Musings of a Marfan Mom

The After Birth


Since Baby J was born, several people have asked me how I felt about having a c-section, since I spent my pregnancy very vocal about wanting a VBAC. I wanted to take some time to really process everything, and to complete my 6 week follow-up with my OB, before I wrote anything about it though.

As I wrote before, I felt at peace when I had my c-section. It wasn’t until a couple weeks later that here and there doubts began to creep into my mind. Why didn’t I ask how long J was taking to recover from his decels? What if I’d waited a little longer to consent? Even though I’d had very little sleep during the night and was in a high-stress situation, I was giving myself a hard time for not being more present in the moments when it counted.

My doula called shortly before my 6 week check-up with my OB, and we talked through some of these things together. She reassured me that both she and Mark were watching the monitor (it was positioned out of my view) and could verify everything the doctors had said. She really felt there was no other way. I wanted to wait and get the report on my placenta before agreeing though, since the OB who performed my c-section sent it to the lab to look for a cause to the problems Baby J had in utero.

At my appointment, I told to my doctor that I understood I could never know for sure what caused J to be in distress over the last few weeks of pregnancy, but I really needed to know what was in the placenta report. He explained that both he and the OB who did the c-section believed I had placental insufficiency, but there was no way to prove it. We read over the report together and everything was normal, except that my placenta was too small for gestational age. I was told that this is a reasonable explanation for the baby having low oxygen and a decreased baseline heart rate, though of course it might just be a coincidence and have nothing to do with anything. In my heart though, I feel that the small placenta is what caused the problems. What caused the small placenta is a mystery though.

So, I do feel ok about my c-section in that I believe it was necessary and that it went as well as it possibly could. I don’t think I’ll ever second guess that again. Overall it was a positive experience.

At the same time though, I do have some feelings of sadness. I will never have another biological child. I’ll never be able to experience labor, never be able to touch my baby’s head as he crowns, never be able to watch him crawl up my chest to latch onto my breast for his first nurse. Some day I will be able to let that go, but for now it sometimes makes me sad.

(And to those of you who suggest that I have no right to have this sadness because hey, I have a baby, to you I say someone will always have it worse and we do each other a grave disservice if we tell a woman she is not allowed to grieve her experiences. It is possible to be grateful for our children and still have regrets about the circumstances.)

There are two reasons a VBAC was so important to me. The first was that I wanted the opposite birth experience than I’d had with the Menininho. I believe that even though I had a repeat c-section, I was able to achieve that.

The second reason is more complex. I live in a body that tells me no a lot. It has been doing so for a long time. No, you can’t ride horses or play basketball anymore, Maya. No, you can’t buy jeans off the rack. No, you can’t go a day without taking medication. No, you can’t have complete control over reproduction.

For once, I wanted my body to tell me yes. I wanted to be able to give the proverbial finger to my body, to Marfan, and say See? I CAN do something that women without Marfan can do. I can do what the research papers say I should be able to do. Tell me yes, I can have a vaginal, a normal, birth. But not only did my body tell me no, it was a great big “Oh NO girlfriend!” And now that I can’t have any more biological children, the door has been completely closed on that yes, the biggest yes.

And THAT is what will take the most time to heal.

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  1. Your feelings are so valid, Maya. And you’re right, for anyone to take away your need to grieve is doing a huge disservice to you and women in general. That you can no longer safely carry and deliver a baby is beyond heartbreaking and you have every right to feel whatever it is that you feel. Hugs to you.


  2. Another excellent story, Maya. And I confess to (at first) being guilty of wanting to say, “at least you have 2 children, be grateful”. But I think I now understand your grief. It’s not so different from what I was feeling after my second aneurysm, the one that dissected. After being in hospital for 2 weeks, losing my right kidney, nearly having my right leg amputated, and being so close to death, I was grieving for the lifestyle that I had lost. No more job. No busy farm work. Absolutely no lifting or straining ….. ever! I knew life would never be the same. And I grieved for that. I needed to be permitted to grieve. But everyone was joyous that I was even alive. So they told me again and again that I had to be grateful for that. No one allowed me my right to grieve. I want to honor you, Maya, for being committed and brave enough to have a second pregnancy with the highest hopes of a VBAC experience. Go ahead and have your grief. Love those babies with your whole heart and grieve a bit for what is lost. I love you.


  3. I am so proud of you Maya and so grateful for you in my life. I am glad and proud that I get to call you my little and my friend. I love you and your family. :-)


  4. It’s been a year since I had my c-section, and I’m still going through all of the emotions that you are. I don’t have any underlying conditions and did have a vaginal birth with my first, though it was an induction and a terrible experience overall, so I was desperate for a natural birth on my own terms. My son had a decreased heartrate and when I had an ultrasound performed, he scored a 2/10 on his biophysical profile. I was basically told he was in serious distress, was undersized, and needed to come out now (at 39 weeks). At birth he was 4lb 8oz.

    I also had my placenta sent to the lab and the pathology report came back that it had a couple of small clots, but nothing large enough to cause problems. It was also undersized. And just like you, there is no cause they can determine for why it was undersized or baby was failing to thrive.

    All this to say, I’m totally there with you and I understand what you’re going through. And it isn’t your Marfan that caused any of J’s problems in utero.


  5. I think being grateful and sad at the same time is something a lot of us with chronic conditions have to experience. It’s bittersweet. It’s my personal feeling that no one needs to tell anyone else how they “should” feel. I hope that by processing through all of these emotions you are able to achieve the kind of peace and closure that allows you to experience much, much more joy and gratitude than sadness. You have spent your life giving the proverbial finger to Marfan! You’re awesome. Much love, my friend.


  6. I cannot even imagine how difficult that whole process was for you. Having to relinquish control to other people is never easy. But always remember this: you are such an amazing woman who advocates for others and you’re a great mom. I may not be a mom yet but reading your blog has made me see there are so many choices when it comes to parenting and that its okay to advocate for yourself in those situations.

    You’re a very strong woman :)


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