I’ve Got the C-Section Blues

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.

Sometimes you need a good snap

Sometimes you need a good snap

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.

Sometimes you just need a minute

Sometimes you just need a minute

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?

So help me, I will make this work!!

So help me, I will make this work!!

 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 🙂

4 Things Not to Feel Guilty About

*First off, sorry for the delay in posts.  Between the baby shower and “fun” times of the third trimester, it’s been a little difficult to get around to doing everything that needs to be done.  Anyways, thanks for your patience and here’s something to brighten up your Monday!

As the Holiday season gets into full swing and I enter the homestretch of the third trimester, my anxieties are at an all time high.  If you’re like me, you don’t ever want to disappoint the people in your life.  But sometimes that seems nearly impossible to avoid with the items on your To-Do-List snowballing out of control.  So trying to keep up with everyone and everything that deserves your attention can be tricky to say the least.

It's usually not so adorable

It’s usually not so adorable

Sure it’s difficult to live a guilt-free life – despite the lies Dove Chocolate keeps feeding me – but here are some things that I’ve been able to come to terms with on my pregnancy journey.

1. Being a Bad Friend

With everything on your plate, sometimes it’s hard to make not just time, but meaningful time, for all the important people in your life.  You can feel especially guilty if those people have always been able to make time for you.  I’ve really beaten myself up in the past for all the times I’ve had to say “no” to invites or visits from friends.  I even got nervous that people would start to think my reasons for not going were bogus.  “Oh right, you’re ‘sick’ I’m sure.”  But when you live with an invisible illness, the people in your life will have to understand that you may not always “look sick” or even “act sick.”  Especially now that you’re pregnant, it’s not just your health that you have to think about, you have to think about how things will effect your baby.  Sure, if I wasn’t pregnant and was having a flare-up, I might push myself and go out with friends and just pay for it (physically) later.  But now that I’ve got a little life completely dependent on me and my actions, I think twice about everything I agree to do.

He's just so sassy!

He’s just so sassy!

What it boils down to is this: the people who truly know and care about you will understand that pregnancy and chronic illnesses will sometimes limit what you are able to do.  The people who don’t get it or try to make you feel like you’re being a “bad friend” by putting your and your baby’s health first, are people that clearly do not deserve your time in the first place.

2. Being a Bad Partner

Whether you have a boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, or wife, it takes work to keep a relationship balanced and healthy.  Ignore the people that have a picture-perfect relationship.  They’re either lying or (gasp!) actually happy.  Either way, it’s not worth worrying about, because the Lord knows your energy is already on a limited supply as it is!  One of the few people you’re going to actually want to spend your energy on is your partner.  Not only are they there for you through all your health issues, but they are by your side as you both embark on this crazy journey of parenthood.  Sometimes, though, I can get all insecure in my head telling myself that my husband is going to get so fed up with me and my issues, that he’ll just be like, “Deuces!!!”

Come baaack!

Come baaack!

Thankfully my partner not only puts up with the tribulations of this pregnancy, but he also reassures me when I get all insecure.  Hopefully you have someone in your life that can be of some support to you while you are going through this high-risk pregnancy.  And remember, support doesn’t just have to come from a husband or partner, it can be your best friend or mom or sister.  So whoever you have in your life that is there to hold you up when you think you just can’t stand anymore, show your appreciation as often as you can but don’t beat yourself up if you don’t always have the energy to do as much as you want to do. (Sorry for the run-on sentence haha)

3. Being a Bad Mom

Once, a customer asked me how I felt about the fact that I’m about to become a mom.  I said that it was a combination of excitement and nervousness.  When she patted me on the arm, I thought she was about to say something like, “Oh don’t be nervous,” or that “It’s perfectly natural to feel that way,” or something like that.  But what did she say instead?  “You know, good moms never have doubts.  So you might want to rethink things, honey.”  And her equally sensitive friend added, “You’ve made your bed, now you’ve got to lie in it!”

For reals

For reals

So after I picked up my jaw off the floor, I had a minor panic attack.  Was this lady right?  Does being nervous mean that you lack the necessary confidence to be a good mother?  After talking to my mom friends, I found that it’s actually just the opposite!  I’ve chosen to change my definitions.  It’s not “second-guessing” it’s “double-checking.”  Me being nervous just shows that I care so much about doing things right.  And a wise friend once said, “A good mom is simply someone who cares.”  Your age, socioeconomic status, orientation, etc., does not have any bearing on whether or not you are going to be a good mom or not.  Your dedication to giving your child the best life possible is what matters.  So I may not be rich or the picture of perfect health, but I’m not going to let my personal hangups distract me from focusing on my little one.

4. Being a Bad YOU

Last but certainly not least, this is something that effects so many women.  Even in my first trimester, I already felt like my body wasn’t my own.  You know what else does that to you?  Health conditions.  So I was already familiar with feeling like I have no control over my body.  Hip dislocations, inflammation, hair loss, memory loss, and knowing that your own immune system is actively attacking you is not exactly super awesome.  The minute another human being was added to the equation, the lack of ownership over my body seemed to grow exponentially.  Also can we acknowledge that a baby moving in your stomach is kind of creepy sometimes?

I can't be the only one who thought this

I can’t be the only one who thought this

Besides the physical aspect of your pregnancy, there’s a very real emotional side.  People have this insatiable need to put labels on each other.  Granted, some could argue that labels make things easier to understand.  But for many, confining a person to a box restricts their identity.  Needing to define someone as “black” or “gay” or “Muslim” can even carry negative connotations with it.  While a gay man is certainly not ashamed of his orientation, he probably doesn’t appreciate being known by some solely as “the gay one” in his social circle.  Similarly, I am not ashamed to add “mother” to my repertoire, yet I don’t want to be limited by this new chapter.  When I’ve shared this opinion, some people have implied that I should feel guilty if I’m not making motherhood and my baby the center of my world.  But I would feel guilty if I raised my son thinking that a woman can only  be a mother.

girls

Yup

At the end of the day, I can only be me.  And the only people that can make me feel guilty are the people I let  make me feel that way.  So I choose to spend my time letting the loving and supportive people in my life know how much I value and care for them.  I truly feel that is the best any person can do in this life.  Be genuine, be objective, be kind.  If my child learns only those things, then there’s really nothing for me to feel guilty about then, is there?