I birthed my daughter vaginally and I am proud of that. I birthed my son through a cesarean section and I am proud of that. Although, in all honesty, that was not always the case. You see, during the many weeks of “birth plan” research, not once did I come across an article that portrayed a cesarean section, most commonly known as a C-section, in a positive light. On the contrary, no matter where I looked, all articles made having a c-section feel shameful, wrong, and unnatural. What I did not understand at the time, was that having a c-section would be one of the hardest things my body would ever have to endure.
The month of April is Cesarean Awareness Month and I am here to share my story. At my 20-week anatomy scan, my perinatologist made me aware that our “not-so-little” man was measuring two-weeks ahead. He assured me not to worry because it was still too early and those scans aren’t necessarily 100% accurate. Telling me not to worry basically sent my anxiety into overdrive. However, after my regular visit with my OBGYN a week later, I felt more calm and at peace.
Fast forward 19-weeks and there we were again, once more being told that our baby was measuring ahead of schedule. The perinatologist estimated that baby boy would be about 8.5 lbs. After a lengthy discussion with both the perinatologist and my OBGYN, we had come to a decision. I would be induced one-day before my due-date.
At first I was incredibly disheartened. Did I want to be induced, for a second time? Absolutely not. Yet, here we were. At that moment I could have done one of two things, be completely distraught, or accept this was one of the many things I could not control and move forward; I chose the latter. At this point though, a C-section was not even on my radar.
According to the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development a cesarean section is surgery to deliver a baby. The baby is taken out through the mother’s abdomen. In the United States, almost one in three women has their babies this way. Some C-sections are planned, but many are done when unexpected problems happen during delivery. Reasons for a C-section may include:
- Health problems in the mother
- The mother carrying more than one baby
- The size or position of the baby
- The baby’s health is in danger
- Labor is not moving along as it should
The surgery is relatively safe for mother and baby. Still, it is major surgery and carries risks. It also takes longer to recover from a c-section than from vaginal birth. It can raise the risk of having difficulties with future pregnancies. Some women may have problems attempting a vaginal birth later. Still, many women are able to have a vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC).
I labored for almost 24-hours and I pushed for over an hour. Something deep inside me knew that this time things were different. The clock directly ahead of me assured me of that. I pushed for less than 15 minutes with my daughter. What was happening and why was my body betraying me?
The moment of truth had arrived. I was in fact carrying a large baby. His size was making it close to impossible to deliver vaginally. The time had come, I could continue pushing (as long as he was not in distress) or I could accept my doctor’s recommendation and deliver him via C-section. My doctor was wonderful. He spoke to me calmly and never once did he make me feel pressured to make a decision. He would stand by my choice, no matter what it would be. My husband and I were told the risks and ultimately decided that a C-section was the best route to take.
In some ways I was lucky. The decision to have a C-section wasn’t made under dire circumstances. I was able to make this difficult choice (for me) in what I think was the “best-case-scenario.” After I sobbed for what felt like hours it was time to get the show on the run.
The next 15-minutes were perhaps the most terrifying of my life. I was cold, scared, and shivering. My mind was racing and all I can remember was thinking, “You made the right choice for your baby. You made the right choice for your baby.” It became my mantra for the entire time my surgery was taking place. This was not part of the plan, I did not ask for this, yet, this was inescapable.
The next thing I knew my doctor said, “Renata, look at your little sumo-wrestler.” Little man weighed in at 9.1 lbs. I had made the right choice; at least that was what everyone kept telling me. It took quite some time for me to accept that. A voice inside me kept saying, “You should have tried harder, you should have pushed harder, you gave up too soon, what kind of a mother are you.”
I relived that moment in the delivery room almost every day for weeks. Had I made the right choice? At my six-week postpartum check-up, my doctor said to me, “As doctors, there are times that we make decisions and they end up not turning out the way we expected them. This was not the case. You made the right decision.” Cue all the post-partum, hormonal tears.
After many tears and many heart-to-heart conversations with other mothers in similar situations here is what I learned. I am not less of a woman for having to deliver my son via a C-section. If you are a C-section momma, neither are you. Your body did NOT fail you. A C-section is major surgery that has a much longer recovery time. It is NOT the easy way out. Give yourself space. It is okay to feel disappointed, releasing control of any form is an incredibly difficult thing to do. Show yourself grace.
Bringing life into this world is magical and exhausting; give yourself some credit. You know that scar you have? Wear it proudly, for it is a beautiful reminder of your journey and the most precious gift this world has to offer, your child.
Momma, don’t allow anyone to question your decision. There is no “right way” to birth a child. The safety of both your life and your child’s life is the first priority; it comes before any judgement this world has to offer. I am enough, you are enough, we are enough. Never forget that.