I’m not sure why other people are so interested in a woman’s birth choice, and why you’re seen as less of a mom if you’ve had a C-section. (I was going to link to an article about this, but I don’t want to give the writer any more attention.) An acquaintance asked me the other day if I’d had natural birth, and when I replied in the negative, she actually cringed. “But natural is best,” she said.
No, actually. Whatever results in a healthy baby – and a healthy mother – is best. In my case, it was three C-section deliveries that I have absolutely no regrets over.
I had wanted a natural, intervention-free birth with Angie. I was so convinced that I’d be able to give birth as easily as my mother did – why else do I have these hips, right? – that I didn’t even look at the notes on C-sections during my antenatal classes. I even briefly considered dropping my gynae for a midwife and trying for a home birth.
Angie, strong-willed even in the womb, didn’t arrive on her due date. Or even ten days later, despite us doing just about everything we could think of to induce labour. (Except castor oil. I couldn’t bring myself to swallow it.)
My gynae eventually induced me, and by the next morning I had gotten over any objections to the drugs they offered me. Not long after an amniotomy – in which they broke my waters with an object resembling a giant crochet hook – I begged the nurse to make the anaesthetist hurry up and put me out of my misery. I’ve heard that an induced labour can be more painful than going into labour naturally. I don’t know how true that is, but I can attest to the fact that my induced labour pains were like nothing I had ever experienced before.
Eighteen hours after I’d been induced, I had dilated only four centimetres. I was exhausted, hungry, and so over being pregnant that when my gynae brought up the C-section I didn’t even blink before agreeing. I signed some more forms, my epidural was topped up, and Jacques prayed with me before they wheeled me into theatre.
I expected to have some regret, some feeling that I’d been cheated of the birth I’d wanted, but I only felt relief that I was okay, my baby was okay, and the day was finally over. I did not struggle to bond with Angie, or to breastfeed her, and she was never colicky or in need of chiro. I also really didn’t mind not being able to drive for six weeks because it meant I got to realise my dream of being a hermit for a little while.
My second pregnancy came too soon after the first for me to consider a VBAC. I went in expecting a similar experience and recovery, but to my surprise it was a lot different. The recovery was a lot quicker. I was mobile that same day, and I didn’t have to give myself anti-clotting injections the way I did after Angie.
Again, I did not have a problem bonding with Emmy. Breastfeeding was actually easier, since this time one of us knew what we were doing. She was also never colicky, and although we struggled with her ability to survive on very little sleep, I’m pretty sure that’s just how she was created and not due to her method of birth.
My third C-section was even more of a breeze than the first two. My anaesthetist struggled to find a vein for the IV, and that was honestly the most painful part of the entire procedure. He used a different anaesthetic than I’d had before, which had the benefit of not inducing post-surgery shakes. I was itchy from the morphine, but I’d rather be itchy than have uncontrollable shakes. The pediatrician was late, so there I was, lying open on the table while the doctors and nurses chatted and I tried not to look at the reflection of my open belly in the light fitting above me.
After what seemed like a very short time in recovery, Jacques – still dressed in his theatre scrubs – helped wheel me back to the maternity ward. I said something like, “You feel like you’re in an episode of ER now, don’t you?”
I expected to feel a bit of a disconnect with Rafe, since I wasn’t too sure how I felt about being a boy mom. But as soon as they lifted him out of me, I couldn’t take my eyes off him. His favourite place to sleep is on my chest, over my heart, with his face snuggled into my neck. My only problem with breastfeeding is that it seems like he’s always eating – but then I was warned that boys are hungrier than girls.
I will admit that the ban on driving has been more challenging this time, but only because I have two highly energetic preschoolers at home with me and the burning desire to go shopping to replenish my chocolate stash. (The need for chocolate may or may not have anything to do with the aforementioned preschoolers.)
Sitting in church the other day, cuddling my newborn in the mother’s room, I started to feel a bit broody again. I am so aware of how soon these newborn days will pass. Rafe will never be this small again. He will never fit so snugly in my arms again. Every time I nurse him is one step closer to him being weaned. I will miss these days.
It’s not the thought of another C-section that’s stopping me from having another baby, though; I don’t think I could cope with another pregnancy. (And, also, we have no more space in our car.)
I have three beautiful, healthy children. I have every belief they are going to do amazing things. (Angie told me today that after being a mom and a scientist, she’s going to be the president.) It does not matter how they were born, only that they were born.
Enough with the mom shaming already.
Have you ever been judged for your birth choice?