I had a baby on Tuesday.
An elective c-section.
My second c-section birth.
This was not the plan. Either time. I read the books. I did my kegels. I practiced my deep breathing with each practice contraction of my womb. I had opinions on pitocin, epidurals, and episiotomies.
Unfortunately I am not a doctor, nor am I midwife, not even a doula. All I did was read a few books.
Several of them written by men. I'm starting to think that if a birthing book is written by a man we should throw it out.
This last baby was big. Sure ultrasounds are often wrong. At thirty six weeks she was measuring 9.2 lbs. She came out at 9.2 lbs. So the ultrasound was wrong, our she just didn't grow the last few weeks. I can tell you that she grew, or at least the purple marks on my belly kept growing. Her head is large. 'Off the charts large,' as one of the midwives said.
That midwife told me that her gut feeling was that I was going to end up with c-section. The next midwife I saw said very gently I might want to consider an elective c-section. Then she sent me to the doctor. The doctor told me she was no longer comfortable with signing off on a VBAC. We asked about ultrasounds being wrong, she said yes, but not by much. Scott asked about statistics of harm for the baby, I knew them. She said,yes, they're low, but they exist. She asked could we be comfortable doing that to our child? She asked could our marriage sustain that? She talked about a shoulder dystocia birth that she had the week before. Now that child is disabled. I don't think she was trying to control my birth and labor experience, I think she didn't want to hand me a sick baby.
Yes, the chance of anything happening was less than 1%. Maybe as high as 3%. It wasn't worth it to me.
Not worth it to risk my marriage. Not worth it to risk my child's health. Not worth it to risk my own health.
Could I have done it? Maybe.
My doctor thinks we made the right decision.
So now I have an incision in my belly that stings.
I have referred pain in my shoulder that aches and threatens to steal sleep from me.
I have a sore and achey body from surgery and sitting in bed for a week.
But I also have a healthy baby girl. A perfect, big, healthy girl.
I think it's easy in a developed nation with good healthcare to get cavalier about our choices in birth. How many of us know someone who have lost a child or a mother in birth? Not many.
I thought about my grad school professor who talked about women walking miles while in labor, to arrive at the hospital with a necrofied birthing canal, from being in labor so long. I bet that women would have liked a c-section.
I think about countries with high infant mortality rates and high maternal death rates. I bet some of those women and families would have liked c-sections.
Do I think that the rates of c-section in the United States is too high? Yes.
Do I think that some of our medical practices treat us like bodies instead of people with feelings? Yes.
Do I think that I needed both of my c-sections? I don't know.
I think that one thing I have learned over these last births is that obstetrical medicine still has many mysteries. They still don't know what fully happens.
With my last birth I had the weepies. Mostly it was because it was so hard. I hurt everywhere. Breastfeeding was quite the task to get used to. Having your first child is a huge adjustment. You ask yourself questions like 'Will I ever sleep again?' 'Will I ever get to sit through a meal again?' 'Will this ever stop hurting.'
Yes. No. Yes.
This time around the weepies have come more in the form of being so thankful for my two beautiful little girls. This time around it's been easier to fall in love with my new daughter. I know she will steal my heart. I know that I have just grit my teeth through the next few weeks and months until my body is back. I know that it is all worth it.
Would I recommend a c-section? No. I would encourage you to have a vaginal birth, because I think our bodies were made to do that and will more easily heal from a vaginal birth rather than surgery.
Am I at peace with mine? Yes and no. I'm thankful that it's done and we are all alive. Would I have died? I don't know. Would they have died? I don't know.
I think I am ready to say this though, it's done. It's over. It's not a tragedy. Really it's not. If there are those in the audience that think I was duped or taken for a ride by the medical profession I don't feel that I was. I did make each decision for a c-section. Both of my doctors gave me that. Neither of them stepped in and coerced me into interventions I was uncomfortable with. I also didn't make this decision for you. I made it for me, for my husband, and most of all my children.