I Refuse To Feel Shame Over My C-Sections

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c-section

There is something about the internet that makes people feel free to say the strangest things, to declare expert status on topics without bothering to find out the information. All it takes is one seemingly innocent comment on one mutual friend’s FB page and let the shaming begin!

Well, internet, I reject your shame.

I will be having a scheduled c-section with this baby, like I did with my first, and guess what? I am still a good mom. Some women have scheduled c-sections just because, and honestly though the c-section rate is indeed high and we could do a better job of supporting mothers to deliver vaginally, it’s none of your business why they schedule them.

I don’t know their stories, but I do know mine. Perhaps it will help you understand.

With my first, we presented a birth plan to my OB at our 35 week appointment. It involved walking around the hospital, warm showers and as little intervention as possible. My OB was totally on board until the ultrasound showed that my son, Max, was not just breach but “jacknifed” his small butt stuck by my left hip, his head up near my right ribs and his feet both stuck over his head. There was no way he was coming out. I tried everything. Lay on an ironing board off the couch and hang with your head near the floor and your legs in the air with a pack of frozen peas on his head, the idea being that the cold and the change in direction would encourage him to move. Did it. Poor guy was stuck. He wasn’t able to move, even if he had wanted too.

I will never forget how quiet and still she was during that ultrasound, concern on her face as after what seemed like forever she said “I don’t think you’re going to get the birth you hope for, we will need to do a c-section.” Zach and I breathed a sigh of relief after she assured us that baby was fine, just stuck, and our immediate response was “Oh, is THAT all?”

That c-section can only be likened to the final scenes of Braveheart. Two nurses climbed on the table and pushed and wiggled as I was cut farther and farther open in order to finagle one very stuck baby boy out of me.

Yet, you judge, internet.

You don’t know that when you toss that out, and accuse my doctor of wanting an easy way out, what a struggle that surgery was. You don’t know that when Zach asked Dr. K when it was all over what would have happened to Max and I back in the pioneer days and she said very quietly “they both would have died in labor.” All you hear is scheduled C-section and you make assumptions.

I went into labor with Huck, my second, at 29 weeks, the exact same gestational age as I am right now with this baby. We were in and out of the hospital, on bedrest, on contraction stopping drugs and when my water broke at 36 weeks my entire team supported my decision to try for a VBAC.

Yet, you come on FB and say “Don’t let your doctor talk you into a c-section! You are a PERFECT candidate for a VBAC! You could deliver the right way!”

You don’t know what the doctors did support me. In the end, after the baby started showing signs of stress, my OB suggested a c-section and I agreed.

I knew then that if I had another baby it would be a direct ticket to the O.R. and I am at peace with that. I have had two c-sections. One with a swiss cut and one with a singular cut. To risk tearing and bleeding out is silly in my opinion. I have two sweet boys who want their mommy around. I have a baby girl in my womb who is hoping to be born and loved. I don’t think she cares how she gets out. Just that she does.

So, internet, I reject your shame. You can keep it.

I wouldn’t even be here to be a mother to my baby if it weren’t for a scheduled c-section; scheduled in the nick of time as it turned out, as my contractions were two minutes apart when they checked me in with Max.

We can never know anyone’s reason for having a c-section and it isn’t any of our business. The only proper thing to say is  ”all that matters is mommy and baby are happy and here at the end of the day.” Then smile at the mama and congratulate her.

The end.

6 Things I Wish I’d Known About Having a C-Section

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c-section

My first son was delivered via c-section at 35 weeks after an ultrasound revealed he ceased growing due to placenta previa. I knew early on in my pregnancy that it was a possibility I wouldn’t be able to deliver vaginally, but being in denial, I never bothered to ask what the recovery process was life if I did indeed go under the knife.

I figured, by comparison to pushing a baby out and getting ripped from the rooter to the tooter, a c-section would be a cake walk.

Sitting in my OB’s office, hearing that I was heading over to surgery and would have a baby by happy hour, I was scared and ill-prepared.  I didn’t know what I was in for, exactly. I just figured they’d wheel me in, I’d lay there like a corpse, and then hours later I’d be sitting up in bed, holding a baby, looking glowing and happy in an adorable robe like Rachel in Friends.

Sucker.

This is, after all, major surgery. I mean, my husband saw my intestines being pulled out, for crying out loud. If that doesn’t buy you a night out by yourself when the baby is older, I don’t know what will.

If you’re thinking that a c-section is a possibility for your next birth, perhaps my ignorance can spare you a few headaches and worry. Here are some things I learned:

1. The operating room is as cold as the polar ice caps and the stuff they put in your IV only makes it worse. With my first c-section I was shaking so much I was convinced the anesthesiologist would miss his target with the spinal block and I’d come out of surgery a paraplegic. I had absolutely no idea my body was capable of shimming that fast. Watch out, Shakira, those hips don’t lie. They’re scared shitless.

2. Think you won’t feel a thing? Think again. While you won’t feel them cutting or feel pain, no one told me I’d feel all this tremendous pulling as they pried my son out of my body cavity. My OB warned me “Okay, you might feel some slight pressure.” Slight? This is not a flu shot, people. I don’t call the sensation of someone yanking a bowling ball out of my loins a slight sensation.

3. Don’t say no to drugs. They get you pretty doped up in surgery and at first I willingly took the hard core pain meds they give me. But at around 28 hrs post surgery I felt pretty good and though “Nah, I’ll skip meds this shift.” Bad idea.  Worst idea I’ve ever had. You’re not only dealing with the pain of getting your insides ripped open and sewn back together, but you’ve also being visited post-delivery cramping because the baby isn’t paying rent anymore. They tell you to stay one step ahead of the pain. I prefer to be a football field ahead.

4. Your ability to laugh like a normal human being will be put on hold. Ditto for sneezing, pooping and coughing.  The advice is to hold a pillow over your incision if you need to perform any of these actions, and though it may help a tiny bit, you’ll still find yourself making modifications. Your sneezes will become the tiny, restrained kind that only Disney Princesses can attain. While in the hospital with my son, my husband cracked a hilarious remark that caused my body to produce such a high-pitched hyena snicker that the nurses went running to call the psych ward.

5. Think your intestinal tract was screwed up when you were pregnant? You ain’t seen nothin’ yet. With my son, I didn’t take a dump for seven days. SEVEN. POOPLESS. DAYS. Mass quantities of fiber didn’t get things moving along. Five days after delivery I finally got the urge and 50 sweaty minutes later, I came up empty. It was as if the kids climbed up the ladder of the high dive, tip-toed out to the edge of the board, took one look down and said “No way in hell, lady” then made the slow, shameful climb back down. Arm yourself with some goodies like apricot nectar and prune juice.  Think “retirement home beverages”.

6. The area around your scar will never, ever, ever get feelings back. The skin around my incisions still has very few nerve endings, four years after my last c-section. That area will still get itches that I can’t scratch, but I power on, digging at it like a meth addict. I have high hopes I might regain sensation, but at this point, I have as much chance as Lindsay Lohan staying out of jail.

Yet, despite knowing all this, after my first born, I still had another baby via cesarean. Being prepared for what was to come definitely helped ease my jitters. That, and sneaking a case of prune juice in my overnight bag.