I've always felt a little "robbed" when it came to my birth experiences.
But after ten years of infertility, I simply told myself to suck that up. How amazing that I got to have a baby at all. The fact that it didn't go as planned? Keep that to yourself.
(Click here if you want to read what happened during Elijah "Sidge's" birth that started off all this c-section nonsense.)
I still think that fact is mostly true. It truly doesn't matter how your babies get here when it really comes down to it.
However, I recently read this article: Three Truths About C-Section Mamas shared with me by my Turkey friend Sarahbee. It was written by a woman who photographed section births. And it really got me thinking.
April is C-Section Awareness Month (they have a month for everything, don't they?) and so I figured now was a good time to share.
I went through a range of emotions with each of my three sections. With my first (Elijah "Sidge") I didn't even have time to process these emotions since it was unplanned and of an urgent nature. But with my last two planned sections, I had much more time to think about things as we went along.
There were two main things that always "bothered" me about having a c-section.
1. Being prepped for the surgery: This is probably the one that has always stuck with me the most. I really never realized, until reading this article, how much my emotions were normal and expected. Sitting on the operating room table, waiting for them to put in the epidural while everyone scurried around and JB waited outside and knowing I was soon going to be cut open and recovery was going to begin has always caused me to not WANT to think back on the birth of my kiddos.
The author captured what I felt so vividly when she wrote:
Being prepped for a c-section is not a walk through the park. Many times, a mother’s partner is not allowed in the OR until after the epidural has been administered and everyone has “taken their place.” This means that while doctors and nurses move about, readying the operating room for delivery (maybe talking about their lunch or what movie they saw over the weekend) a strong pregnant mama sits on a cold operating table considering what lies before her - often scared and often feeling very alone.
And in these moments, a c-section mama must hold onto the strong and fierce love she has for her baby. She lets fear wash over her...and then she lets it drift away. She know that in this moment, this is what is best for her child, even though “what’s best” means a major surgery with real wounds and scars. Even though “what’s best” means letting go of a dream or a vision of birth that she’s been building up for the last nine months.
If you haven’t had a c-section before, I encourage you to let the stark reality of this moment settle in your mind - put yourself in her place, on that table, waiting, possibly fearful.. When you do, I think you’ll quickly realize how brave c-section mamas are.
2. Not holding my baby (or really wanting to) after the baby was born: When Sidge was born, he was in BAD shape, and we thought we were going to lose him. Holding him was the last thing on my mind. But with Abigail, we were in Germany, and they didn't have their OB recovery room available. So JB had to go with our daughter to one room while I went to a different section of the hospital. When they asked me if I was okay with that, I told them I was. (What else could I say?) And honestly, after everything that happened with Sidge, I didn't really feel the freedom to ask for more. After Hannah, I had some hypothermia set in that caused me to feel very ill. Each time I couldn't hold the baby or just didn't feel like holding the baby or was in too much pain from the section to hold my babies. So different from so many pictures I see online on Mamas and babies.
There aren’t many mothers who will say that a c-section was what they had first envisioned when they thought about giving birth. A c-section is a medical necessity in the best of situations; in the worst cases, it can be due to the outdated practices of a doctor or his/her desire for convenience.
Some c-section mamas have weeks to mentally prepare for a change in their plans, but many only have days, hours, or minutes. Suddenly, everything she envisioned when meeting her child has changed. Her birth plan has been thrown out the window. Surgery lies before her. She doesn’t know how long she’ll have to wait after birth before she holds her baby in her arms.
We humans don’t tend to do well in situations of sudden change. And yet c-section mamas find a way to let go of their pride and connect with an inner-strength that allows them to enter the OR and give birth to their child.
And then the actual surgery happens. The actual cutting and suturing. Full recovery often takes months. And while most of us would like to curl up with a bowl of ice cream and a stack of movies after a major surgery, c-section mamas do just the opposite. They nurture and love and bond with their needy, beautiful babies.
Emotionally and physically, these women are SO strong. And this strength isn’t just necessary on delivery day; this strength must endure in the weeks and months and years ahead - as their bodies and souls heal, crafting new dreams with their little ones in their arms.
But at the same time, I am so incredibly THANKFUL for modern medicine. I am quite aware (and my doctor at Eglin reiterated this to me) that had I not lived in the place I did and at the time I did, I would have most likely died in childbirth with Sidge. Or he would have died in order to save my life.
And that means my girls wouldn't be here.
This article made me realize that I am blessed. But it is okay to feel free to admit that this is a part of my story I wish could have been written another way.