now when he sings!) but I think he could have been much worse off than that if I had insisted on a vaginal birth.

    We only carry our babies for 9 months – it is so much more important to have a healthy baby and a mummy who is well supported for her recovery, especially with a C-section. I know mothers who are traumatised by not getting the birth they had planned and I believe their baby feels those effects too.

    It is now 36 and 32 years since the births of my babies and I think what I would most change is the lack of support for me and my baby with our first born. I do still wonder if we don’t both still bear the results of that lack of support and my struggle with extreme exhaustion in the early days and months.
    .
    It certainly influenced me to do everything I could to support my son and daughter-in-law with their baby girl, born at 39 weeks but not induced (monitored closely due to mum’s high BP) in April, plus 5 days in the NICU. They didn’t take childbirth classes (despite my suggestion!) but my son was totally beside his wife encouraging and supporting her in all ways with breathing, playing her music etc. I truly believe their baby is doing amazingly well at 8 months because her mother was totally free to focus on her baby and her own needs and have whatever support she needed in the first few weeks.

    My daughter-in-law was beautifully taken care of medically by a caring OB, a nurse practitioner and a midwife (all part of the hospital-based team) – critical for someone who had never had good quality healthcare and was very afraid of everything she had to go through!

    Thank you for this lovely guest post Tracy.

  4. Helen Rubin says

    Sheetal – I must say I was impressed when I was in Trinidad staying with friends a few years ago, to see a baby being comfortably nursed in the presence of two men, uncles of the mum! I hope that is still the case island wide. Please continue your work in earnest, it’s so important. Congratulations on both your babies!

    Living here in the US (a British immigrant) in 1977 and 1981 my two C-section babies went full term which to me is critical considering so many modern/early interventions/elective C-sections (second one I was going for VBAC) and with each I went into labour naturally at home and was able to wait until contractions were close before going to the hospital. I took a Lamaze class with the first and Bradley with the second – I think Bradley was better.

    What I remember most about the second birth was the amount of support I had for me, my oldest son (then 3 yrs old) and my new baby – my parents came before the birth and stayed for a month. Trial of labour was just the way I’d read about it in the books, time between contractions! With the first born I experienced a long painful labour followed by an emergency C-section, 5 days in hospital, husband home for a week and then…”you’re on your own”!

    There was never a question of me not nursing our boys as is often supposed post-C-section. Both nursed for over 2 years and each weaned naturally, the second later than the first. I remember that when my second born was home I said “This one’s going to be raised my way”. I believe I was physically stronger because of the support I’d had in those first weeks from my parents.

    I’ve never assumed that my C-sections were unnecessary – my first baby failed to pass through the birth canal despite appearances, size and tests to the contrary, and the second had the cord around his neck. He was born with a droopy mouth which still bothers him (only visible when he cried as a baby and now when he sings!) but I think he could have been much worse off than that if I had insisted on a vaginal birth.

    We only carry our babies for 9 months – it is so much more important to have a healthy baby and a mummy who is well supported for her recovery, especially with a C-section and I think there needs to be more focus on that rather than what I often feel is the ideal needs of the mother. I know mothers who are traumatised by not getting the birth they had planned, when things don’t go according to their ideal idea of childbirth and I believe their baby feels those effects too.

    I am hearing too frequently now of mothers who aren’t enjoying the time with their babies, whether they are working or at home and that’s so sad to me. The 9 month build up to the birth takes on an extraordinary life of its own in western society (perhaps never more so than in the US?) without a true perspective on all the years and wonderful times to come.

    It is now 36 and 32 years since the births of my babies and I think what I would most change is the lack of support for me and my baby with our first born. I do still wonder if we don’t both still bear the results of that lack of support and my struggle with extreme exhaustion in the early days and months. He’s recently moved 4000 miles away in England, in the town on my birth (!), sorting out his life at present, and I miss him terribly, as does his father.
    .
    It certainly influenced me to do everything I could to support my youngest son and daughter-in-law with their baby girl, born at 39 weeks (not induced but monitored closely due to mum’s high BP) in April, plus 5 days in the NICU. They didn’t take childbirth classes (despite my suggestion!) but my son was beside his wife throughout the labour encouraging and supporting her in all ways with breathing, playing her music etc. I truly believe their baby is doing amazingly well at 8 months because her mother was totally free to focus on her baby and her own needs and have whatever support she needed in the first few weeks.

    My daughter-in-law was beautifully taken care of medically by a caring OB, a nurse practitioner and a midwife (all part of the hospital-based team) – critical for someone who had never had good quality healthcare and was very afraid of everything she had to go through even before the birth!

    Thank you for this lovely guest post Tracy.

  5. Sheetal Daswani says

    Thank you all for your beautiful and supportive comments. I have found such peace in knowing that the universe is full of all of you kindred spirits and that I am not alone in this. <3

Trackbacks

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *