First off, apologies for the gap in posts. As I’m sure any mom or mom-to-be out there knows, sometimes life happens and things can quickly get overwhelming – especially during the Holiday season! All that aside, I wanted to write a post today about my impending c-section. It wasn’t by choice, but that doesn’t make it a pill any easier to swallow. So here’s the candid, raw look into the sometimes messy world of a caesarean section birth.
You are not alone
Michael Jackson had at least one thing right. No matter how odd I thought something was in this pregnancy, after a little searching I would always find that I was not the only one having that experience. Recently, I’ve been struggling with having to get a c-section. In some weird way I felt like less of a “real woman” because I can’t give birth to my son the way the good Lord intended.
At the admonishment of many of my much saner friends, I very quickly realized that having a c-section in no way changes the status of your womanhood. Some of the ways in which I’ve heard women describe a c-section: cop-out, quitting, failure, last resort, giving up, losing the race, have to throw in the towel, etc. All of these words just create a cage in which we women put ourselves. You and I are not wrong for having these feelings and moments of doubt, but we are not correct in giving them validity. You are doing and have done everything in your power to make sure that this pregnancy is as healthy as possible. So don’t beat yourself up in the homestretch.
No, Virginia, there is no Santa Claus
This would be the most accurate way to describe what it felt like when I was told that my connective tissue disorder (and frequent hip dislocations) would prohibit me from having a natural birth. Part of me was like, “Bones? Who needs those? I can totally have a baby naturally! No pain, no gain, right doc?!” My doctor did not find my jokes (or my overcompensating nervous laughter) very funny. Whatever, his loss, I’m a freaking genius comedian. But honestly, behind the awkward sweaty smile was a kid who just found out Santa was really a middle-aged, pillow-wearing, wino just looking to make some fast cash at the mall.
One of this biggest reasons why I was having a freak out session was that I just had this very clinical, impersonal image of what a c-section was in my head. This is my first pregnancy, and I honestly don’t know if it will be my only pregnancy. So I want the birthing experience to be meaningful, special, and something I will be able to look back on fondly. But to me, getting a c-section was reminiscent of the time when the DJ played the wrong entrance song for me and my husband at our wedding. Sure the rest of the day was amazing and it was an awesome ceremony, but anytime anyone brings up the awkward moment when the song from “Beverly Hills Cop” inexplicably started playing, I can’t help but cringe.
Plans are for the crazy and the naive
Sometimes I happen to fall into both of those categories. If you know me, you know I love nothing more than planning and projects. But just like clockwork, I would find with alarming consistency that my well-intentioned plans never seemed to work. I would drive myself bonkers trying to make my pregnancy look and feel like how I thought it was supposed to be. Okay, so maybe it takes me a little longer than most to admit defeat when a plan just isn’t working. But c’mon, when so little is in our control during a high-risk pregnancy, is it really so bad if we lose it from time to time when things don’t go the way we wanted?
Allowing myself a mini pity party when I found out I couldn’t have the natural birth I wanted was actually one of the best things I could have done. I let myself be bummed, and then I shifted my attention to regrouping and adjusting my plans. It still gave me something to focus on. If I had just smushed down my disappointment and slapped on a shiny, happy veneer, you can bet good money that a small town could easily be destroyed by the ensuing floods when my emotional dam inevitably ruptured. So don’t ignore feeling let down, but don’t let it consume you either. No one wants the deaths of imaginary townspeople on their conscience.
C-Section ≠ Meaningless
At the direction of a good friend, I discovered the wonderful world of family-centered, natural caesarean birth! Though it is still more common in Europe than at home here in the States, it is gaining popularity. And why shouldn’t it? Every mother deserves to have the birthing experience she wants. In the natural c-section, just a few minor changes allow for a more personal mood in an otherwise cold and clinical setting. They do thinks like placing the IV in the non-dominant arm, putting the ECG dots on the shoulders, ribs, and back to leave the chest area clear, delivering the baby more slowly (mimicking the pressure from the vagina) to squeeze out liquid from the lungs, lowering the screen when the baby is delivered, delayed cord-clamping, and getting the baby onto the mother’s skin as soon as possible. This is what my husband and I want, but it’s not for everyone. The point I want to make here, though, is that you don’t have to give up your vision when you must have a c-section. With the exception of sudden medical emergencies, most doctors will be surprisingly open to your desired birthing experience.
In the end, I may not have entirely shaken off the c-section blues, but I certainly don’t feel as hopeless and helpless as I did in the beginning. In all honesty, I probably won’t be able to fully let out a sigh of relief until my baby is here, in my arms, safe and sound. Keeping my focus on the happy end result will definitely keep the blues at bay, though! So if you are feeling bummy about getting a caesarean, know that you are not alone and that you can still design your birthing experience. In case you’re interested, here’s an excellent video describing what a natural c-section is 🙂