Ok, so, can we talk c-sections for a bit since it’s c-section awareness month?
I just want to talk a little about this because, well, I’ve been through it and some people seem to think that if you have had a c-section you have either “chosen” the “easy way” or you have never really birthed a child. And this kind of annoys me; and hurts my feelings, so I want to address it.
So, way back in the day I got pregnant with Isaiah. It was just a couple of years ago, ya know, and I was younger and kind of clueless regarding labor. I mean, I had an IDEA…I was going to do all natural birth and no meds and sweat and pant and push and he would be here and then I’d be up walking around and getting back to business in no time. THEN I went into labor and my body did not work like a normal woman’s apparently. After 36 hours, a drip of Pitocin, some kind of pain relief they put through the i.v. that lasted all of 34 seconds and me losing the ability to breath anymore resulting in Isaiah being oxygen deprived, I lost my desire for a “natural” child birth and opted for saving the life of my child. It was long. It was painful. Recovery was…interesting, but not altogether excruciating (though there were moments). But I apparently didn’t “birth” my child. Having a cesarean was the “easy way out”.
Then comes Noah; what a blessing! We tried for SO LONG! We gave up hope; I had FINALLY begun to give away the baby stuff I’d been hoarding for four years in hopes of another coming along when I found out I was pregnant with Noah. Right from the beginning I was told I had no option BUT to have a c-section. I was older, but naive. I researched some, but I honestly thought the doctor would do what was best for me, not him. He was my doctor from the time I was 16 and I had trusted him. So, I opted for a c-section. I had a little peace of mind this time, though. I KNEW I would not have the exhausting and scary labor experience I had with Isaiah. I KNEW this time it wouldn’t end with doctors seeming worried and an emergency situation where the baby is whisked away with little more than a tiny peck from mommy (I didn’t see Isaiah for over 24 hours after he was born). And it didn’t. This birth experience was calm. We went in quietly, I was prepped and baby came. It went quickly, but wasn’t scary at all. Noah was able to come to me and nurse while I was in the recovery room. I was able to have skin to skin contact soon after birth instead of waiting over a day like I had with Isaiah. Noah had no oxygen tent, no i.v., he didn’t even have to go under the bili lights. I was home in three days as opposed to a week. Recovery went great; much better than with the c-section after a LONG and intense labor. BUT, I didn’t really birth him, right?
Don’t get me wrong when you read these stories. I despised having to have c-sections. I hate knowing that my body failed. I hate that I am not “normal”. I hate that it takes longer to even be able to do something like bend over and pick something up off of the floor. I hate having to rely on people for pretty much everything, but that is what happens after a major surgery (which a cesarean is, by the way). So this was even worse than the emergency c-section with Isaiah because I CHOSE it…this was for SURE the “easy way out”, right?
Fast forward to the insane surprise and shock that came with my pregnancy that brought us Myrah. I had a whole new level of education now and I KNEW I was going to have a vba2c with her. I was introduced to the world of doulas and midwives and went to Birth Boot Camp because I was going to do better this time. I wasn’t going to ALLOW my body to fail. I was sick as can be with that pregnancy, but I went by the crunchy book as much as possible. I did everything right, and guess what? I began having prodromal labor pains SEVEN days before I had Myrah. If you aren’t familiar with prodromal labor, well, it’s like a precursor to labor, but it is NOT the “practice” contractions of Braxton Hicks. It is actual contractions. They MAY come and go, they can be very intense, and they are exhausting because they, of course, come at the most inconvenient of times. So, I had a good four days of prodromal labor before the real thing began then I got dehydrated. Severely. I was in the hospital twice due to the dehydration. Then we knew something went wrong. Something went terribly wrong because I could not eat, drink, or sleep. I could not even sit. There was ONE standing position I could be in without being in the most terrifying and excruciating pain I had ever experienced. The docs brought a portable ultrasound machine in straight away, but we couldn’t figure what was causing the pain. Baby had her head in a position that was blocking us from seeing the cause of the issue, but Scott and I prayed right then and there and agreed to go ahead with (yet another) emergency cesarean section that the doc was recommending. I bawled my eyes out because my body failed again, but I KNEW something was wrong and getting my way was in no way worth risking my daughter’s life. Come to find out, waiting too much longer to make the decision really could have cost us her life because my uterus ruptured on either side and was being held together precariously in the middle but slowly tearing away. THAT IS PAINFUL!
But this was the “easy way out”. As I lay on that table not even getting to touch my daughter before a team rushed in the room like a scene from Grey’s Anatomy, I wasn’t thinking of my failed body, I was begging God to save my baby. I watched a tube go down her throat and a bag being squeezed to breathe for her and all I could think of was how the surgeon said this was the best decision I had ever made. I can’t have any more children now, but this “easy way out” saved my daughter’s life. And if you think for one second that recovery from a ruptured uterus is a walk in the park, then my friend, I must respectfully say that you have no clue what you speak of. I hemorrhaged during the night and begged the doctor to give me a few more hours to bring my blood count up before getting donor blood. The hemorrhage made me so weak I was unable to leave my room to see Myrah in the NICU. She had to be given donor milk because I couldn’t even pump yet. I was miserable, hardly able to walk and it took my back and abdomen at least a year to fully recover. To be honest, I still don’t think I have all my stomach muscles back. This is the “easy way”?
So, having a c-section is rarely the “easy” or “lazy” way out, and it doesn’t make me a person who has never given birth. Given the option, I’d have ten babies all natural, but that wasn’t the option I was given. You see, what makes this hard is that I don’t feel c-section moms get the same support or respect that “natural” birth moms get. Now, I’m not one of those people who needs a pat on the back or an award for everything, but as a c-section mom, I was never approached with the option of having something like a birth doula. There is no “birth boot camp” for women who know they have to have a c-section. I would have loved to consult with a midwife, just to have one on the team with me, but there is maybe one midwife in my area that would even speak to me on a medical basis because vba2c isn’t something commonly supported (especially round these parts). And if you want any kind of holistic, crunchy, or natural support when you KNOW you are having a c-section, you better look real hard. I mean, I personally know a doula or two who is willing, and my birth doula was one who was just starting out and had also had a c-section which was super awesome to me, but that is certainly not the “norm”.
Now, I know a decent community of crunchy gals, and I am in NO WAY making digs at them because they ALL supported me, but this was my experience from some and especially from the online community who didn’t know me personally. These are all things that have been said or done to me, and it hurts. I mean, once upon a time, I fancied being a doula myself, but only catering to c-section mommas, I quickly realized that makes me just as silently judgmental as most people don’t realize they were being to me. I gave birth, and my body did not work the way it was made to. There are factors behind this; I was abused as a child, I had some cervical tissue removed late in my teens, I have ovarian cysts and a hormone imbalance…all of these things played a factor in my body’s inability to read the hormones given out during birth and do what it should. That doesn’t mean I didn’t give birth, though. I fought for each of my children and the only thing I would change now, if I were even given a chance, would be to have a planned c-section with Myrah as well. You know, if I’d scheduled a surgical birth with her she wouldn’t have been at risk? I have some serious mommy guilt sometimes for the fact that she was in such a bad way when she was born. Her condition was brought about by my choices. But, she was meant to be just how she is and where she is and how she got here. So were my boys.
I wouldn’t change anything, so, world, stop making me feel as though I ought to have regrets. I don’t. My children are here. They are healthy and happy and thriving, and I have the scars to prove that I birthed them. I have the stretch marks and saggy girls and wide hips…I have my kids. Every staple was worth it. Ever catheter was meaningful. Every failed i.v. stick, every failed attempt to walk, and every wheel chair ride was worth it a million times.
Whether you have the ability to be the mom who goes completely natural in your birth, or get an epidural, or have a surgical birth, you are a warrior. You are a winner. You have already won because God gave you this beautiful child to keep for Him. We have known since Genesis that birthing wasn’t going to be the easy part physically, we were told before we ever had our children. But, isn’t any birth really the easy part? Because the minute they are born you have to begin letting them go, and that is the hardest part of all.
So, friends, moms, women who have no clue who I am and have stumbled across my jumbled mess of words, lift one another up in love. Support each other! There is no shame in child birthing because no matter how it is done it is a miracle! God has given you a child; you grew that child in your womb for about forty weeks. FORTY WEEKS! You are the SOLE provider for that baby for FORTY WEEKS of its life!
Grab your cape, girl. Wear it proud, and help your sister with hers too.
“A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world” (John 16:21 NIV).