At Least You Got A Healthy Baby

My friend said “at least you got a healthy baby, that’s all that matters. Focus on the future, you can have another baby and next time just book in for a caesarean and do away with the fuss”. I cried.

At Least You Got A Healthy Baby

People have this idea that a woman giving birth does so solely for her baby, and in many ways she does, but how she perceives the experience of birth can have a big impact on how she mothers her babies. A woman might spend years imagining that first moment when she sets eyes on her babies, and if that moment isn’t how she dreams, it can be quite unsettling. With that in mind ………..

Try to imagine this

I went on holiday recently. I saved up for years to be able to afford it, I was so excited! I planned to go to a beautiful private spot and soak up the sun with a cocktail and a good book. I wanted to really let down my hair and relax and then come home rejuvenated and ready to face another year.  It didn’t go to plan.

The plane was delayed by 14hrs and I missed the connecting flight. The air hostess spilled scalding hot coffee on me and burnt my leg. The airline lost my baggage. The 5 star hotel had given our room to someone else because we arrived so late and we ended up in a cockroach infested hovel with no air conditioning. To top it off, I got food poisoning and spent the rest of my holiday hanging over a toilet.

My friend said to me:

“At least you had a break, you’re home and alive now anyway. Focus on the year ahead, you can have another holiday.”

I spent many years planning my family and I anticipated the birth of my child with much excitement. I wanted to have an all natural birth if possible, because I knew that was best for myself and my baby.

I went to the hospital nearby because the glossy ads showed it to be a bright clean venue with the feel of a hotel rather than a hospital room. At 39w I was pressured into an induction because they said my baby was huge according to ultrasound. I was forced to stay on the bed despite having been assured I would have access to a birth pool. The monitors they pressed into my stomach hurt and disrupted free movement causing the contractions to be far more painful. Despite repeatedly stressing that I didn’t want vaginal exams there were too many to count and by multiple people I didn’t know. My labour “failed to progress” so an emergency caesarean was recommended. The epidural didn’t work properly so I was given a general anaesthetic. I woke up in recovery many hours after the birth of my baby, cold, shaken and alone. No one would tell me where my baby was or if she was ok. The pain was unimaginable.

I struggled to breastfeed because the incision hurt so much, it became badly infected. I found out that my baby was actually very small, much smaller than I was told, and all of that had been unnecessary.

My friend said to me:

 “at least you got a healthy baby, that’s all that matters. Focus on the future, you can have another baby and next time just book in for a caesarean and do away with the fuss”.

I cried.

new baby wrapped in plush white blanket, asleep
Perfect bundle of joy.
Credit: Noorwifenisha | Wikimedia| CC BY-SA 3.0.

I was overjoyed to finally  have my baby in my arms but I wanted to be a good mother to her. I’d wanted to welcome her myself, feed her myself, carry her easily, bathe and dress her easily, but instead I was drugged to the eyeballs and I don’t remember anything about her first days. I still can’t look at the photos from that time because they make me cry.

Stop minimising the pain of mothers. If a woman tells you she is grieving over her birth tell her that you are sorry she was traumatised. Make her a cup of tea and a sandwich. Healthy babies are really important, but healthy babies need healthy mothers. They are an inseparable dyad, one is not more important than the other and it’s time that society recognised the importance of healthy, content mothers. 

“Birth is not only about making babies. Birth is about making mothers–strong, competent, capable mothers who trust themselves and know their inner strength.”

Barbara Katz Rothman

41 Responses to "At Least You Got A Healthy Baby"

  1. jennie island  8 March, 2016 at 8:38 pm

    are you kidding me!!!! try having all of these unrealistic expectations after having 2 children and then to deliver your 3rd and much wanted child stillborn after 42 weeks . get over yourself and enjoy your child! the easy part of motherhood is delivering the child the rest is the hard work. my kids are now 33, 31, would be 29 if survived and 27! I cant stand listening to whinging mothers whose birth experience is not the fairytail they expect! its hard work! so is raising children….

    •  8 March, 2016 at 9:31 pm

      My third child was stillborn also. I’m sorry for your loss. HOW MOTHERS FEEL ABOUT THEIR BIRTHS MATTERS.

    •  8 March, 2016 at 9:46 pm

      Perhaps this will help to explain it to you some more

    • Jean Grey  11 March, 2016 at 12:39 am

      Jennie, you sound like a witch. If it’s not your life, your opinion doesn’t matter. It is unfortunate that your third child was still born, but that doesn’t mean that people being bullied and abused by the medical establishment is irrelevant.

    • speakeasy25  11 March, 2016 at 3:49 am

      Hey, how awesome of you to be so supportive of other mothers. I’m sure everyone here feels your goodwill and warmth.

    • Erna Odendaal  11 March, 2016 at 6:55 am

      Jennie, your comment is exactly what this post is about. How would you have felt if people had said ‘oh well, at least you already have 2 healthy children’? A mom’s emotional pain dealing with a traumatic birth experience is no less real than your pain.

    • Vernessa Kulikov  11 March, 2016 at 11:30 am

      I’m so sorry for the loss of your third child. Minimizing the pain that someone else has experienced by comparing it to yours is pretty insensitive however. What she has experienced is more disappointment, it is trauma, particularly in the way she was treated. The disrespect she was shown was like being raped while giving birth and being told to get over it. It’s like someone telling you to get over yourself and quit your whining over your stillborn birth because they have had multiple stillborns and have still been unsuccessful in having even one live birth where you have had two. It’s good to be able to put things into perspective but having someone scorn you because your pain can’t possibly compare to theirs is not helpful. We all need to show compassion to each other.

      •  11 March, 2016 at 3:38 pm

        Thanks for taking the time to comment. I like your analogy.

    • Kate 88  11 March, 2016 at 4:13 pm

      When my daughter’s favorite necklace broke because she and her brother were playing ball outside, she was so broken up about it. It was huge for a tender-hearted 5 year old. I didn’t scold at her and told her to get over it, that there are children starving in Africa or South America or India, etc. That would be incredibly shattering to her spirit. Jenine Island, I cannot believe your post. I also lost 2 babies, had 1 horrible hospital experience, and 2 home births. That hospital experience felt like rape by the system. To this day I mourn the way my son could have been born, how he could have nursed, how I could have had this incredible bond with him that I only experienced with my other midwife assisted, natural, wholesome, births. I also morn my other 2 babies, each experience in its own unique way. Most importantly, I can empathize with a woman who had a traumatic birth experience or a woman who lost her baby. I also have seen the horrors of WWII, the smells of concentration camps, where babies, children, men, women were starved, gassed, tortured, mutilated in the name of science, etc. I wouldn’t dream to compare all this horror to you losing your 2 children and raising the other. How easily the tables can turn. I suspect that you didn’t have wonderful birth experiences or an easy life. I’m sorry for your hardships as well.

      •  11 March, 2016 at 9:59 pm

        What a thoughtful and compassionate response, thank you for stopping by xx

  2. Amanda  10 March, 2016 at 11:23 pm

    This really resonated for me. My birth experience was not in any way what I was expecting or hoping for. And my son was NOT born healthy (13 weeks early.) It took me a long time to accept what happened. Thank you for writing this.

    •  11 March, 2016 at 3:42 pm

      Much love to you, a premature baby can be so hard on families. I hope he is home safe with his family now.

  3. Ali  10 March, 2016 at 11:55 pm

    How dare you minimize someone else’s pain by saying “mine sucked. Stop wishing for perfect.” The author got a crap deal. It hurt her phsyxally and emotionally. Be supportive or go away. No one needed to minimize her pain.

  4. Natasha B  11 March, 2016 at 2:02 am

    I do not know “jennie island” but I would like to apologize for her response on behalf of humanity. You have a right to comment, cry, and to wish that the birth of your child(ren) went as you wanted. It didn’t happen for me either and I was bummed about it as well but I also continued motherly my children because that’s what strong women do. I’m certain you did the same. Pregnancy is not about just the birth of a child. It is about the woman becoming a mother to that child and they going through the pregnancy, delivery and recovery together. The birth of my daughter did empower me for this upcoming birth to know what I do and do not want, to demand it and to not take “no” as the final answer at the Doctor’s office, the hospital or from any family members or friends that give me flack for being disappointed.

  5. Anita  11 March, 2016 at 2:35 am

    Thank you for this.. I literally feel like it was unthinkable to discuss how giving birth made me feel, that I was supposed to just be happy that I had a baby and suck it up. Even my husband woukd say ‘you should be happy, yout have a baby.’ There were many days I hated being a mither, because I wasn’t allowed to feel anything but joy.

    •  11 March, 2016 at 3:40 pm

      I can totally relate to this. I hope you’ve found a decent support system now, there are some good birth trauma groups on facebook.

  6. Rachel  11 March, 2016 at 7:14 am

    Thank you for saying this. The still have sadness about many elements of my son’s birth 16 months later. I’ve stopped sharing my feelings with anyone but my husband because this is not a well understood idea.

  7. Just Visiting  11 March, 2016 at 11:44 am

    I was actually diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after I gave birth. I was absolutely horrible and didn’t go at all to plan. Women need to be respected during birth and supported afterwards. I really feel for people who have lost a child, but it still really matters how women feel about their births. It has a huge impact on the rest of our lives.

    •  11 March, 2016 at 3:35 pm

      Much love to you as you heal. Thank you for speaking out.

  8. Sarahb  11 March, 2016 at 12:06 pm

    This made me cry. My birth experience was very similar. I was forced to lay down to be monitored because I was bleeding. I had a placental abrupture so laying down made the pain almost unbearable and stopped me from progressing. I asked for minimal internal exams (very important to me as an ex rape victim and that history was stressed to them) and I found myself getting them so often it felt like someone constantly had their hand up inside me.

    I was fortunate that as soon as I came to that my husband was there with my son and I could hold him straight away.

    I can’t remember much about the first two days and struggled for 5 days until I was allowed to go home with breastfeeding. My husband had to go home every night and I wasn’t allowed up for the first two days so trying to get my son when I needed to feed him was difficult and I felt very alone.

    This time around I’m terrified. I’m 22 weeks and trying really hard to deal with this trauma and let it go so that it wont affect this birth.

    •  11 March, 2016 at 3:47 pm

      I’m so terribly sorry you were left feeling so vulnerable and traumatised.
      Have you joined a good birth trauma support group to help you planning your next birth? We also have a good article for you.

      • Sarahb  11 March, 2016 at 4:44 pm

        I haven’t, but at my booking in appointment I had the fortune of discussing it with the midwife who had attended my son’s birth and was responsible for lying me down. She was very empathetic and did apologise for the distress. I think in a way that was very healing for me. She’s also referring me to a perinatal counsellor so I can talk about it more and work through the emotions before bubba comes.

        I was originally offered to join a traumatic birth support group but initially I didn’t see it as a traumatic experience. I buried it deep down and ignored it until it popped up again at this pregnancy.

        •  11 March, 2016 at 9:58 pm

          That’s really good that you’re feeling supported.

          Now that you’re feeling the trauma a little bit more it might be an idea to join one of those groups! Please keep us posted on how your birth goes <3

  9. Dan  14 March, 2016 at 8:14 pm

    Reading this was like reading my own birthing story…induction due to “big” baby…..failure to progress…failing epidural…emergency csection…under GA…missing the birth of my baby and seeing her 3 hours later crushed me. I was traumatised from the whole experience. Couldn’t breast feed her either due to the pain from my incision. I totally empathise with you. Once home I cried. A lot. 12 months on…I still do when I think about it. Thank you for writing this piece…it helps me not feel so alone, and crazy about they way I feel.

    •  14 March, 2016 at 8:47 pm

      You are most definitely not alone <3 I'm so sorry your birth wasn't how you imagined it. There are some good birth trauma support groups on facebook.

  10. edna  15 March, 2016 at 8:40 am

    Jennie Island. You come across as a still traumatised person. Perhaps you could attend one of the Birth Trauma groups.

  11. Rimma  16 March, 2016 at 2:46 am

    I wen through the the same thing and could definitely relate to your story… I was so determined to give birth vaginally but when you plan things God laughs.. For several years I was harsh on myself and did not feel like a woman bec I did not have a vaginal birth and realized how silly I was the most important thing Is that my body was able to carry a healthy baby for 41 weeks everything else was out of my control I’m blessed to have 2 health babies via C section

    •  16 March, 2016 at 7:43 am

      Yes, healthy children are a blessing, but grieving for birth is NOT silly. If you are grieving for birth you should reach out for some support, not ignore your feelings.

  12. Jo  20 March, 2016 at 5:13 pm

    I have had 2 traumatic births leading to severe anxiety and PTSD. Counselling has given me techniques to deal with my issues. Many times I thought I was never going to see the end of the tunnel.
    I want everyone to know that with time and effort if does get better. Grieve, scream, talk to sympathetic people and be good to yourselves. I still have a long road ahead but at least I can see the sunshine now. 🙂

    •  20 March, 2016 at 5:39 pm

      I’m glad you’re seeing sunshine again! Keep on going xx

  13. Kat  20 March, 2016 at 10:38 pm

    Sometimes people who make those comments do so from a place of pain. As a infertile person it’s so difficult to listen to let alone really hear any birth stories. And I have sometimes been in situations (the workplace, family gatherings) where the discussion starts and it’s impossible to excuse myself.

    I have read and grown and learnt now that there are many worse things than not being able to conceive however not everyone can do this. In times of real low I may have said something like ‘at least you have your child’ when I couldn’t hear past my own raging pain.

    It’s not a justification or an excuse. Just a explanation and an apology. Let’s treat each other as sisters, with compassion and understanding.

    •  21 March, 2016 at 8:01 pm

      You are absolutely 100% right. As a woman who has suffered multiple miscarriages and a stillbirth, I know infertility as well. I am blessed to have welcomed children as well though. I think we need to raise empathy, and awareness around all fertility issues, from infertility to birth trauma so that no matter where women are at, people can react thoughtfully.

  14. Forever resentful  21 March, 2016 at 9:32 pm

    I’ve spent 12 years feeling like I failed as a mother! And have had to take many comments of ‘well you had the easy option’, and ‘you should be grateful for a healthy baby’!

    At 19 I had my daughter, and had a really traumatic time of being induced, failure to progress, and finally her heartbeat stopping. Swarms of people poured into the room, shouting and prodding me! My hubby shoved into the corner! Then an anaesthetist shouting he was going to give me a GA! I argued and finally they agreed to give me a spinal block! She was born and they spent what seemed like forever trying to resuscitate her and reassuring me! She’s was ok after a little help thank god! But that experience scarred me, and I ended up choosing a planned c-sec for my second through fear!! By the time I had my third and I was confident in my body… It was too late they wouldn’t allow it, even tho I’d researched it every day, and knew it was still only a 2% chance of uterine rupture!

    My journey as a women has been trashed! I’d give anything to be able to change it and have the pain of a natural birth!!

    I actually feel resentful towards my friends who have had natural births?!

    So for all you ‘be grateful’ & ‘ youve had it easy’ ladies it wasn’t all that, and the emotional pain it has caused me will never leave me!

    •  21 March, 2016 at 11:08 pm

      Much love to you <3 After two caesareans I went on to have three vaginal births. xxx

      • Forever resentful  22 March, 2016 at 8:58 am

        It’s lovely to hear about women like you! I researched so much when pregnant with my youngest but they wouldn’t listen to me… X

        •  22 March, 2016 at 9:36 am

          The same thing happened to me. What I didn’t realise, and was unable to research, was that simply saying NO wasn’t enough. Despite what the law says, saying no means they send in bigger, more important staff members to tell you why you’re going to die and kill your baby. Apparently I was going to die if I didn’t let them burst my waters, and then I needed an emergency caesarean …. but I had the “choice” to wait five more hours.

    •  22 March, 2016 at 10:30 am

      I also want to say that you did not fail at mothering, you made the greatest sacrifice a mother can make. Birth is not a test. Women do not fail at birth. The fact that they grieve for it when it doesn’t go to plan, shows just how much women love their babies, and just how successful they are at mothering.

  15. Kristina  22 March, 2016 at 5:29 am

    After losing my only pregnancy, having a necessary hysterectomy at age 23, my wife tried to carry our children, and we lost two babies. I will never know the birth process, or breastfeeding etc…but motherhood has come to me. And it is beautiful!

  16. Crystalyn Cook  1 April, 2016 at 12:35 am

    I planned for a birth center water birth. It was supposed to be amazing. Baby didn’t want to come and midwife sent me to the doctor at 42 and 3, who induced, tried to break my water 3 times, mainly on the bed, no pool, and even then after being in that room for 23 hours it was a c-section. I didn’t even see him for almost an hour. EVERYONE told me “at least you have a healthy baby”. I was so angry. I compared it to expecting to go to Schlitterbahn (Biggest waterpark in America ) for months and then the day before I was told I could only go to the local pool. “At least you got wet” It’s not the same!

    •  1 April, 2016 at 8:09 am

      Wow, that’s a really good analogy! I’m really sorry you went through that <3 You matter too!

  17. Denise Valentin  25 June, 2016 at 9:29 pm

    Beautifully said!


WW Discourse - Have your say!