I’m delighted to welcome the inspirational author and activist Thais Nye Derich to the site. Thais’ new memoir Second Chance: A Mother’s Quest for a Natural Birth after a Cesarean offers an honest and encouraging look at vaginal birth after c-section. Thais’ work really resounds with me because it is all about listening to your instincts. Through her wonderful blog and her upcoming book, she informs and inspires women, helping them to feel in control during childbirth. Here she talks about the delivery of her first child, and how childbirth can be a journey of self-discovery.
“Your life will never be the same after kids.” I heard this at least once while I was pregnant with my first child. There’s always one brave person willing to stick their neck out and speak this cliché. What I didn’t realize was that my life would change the most not because of the child but because of the birth.
You’re fine, your baby is fine, but it’s time, it’s time to get this baby out,” the Obstetrician had said, the clipboard resting in her lap and the pen steadied between her fingers.
During my first delivery, I had a cesarean, which meant I didn’t get to hold my baby. I was separated from my husband, child, and family, for hours after giving birth.
Unconscious, I had been rolled into a recovery closet where I stayed to rest until I could speak again. A nurse watched over me while she sorted and unpacked boxes. A broom tilted against the wall between the door and upper cabinets. I remember her looking over at my half-closed eyes, and for a brief second, I thought I saw a look of pity in her. What she might have seen in that moment, but would take me years to discover, was the amount of trauma that had already begun to set in since the moment I was wheeled into the operating room to surgically deliver my child.
In my drug-induced slumber, I asked the nurse, “When can I see my baby?”
Once the nurse delivered my baby to me like a wrapped present in a tight hospital swaddle, I never let go of him. I couldn’t stop crying, even with my baby safe in my arms. Someone would simply have to ask, “How was the birth?” and the tears would come, followed by an awkward redirection of the conversation. When I cried in the company of one hundred women staring down at me during a Q&A session after a screening of The Business of Being Born, I realized something has got to change. I couldn’t go on like this. I needed to do something or something bad was going to happen.
I tried traditional therapy, but it didn’t work, not sensitive enough. I found a healer hidden away in an unmarked flat in San Francisco. She happened to be a retired midwife of thirty years from the University California San Francisco Medical Center (UCSF). She believed my sadness was grounded in evidence. My birth records said that the reason for my cesarean was, “failure to progress.”
I asked, “How could I have avoided the cesarean?”
Tapping on her computer’s keyboard, my nurse said, “Well I guess you could have pushed longer.”
Speechless. A silence.
“I’m surprised the doctor even had you push once for her before the surgery,” she said.
Then a women’s circle formed, then I meditated, then I trusted that my feelings were real. I accepted and I loved and I changed quickly because healing was hard work, time-consuming work. I quit my job because it overwhelmed me. I wrote, and I wrote through my depression.
Two years later, a friend asked, “Tell me your birth story,” and I told her without crying. Next time would be different.
The new memoir Second Chance: A Mother’s Quest for a Natural Birth after a Cesarean (She Writes Press, May 9, 2017) by Thais Nye Derich weaves together two narratives of two very different birth experiences. Thais tells a universal story about betrayal, trust, and listening to one’s instincts. The writing is propelling and forthright as it sheds light on the gaping holes in mainstream maternity healthcare, and—at the heart of it—provides a voice for all the mothers who have walked away from their hospital-based delivery experience wondering what in the hell really happened.
Read more from Thais on her website.
- SECOND CHANCE WAS A FINALIST for Creative Nonfiction Magazine’s Baby Anthology.
- AMY GRAFF—NEWS PRODUCER FOR SFGATE.COM—PRAISED THE BOOK AND AUTHOR, SAYING: “In a beautiful telling of her own experience, she proves that standing strong to have a VBAC after a C-Section is worth it! Her empowering story shows that women really can do anything.”
- AWARD-WINNING AUTHOR OF PIECES OF MY MOTHER—MELISSA CISTARO—CALLED THE BOOK: “an important and timely story – a memoir full of heartache, resilience, and joy.”
- DERICH’S PREVIOUS WORK HAS BEEN PUBLISHED IN Salon, BlogHer, BabyCenter, Literary Mama, Wild Violet Literary Magazine, Forge Journal, SFGate, and the San Francisco Examiner.