My husband and I like to joke that the birth of our first child almost 14 years ago was the best day of our lives…and the worst day of our lives. (And side note: HOW is he THAT OLD now? Sheesh.)
Long story short, the birth ended in an emergency c-section…and that was FAR from the worst part.
But I don’t want to get ahead of myself. My birth experience with my son was great for about the first 12 hours, then horrible for the next two. Those two hours were so bad that I rarely talk about them, and I have blocked quite a bit of them from my memory. My husband and my mom can tell the story better than I can. During the trauma I experienced before my emergency c-section, I had an almost “out of body” experience. I wasn’t floating above my body looking down, but I mentally CHECKED OUT…I was vaguely aware that things were being done to me, but it was like I was observing it instead of being a participant. I have never been traumatized like that since, and I’ve never had an experience where I mentally went to another place like that, ever again. And I hope I never do. Shudder.
Anyway…it was the best day of our lives because at the end of it, we got a perfectly wonderful little boy, our son, Joshua Kenneth. It was the worst day because everything got all emergency-ish because of a nurse’s incompetence. That’s all I will say about her, except that we filed a formal complaint and she was disciplined. So, this isn’t me being dramatic. Girlfriend got in trouble for what she did that turned my routine birth into an emergency. (In childbirth class they tell you: don’t worry, if something goes wrong and your doctor is not there yet, the resident will come in. I think my mental panic attack started when THE RESIDENT CAME IN MY ROOM. I knew it was bad.)
Like I said, after the trauma drama I had to have an emergency c-section. Let me be clear: the c-section was not the reason for the trauma-drama and it was not the reason I had a horrible birth experience. Despite pushing my little heart out and dilating fully with no problems, in the end, my anatomy simply wasn’t going to cooperate. In my doctor’s words: “The arch in your pubic bones isn’t high enough to let his head through. His head is barely even in your cervix.”
So this is the undeniable truth: if it weren’t for c-sections, my baby and I would have died. My teenager wouldn’t be here, and since I’d be deadzo, my 11- and 7-year-olds would never have been conceived. At the end of that day, February 27, 2004, I was pretty darn thankful for my c-section.
I didn’t know until after the fact that some people considered having a c-section to be a bad thing. When faced with the pitying looks of a natural birth-advocating classmate at my 10-year high school reunion, I felt ashamed, and sputtered out an apology. “I tried to push him out, I really did. I was dilated to 10 and everything!”
I think she believed that if I’d wanted it bad enough, I could’ve done it. Seven months pregnant with my second child at the time, I felt uneasy. I doubted myself.
So at my next doctor’s appointment, I asked about a VBAC.
“Well,” my OB-GYN said, “we can totally try it. But the baby would need to be smaller than your first child (7 lbs 15 oz.), so we’d probably have to induce by 38 weeks to make sure there’s a chance she would fit into your cervix.”
Evict my baby two weeks before she was done cooking just so I could say I had a VBAC? I thought about it for about one-tenth of a second.
I had another c-section – and my daughter was a week early and weighed more than her big brother, so the chances of her being small enough to crank her noggin through my stingy pubic bones was probably not good.
Me with my second child, Sophie, after my c-section and a little lip gloss application. Because I am such an amazing mom that I couldn’t even find a picture of me with my firstborn (that was digital, anyway).
Baby # 3? Another c-section. Once again, I was unwilling to evict him for bragging rights. I DID however, end up having to have him evicted at 38 weeks because of high blood pressure (which is also the reason I was induced at 40 weeks + 1 day with my first. Pregnancy and my blood pressure do not agree.)
Would I advise an elective c-section? Do I think you should get one because you’re afraid of traditional childbirth or because it’s convenient for you or your physician? Hell to the no. To tell you the truth, I think that sounds like the worst idea ever. I mean, personally, I LOVE having a giant hole cut in my adbomen and then feeling like I’m going to DIE every time I stand up for the next 4 weeks, but I don’t think it’s all that healthy in general. (I hope you’re picking up my sarcasm here.)
If you can have your babies the good old-fashioned way, please do. If I could’ve I would’ve. That’s certainly what I planned to do.
But if you can’t, don’t apologize. I’m sure not going to, ever again.
Because you just freaking grew a human in your body for 9 months and then you made the absolute best decision possible about birthing it, and quite frankly, you’ve got better things to do than feeling guilty about that kid’s exit route.
So, I’m not sorry about my c-sections. And it would be great if everyone else stopped being sorry for me.