In truth, I’ve had two c-sections–one for each kiddo. And amazingly, ignoring all of those posts out there about how caesarean sections aren’t desirable deliveries or how real moms deliver babies, I feel absolutely zero remorse for my choices. I came out of both deliveries just fine–and same for my kiddos; that’s all I really wanted.
When preparing for the birth of our first child, dd, we went through the birthing class offered by the hospital where we planned to deliver. The doula was great about giving us information on caring for ourselves as pregnant women, how to care for our children once fresh out of the wrapping, and how to care for ourselves again once we were new moms. At one point, I remember asking how much of one particular lesson was applicable if one was to have a c-section (not because I knew at that point that I’d have one, but just out of curiosity). Her response was to shrug and say simply, “It’s good information for you to know regardless”. Point well taken. Time well spent.
And so it was that I figured I would deliver vaginally…right up until the time when I went for an ultrasound a few weeks before dd’s due date and was told that she was full breech. She was in a v-position, actually; her head was lodged under my left rib, her feet were in my right rib, and her butt was pointed down. (I would later learn that this was actually one of the things that caused her to have DDH–developmental dysplasia of the hip–but we’ve long since sorted that out.)
I talked over the options with my doctor. I could either undergo “versioning” (a process where they try to manhandle the baby into the proper position) or I could just go with a c-section. Versioning can have side-effects, I was told, not the least of which is that it can cause you to go into labor early–meaning you may still not avoid a c-section, but this time you’d be doing it on an emergency basis. I decided to take the path that we all felt was less risky, and I went with the c-section. Of course, best laid plans of mice and maternity wards were still thwarted; dd put me into labor the day before she was due and some doctor I’d never met before (or seen since) was the one who delivered her. Ah well.
Recovery wasn’t too tricky, which I’ll attribute heavily to my having done yoga pre- and post-delivery. And no, I’m not a Gisele Bundchen-type that has nannies and hangers-on making recovery just a dream, lest anyone have any ideas about why recovery wasn’t difficult for me.
When it came to ds, I had the option of a vaginal birth after caesarean (VBAC), and my doctor said I wasn’t a bad candidate for it. However, she did tell me that there was risk inherent in having a VBAC and she left the choice up to me. We talked it through, and ultimately I decided to go with the second c-section as a way to manage the risks. We weren’t sure how high the risk was for a rupture, but given my 36 years categorized me as advanced maternal age (AMA), I was already into the “hmm, be a bit more cautious” range as far as the doctors were concerned.
Delivering ds was a bit less eventful than it had been with his sister; he managed to stay put until he was full-term, sparing me a second go-around with the bizarre experience of having my water break. (Contrary to popular belief, it’s not like there’s just one whoosh of water and then suddenly the pool has run dry; more water comes out with each contraction, by which time you’re wondering if your uterus is hooked up to some kind of amniotic underground spring.) Again, recovery was straightforward–perhaps even more so because I had a much better sense of how it would go the second time around.
And note that in each case I say, “deliver” or “delivering”. My c-sections were no less a delivery than a vaginal birth. They’re no more, no less. So much of the complaining that I hear online comes down to women fretting loudly over the fact that a c-section robbed of an experience they truly wanted to have. And yet, I sit here firmly in agreement with the doula who taught us a decade ago: The goal for delivery is “healthy mommy, healthy baby”.
Sure, things aren’t always going to break your way. And it’s awful for a woman to endure hours and hours of labor only to find out that she needs to have emergency surgery. Two words you never really want to put in the same sentence are “emergency” and “surgery”. I get that.
But the thing is, the level of shouting has ascended to the point where it’s almost some kind of attempt to shame those of us who had c-sections (whether they were unexpected or performed willingly), and frankly that ticks me off something fierce. No mother’s quality should be defined on the basis of how her child was delivered into the world. The mom who home-births in a pool is no better and no worse than the mom who gets an epidural while she’s in a hospital birthing suite and is no better and no worse than the mom who’s numbed by a spinal and has her uterus temporarily removed by a doctor in a delivery room.
Shame–whether intended or just implied–is simply a cudgel with which to beat other moms out of some messed up desire to claim the top of the heap for only a select few.
We have absolutely GOT to stop allowing all this mommy-shaming and one-ups-momship, because it’s dividing and conquering us. Parents (yes, ALL parents, not just moms) need to be supportive, accepting, and inclusive. And while what I’ve written might tick off someone who’s militant that c-sections are the tool of the medical-industrial sector, I hope it’s given at least one woman the bravery to accept that her own c-section is okay. It’s understandable to be disappointed if a delivery didn’t go exactly as you planned, but when you look at your kids it’s also important to remember that parenting is about them–NOT us–and your own worth as a parent is so much more than how they made it into your arms that very first time.