I Thought I 'Failed' In Childbirth, And This Is Why

by Allyssa Benefield

I made it to 41 weeks when I finally had my membranes stripped (which, holy f’ing hell…OUCH). The doctor scheduled an induction in a few days after seeing that everything looked alright in the ultrasound and non-stress test. As I was leaving the doctor’s office with my husband, I felt the first pains of labor. I labored on, into the night, eventually going to the hospital around midnight once my contractions were five minutes apart.

I was 4 cm dilated and within minutes of being there, my water broke. My “birth plan” was simple: get an epidural and deliver vaginally. I had read copious amounts of very detailed birth plans that were thrown out the window once labor began, so I decided to keep it simple.

Since my water broke, the doctor didn’t want to do regular checks because there was no longer a barrier to protect bacteria from entering so I just hung out and waited for my baby to make her debut into the world. I practiced my breathing, labored on, eventually got an epidural, and just waited until it would be time to push. Only thing was, I never got to push.

I thought, “This is nice—no pain, just smooth sailing.” Things never really go how you think they will though. The nurse kept coming back in to adjust the fetal monitor. “We’re just having a hard time getting readings,” she kept saying. After I kept switching sides to lay on and she kept readjusting, I knew something was wrong. I kept asking, “Is something wrong with my baby?” My husband and nurse kept saying no, but I didn’t know if I could believe them.

Time continued to pass and by 7:00 a.m., the doctor came in and checked me out. She checked my cervix and I was about 7 cm dilated. She told me that they were struggling with the heart rate monitoring and she wanted to do an internal fetal heart rate monitor that would be inserted vaginally and attached to baby bean’s head. At this point, I was definitely alarmed. I was all hooked up and was waiting for the doctor to come back in and let me know the news.

She said she could feel my daughter’s head was pinched from each contraction and with each contraction, her heart rate would go down. My heart sunk, my baby was in distress. My doctor’s lips were moving, saying the words that my ears wouldn’t allow me to hear: I had to have a C-section. I cried. I denied it. I said no. I gave in.

I knew that this was what I needed to do for my baby, to keep her healthy, to get her out, to give her life. Within minutes everyone was scrubbed and I was on my way to the OR.

I had never read anything about C-sections because I told myself I wouldn’t need one. “Everything will go just fine,” I thought. “No way,” I would say when co-workers would discuss elective Caesarean surgeries; I was sticking to my original birth plan—drugs and vagina all the way.

Unfortunately, my two-step birth plan didn’t happen. I never made it beyond step 1. In that moment, I thought I failed—as a planner, as a woman, as a mom. I thought that women’s bodies were made for this—this moment, this big event—and my body was failing me when I needed it most. I cried to myself, selfishly, thinking I failed my daughter. She wouldn’t enter this world being kissed by all that good bacteria, I wouldn’t be able to have delayed cord clamping, and I wouldn’t even be able to hold her immediately.

I failed my daughter the day she was born not because I couldn’t deliver vaginally, but because I thought how I had her mattered. I thought that I would be less of a woman, less of a mom, if I took the “easy way out.” I thought that I was a mere passenger, co-piloting her birth instead of driving it myself. Let me tell you, C-sections are not the easy way out. Nothing with pregnancy, labor or delivery is the easy way out.

You are every part important to your child’s birth, regardless of how it happens. You made this baby (with some credit going to the sperm, of course), you took care of your body to give your baby a safe home, and without you this baby wouldn’t be here. So pat yourself on the back mama, you did it.