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I am not joining the pity party…….

February 23, 2009

As I have had more time on my hands lately, I have been reading (a lot) of blogs. I have found this network of women who are lamenting over the fact that they had to have cesarean sections to give birth to their children. They drew me in and I read several of them. But I had a hard time making a connection.

I really, truly appreciate the fact that many women want to fully experience childbirth a la natural. Me, well, I am more of a bring on the drugs kind of person. Epidural – yes, please. C-section – if you insist.

However, I, too, was all set to deliver my babies the old fashioned way – well with the benefit of modern pharmaceuticals and a building and doctors – no woods, no medicine men for me. Thanks anyway. Number one hubby and I checked the box and attended a Lamaze class – watched the video – and realized that we had absolutely no idea what we had gotten ourselves me into. I have to do what? And you get to sit there and tell me how to breathe? I am quite sure that is (not) going to prove to be very helpful.

Our Lamaze instructor was very excited about all things birth. However, being so close to the actual event myself (coupled with the fact that I was the one actually responsible for accomplishing it), I found it hard to share her enthusiasm. So, when she got to the part on c-sections, I remember turning to Number One Hubby and asking if he wanted to go get some lunch. Enough already. There are truly only so many home videos an about-to-be-mom can watch.

I think I can quote that instructor exactly, “I want everyone here to pay v.e.r.y. close attention to this part of the class. No one here thinks they will have a c-section, but I can guarantee you that at least one person in this room will deliver by c-section. You will want to know what’s happening.”

Me to Hubby: Oh, that’s really too bad. I wonder
which one of THOSE women it will be.
Hubby: Yeah.
Fate: You my sista.

I spent several days in and out of the hospital in the days before Bear was born. I won’t bore you with the details – we all have a story – but the bottom line was the doctors think I was passing a kidney stone. Yes, that was a great idea. Welcome to my little corner of brilliance. Give birth – pass a kidney stone – oh heck, let’s just do both – at the same time – sure. But in a way it was lucky, because in searching for the stone, they found my amniotic fluid was low and that my little Bear was breech. They scheduled me for a c-section a few days later. Seems they were very busy on that particular day and could not do it right away. But didn’t you say my amniotic fluid was low? Whatever. At least I thought I would have time to review the tape. That Lamaze lady was right, maybe I should have paid attention. Oh, you meant me?

I thought I had time to review those tapes until my water broke and we found ourselves in an emergency c-section situation. And, by ourselves, I do mean myself. Oh yes, doesn’t that sound a lot better? My husband was conducting a science experiment to determine exactly what type of fluid was gushing out of me at record speeds, while I was busy doing my best to convince him that we needed to go back to the hospital. Immediately. As in Right. Now. It was the stuff that sitcoms are made of. It seems he was tired and he really just wanted to sit down. Seriously? Let’s leave the alkaline test to the professionals. You know – the brilliant ones who just sent us home.

Needless to say, I had surgery. I recovered from surgery and got pregnant again. I ended up with 3 sections. All three of them emergencies. You’ve now read about Bear. Flower was also breech. I had a granola doctor who wanted to try to flip her for me – but I read about it and decided it wasn’t so much for me. They do it in the operating room in case you go into labor or stress (translation – something goes wrong or worse, very wrong) – it was only about 50% likely to work – and they expect the mom (and I am guessing her little bundle of baby) to get pretty bruised and therefore to be pretty uncomfortable – yes, with labor looming. No thank you. I survived one c-section just fine. Bring on number two. Flower’s birth became an emergency because apparently slipping on the ice late in pregnancy can bring on labor and my water broke again. There is just no rest for the clumsy.

Angel – well, it seems they don’t want you to even consider a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean – if there are any men still reading at this point -sorry) after two c-sections. But just to keep it interesting, I was in a car accident the day Angel was born and learned what decelerated heart rate means in triage. I can assure you that labor and deliver triage is neither the time nor the place to review SAT vocabulary words like decelerated heart rate or STAT.

Because my water broke twice, I had the initial experience of being in labor. Yeah, it is not all it’s cracked up to be. Going into labor gives me the thrill of shaking like a meth addict in rehab. It ain’t pretty. The first time it happened, I was terrified that the anesthesiologist would not be able to get the needle in the right spot. And, YES, I had read all those articles about the potential for paralysis with a misplaced epidural. (note to self – step away from the internet.) The doctor said as long as he wasn’t shaking we were fine. Oh good, I got a comedian. Thankfully a very steady comedian. I can still walk.

The bottom line in all of this is that c-sections are not perfect. But I am very thankful modern science has brought them into existence. If you have ever had a c-section or are facing one soon – even if, my friend, it was something you chose to do – please do not feel short changed. It is one of your first journeys into parenthood and it foreshadows what the rest of your parenting journey will be like – at times scary, at times rushed, at times overwhelming, at times disappointing, and at times rewarding beyond measure. When they put that little baby in your arms, it will not matter one bit how he or she got there. You’ll be just as overwhelmed as any other new parent – with love and joy and a whole new sense of responsibility.

I think it might be the loss of control that is so hard to forget and forgive. And the fear that follows it. Not knowing what will happen next can be extremely overwhelming, especially when a life seems to hang in the balance. But again, that is just one pebble in this parenting path. A pebble that will forever hide in the corner of our shoe as a constant, irritating reminder that we do not control the cosmos. Sometimes we have to walk uncomfortable journeys to get to our destination.

The tears really worth shedding are for those men and women who never get to hold a child they love in their arms.

NOTE: after writing this post, I received a lot of comments via email and on the blog – as a result, I followed up with a post called “Digging Deeper”

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26 Comments leave one →
  1. December 23, 2009 5:02 am

    gosh, you left a link and I cant believe I didnt follow it back until now.

    I think I’ll go repeat what someone up there said. This is not about not feeling gratitude for a healthy baby, nor is it about self-inflicted woe. Its about different people feeling differently about different things. You might not feel disappointed, I just might. Doesn’t make it any less valid, nor does it mean i am not grateful for advances in technology that saved me and my child from potential harm.

    Just means that we’re different people who feel differently about the same thing – thats what makes us individuals!

  2. June 8, 2009 7:42 am

    Came here from Mad Momma’s. I loved reading ur version. A C sec or a VBAC or a natural birth is not an issue in itself. its the choice that the mother wants to make. Have now posted my story in the comments section too..

  3. May 4, 2009 7:52 am

    Hey Came here via bloghopping and feel really good to read that there are some moms like me who prefer c-sec then normal delivery…

    I feel when we have facilities to have painless delivery why to go with normal tiring process…My baby is anyways precious to me…method of coming out will not change my bonding with him…

  4. March 2, 2009 2:59 am

    Abha – thanks for coming by!

  5. March 2, 2009 2:37 am

    hopped over from Avanti’s and being a c-sec mom meself, agee completely. i really dont understand how “what” kind of birth i give makes ANY difference to the kind of woman or mother I am?

    i am fine and so it my kid! so where is the problem?! 🙂

    cheers!

  6. February 28, 2009 8:16 am

    Monika – welcome – and thank you

  7. February 28, 2009 6:25 am

    oh so so so beautifully written i delivered by C-sect too and it was a pre planned scheduled one due to some complications I had… i always argue and try to explain people that because i havent experienced labor doesnt make me any less mother

    nice one

  8. February 28, 2009 3:22 am

    Munchkin’s Mom – I am so sad for women who hang onto the anger and disappointment when they have been given such gifts – it baffles me – thanks for stopping by

  9. February 28, 2009 1:15 am

    I think the last line sums it up beautifully.
    Even today, I meet a lot of new Moms who feel short changed because they did not get to experience a vaginal birth and I shake my head in dismay. In doing so they do themselves a huge disservice- motherhood is tough enough without having to add this self inflicted woe too.

    I’m happy to see this article, may our tribe grow 🙂

  10. February 25, 2009 5:52 am

    Tottsmom – shake I did.

  11. Tottsmom permalink
    February 25, 2009 1:11 am

    No c/s for me, just 3 beautiful babies. BUT! The thing that really caught my attention was the shaking you mentioned. I describe it as something close to a Grand Mal seizure the moment I hit transition. Starts with shivers and teeth chattering then right on to hands flaying. I was one of those, “I’ll do it w/o drug unless absolutely necessary, thank you mame!” kinda people. Turns out you cannot DO all the fun breathing stuff if your teeth are chattering. It is nice to know that there are others out there that shake like me.

  12. February 24, 2009 11:56 pm

    Can I Remain – you are proving to be a very smart man.

    Deep – most women have a c-section because the baby and/or mother are in distress – most of the time it is the best option.

    Badass – I was wondering if the men would read the whole post – thanks for sticking with it!

    Miss Grace- now there is a blog post I would love to read.

    Nancy – I think we were separated at birth. I miss you!

    Girls mom – thanks for writing and I personally feel that 42 hours of labor is criminal. You are a rock star for enduring that! I am glad things worked out okay.

    Quiet girl – thanks for sharing! I understand that the disappointment is very real for some women – but I am counting my blessings rather than my disappointments. It is interesting the feelings this topic has raised – I have received comments in email too – and not all of them happy with what I wrote. I just never once regretted the fact that I had to have c-sections and am trying to understand why it is a disappointing experience for so many. I think that pregnancy took a much greater toll on my body the the c-sections did. Thank you for sharing the link.

    Lola – Damn for you. I knew you were one tough cookie – but holy smokes! And I don’t feel cheated by not having a VBAC. 3 babies – lucky me! 😎

  13. February 24, 2009 8:38 pm

    I was desperately in need of a section, but the second doctor wasn’t there. I got him out, obviously in time, but I wouldn’t have cared one bit if I had to have a section. I certainly wouldn’t have felt one bit bad about it.

    As for the VBAC’s, you can blame all of that on insurance companies. The doctors that are willing to do them get hit with even higher malpractice rates than the docs that don’t, and most hospitals will not allow them because of lawsuits. As the lawyers always say, you don’t get sued for doing C-sections; you get sued for not doing them.

  14. February 24, 2009 5:07 pm

    I also had an emergency c/s with my first so I understand the fear of potentially losing your precious baby and the value of an appropriately-done c/s. But for me the issue was much less about the emotional pain I felt at having been completely uninvolved with the birth of my child. (It’s not a pity party…women experience anything from mild disappointment to major trauma in having their c/s…I don’t know why it’s so hard to acknowledge that there is a range of feelings and that they are valid!) My reaction to my c/s was much more focused on health risks – what would repeated c/s do to me and my babies? 1 c/s puts women and babies at risk for a lot of scary things and it should be done prudently. 2, 3, 4 c/s puts women and babies at much higher risk of even scarier things and should be done only under the most pressing circumstances. The truth is that maternal mortality is on the rise in the U.S. and neonatal outcomes have failed to improve in at least 3 decades. For a good overview on the state of maternity care in the U.S. please read the report done by the well-respected non-profit Childbirth Connection.

  15. Girlsmom permalink
    February 24, 2009 4:55 pm

    I had a C-section after 42 hours of labor, apparently some kids just won’t come out.

    2 VBAC’s later I can say the results are pretty much the same in the end, a baby.

    It is an empowering feeling to push the baby out, one of those difficult to replicate endorphin highs. It is a true girl power moment. Maybe that is why many of the women I know are starting to train for marathons in their 40’s (trying for the endorphin high again?).

    Many of the proponets of natural childbirth feel sad seeing this uniquely female opportunity taken over by the medical establishment, and women relinquishing the opportunity due to fear of the unknown. Often women falsely believe that surgery is the safer option. (Sometimes it is safer–breech, emergency, cord entanglement etc.)

    The real tragedy is when we are made to feel bad or inadequate in any way because of how our child was born. That is the least empowering thing that can happen and no way to begin the journey of motherhood.

  16. February 24, 2009 2:30 pm

    @Miss Grace – not just the US. In India, particularly in cities, docotrs just don’t wanna wait anymore, so they push very hard for C Sections…

  17. Nancy permalink
    February 24, 2009 1:55 pm

    From one C-Section mom to another…you are right on, sister. Scary, yes. Necessary, sometimes. In my case and yours, it was. And like you, I was grateful to hear that cry when it came and any recovery by me was inconsequential. VBAC for me was encouraged and successful!

  18. February 24, 2009 12:44 pm

    I’m not saying that c-sections aren’t necessary, but I think they’re greatly overused in the U.S. in particular. And I’m a little disappointed by how hard hospitals make it for you to even attempt a VBAC.

    I had Gabriel alone with his father on the bathroom floor. Oh. In a hospital. But that’s a story for a different day.

  19. February 24, 2009 8:31 am

    My mother had my sisters and I by C-Section. I think she just planned it that way, but I’m not entirely sure.

    What an interesting story, though.

  20. February 24, 2009 4:46 am

    I am a little confused. When you say loss of control, what do you mean? Natural delivery? Or Cesarean? Because both involve loss of control, and I would think that it is much more true in a situation where you’re under anesthetics and being cut open by a bunch of people. I personally, am against any surgery that is unnecessary. But then, I’m not the one getting pregnant, am I? As far as I’m concerned, it’s a woman’s call, whatever she is more comfortable with is good. And about men being present for deliveries, if we can be there when it went in, then we should be there when it comes out!

  21. CanIRemainUnknownPl permalink
    February 24, 2009 2:17 am

    After pestering me for a while my wife decided to take help from her doctor to get me to be present in the room during the birth of my daughter. I explained somewhat apologetically to the doctor that how it is unheard of for a man to be present during delivery in India and how its a cultural thing that probably she wont understand, I changed my mind immediately when she took me aside and asked ” You guys probably don’t have alimony in India either”!!

Trackbacks

  1. The Birth Story | Monika's World
  2. I am it…………. « A Reason To Write - India
  3. Digging Deeper………… « A Reason To Write - India
  4. “C” this.. « The Munchkin Blog

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