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Wednesday
Jun022010

"There were too many things going on that we couldn't explain"

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By Annie

“There were too many things going on that we couldn’t explain.”

This, ultimately, is what led to my surgery.  I have to backtrack to get the whole story out.  I am going to be elusive as I am afraid someone might figure out various people I’m talking about as I recount all that’s happened, as I wonder if anyone else has ever had the same series of events.  First, some background:  my first pregnancy I went to midwives at the first birth center in my metro area (hereafter called BC1).  All was well until my water broke.  I have regretted for over 3 1/2 years since she was born that I called right away like they said to, and was immediately put on the clock.  It was about 2am.  I was dismayed that out of the large practice, the midwife on call was the only one I didn’t like, who had stressed me out two weeks before (38 weeks) that the fundal measurement was not increasing and that I was running out of amniotic fluid and would need to be induced.  She made me go for an ultrasound and the AFI level was 18, which was plenty, and the radiologist read it on the spot and said everything looked fine.  So I knew she was induction-happy.  Later in the morning, around 10am, she called to see how I was doing, and she said she could tell that since I could talk during contractions that they weren’t real contractions.  Already she was saying I was probably not going to progress and when I got to BC1 she’d find me to be 1cm, but for now she was saying to try castor oil.  Other than go to the bathroom over and over, that did nothing.  By that afternoon, I was saying I’d come to BC1 if her concern was that my water had been broken for over 12 hours to get on antibiotics, even though I didn’t see why that was such a big deal as I was GBS negative. 

So I went to BC1, sure enough only 1cm, immediately transferred to the hospital for Pitocin. I stupidly thought BC1’s policy was you had 48 hours to go into labor; it had been about 16 and she never considered any of that labor. She made me sign a consent form for a possible Caesarean section right at the outset.  I had been using HypnoBirthing and a TENS unit, but after being awake for over 24 hrs, and being scared in a hospital, I wimped out at 3 cm and asked for Nubain.  She gave me that, and phenergan (didn’t tell me about the phenergan, I saw it on the report later) and I slept between contractions.  Hours later, not much progress.  They kept turning up the Pitocin.  No change.  Then my husband noticed that there was nothing dripping from the bag because there was a clot in the IV.  Finally they cleared it, but didn’t turn down the Pitocin.  By this point the Nubain had worn off.  No other pain relief option except an epidural.  I asked the midwife if an epidural would slow down labor, and she said no, but by this point I did not trust anything she said and decided that if they get that needle in my spine, then it’s too easy for them to turn it up and force me to have a Caesarean because I was close to being over the time limit, so I went without it.  For hours.  Just HypnoBirthing and TENS.  Finally, the head was there.  Suddenly there were tons of people in the room, and suddenly I was no longer to use the “breathe the baby out” technique, nor was I allowed to be in any position I wanted—I suggested a semi-squat, and she said, “Then you are sitting on your baby”.  Instead I was forced to lay on my back, while me and various other people held my legs back and one nurse shouted, “Push like you’re pooping!” all while being forced to hold my breath for a count of 10.  I didn’t want to do any of those things, but everytime I protested, the midwife threatened to turn me over to the obstetrician.   At one point the baby’s heart rate deceled to the point the OB was in there saying I’d better consent to the vacuum or, “It’s a C-section next for you, missy”.  While she prepped it, I did HypnoBirthing slow breathing and visualized a valve opening to deliver more blood to the baby.  By the time the vacuum was ready, the heart rate was fine, and the OB said, “I guess I scared it into beating faster”and threw up her hands and left the room. I was given oxygen and continued pushing the way the midwife wanted me to.  Eventually, something happened that my husband described as the head being partly out, the baby attempting to take a breath, and getting gook in her mouth.  The midwife gave me a scared look and said, “It’s very important that you push as hard as you can NOW — don’t wait for the next contraction!” and I did and got what turned out to be a girl, both shoulders at once, and while I did not tear, I got hemorrhoids so severe that it took two surgeries to repair the damage.  The baby didn’t make a noise and they whisked her away to do suctioning while I shouted across the room, “Is she okay?”  I thought at first I had killed the baby by arguing about the breathing technique and not pushing correctly.  Then the placenta didn’t immediately come out.  I asked repeatedly to try to nurse the baby to get it to come out and the midwife ignored me.  I asked what would happen after more than 40 minutes passed with no placenta if it didn’t come out.  “You don’t want to know”, is what she said.  Finally, it came out, and she ordered me to pee.  I did, she said it wasn’t enough, and catherized me.  After that she finally left and finally a nurse brought me my already-swaddled, already eye-ointmented baby nearly an hour later.  I felt disconnected to her, and ravenously hungry.  I asked when I could eat, and they said when I gave the baby back and went to my room, so I did, and regretted it, especially since it was hours before I finally got fed, after everyone else in the ward got their food.   By the time I saw my baby again, she was asleep, and mainly stayed that way for the hospital stay.

Part of my reason for wanting another child was to have an experience that would heal this one, which at this point I considered bad.  That was before I knew what was to come next.  First, I had a miscarriage at 10 weeks, and was fired by my job the same day for missing work that morning to have the ultrasound that showed no heartbeat.  I was in the office being fired as I was bleeding more and more and hoping I could get home before it happened.  I didn’t explain what had happened until a week later, with radiology and lab reports, so that they wouldn’t think I was making it up.

A few months later I was pregnant again.  Again I got a job shortly after finding out and needed to hide it.  They had less than 15 employees, which negates many laws, including pregnancy discrimination laws.  Fortunately, everyone but the tall guy and the vegan was so fat that no one noticed my weight gain.  Unfortunately, I caught H1N1 flu during a blizzard and they were short-staffed and pissed off at me for missing work.  Thought about telling them I was pregnant and the flu was especially dangerous, but it wouldn’t have mattered.  Took antibiotics and TamiFlu and started to feel better and was ready to come back after three days, but was fired for missing work.

This was halfway through the pregnancy.  Couldn’t find appropriate work again that would fit the timeframe left.  Shortly after the flu, had bronchitis.  Lost weight.  The midwives at the second birth center (BC2) were concerned about this.  But I ate more and eventually caught right back up to where I was supposed to be.  Then at week 28 tested borderline anemic 10.1 hGb and was threatened to be kicked out of BC2 over it.  After eight weeks, got the level up to 10.9, but had one BP reading of 128/84, slight swelling (but I had been wearing socks) and trace protein in the urine.  I argued that it was a very hot in the office and I was worried about a career-related exam the next day (which I subsequently failed). Suddenly, I was almost kicked out of BC2 again over that.  Did what they said and rested more, and while on my left side on the fourth day, my older daughter was crying in pain over an ear infection, the fetus could hear it and was making frantic movements, and suddenly my abdomen took on a weird triangular shape and the movements stopped.  I felt around and thought, no, please tell me I’m wrong—the head was no longer in the pelvis and appeared to be lodged under my ribcage.

The next day, I went back to my planned visit to BC2 and was cleared of the pre-eclampsia threat with a reading of 112/68 and no protein in urine and no swelling.  But it didn’t matter, as two midwives confirmed that the baby was now frank breech.  They urged me to go to the one OB in the metro area who would do external cephalic version and then “let you go home”.  He also was known as the only one who would do vaginal frank breech births.  I did not get anything to eat or drink in between these visits as it was urgent as it was 37 wk 5 days.  I waited for hours, sweating, in the office.  He thought he turned it.  Went next door to the hospital for a non-stress test, baby still frank breech.  Tech read AFI of 8.85 and OB said forget it, not enough fluid to turn baby.  I argued that it had only turned 12 hours before, it obviously had enough then.  He said my placenta was failing and that a vaginal birth was out of the question and that nothing I could try was going to get the baby to turn and there was no way to bring the AFI level up and that he was not going to let me go past 39 weeks.  I started crying and he told me that I’m the mama and stop being a baby.  I asked at least if I could have general anesthesia and he said no way and that no one would do that.

I told the midwives at BC2 what happened, and their hands were tied because they could not help me anymore.  Three days later I asked for a referral for another ultrasound to see if my attempts at bringing up the AFI level helped (the moxibustion, inversion, HypnoBabies breech turning CD, and chiropractic Webster technique had done nothing for the position) and the report was an AFI of 9.  Since that was still not high enough, and days of frantic phone calls to doulas, midwives and birth activitists groups didn’t get me anywhere, I decided on a drastic course that was to completely disrupt my whole family:  a two-day drive to a group of rural midwives, CPMs, not CNMs, with the legal ability and expertise to do frank breech births.

We arrived, and I was accepted to the practice, and examined and found to be at -3 station, long and closed cervix.  The plan was to stay in a cabin and continue to try to turn the baby, but it was okay if it didn’t turn.  After days of pressure, I thought I could relax.  I was wrong.  Less than six hours after arriving, I let my 3 1/2 year old nurse to sleep, as we had done throughout the pregnancy.  Since the turning, the Braxton Hicks contractions had stopped during that time.  That night, there was one slight contraction, followed by a gusher.  I Knew it had happened again—my water broke.  I panicked about what this meant for a breech birth.  The flow was much faster than last time.  My husband checked, no cord prolapse.  He listened carefully and heard a fast fetal heartbeat.  I should have learned my lesson, but was overwhelmed with guilt if I did not tell the CPM what happened.  I will NEVER forgive myself for this.  She came to the cabin and verified everything, and noticed vernix in the fluid.  She said the most important thing to do was sleep and maybe I’d be in labor by the morning.  I said what about taking pulsatilla, and she said that wouldn’t help.  I said what about sitting on a birth ball, and she said that wouldn’t help.  I said what about using Spinning Babies techniques now, and she said that would only help turn from posterior to anterior.  It was very difficult, but I managed to sleep a short time, until my 3 1/2 year old woke up in the predawn hours scared because she didn’t know where she was.  I told her, “Today is a special day.  You can have “boo” all you want, the more you do, the more you help mommy have your baby brother or sister”.  She beamed from ear-to-ear and enthusiastically took up the offer.  I started feeling regular, mild contractions.  With each one, I felt the baby adjust positions, and felt more fluid gush out.  After the sun rose, the baby was noticeably, even to my husband, lower — the head was no longer wedged in my ribcage and I could take a deep breath.  I started walking to get some breakfast.  The CPM drove up and said she had already notified the OB at the hospital and he was now going to be doing the delivery.  She said not to worry, as he was experienced with frank breech births and was willing to give me some Pitocin.  This was after I told her about the contractions and the baby’s shifting movements and after she had told me the night before that she was going to give me twelve hours to go into active labor.  This was only eight hours later.  In retrospect, my husband and I believe she lied to us the whole time, and the second my membranes ruptured, she had no intention of being my midwife.  I knew I couldn’t trust her, just like I couldn’t trust the midwife from BC1.  Based on what she said at this point, and knowing hospital policies and how grueling Pitocin is, I made sure to get breakfast.  I even had some orange juice with castor oil.  As I was finishing breakfast, the CPM’s assistant came in and did the first exam.  She found 2-3 cm dilation, but position still -3.  She called the OB, and that was it—no Pitocin, no chance, it was a Caesarean and I must consent.  We followed her a half hour to the hospital and I was crying hysterically.  My 3 1/2 year old wanted to know why, and I told her now they won’t let me push the baby out, they are going to cut it out, and I won’t be able to do anything for weeks—not play with you, not drive, not even walk at first and that this isn’t how it’s supposed to be. 

I get there and they hook me up to IV for antibiotics.  I was GBS negative again this time.  No signs of infection.  Fetal monitor shows a heartbeat of 150 and contractions every five minutes.  No sign of distress.  Doesn’t matter.  All OB and CPM can talk about is, “We don’t know why the baby is not descending, there must be something wrong with the umbilical cord”.  I said I had two ultrasounds the week before and I specifically asked the techs each time where is the umbilical cord—is it wrapped around the neck? And both times they said it was nowhere near the neck.  The OB said well maybe it’s too short and that’s why the baby is not descending.  I said then how was it vertex for weeks, up until one week before?  I said, we’re in a hospital, you have an ultrasound, why don’t you bring it in here and look at the umbilical cord.  He said it is hard to visualize.  I suggested amnioinfusion and an attempt at external cephalic version, again to deaf ears.  In the meantime, CPM (the assistant one), a twice-Caesarean mom not nearly in the shape I am in in (to put it nicely) is sitting there trying to convince me that it is in the best interest of the fetus to do the surgery.  My husband said I should have known when agreeing to have a child this could happen and that he was going to have to go with what the doctor said and that he would never forgive me if something would happen because I refused surgery.  The nurse tries to put something in the IV to stop the contractions, and I yell, “Why?” because I hadn’t consented to that, and she said, “Because you are having surgery”.  It still wasn’t going to be for hours, and I said I wanted me 9 day premature fetus to have as many catecholamines with each contraction as it could, because I was worried it would end up in NICU.  I imagine they weren’t even going to tell me they were doing this and then afterwards use it as further proof that my body was a failure and I was lucky they cut the baby out of me.  So the contractions continue, but they are “nothing to write home about” according to the nurses.  No one lets me get out of bed or try anything that might get the labor to progress, even though the baby the whole time is doing just fine on the monitors.  All I can do is cry and dread dread dread the imminent mutiliation of my body.  The only condolence is this OB was willing to do general.  When they wheeled me into surgery, even with the drape up, I could look up at the lights and see the reflection of the abdominal swabbing.  I would have seen it all, and it was a long surgery, as we collected cord blood, which made me lose more blood, plus I hastily decided that since all hope of ever having a natural birth was gone forever that I never wanted to go through this again, so I had my tubes tied—which I later read in the surgical report resulted in tearing of one of the ligaments to the fallopian tube.  He also found two fibroids—one on the outside of the uterus that was the size of a ping-pong ball that stuck into my small intestines, which he removed, and one in the “horn” of my mildly bicornuate uterus (which no one had ever said my uterus had an abnormal shape) where the head had been lodged—and that one he could not tell me was submucosal nor intramural, nor was it removed, nor was it ever seen by any tech in all the many ultrasounds I’d had, even though I would ask the techs if there were any because my mother had had fibroids.  This fibroid he could not remove due to risk of further hemorrhaging.  The original CPM had first speculated that I had PROM twice due to lack of vitamin E, which I don’t buy, as I took prenatal vitamins and had a normal diet, but makes for a convenient way to blame me.  With this info, she speculated that the fibroid put extra pressure on the sac and caused to it burst too soon.  If that were the case, then it had to have been present for the two other pregnancies, but no one ever said anything. 

So after all the fuss about the umbilical cord—it was not wrapped around the neck, nor was it short—it was long enough to send a good sample to collect Wharton’s jelly.  It would have been a long labor—so what, I was prepared for that.  There was NO REASON that the ONLY thing that had to be done was surgery.  If we would have tried to let me labor with Pitocin, and the fetus would have shown signs of distress, I would have been able to accept this as inevitable. 

The only people I called the first night to say that I’d had the baby was my parents.  I particularly wanted to ask my mother more about her fibroid history.  But she had wagged her finger at the news of my first pregnancy and shrieked, “Mark my words!  You are going to have a Caeasarean!” and was disappointed that I’d managed a normal birth.  Now she finally got her wish, and screamed at me that I had tried to kill that baby, and what a stupid thing I did traveling out of state and who told me to do that.  I hung up the phone without ever even telling the baby’s name and spent the rest of the night crying, and unable to sleep, even when I let them take the baby and give her formula so I could have Ambien.

I already knew a lot about the horrible after-effects from reading this blog, and the books “Thinking Mother’s Guide to a Better Birth” and “Pushed”.  Ironically, from this blog I also knew about, and immediately ordered, the C-section recovery kit and the C-Panty.  I also ordered SRC recovery shorts later on—they are actually the most helpful.  I mention this as all additional costs that this horrible birth has caused.  Trying to have a better recovery is the only thing I have any control of at this point.  But that doesn’t matter, as none of what I read prepared me for these physical problems: (1) a paralyzed bowel after surgery that the CPM blamed on my taking more powerful painkillers — and I’ve had surgery before, but never did peristalsis just stop, with no amount of laxatives, stool softeners, or enemas helping for days.  The one advantage I thought
surgery would have is no problems with hemorrhoids, but now I had that problem again, and it made sense, as my intestines were manipulated more than usual to remove the pedunculated fibroid; (2) mastitis, even though I’d been breastfeeding for 3 1/2 years; (3) severe pain after waiting what should have been ample time to have sex again.  There is such extensive nerve damage in the layers upon layers that are severed in the surgery, some of which is “extended bluntly”, and some of it is from the bladder blade the lifts the bladder out of the way—right in the trigone area where the bundle of nerves that make up the g-spot are located.  So now, instead of any enjoyment, there is severe burning pain, plus pain after urination (and no, there is no UTI, been tested postpartum), and no, I don’t care how much the CNMs at BC2 try to blame it on “stress” or “lack of lubrication”—this is not that kind of pain, it is a pain of damaged nerves that may never heal ever.

That’s for the physical part.  Now for the mental part.  No one mentions how emotionally different a surgical extraction of the fetus is.  When the baby was brought to me, as far as I was concerned she could have been any baby.  I didn’t believe she even knew who I was, even a day later.  Once they mutilated me, then I got the Pitocin, for 24 hours, so I could have the joy of contractions while nursing on a scarred uterus, and no chance at all at any of the natural oxytocin I should have been rewarded with.  No endorphins, either, just crappy morphine that did not kill the pain but made me so dizzy that the room was spinning and I was afraid to hold the baby.  The first picture that my husband took of me and the baby, I refused to fake any kind of joy—nothing like the way I felt with our firstborn.  Indeed, the subsequent pictures have forced smiles, as I cannot be around this baby and feel any kind of happiness.  I look at her and find her ugly and the smell of her makes me nauseous.  I take care of her, but feel no joy and cannot smile at her.  At seven weeks old, she doesn’t smile, either, as surely she realizes that I hate her for doing this to me.  She had to turn and ruin everything. 

So of course everyone reading this will think, oh, it’s just post-partum depression, it’s just hormones.  No, it’s more than that.  Having the baby extracted changes the entire structure of the brain’s response to a babies’ cries, and this is already evident in the fact that this baby screams bloody murder for every thing that bothers her, with no variation.  Obviously, I didn’t pick up on the cues at the beginning and now that’s my fault, too.  She also got used to being held a lot, as I could do so little at first, and now only that is acceptable and she won’t sleep on her own.  This is exactly what I wanted to avoid after doing attachment parenting with the first child.  Now the house is a complete disaster, and even though I have a disgusting red scar smirking upwards at me under a “shelf” that the CNMs at BC2 are trying to humor me into thinking is a healing ridge that will go away, and I’m STILL bleeding, I have to hold the demanding monster while trying to move heavy objects and climb ladders and put things on shelves.  Why don’t we hire help?  All the parties involved—BC2, the birth assistant I had to hire who ultimately never was used, and the CPMs have yet to reimburse us, plus we owe the hospital a sizeable copay.  The CPMs did next to nothing—one prenatal visit, the useless companionship at the hospital, brief post-natal visits, yet charged an arbitrary fee that is not itemized that may or may not have been submitted to our insurance that equalled more than the entire charge of all my visits the whole pregnancy with BC2, and almost the full amount the delivery would have cost—with the gall to demand more after I had already been mutilated.  I think the overall feeling is that while I’ve been bullied and not listened to and coerced into bad decisions in my life, this is the one that has destroyed the integrity of my body—look up the percentage of c-sections that cause adhesions and cause permanent nerve damage — it’s ALL of them; destroyed my ability to enjoy motherhood the second time around; and destroyed my trust in ALL people—I cannot trust my husband ever again and we cannot stop fighting since this happened, I already knew not to trust mainstream doctors, but also I cannot trust the alternative to the mainstream—and if anyone is thinking this is a group of “medwives”, you would be shocked to know who they were, they are people you think are on your side.  NO ONE is on your side.  If you have an unassisted childbirth in this situation and something happens, you can be charged with murder.  No one trusted me and my instinct.  I wanted the chance to get the baby out the way nature intended and never believed it was in any danger, and no one believed me, and ultimately no one is going to believe me about anything else in life, either, if they can’t even believe me about something that could have avoided my having major abdominal surgery and much higher risk of dying.  It’s obvious that my instinct and my health means nothing when all anyone can say is “you have a healthy baby, that’s all that matters”.

So why don’t I get any help for the mental problems?  Indeed, I have, but that has not helped, as I knew that no stupid SSRI—in this case Effexor, was going to work, as they really don’t work for most people any better than a placebo and have never worked for me.  The lorazepam has helped with sleep—although I keep having nightmares, sometimes of being raped at knifepoint while in labor.  I also had a blood test to see if it was a thyroid problem.  Nope.  Am taking a mini-pill to up the level of progesterone.  Not helping either.  To add insult to injury, the CNMs referred me to a psychiatrist who charged triple the normal rate and didn’t take any insurance, thus further adding to the financial burden and increasing my guilt.  I’ve also bought an oxytocin enhancer that I take before breastfeeding, hoping that it will somehow give me the good bonding feelings I had the first time.  That hasn’t helped.  Nor has co-sleeping, skin-to-skin contact, kangaroo care, trying to talk nicely to her or sing to get some kind of reaction other than screaming in my ear that is now causing me to have ringing in my ears when I try to sleep as if I’d been to a loud concert. 

If things do not start getting better, I think I need to get out of my family’s life, especially the baby, who shouldn’t grow up with a mother that hates her.

 

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Reader Comments (59)

This made me cry. I'm so so sorry for your pain. You've articulated my worst nightmare.

June 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAmanda

Annie- my heart goes out to you. Your post literally made me cry, and if you were sitting here next to me, I'd give you a hug.
Please stay strong.

June 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMargaret

Annie.
Wow.I cannot imagine the pain you're going through.I had my own crappy birth 13 years ago.I had 4 unecesareans.But what you went through is beyond my comprehension.
I don't think you should feel guilty for not being able to bond with baby.You obviously so much healing and nurturing yourself.My second baby took 12 months or more to start bonding.
I don't know what I can say that would help you Honey, Just that there are people out there somewhere beyond your family (and I get that too), who would love to help you and your little bubba.If you have a friend you can trust maybe they would help with baby until you feel able to.
I so, so hope you find the help you need.I send you healing thoughts and prayers, not that that is the same as having someone right there I know.
Hugs, Desalie.

June 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDesalie Lowe

I can not weigh in on PROM and breech position, but I can give you my story and my method of coping. I hope it will help. First, as a mom who had depression issues before having a baby, I have to say post-partum depression is a whole new ball game. I didn't even recognize the signs. Don't be too hard on yourself mama. Find the help you need. Find someone who is going to honor your feelings and not just spout nonsense about having a healthy baby, especially if you feel like you could have had a healthy baby WITHOUT a scar.

Second, I can empathize with some of your situation. I have only had one child (via c-section). I was told she was head down, but found out randomly at week 39 that in fact she was breech. My doctor never even gave me a chance to argue, nor did I know how to argue at the time. I blissfully ignored my instinct that she was breech because, when I asked my OB, they said she has turned. Now, I think the c-section was pushed on me so quickly (found out at 1, had a baby at 6) because they were afraid of a lawsuit. I didn't even get a chance to pursue other options. So, obviously, I had a baby earlier than she or I was ready, likely because my doctor did not want to be sued. I am still bitter and I still have trust issues. I had many problems with my husband at first over these issues, combined with depression.

I have had success overcoming these issues in two ways. First, I bonded with my baby over my amazement that I grew her little body in mine. She smiles so much more when I do. She didn't do anything by turning breech. The issue was not hers, but rather the practitioners that did not care for her properly. Second, I made my rage work for me. I volunteer with ICAN. I work to identify providers that will support woman's intuition and choices. I spread the word about the c-section problem in the US. Thanks to my efforts, some other mother will hopefully have a better birth.

Finally, I wanted to say I am so sorry you went through this. I want to offer an ear anytime you need it... but that could be a bit difficult in the virtual world.

June 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterStasia

Wow...I really feel a lot of your pain. My first birth...water broke "early"...no telling how early, EDD was Jan 20, water broke Jan 15...but the EDD never seemed right to me, I felt like it should have been a little later. Anywho...pitocin, consistently being turned up, I think they were hoping to force me onto pain meds, which I eventually (reluctantly) took. 16 hours later..."no progress", doc ordered c-section, I told him no...he said it wasn't up to me anymore "that baby needs to come out".

Second, fought fought fought for a VBAC, found AWESOME midwives...at 36w 5d baby turned breech. Not frank breech...in my state, midwives aren't allowed to have a breech in their care past 36 weeks. They were really cool about it, though...they hid my file from their office manager, but baby wouldn't turn and I made the judgement call to simply re-c-sect @ 39w. There were no docs willing to do an aversion for me. I have TONS of fluid (both times!) and I felt like it could have been done, but doctors here are allowed, just unwilling to help.

I don't know if this helps or not...but anecdotally speaking...All the parents of breech babies I know...ALL have commented that their breech is a "clingy" child. And a friend said she thinks it's b/c baby is trying to get closer to mom's heart...so it ends up turned in the wrong direction. My #2 is a super clingy child. I got a Moby to help with that...I felt like I wanted to continue doing what needed to be done, but in a way that didn't "cater" to the clingyness...I am sort of mixed about that...On the one hand, I want my kid to be able to get along without me. On the other I want to let my child know "mommy's here" for them. I didn't see #2 for 3 hours after birth...and then I had to send my husband down to the nursery and he demanded to get the child back!

I had a GREAT support in my mother & husband...as well as a very attentive little sister who helped out with my oldest a lot. I know I had some undiagnosed PPD...but it was more of a hindsight self-diagnosis. I don't know if there's anything I can say that will help you heal...but I kind of looked at #1 as something that happend outside of my control. I couldn't have stopped what was happening. Not as weak & weary as I was. Someone could have asked me if I wanted my car set on fire and I'd probably have mumbled an agreement to it. So...I kind of let the blame go to the doctor, the hospital, etc. It was NOT my fault. *MY* birth was in place. THEY violated that. With #2...b/c throughout I had been telling myself, "if something prevents a normal birth, and I have to re-sect, I am going to assume it's b/c God has his hand on this situation and he knows my body better than I do. He will make sure I willingly go into a c-section without regret b/c HE knows that a normal birth could end badly." I don't want to say I "gave it to God" cuz I certainly tried to hold onto it myself for as long as I could. But I had to feel like someone else was watching out for my well-being. I am a spiritual person, and so those convictions helped me.

A few weeks after #2 was born I read an attempted VBAC story about a mother who had 2 sections & was attempting a VBA2C with a willing OB. A few days before her EDD, her blood pressure suddenly shot up, and she spiked a temp. Her doctor said, "This really gives me concern about attempting a vaginal birth, I'd like to get you in for a section before the night is over." The woman agreed, and the doc told her, when he opened her up...that her old incision had already start to seperate. Had she started contracting & pushing...there was no maybe, she WOULD have ruptured. The mother commented that she felt like God was there, in that situation...and I guess that's basically how I felt.

My OB (not the original one, an OB recommended by the midwives), when he opened me up, said, "Let's get some help in here!" My baby was wedged in, and they had to have 2 people to pull her free. Would she have delivered normally that way? There's no telling...but she certainly wasn't putting enough pressure on my cervix with her *toes* to have opened me up very well. I think I helped myself recover, by not feeling like *I* failed in either instance, or that myself or my babies were to blame for the outcome.

And...Please, don't feel like you are "failing" to bond in any way...It can take TIME for this bond to form. Especially with all that you have been through.

June 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMaegan

I had to get what I feel is also a un-needed cesarean and I want you to know you're not alone!! I am just starting to get over the depression of this happening to me. I am sorry you're having a hard time bonding with your baby, just keep doing the mommy thing and hopefully the attachment will come. <3 Hugs momma.

I am sure I don't have to say this but if you ever feel like you need to hurt your baby, please tell someone right away!!!

Good luck and stay strong, you can get through this. <3

June 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMandy

I am a midwife for 33 1/2 years. What those women did is NOT midwifery. I've caught 12 breeches through out the years, and outcome was perfect. I call the healing angels to wurround you til you recover from your birth of your daughter. If being seperated from your family is what you need, by all means do it. Counciling may help. Wish I could tell you how to pick up the pieces. Blessings to you seet darling.

June 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLinda Honey

Dear Annie,

I am so very sorry. Please know that you have now marshaled an army of women who will be sending you love and healing. We wish you strength, and we are all behind you.

June 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRebecca S

If someone who is clearly as intelligent and well informed as you had this happen I'm not sure how much hope there is for anyone else. Especially after reading 'Pushed' I have wondered how many moms who have had a c-section are truly attached to their babies. I particularly wonder this about women who have no prior vaginal birth to compare to and in all likely hood will never have one. Do they like their babies simply because they think they should? With so many key hormones missing from the experience I don't see how it could be the same for them and I don't say this to be cruel, I just wonder. The professionals we trust to provide us with care so often do not seem to care what they are robbing the mother of as though what happens to her is collateral damage. Pregnant women are hugely undervalued, most care providers only care about getting the baby out regardless of the cost to the mother.

I hope you will find a way to come through this and find peace for yourself, it's incredible that you were able to discuss all of it. I greatly appreciate being able to learn about what you went through.

June 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterD

I am so sorry for all you have gone through. I am sorry you don't have the support need and deserve after a horrific experience. I hope you are able to find someone you can trust that will help you through your healing and that, given time you will feel better about yourself and your daughter. hugs to you

June 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDoula Nicole

Annie,
I'm so sorry that you had such a horrible birth experience. No one should have to go through the things you described, and you make a lot of really good points about how rampant mother-blame is in our culture, and just how damaging that can be. I did not have the same type of birth experience as you, but when my last baby was born I had a lot of other really difficult things going on in my life, and I can say that I understand your feelings of hating your baby and feeling like your family is better off without you. It is a horrible place to be. But somehow you have found the strength to survive until now, and I think that with the right support you can survive this too. I don't know what it will take for you to heal from this experience, but I hope that you will keep going until you find whatever it is. As for the baby screaming and the house being a disaster, that will pass on its own. I have 3 children, and it seems like one of them ALWAYS needs something from me, and I can never keep up, and I still break down crying about it most days, but it does get easier as they get older. Anyway, I know there's not really anything I can do, but you are in my thoughts, and I hope for your sake and your children's sakes that you find your way through this... I don't think they are better off without you. I know it doesn't mean a lot coming from a stranger (I wouldn't listen to anyone who told me that when I felt it myself), but I believe that when you are healthier you will be good for them and glad to be there.

June 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSam

I am so dreadfully sorry for what you have lost. Your family needs you; you may not know this now, but it is true. They need you. You are their whole world. I am thinking of you and sending you peace.

June 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKatie B.

I am sorry that you did not get the experience that you wanted. I just have to say that not feeling bonded to your baby doesn't mean that you can't love her that way she needs to be loved. It isn't her fault or your fault that she got turned around during birth, it just happened; these things happen all the time. She needs you to pour love into her life regardless of the birth experience. The bonding experience that you desire is not available to everyone, yet that doesn't mean that you can't learn to give and feel love. My wife was adopted, yet her parents love her to pieces. Our son had to be born via Cecarian and rushed off to NICU before mom could feed or even touch him. It was very sad not being able to experience that initial bonding, yet we worked though it and loved him despite the situation. He was very fussy at first and it seemed like it took awhile for him to bond to momma, but it happened. He is bonded to us both and is an amazing joy in our family. At first, though, he screamed a lot, but we worked with him; we were helped substantially by reading "The Happiest Baby On The Block" and "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child"

This child that has been entrusted to you needs you more now than than she will ever need you, and the difficulties you have been through and are going through will soon pass. Be in the presence with your children with hope for the future, not looking back at the past which is unchangeable. I pray that you can over come this chapter; that you will write an amazing one of love for your family.

June 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMitch

Dear Annie,
I am sad to hear your birth stories. I am a labor and delivery nurse of 30 years. I have worked with midwives in birth centers, at home, and primarily in the hospital. I know all you say is true. It is like there isn't an advocate in sight for some women. I agree with the midwife that wrote ' those women were not midwives'. A midwife is someone ' with woman'. Continued support is their job.
I also had a cesarean for breech. With midwives at home who sent me to the hospital. My records were thrown away by the admitting nurse who then promptly told the doctor that I had no prenatal care. The midwives did not come into the hospital with me. My husband was clueless. I was in active labor and had nothing to argue with. I had the cesarean. I had the bowel not working. I had severe pain. When I went home my husband went out of town for work for a week. Here I was with this stranger baby. Now what?
I suffered severe postpartum depression - so bad we moved to Arizona for more light as we thought it was SAD (seasonal affective disorder). I was fortunate that I had 3 VBACs after the cesarean. Mostly because I refused to go to the hospital until I was 7 centimeters dilated. I had a friend who was checking fetal heart tones regularly. I love my kids but depression deepened especially around the guilt of having a cesarean - why couldn't I have had a vaginal birth? What was wrong with me? I had an ugly scar, but when my son was old enough to ask about it I told him it was a smile he put on my belly when he came out. That made us both feel better.

Then an elder was listening to my story and she said " Gayla, this was not your birth, you do not get to decide how your babies are born - they do. Noah decided he wanted his own way out, he is like that. That was his choice, he turned breech and refused to turn". Hmmm. It took awhile and some more counseling before I decided that indeed each birth is different and it is the child who picks the parents to give him the lessons he has asked for in this life.
There is a story - I don't know where it came from , but I use it regularly.
There is a circle of life. We are all standing in a great circle. A woman is pregnant, she must find and create space for that new one to come into the circle. The woman gives up part of herself to let that child through. The woman then has a hole in her spirit that keeps her from enlightenment, that is her sacrifice. That is what she gives up for this new one. And so the circle goes.

I don't know if any of this helps. In the hospital there are nurses like me that try to make it better for women like you and I going through an unexpected birth. I do believe we do not get to decide these things. If we can accept that we can accept the baby as she is too. Many women bring to their birth experience many expectations. When those expectations are not met they feel sad and guilty. The more intelligent the woman, often the more and higher the expectations are. I often tell women in labor to be their animal. To not think but just be and accept. To think of how a dog births. She just does it. The problem with humans is once we got big heads and walked upright we needed assistance to birth. We cannot do it alone like our dog can.

Another part of your story, Annie, is that you were fighting through all of it. When one is running adrenaline like that birth cannot happen. The fight and flight hormones prevent a woman or any other animal from birthing. I believe your fight was a worthy one. I am sorry you were without an advocate. I wish I had been with you, championing you, defending your right to have contractions, to see it as far as you could. To let YOU make the decisions.

Your strength is your power. Your story is powerful. You will prevail. You can overcome the sadness and rewire yourself back to yourself as you want to be. I believe your strength will take you there. Our bodies and our brains change when we have babies. We are different after a birth. That change you cannot change. You are a mother. Probably much better mother than you give yourself credit.

Hang in there. Persevere. Self care is a must now. For your sake and your children's sake.
With love and healing energy,
gayla

June 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterGayla

Dear Annie, I am so sorry for your experience. You did everything you could do make this the birth you and your baby deserved. You are not to blame. As I read your account I hear time after time the things that you did to try to make it happen the way you wanted it. You are y our baby are still hurting greatly from what happened to you. One thing I do know, your family needs you, you are allowed to hurt, you are allowed to cry, you have done nothing wrong. Love and hugs to you

June 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJenny E

oh honey. my heart breaks for you. please be kind to yourself, and know that we are all behind you, on your side, beaming you all the love and support you should have gotten all along the way. i have to believe that this horrifying shit is ultimately going to make you a better, stronger, wiser, more loving mother. it's clear how passionate and wise you are to begin with. be gentle with yourself and give yourself some room and time to heal. you will.

June 3, 2010 | Unregistered Commentere.t.a.

Ohhhh hun, Im so sorry! A healthy child is NOT all that matters, healthy mothers matter too!! I had a unnecessary cesarean with my first born, a son. I was so sad about his birth, but I knew next time would be different and it would all be ok. Surely, I was not broken. Baby #2 was a girl. I was ecstatic! Couldnt wait for my VBAC. I was induced 10 days overdue (to them). FTP and another csection, as they cut her out they said "Ohhh, sunny side up, no wonder!" I was soooo upset. I couldnt even look at my daughter. She was supposed to be my VBAC baby, but she had to be posterior and screw everything up. I couldnt help but feel angry at her. I couldnt bond with her. Ever. She is 18 months old now and I still feel like I almost hate her. It's a horrible horrible feeling. Baby #3, another boy, thank gosh. This time I choose a free-standing birth center instead of hospital. I had a wonderful birth team. But at 33 wks, he decided to flip breech. I tried EVERYTHING to turn him. Nada. At 40 wks 3 days, my water started leaking, I was GBS pos. I labored for 2 days, and then it gushed. Went to birth center, after 48 hrs of labor, baby was not descending and we were worried about cord prolapse. I was only 3 cm. I decided to transfer. On arrival I was 4-5 cm, and his feet were already coming out. ANOTHER csection (cord was short and wrapped around neck several times). It was horrible, but this time I felt different than I did towards my daughter. Maybe it was because my body went into labor on its own for the first time, and that I got to make ALL the calls in labor, even being GBS positive, a VBA2C and with a footling breech baby, I felt I had all the control in the decisions. This helped, but still doesnt help ease my pain from my unnecessareans. If we have anymore babies, I will attempt a VBA3C. I will never give up...
Hugs to you. I really hope you are doing ok. Kiss that baby and please, try to stay strong for your precious children. I will be thinking of you always. Feel free to email me if you ever need to talk. smdpainthorses@yahoo.com

June 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSheila Dash

Annie,

What a shattering story. You are very brave to tell it. I've been in a similar situation, although I can't possibly know how you feel I do have some idea of the pain it can cause. I used my anger to join an organisation which campaigns for birth to be the way women want them, and for birth to be a normal and well supported event in their lives. We campaign against unnecessary interventions in labour and for medical resources to be reserved for those small number who actually need it.

I'm wondering if you don't have depression at all, as what you are describing sounds a lot like PTSD, and for that anti-depressants really don't help much, but NLP or cognitive behavioural therapy can make a world of difference to how you cope with your experience and how you heal emotionally. PTSD seems to affect many more women after traumatic births than was first thought, and those births don't have to be medically traumatic, they have to be emotionally traumatic and causing the woman extreme stress and fear.

You are more than welcome to contact me if you like, you can do that via the AIMS address on the website, and mark it for me.

xxxxxx

Vicki

June 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterVicki

I just want to say that you are not alone. I went through something extremely similar with a BC and midwives and hospital. I ended up sectioned unnecessarily, against my will. My husband and family abandoned me to the hospital. I hated my baby for about a year. Then, I resented him for the next year. My son is about to turn 3. And things are finally turning around. I still feel lots of guilt and shame for the way my baby was hatched. I have a horrendous mistrust of people, especially midwives, now. In my opinion, they were worse than the doc, who at least was honest about sectioning me. I have problems trusting my husband and family. I would like to get pregnant again, but am terrified. My husband wants another child, but doesn't understand/want to understand the fear. He just thinks I need to go with it, deal with it if it results in a second c/s. Honestly, I think the one thing that turned my relationship with my son around, even though it took a long time, is attachment parenting. I think if I hadn't been persistent about it, I would have ended up running away. But, at least now I can say that I truly love my son.

I hope that with time, things start turning around for you, too. Please, if you need to take a break, do so, for both your and your baby's safety. Many many hugs going out to you.

June 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLaura

You are what you think.. Thats what i have learned. You are what you think. i have had c sections, the nerve pain does go away. I have actually had three. Two when I was dilated to ten and one when i wans't dilated at all.
You call your daughter a monster. That is concerning me. with all my study and degrees that is why i am writing. You can blame your hormones if you want, but you are angry and taking it out on a baby that didn't know what it was doing. Perhaps you blame your older daughter also because she was the one that was crying that "made the baby turn"
You need to find someone to talk to to help you chance your attitude toward this baby before you do something you will regret your whole life. It doesnt sound like you want to hate her. It sounds like you want to move on. But I will say it also sounds like you need help. More help then a blog can give you.
I will keep you in my prayers and hopefully you can find the place in your heart that God has put for that Baby. She is special and deserves to be loved, just like you.
You didn't fail with the C section, but you can still fail as a Mom if you don't find a way to be a Mom to this baby without hating her.

June 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSamantha

Annie, I am at a loss of what to say, how to help. My jaw is on the floor. How is this all possible? How is it possible for one person to suffer all this? What can we do for you?
xoxoox

June 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterVanessa

The feelings you describe could have been written by me 26 years ago. In my case, it was not postpartum depression, it was Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I had been physically, emotionally and mentally traumatized during my first birth. I, too, had nightmares that included rape. I also reacted extremely to the crying of my baby, including ringing in my ears, and ongoing pain and sensory loss.

I did heal from that experience. But I needed special resources and considerations for PTSD.

Annie, I have faith in you. You are a survivor! And we survivors turn into great mothers and wonderful resources for others in due time.
Many blessings to you.

June 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMother Billie

Annie,
Please don't hate yourself or your baby for having been raped. You both were. You're little breech girl was raped by the combination of fear and power that pollutes the practices of birth providers and the culture of birth. I am so sorry.

One way out of the hell you are in is through transformation. Eye movement therapy, acupuncture and myosfascial release and craniosacral therapy are all ways of moving forward towards love. Recreating the birth you should have/could have had can be part of it and doing that with the eye movement therapy is actually very effective.

A minor thing perhaps, next to all the doors shut in your face, is that you were told Spinning Babies was only for posterior babies. My breech section is gaining content and is getting to be quite comprehensive. Meanwhile, anyone with "breech experience" is not really experienced unless they know to honor and respect the mother, her hormonal state and her physiology. Scaring the mother is anti-safety, especially for breech. This may seem like a detail more in line of wallpaper or marketing to those providers who haven't experienced the joy of a calm mother and calm birth attendant at a breech birth, but emotional safety is key to physical safety as your post articulately describes.

Your words inspire me to do better, Annie. Yesterday I was able to attend a woman at home with a HBAC breech birth after she was sectioned for a breech previously, had a VBAC in the hospital subsequently and now knew she wanted a safe home birth. Her situation was in my mind ideal for a breech home birth. She is going to allow me to post the video anonymously on my site. (My big head is in the way too often!)

Please love your little girl and don't let your rape be the rape and mutilation of what would have been a nurturing mother and daughter relationship. She didn't do this to you anymore than your womanhood did. Our society did this to you and to thousands of women who are now standing up and saying no more. Please join us, Annie, We need your voice. Your post is a great example of your power. Please recognize this and join the movement to bring breech birth back to safety!!!

June 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSpinning Babies Lady

Annie- I am so very sorry about your birth experiences. I have an 8 month old daughter. I, too, was a birth center patient, my water broke early, insufficient ctx's (not to me!), very quickly was forced to the hospital for pit, 6 hours later they cut her out of me. The surgery itself was very traumatic (they were making jokes about losing weight on the table (I am overweight), not knowing who was behind the curtain (the doc never came and looked at my face or said anything to me), making fun of my birth plan, telling me I am lucky b/c w/o c-sections more women and babies die, I didn't get to see her, and my memories of the day she was born fill me with the same feelings you have. I regret trusting the midwives, I regret calling them when my water broke, i regret not just staying home, i regret turning my body over to people who didn't trust me to birth my own baby. I had a c-section because of a policy, not because there was actually anything wrong. After 3 months of seeing a good therapist and doing EMDR therapy, I am making my way through my PTSD. It is still really hard, every day I cry. I did learn that I have to defend my pain. I have to yell about it. When people tell me that all that matters is I have a healthy baby, I simply tell them that my birth experience was like being raped. I don't want their sympathy, but I want to explain to them the magnitude of what I lost. It is no small thing.
I want to encourage you to find a different therapist, someone who is experienced with birth trauma. Your feelings are all valid and important. You need to find people who can first acknowledge what happened to you and help you so you can move forward. The nature of trauma is it affects you body as if it is still happening, even years later.
Please know you are not alone. And please get some other help, what you are feeling is real, and you are more than justified in feeling it. People don't know what they are doing to us when they tell us to be happy and enjoy our "perfect babies". When they were delivering my daughter, I was invisible. I was paralyzed, mute and unimportant. My feelings, my mind, my body was on display for all to see. And now, the pain I feel is mine alone. Nobody in the world is sad about the way she was born, save for me. So, I had to rescue myself. I have claimed some of my power back. Part of that is putting words to how the midwives betrayed me. What they did is unforgivable. Theirs is a sacred trust, the birth of a baby is a holy experience. To betray that trust is more than just unprofessional. It is unconscionable. By all mneans BLAME THE MIDWIVES. RAGE AGAINST THEM. They are at fault. They worked to gain your trust and then they betrayed you, without cause or explanation. Please try to forgive yourself. You did what you thought was best. For heavens sake, you moved to another state to have the birth you wanted for you and for your baby. The fact that you still had these problems says a lot more about the state of maternity care in our country than anything about you. If we can't move across state lines to the best midwives in the country (if it is where I think it is) and still get good care (if only proper explanations why a transfer is necessary), then there isnt much hope for the rest of us.
You did all you could, and now please try to be gentle with yourself. Sending you hugs and love, Susie

June 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMamalade

Annie -

As a busy mother of two small (and wonderful) girls, I didn't have the time to read through all the comments. Please forgive me if I am repeating information here.

First, a bit about me: At 16, I got pregnant. I was told that Baby was head down, but at the end of my pregnancy an ultrasound revealed that she was in a frank breach position. *Two* external versions were attempted; both failed; both were extremely painful. So, I consented to a section. That baby was born by section, I spent many horribly painful days in the hospital recovering and trying to say everything a mother can say to a baby across her lifetime in those few days. At the end of the stay, I was wheeled out of the hospital, handed my baby over to her adoptive mother and spent 6 horrible weeks home, alone, and healing.

Nine years later, I met a wonderful man and was blessed with another pregnancy; another girl. I found a hospital that would "allow" VBACs. When the time came, I spent 50 hours in labor (just in the hospital) and "failed to progress". Long story short, I got an epidural because they were going to start a pitocin drip. I took a little nap and when they came in to start the drip, I was nearly at 10cm. When I started pushing, baby's heart rate kept dropping. Suddenly doctors and nurses were swarming around, each talking about me like I wasn't there. Finally, the nurse next to me said "I'll go ahead and prep her" and I yelled "NO". I refused to consent to another section so they "gave me" 30 minutes to "push that baby out".... 3 pushes later she was here (22 minutes for anyone who's wondering). The doctor *technically* asked for consent before doing an episiotomy, but before I said "no" the damage was done and I ended up with an episiotomy *and* massive tearing. The recovery was incredibly painful. Because of the "lactation specialist" at the hospital who insisted on "helping" even after I had said we were fine, I had a horrible time nursing and that birth left me a little scarred and very unhappy.

Two years after, we found out about our little "surprise". After much debate, I convinced my partner to *just meet* with the midwives in our area. Immediately he was on-board and we had a beautiful and healing homebirth. This child is easy and smiles and is generally happy and content, and has been since birth. I often wonder how much of that is because of *her* birth experience.

But even with all those healing experiences culminating in a wonderful and cleansing homebirth, I struggled. You see, I am also Bi-polar. Bi-polar II to be exact, which basically means that my manic moments are like everyone else's "normal" or "happy" days, but the depressive episodes are severe (a word that doesn't even seem to begin to cover it) and with each birth, the PPD was also severe. Drugs have never worked for me so I went in search of alternatives and found some that work well for me.

Here's what I would suggest for you:
1) find something (a hobby maybe) that makes you feel POWERFUL and do it often!
2) find a way to spend some of your time in service or in community with other mothers.
3) visit a homeopathic doctor or an herbalist - there are a lot of alternatives to "traditional" medicines.
4) nurse that baby! nurse, nurse, nurse... let those hormones do their job.
5) wear that baby! Get a moby or a mai tai or an ergo or a sling... whatever works for you and keep her close.
6) talk to someone! Talk therapy has been found to be MUCH more effective for acute depression (such as after a traumatic experience) than drugs. There are MANY therapists that will charge on a sliding scale. In my area, there is even a program where you can agree to be treated by a student (under the supervision of a licensed professional) for MUCH cheaper than traditional counseling.
and finally...
7) Remember that you are strong, valuable, smart, wise, good, and loving. That much of life's experiences are out of our control and (just like the rest of us) you did the best you could with the tools you had at the moment. Forgive yourself, love your children. Accept help when it is offered, and continue living life to the best of your ability. I know better than most that in a period of utter despair it seems never-ending. Its not. Life will go on, your body and soul will heal and (here's the best part) *when you come through the other side, you WILL be better, stronger and more than when you started on this journey*.

Wishing you faith, love, healing and strength,
Amie

June 3, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterjustamama

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