Over the years, I’ve felt a deep-rooted longing for the births I never had. I’m a three-time C-section mama whose first and last babies were born breech and pulled from a six-inch cut from my womb. I never had the “you can do it!” feeling as I was pushing, because there was no pushing. I’ve never been in labor or felt “real” contractions. My water has never broken on its own. And I’ve never had a vaginal birth, much less even been told I was dilated 1 cm or 2.
C-sections weren’t what I wanted, but they were what was needed to consider my health and my children’s health too. And sometimes I yearn for those experiences I envisioned but never lived for myself.
Even though many mothers choose an elective Cesarean today for their own reasons, C-sections aren’t what most people picture right off the bat when thinking about childbirth. On the contrary, they are the last choice to so many others, and they are still stigmatized as the “lesser option” of childbirth to much of society.
But what if they weren’t? If there wasn’t an I’m sorry attached to someone’s C-section birth story, or a look of disappointment spread across another’s face for the new mother, how much different might we view our Cesarean births today?
Maybe, just maybe, mothers wouldn’t feel like their births were lower on the totem poll. Perhaps new moms wouldn’t automatically designate C-sections as the birth that’s filled with doom. And maybe we could see them for what they truly are. Because we seem to be forgetting that we are living the ideal life for so many past and present pregnant mothers.
We live in this century, in this part of the world, where pregnant mothers are offered life-saving alternatives for both them and their baby during childbirth. And yet, C-sections are a point at which to feel sorrow?
Can we please change this? Because I’m here to tell you, folks, C-sections can be so empowering.
We didn’t get the adrenaline rush from pushing, and some weren’t able to fully embrace their seconds-old, “cheesy” newborn baby. We weren’t allowed to have many friends and family in the room to hold our hand during delivery, and many of us (including me) had to throw our original birth plan (all 1,000 pages of it) out the window.
For that, we give ourselves grace as we grieve for what was meant to be for just awhile, and we ask that you’d allow this from us, too
And then we remember that we had the tranquility of the operating room. Our tears were those of joy, and our lives stood still during those very moments in time. So yes, “even during a C-section,” there will never be another memory like that of the moment you first saw your newborn baby earth-side.
We showed strength where we didn’t think we had it, and we sacrificed our own desires as we willingly walked into a major abdominal surgery while conscious. We risked our lives for an opportunity to save our child’s, and please, have no doubt, we would do it a trillion times over.
For our child, we would withstand all of the pre-op nerves and cold-chill shakes, as well as the post-op ones too. Even though we vividly recall the nervousness in receiving our spinal all alone, without friends or family by our side, we would do it again. We would feel the burn of our incision so intensely it brought whimpering cries. And we would hurt for weeks and weeks once more if we had to go back in time.
Some of us heard our child’s first cry in that operating room, while others mourned our first profound loss. But every single one us still a parent to someone so special and brand new. And our birth story is still unique to us and us alone, too.
Our sacrifice is the beauty that brought us our child. For that, we shouldn’t feel an inkling of shame.
We have not failed our children or ourselves, and our body has not failed us. C-sections weren’t available for hundreds of years, but now that they are, we need to give thanks for them, not make them the subject of unasked for apologies.
Cesarean births do not have to be less special, and they are worth more than just some measly time-slot on an OR board. Do not let anyone dumb down your experiences or silence your birth story by something they mistakenly view as merely “medical” or “routine.” Because anyone who feels this way, clearly, has never had a Cesarean birth.
The power to change these skewed views lies within us mothers who have lived out the coldness and magic that takes place in the operating room, and us alone.
Vaginal births are beautiful and empowering, but we’d do well to remember that Cesarean births are too.
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