In four weeks I will go to the second floor of the university hospital to find out once and for all if I need to have a C-section to bring my daughter into the world. And I’m beginning to really want a C-section. I know, I know. But hear me out.
Before I learned surgery may be required, I was preparing to have a med free birth. I skimmed the books and the blogs and the medical stuff I was able to understand; I listened to friends who’d conquered the birth beast sans any interventions; I hired a doula. I was going to say no to drugs and be a birth warrior. People would be impressed. My lady parts would be sore, but legendary. (I mean that in the best way.) I would go all natural, all the way.
My due date crept closer. I started doing more research. I started asking dangerous questions. Like, does it hurt?
Some answers I got were less than encouraging.
Everything from my belly button down was on fire.
My vagina looked like a blown-out tire.
I needed over 30 stitches.
Modesty was a big priority when my labor started. By the end, I pooped naked in front of my husband, several nurses and someone from housekeeping and didn’t even care.
Let’s pause. When you are dropping bombs with your legs spread from California to Cincinnati with an audience at the end zone, and you don’t even care, girlfriend, you are hurting.
My butt exploded. (Excusez-moi? Your what did what? Yes, people agreed, butts tend to explode in the L and D ward.)
And my personal fave: Labor is like swallowing razor blades. But the following two weeks, you need to get the razor blades out.
To be fair, plenty of C-section reviews are equally gruesome. The most memorable came from a dad who watched his wife’s procedure.
They basically cut her in half, took out all her organs, then had to put her back together. It was like Humpty Dumpty meets CSI. Also, she walked with a pillow in front of her stomach for a month and cried when she coughed.
I have accepted that in life sometimes you’re the ship and sometimes you’re the bottle. Pregnant sisters, we are the bottle. But we can have preferences.
Just about the time I started preferring not having a blown-out tire with 30 stitches, I found out two things. First, I may not have the option in the first place. And second, there existed an expectation I might be disappointed or upset with a C-section birth. At a recent doctor’s appointment, my OB wasn’t five steps in the room when she asked, in a tone of grave sympathy, “How’s your heart?”
I did the awkward movie thing and looked behind me, where there stood a wall, because my knee-jerk reaction was surely she was addressing some other patient, someone with heart problems. Then it occurred to me she anticipated some grieving on my part over the necessary operation.
I replied, “My heart? Oh, yeah, it’s just fine. I’m good.” (Cause my goodies aren’t headed toward the blender, Doc.)
Confession though, I am a little disappointed. Yeah, I will be able to go horseback riding a lot sooner than the mama in the room next to mine, but I won’t have that moment. You know the one? That moment where after all the work and all the pain, all the swear words and hand squeezing and cheering, maybe even some shameless pooping; I won’t have that moment where I’ve reached this incredible summit so many women before me have climbed and in one final feat of determination I push my baby into the world and my husband whispers, “You did it.” He’d wipe the hair from my eyes and kiss my sweaty forehead and we’d look at our baby with hearts full of wonder and relief. I really want that moment.
Babies though, they teach us right from the start that it doesn’t matter a whole lot what we want. I may not get my moment. But I’ll still get something natural.
The more I think about what spring may hold for my body, the more I understand natural is not limited to births without drugs. In fact, natural is not at all limited to happy events like new babies and ideal births. Fissures of suffering and death are visible in our natural world that still longs for healing. So for now, miscarriages are perfectly natural; I know this well. It’s quite natural to never become pregnant in the first place. Bodies naturally have all kinds of inherent hurdles that keep us from creating families. It is for natural reasons that excited couples go in to 10-week and 20-week and 30-week appointments full of dreams for their burgeoning little one and leave having seen a flickering image that brought their whole world to a standstill. Those things are all natural.
If things don’t change, and I don’t walk in to the operating room and get the IV and allow the drugs to be administered and lay still while they course through my veins, if I don’t submit to the scalpel and the sutures and the antibiotics I’ll need after to ward off infection, then I will, for perfectly natural reasons, not be around to mother either of my children. Death by natural causes. I’ll miss all kinds of moments.
But because of some incredible scientific graces created in a lab and made of steel, I am going to live.
I am going to focus on this answer I got from my friend Lauren:
We all have to recover from birth in different ways to various degrees, but at the end of the day that is your birth story. That’s the sacrifice it takes to bring life into this world. And that’s beautiful and powerful.
Maybe you’re like me and starting to think a C-section ain’t the worst thing that ever happened to your body (or your nether regions). Maybe you’re really bummed about it. But take heart. You’re still getting the best kind of natural. Whether you walk out of an operating room or a birthing tub, you did it. You are holding the most wonderful natural thing, and does it really matter how he made his exit?
You’re going to meet a miracle. It is going to be beautiful and it is going to be powerful. I can hardly imagine a better moment.
So here’s where I am sitting, while I still can: Maybe I’ll get sawed in half in April or maybe a bomb will detonate in my pants. Either way, I get my girl.