I’m not sure anyone gets pregnant and thinks “man I can’t wait to have this baby cut out of me!” At least, I know I didn’t.
For months I read all the books, specifically focusing on Ina May Gaskins Guide to Childbirth. I dreamt of the natural birth, free from drugs and with as little intervention as possible and wanted to truly see what my body could do. I studied and wrote up a birth plan. My husband and I were mostly on the same page, with him saying “it’s coming out of you, so I guess you get to decide!” I was about half way into my pregnancy and feeling strong. Despite the difficult road so far, hospital trips, extra ultrasounds and a few scary conversations preparing us to potentially lose the baby. I had been on and off of bed rest, no exercise allowed, and low stress life. Ha! While I knew my body was made to deliver this baby, it definitely was not going according to plan. But I was determined.
Turns out, my body wasn’t made that way. Thanks to a previously unknown bicornate uterus, my dreams of a natural delivery quickly disappeared. What is a bicornate uterus you ask? My uterus is heart-shaped with a partial division. There are a long list of risks associated with this condition including: not being able to get pregnant, need for a c-section, and pre-term labour. In our case, it meant that this little life growing inside of me was stuck in the seated position.
The term c-section was being thrown around and I knew that despite my dreams, I would do whatever I had to in order to protect her life, and my own. So surgery it was. I spent a few days quiet about this news. Maybe grieving for my birth plan, maybe scared for what the OR would bring, but looking back I think it was because I knew that people would have something negative to say about it.
Turns out, I was right. When I finally broke the news, I got a lot of “helpful” tips. Things such as:
- “spend more time with your feet above your head, baby still has so much time to flip!”
- “Your doctor is just trying to scare you into giving birth in a way that’s more convenient for them! Stay strong mama! Fight for what’s best for your baby, a natural birth!”
- “I know someone who delivered a breech baby vaginally. You’re just taking the easy way out!”
A combination of hormones, general anxiety and fear of the unknown had me shutting my mouth within HOURS of sharing the news of this change. I cried because somehow, I felt like I’d already failed, because that’s what society had taught me. She wouldn’t be born in a quiet delivery room, free from toxic medication. There would be no delayed cord clamping and I definitely wouldn’t be the first one to hold her. I mourned a loss I didn’t even really understand.
My little girl is now 6 months old. My c-section went smoothly & I delivered a beautiful baby who is amazingly healthy and thriving. Today, I wear my scar with pride. About 4 inches below my belly button I have an angry purple looking scar. I spent months hiding it, not ashamed, just not wanting to talk about it. Not anymore. I am proud of my scar, proud of the work I did to have this baby, and proud of how far I’ve come. And with this realization, determined to spread the word that a c-section delivery is just as natural as a vaginal one.
Nope. I didn’t have a “natural birth.” Instead I had a team of people surrounding me in the OR as I shook in fear.
I did not get to hold my baby first. Technically the surgeon who I am immensely thankful for did, followed closely by my amazing supportive husband. He took all of 2 seconds to settle into his new role as he snuggled his new pride and joy closely.
Yep. Medication was involved. In fact, a ton of medical intervention was. A shot to numb my back, the spinal, the catheter, the oxygen, the two IVs and fluids and more.
But guess what. I was sliced open, in a room full of strangers in order to deliver my baby. I was as exposed as I could be. This was the safest option for me, and my baby, and I’m glad that I had a strong team of support behind me. I’m so tired of people saying “I didn’t REALLY give birth” or that “c-sections are the easy way out.” I got pregnant. I grew a baby inside of me. The baby came out of my body. That my friends, is birth. It shouldn’t have anything to do with the method in which baby came out. It was hard, painful, scary and so many other emotions that I’m sure have a place in a vaginal birth as well.
Until you’ve walked a mile in mine or anyone else’s shoes, don’t pass judgement. In fact, how about we all just stop judging each other? Everyone’s birth stories are different. Everyone’s birth stories are beautiful. And no one should feel any shame for the way their baby came into this world.
Did you have a c-section? What was your experience like?