When a woman has a baby, one of the first things we want to know is “how it all went.” Was it fast or hours and hours of labor? Did you get an epidural (also a really forward question if mom doesn’t offer it up to you)? Did you think it was painful? Did you have a good doctor? Did you have a vaginal birth or a C-section?
When I had my daughter, labor got off to the wrong start from the get-go because my water broke with meconium present (in other words, she pooped inside of me). With my prolonged labor, we developed an infection, because what is better than labor than labor while feeling like you have the flu? My body noped right out of it and decided to quit. Yes, my uterus is a quitter (it really showed its true colors in birth #2).
So with babies’ heart rate going all over the place and me feeling like garbage, into the Operating Room I went. Thank GOD. I was so ready. I felt like absolute shit and I just wanted to meet my baby. It was a blissful moment between mostly dry-heaving into a bucket and possibly onto the anesthesiologist that I heard my sweet little girl cry. All was well! I didn’t care about a thing. I was a mom, I was getting medicated for the nausea I was feeling and the pain I was in, and my daughter was getting the little extra care she needed.
So you can imagine my confusion when everyone kept apologizing to me. “Oh, you had a C-section? I’m sorry!” I mean, did I deliver an alien? Why are you apologizing? She’s perfect, we’re heading home, I am getting delightful doses of Percocet. My abs will never be the same, but that went out the window at week 39.5 when I went from having no stretch marks at 9:00 p.m. to waking up looking like I was mauled by a pack of wolves when I got into the shower at 8 a.m.
It continued, and not always straight apologies. Sometimes it was looks. Like that cringey look you give someone when they tell you their whole family got the stomach bug. Possibly the worst is when people say “I’m sorry you missed out on giving birth.” Did I? Did a baby not exit me? Was there not a baby growing inside of me that is now on the outside drinking out of my left boob as we speak? (My right boob was always my underperformer. My friend and I called our low-supply boobs our “Nemo” boobs…get it? because Nemo had that one fin? I’m getting off track).
So then we preach all this rhetoric about C-sections being great, too, but we don’t practice what we preach. The International Cesarean Awareness Network is pretty much founded out of the idea that your body can function the right way next time, despite that pesky C-section you had the first time. Just listen to a sounding board of people who tell you VBAC is great. People refer to vaginal birth as natural birth or normal birth (I think people are afraid to talk about vaginas, which is super annoying). Vagina, vagina, vagina, vagina, vagina. There. Now, you try it.
Now that it’s out of all of our systems, can we call them vaginal birth or cesarean births? And then left and right you have people apologizing for the way you gave birth. How are we supposed to feel good about what we accomplished when people are constantly comparing us to women who gave birth vaginally or acting like the way we brought our babies into this world is unnatural or wrong?
I’m not saying there aren’t women out there who aren’t disappointed in having a C-section. If people come to you and tell you that they are sad about their birth, or they are traumatized, it’s perfectly acceptable to then say you are sorry for how they are feeling and ask how you can help. But it’s not okay to assume someone is, or likewise, expect someone who had a vaginal delivery is a-okay and everything went how they wanted.
My second delivery my quitter uterus decided to implode and float my baby into my abdomen to chill with the rest of my body parts. It was actually horrible, but the rest of my post is humorous so I can’t get all super serious now. Anyways, into the Operating Room I went again this time and a C-section saved my and my son’s life.
Want to know what my C-section scar means to me? It means I get to watch my kids grow up. It means that if I had given birth fifty years before, I wouldn’t get to watch my kids grow up. It means I get to watch my son ask for a peanut-butter sandwich for the third time today. It means I get to hear my daughter tell me dinosaur facts. It means I get to send her off to kindergarten. It means I get to see my son say his first words. It means I get to take care of my family when they all get the stomach bug (ha!). It means I get to write this piece to you write now.
I am not sorry for my C-sections. I feel bad about the birth trauma I had to endure. But the deliveries? The outcome? They are a part of me and I am so thankful that I live in a time when medicine has progressed to give me the family I so adore.
Language is important and the way we communicate can play a part in determining how a person perceives themselves. Not to mention moms are extra vulnerable after just having a baby. So next time you hear about a mom who just had a cesarean, just go congratulate her.