Recently new mom Raye Lee took to Facebook to comment on some backlash she’d received about having a c-section instead of a vaginal birth. Someone had mistakenly told her she had “taken the easy way out.” Lee’s viral post answering back at that critic has gone viral, having been shared over 20,000 times. And I completely understand why. (Also, if you want a good look at a fresh c-section scar, head on over to her post! If not, then DON’T cause you will get an eye full.) She says in part,
Oh. A c-section? So you didn’t actually give birth. It must have been nice to take the easy way out like that.”
Ah, yes. My emergency c-section was absolutely a matter of convenience. It was really convenient to be in labor for 38 hours before my baby went into distress and then every contraction was literally STOPPING his HEART.
This was the most painful thing I have experienced in my life.
I now belong to a badass tribe of mamas with the scar to prove that I had a baby cut out of me and lived to tell the tale.
( because you can die from this, you know. )
Having a shrieking infant pulled out of an incision that is only 5 inches long, but is cut and shredded and pulled until it rips apart through all of your layers of fat, muscle, and organs (which they lay on the table next to your body, in order to continue to cut until they reach your child) is a completely different experience than I had imagined my sons birth to be.
This was not pleasant. It still isn’t.
You use your core muscles for literally everything… even sitting down, imagine not being able to use them because they have literally been shredded and mangled by a doctor and not being able to repair them for 6+ weeks because your body has to do it naturally.
I am the strongest woman, that I know. Not only for myself, but for my beautiful son… and I would honestly go through this every single day just to make sure I am able to see his smiling face.
I’ve had three c-sections myself, and faced some judgey, “Oh“‘s in response and “are you going to have a VBAC?” with subsequent pregnancies and when my answer to that was “No”…an awkward pause. Which I then had to fill, for some reason, with an apologetic excuse.
I didn’t choose my first c-section, but I am sure glad I had the option. Let me tell you why.
My husband and I like to joke that the birth of our first child 11 years ago was the best day of our lives…and the worst day of our lives.
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.
It was the best day 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. All of my other nurses I had that day and that I have ever had with any hospital experience (appendectomy, two additional c-sections, two ER visits) have been GREAT. I got ONE bad one. As in any profession, you get a bad one once in awhile. I know that 95% of nurses are fantastic and competent. This one was neither. But please don’t send me email about the nurse, k? Because that’s not the point of this post.
The point is, I had to have an emergency c-section. Let me be clear: the c-section 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 12-year-old wouldn’t be here, and since I’d be deadzo, my 9- and 5-year-olds would never have been conceived. At the end of that day, February 27, 2004, I was pretty darn thankful for c-sections.
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.
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.