On Friday, I posted a link to this article (titled “Why I’d Rather Give Birth Via C-Section”) from the HuffPost blog on my Facebook page, and it got a lot of attention… Naturally, as I’m now halfway through my second pregnancy and the first one ended in c-section, this topic – in general – is on my mind a lot lately… To clarify, I don’t agree with everything the writer says in this post. In fact, I think, as my sweet friend Ashley so tactfully pointed out in the FB comments, I think she portrays the entire birth process in a rather bad light and many of her reasons for preferring a c-section seemed kind-of surface-y and superficial to me as well. (Not that I don’t have some of the same thoughts at times, I just wouldn’t necessarily base my decisions off of them if I could avoid it.) THAT SAID, I can relate to the feelings of guilt and shame sometimes – about having a c-section in the first place and maybe even preferring to have one a second time all things being equal.
Jeff and I haven’t completely decided what route we will go for delivery this time around. Our doctor – who is wonderful and wise – has encouraged me that I’m a “good candidate” for a VBAC and has weighed all the pros and cons of both a trial of labor and a scheduled c-section for us. Right now, we are praying and waiting to make a decision; but, in the end, despite my tendency towards what I “know” and some of my fears about delivering “naturally,” our decision will come down to what we believe to be best for our BABY. (Truth be told, I’d much prefer for the doctor just to tell me that I HAVE to do it one way or the other, but he isn’t going to, so that’s that.) Either way, I’m determined not to feel bad about the road we choose to take to get this baby safely into the world. Motherhood brings enough opportunities to worry and feel guilty and labor/delivery in and of itself is plenty to cause anxiety without the added pressures of what other people think about it.
Along those lines, below is a post I published last winter on the topic from my old blog. It has a slightly different meaning to me now that the “future pregnancy” is the reality; but, I think its general message is clear and important…
*Warning* I share a little bit about my experience with Sam and – though the ending is very happy – it could be considered scary. Keep in mind if you are pregnant and trying to avoid those kinds of things.
Let me say this before I go any further… I don’t have a lot of strong opinions when it comes to pregnancy, labor, and child birth.Some may fault me for this, but there is A LOT of conflicting information available when it comes to having a baby, and I decided very early in my pregnancy that I am NOT an expert at those things, and that I would drive myself crazy if I tried to become one in nine months. The best thing FOR ME was to trust my doctor as the authority and rest in that. I know some of you feel differently. I know some of you are passionate about natural childbirth or avoiding a c-section at all costs. That’s fine. This is my experience and what worked for me and my baby. I also hope that it will be encouraging to those of you that have had c-sections yourself or are pregnant and may face some similar decisions in the months to come.
For context, here’s a Sam’s birth story in a nutshell:
– I labored at home from roughly 11AM – 10PM (not super intense). We checked in to L&D at 10:30PM, and my water broke (on its own) about five minutes later.
– Things progressed pretty quickly once I got to the hospital (I was already dilated to an 8 by the time I got my epidural – which I loved, btw), and I started pushing at about 1:45AM.
– For the next hour, I pushed with very little progress until the doctor finally came in to check again around 3AM and found that Sam’s head was stuck on my pelvis, his heart rate was elevated, and he appeared to have a fever. At that point, he said I could continue to push for a couple more hours but recommended a c-section.
– To quote from my original birth story post, “I sincerely believe that God had been preparing me for that moment. I am so grateful for the peace that I had about getting the c-section. It was like I was already ready for it. Jeff and I didn’t doubt the decision for one minute; we just went with it. We just wanted a healthy baby. I wasn’t sad. I wasn’t even scared. I just was ready to meet Sam.”
– Less than two hours later, Sam was born completely blue (not breathing) with his umbilical cord wrapped around his neck FOUR times. (This is called aquadruple-nuchal, and it was only the second our OB had ever seen. If you want to be scared, Google it.)
– Thankfully, the OB was set and, after receiving some immediate attention, Sam let out the most beautiful cry ever, and we had our happy ending.
I’m going to try not to be super dramatic here, but… I really believe that if I had continued to push back at 3AM (which wouldn’t have been crazy for a lot of people), our story could have ended VERY differently…
So, here’s the thing… I think I can speak for every mother ever when I say that the ultimate goal is to safely deliver a healthy baby when it is all said and done. Something about becoming a momma makes you instinctively able to do ANYTHING in order to make that happen (just ask one). I, truly, have a lot of respect for women that choose to have their babies completely naturally and without surgical intervention. You are right, our bodies ARE naturally designed to be able to do the hard work of childbirth and the miracle of it IS beautiful. Yes, hundreds of years ago, women had babies in their homes with little to no medical intervention ALL THE TIME; but hundreds of years ago a lot more women and children died during childbirth too.
I’m honestly not trying to cause a ruckus (really, I’m not), it’s just that your desire NOT to have medical intervention might be the EXACT SAME reason I choose to have it. Are you with me? In my case, having a c-section might have SAVED my baby’s life, and you just can’t underestimate that.
As I mentioned in my original birth-story post, God gave me an incredible peace about the entire situation. Long before it was time to make any hard-fast decisions, I had a sense (a motherly intuition, maybe?) that I would have to have a c-section. *In fact, for those couple of hours when everything was progressing normally, and I had started to push, I remember a moment of “I can’t believe this.” No, I didn’t ask for a c-section; but, I also wasn’t upset at the recommendation or disappointed in my decision to go ahead with it. I feel like JUST AS MUCH of a mother after a c-section as I would have been if I’d delivered my baby “naturally,” because – either way – I was doing what was best for MY baby.
Are there negatives to having a c-section? Absolutely!
I only got to see Sam for a hot second before we went our separate ways to recover for a couple of hours, I had to stay in the hospital a little longer (which I actually didn’t mind), I couldn’t lift heavy objects, drive a car, or go up and down stairs for a longer time, and my scar was painful and then tingly for a long time after the surgery (not to mention my scar will show in a string bikini – bahahahaa), and I think the “c-section stomach pooch” is absolutely real. But, overall, even despite the fact that I went through the entire labor process, pushed, and still had a c-section, I’d say I had a pretty good experience in terms of recovery, bonding, breastfeeding, etc. (Of course, I don’t really know any differently either.)
All that said, I have to admit that, although I’m not even pregnant again yet, I already get a little nervous when the subject of c-sections and VBACs comes up in conversation these days. I don’t know yet what we will decide to do when it comes to future deliveries; but, I admit that I feel a certain societal expectation to at least try to avoid a c-section and a little guilt about the possibility of not. Really though, that’s silly. I’ve got to let that go. I’ve got to remember that we all have the same goal, and I don’t need to impress anyone.
So, if you are a mama that had a c-section to deliver your baby, I want you to know something:
YOU ARE A ROCKSTAR. YOU HAD MAJOR SURGERY IN WHICH A SURGEON CUT THROUGH YOUR INTESTINES TO BRING YOUR BABY INTO THIS WORLD, AND YOU WILL HAVE THE “BATTLE SCAR” TO PROVE IT FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE. Please don’t let anyone convince you that you did the wrong thing, that you didn’t “try” hard enough, or that you haven’t experienced childbirth. They are WRONG (and, frankly, ignorant.) You did the best thing for your baby from DAY ONE. Rest in that.
And, if you are pregnant right now and preparing yourself that a scheduled (or emergency) c-section could be an option (which I encourage you to prepare for regardless), know this:
YOU ARE ALREADY THE PERFECT MAMA FOR YOUR BABY. PLEASE TRUST YOURSELF, YOUR DOCTOR, AND GOD AND DON’T ALLOW YOURSELF TO FEEL GUILT OR DISAPPOINTMENT FOR THE DECISIONS YOU MAKE WHEN IT COMES TIME TO DELIVER. The way in which your baby comes into the world has NOTHING to do with your performance as a woman or a mother. YOU’VE GOT THIS. (And, really, c-sections aren’t that scary and terrible anyway.)
Ok, sorry for getting so feisty and deep on you today. Just keepin’ it real.
I welcome your thoughts and or personal experiences related to this subject, but ask that you please keep it friendly and supportive. Also, as much as I love you, I don’t necessarily want you to use the comments as a forum to convince me (or other moms) which way to go with this delivery… I’ve got my hands (and mind) full already without other added input. 🙂