Maggie of the lovely From the Heart volunteered to write about her experience with first an emergency, and then scheduled, c-section. She writes with candor, humor, and wit. I am so grateful to Maggie for sharing her story here.
When I was pregnant with my son Joe I had big plans on having an all-natural vaginal birth. Every day I watched A Baby Story on TLC and got chills at each woman’s delivery. I imagined my own labor pains and tears coming down my cheeks when my child finally entered the world and was laid on my chest. I even witnessed one of my dearest, oldest friends give birth to her first son and I so badly wanted to experience that for myself.
In the last weeks of my pregnancy I developed severe pre-eclampsia and I was induced. My body wasn’t ready to give Joe up, so I had to have an emergency c-section.
With a lovely cocktail of worry about my persistent high blood pressure, terror at being responsible for a tiny new person, and the mixture of postpartum hormones I was purely devastated that I had to have a c-section. I thought my body had betrayed me. It didn’t help that people expressed their sorrow for me having to have a c-section.
From about an hour after Joe’s birth I thought about attempting a VBAC for my next pregnancy. I researched. I prayed. I was going to do this.
I found a Catholic, NFP-only, VBAC-friendly doctor when I became pregnant. He was very open and laid back. My pregnancy was smooth sailing. My pre-eclampsia didn’t rear its ugly head again, thank God. But as my due date approached nothing was happening. No dilating. No dropping. No contractions. My doctor wanted me to have a c-section soon because there was a risk of cord prolapse. He also thought my pelvis would be too small to deliver. But he respected my wishes and we waited about a week and a half after my due date and then finally scheduled my repeat c-section.
I had prayed A TON in regards to doing God’s will regarding this birth- adoration, novenas, the whole shebang. When I decided on scheduling the c-section I felt a sense of peace. I was paranoid of still birth, cord prolapse, or something going wrong during a vaginal birth (NONE of this was prompted by my doctor) so I felt a sense of relief when the c-section date was made. That sense of relief was dashed when I told certain online groups about my plans.
“Your doctor is an idiot.”
“You need to advocate for yourself. Wait another week!”
Thankfully, when I expressed my thoughts and concerns, these people backed down. I know these ladies were just trying to help but it made me feel like an idiot for trusting my doctor, my own gut instinct, and my peace from my prayers.
Since then I’ve tried to avoid message boards and websites dedicated to giving birth. C-sections get a very bad rap. I will be the first to admit that c-sections are not ideal. It’s major abdominal surgery and it’s a big freaking deal. I will admit that there are doctors who are too quick to cut. I also think that women need to educate themselves and work with their doctor to make the best possible decision regarding themselves and their baby.But it seems to me that c-sections are just another cog in the mommy war machine. Women who deliver all natural and even those who do use epidurals have every right to be proud of themselves. I’m sure it is no easy task to push a small person out of a tiny hole. Still, it seems that the art of giving birth is becoming a competition instead of the miracle that it is. “Well, I labored for 29 hours and pushed for 2 and had no pain medication,” says one woman. “Pshh… that’s a cake walk… I labored for 34 hours and pushed for 1 hour in my own home,” says another. And here I am… “I laid on a table, completely numbed up, and they took my baby out of me.” I’ve even seen on a few boards that c-section babies aren’t born, they are extracted. I won’t even go into how that makes me feel.
I can tell you it takes a strong woman to submit herself to the operating table and allow herself to be deeply cut open to ensure her baby’s safety, even if that means giving up her birthing dreams.
But nobody talks about that bravery.
Too often I have seen women who choose to have repeat c-sections being attacked for not wanting to attempt a VBAC. Too often I have seen women being told “I’m sorry you had to have a c-section.” Why on earth would you be sorry that a baby was born happy and healthy and that the mother is safe and sound?
I have felt like a failure as a woman for having had two c-sections. I’ve been made to feel like a fool for trusting my doctor. The joy was almost taken from my birthing experience. That shouldn’t have happened.
Instead of shouting out facts and figures and vilifying doctors and making women feel like a failure when the “c” word is mentioned, how about we show our fellow women some support? Instead of expressing sorrow at one having surgery, why don’t we rejoice in a new soul entering the world and thank God that we have medical technology that made that possible?
Let’s stop making birth a competition. Let’s stop making c-sections out to be some horrific tragedy. Let’s lift each other up in our decisions regarding birth and delivery, rejoice in the miracle that is childbirth and celebrate with the woman who brought that child into the world.
Maggie is a wife to Ryan, mommy to Joe and Sam, and likes to blog whenever the 2 year old isn’t sitting on her head (or jumping on the 8 month old!) She is currently working to get into nursing school and hopes to work as a labor and delivery nurse. She writes at From the Heart.