Then yesterday, I received an email from a member of a group I used to be the leader of, and she was asking for information or suggestions on dealing with her lingering sadness over the loss of her dream of a normal birth. I met her when she was pregnant with her second child, so I am not sure what her first birth was like. Her second involved an OB who cut an insane episiotomy and it extended, and then did a botched repair. She had painful sex and some other issues from the rectal tear for a LONG time until finally she had to see another doctor and have the repair repaired. Things were still not "fixed" then but were much better. Anyway, the second birth was a really awful experience, that lingered on for about two years in its effects.
Fast forward a year after that, she was expecting again and was so glad to get a chance to have a different birth. She was "doing everything she could" - she chose midwives so that she could have the midwifery model of care, read your book, Henci- she was interviewing doulas, etc.
Then she realized that the baby wasn't moving one day- listened to her instincts, which saved the baby's life. Her daughter has heart problems and they thought she was going to die. (I believe my friend was ~28 weeks at the point that she realized there was a problem.) She spent a lot of time in various hospitals for the rest of her pregnancy, trying to walk the delicate balance of giving enough heart medicine that the baby would receive and be able to to survive, while not causing damage to my friend, whose heart was fine. It was quite touch-and-go and a stressful couple of months. Eventually, no matter how much tinkering with the dosages that they did, they couldn't give my friend enough of the drug for what the baby needed without the effects on my friend being too toxic, and it truly did become a case of the baby being safer out rather than in, and she ended up born by cesarean prematurely but much less prematurely than she almost was.
My friend did her research, feels good about her decisions and grateful that her daughter is alive and doing pretty well with a pacemaker- she is quite delayed so far but cute as a button and such a joy to their family. They hope that she lives a long life, although I believe she is still at some risk of not living to adulthood due to a variety of problems. Still, for today she is doing well, and they have learned to appreciate each day as it comes and not borrow trouble. They have plenty to deal with on a daily basis without looking for more!
But even so- the cesarean of a preemie was not the healing experience that my friend was hoping for and working for, and she is still mourning it (even as she rejoices at her daughter's life and considers the sacrifices to have been well worth making, etc.) and people basically telling her she shouldn't be doing so, that she should just be grateful she has her daughter (which of course she IS) and that she's ungrateful to be anything other than happy... and that c/s is no big deal... etc. isn't helping. Instead it makes her feel guilty that she still feels kind of cheated of her chance to try again.
For my VBAC client, I am thinking about having her read Mother's Intention, and see if kind of the tone of that book might help her feel more empowered and less helpless... though I don't know that it will help with her fears that the doctors are right and her body IS defective and unable to give birth... but for my friend, I don't know what to suggest for her. She doesn't have regrets about her choices- only about the loss of what she had to give up to save her baby. She considers it worthwhile and yet...
So it seems to me that maybe this is a big unmet need, with the climate of birth there is in our country right now. There must be many more women than only these two in my circle, who are dealing with the grief and pain of not getting to have a normal birth when they so urgently desire one. Is there anything out there for women to read, to help come to terms with the loss of their dream of having a normal birth? Or classes to take? I want to help them- and yet, I'm not a psychologist, and I don't know where to point them to begin their journeys toward emotional healing...
Sorry if this is off-topic...