Do you ever find yourself about to drift asleep when, out of nowhere you think "Hey, remember that time you said something really stupid 10 years ago? Wasn't that stupid?" Then you literally can't go to sleep because you're filled with second-hand embarrassment for your past self and anxiety that nothing you can do now can ever atone for it. Does that happen to you? Yeah, me neither. (Except yes, totally.) Many of the subjects I've been really stupid about over the years have been related to birth and child-rearing. Stupid things I said about having a c-section have been corrected, bit by bit, over the years through reading and actually talking to women who have had them. Those stupid things I used to tout became cosmically funny (and cringe-worthy) particularly after I had one when my son was born.
It's not that I ever had a venomously negative view of c-sections. I was born via c-section, as were most of my siblings. I didn't think people who had c-sections were monstrous harpies who "didn't really give birth." I just had very particular ideas about when a c-section was required, what it meant, and how one should react to having had one. In short, I was inserting my uneducated, biased opinion on women and their personal and medical choices... kind of like a Conservative lawmaker.
I would like to share with you the stupid things I said about c-sections (that have been proven ridiculous with research and personal experience) in the hopes that you can either laugh ruefully along with me for having done the same, take this as an symbolic apology, or learn a thing or two yourself.
Nasty Things About Women Who Choose Elective C-Sections
In my mind, all women should aim for a vaginal birth. A c-section was totally acceptable in an emergency, but barring an emergency they should be avoided at all costs. Those women, I thought, were misguided, selfish, vain, control freaks, and otherwise everything a mother shouldn't be.
I was a f*cking idiot, and I currently want to build a time machine to go back and say, "Past Jamie, WTF, dude? What is this anti-woman nonsense you're spouting and why? Why the hell do you think you're capable of deciding women's reproductive choices for them and judging situations you know absolutely nothing about? Sit your ass down and think about what you've done."
Then, of course, I'd go back further in time and buy stock in Apple and IBM. Then come back into the present and buy a yacht. Because yachts? Good. Judging women for their choices? Bad.
"It's Just So Much Easier..."
Hahahahahahahahahahahahaha! *sharp intake of breath* Hahahahahahahahahahaha! Haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!
"It's Not That Big A Deal"
It's abdominal surgery, Past Jamie. Abdominal surgery that you have to recovery from while taking care of a completely helpless infant. The only people who say it's "not that big a deal" are the people who have never been through surgery before. Stop. Your ignorance is showing.
"Vain Women Get Tummy Tucks During A C-Section, And All The Time"
*sigh* Look, is this a thing? Sure. Is this a thing that warrants all the attention it gets? No. Tummy tucks performed immediately after a c-section are extremely rare due in no small part to the fact that they are not recommended for the vast majority of women (and are extremely expensive, so a vast majority of women can't afford it anyway). This is not routine, and suggesting so is really just a way to vilify women. Oh, and if it were routine, it's still none of your goddamn business.
"Stop Complaining About It"
Past Jamie? You don't know WTF you're talking about here. Everyone is entitled to their pain. You don't get to decide when someone else has talked enough about it. They do. So simmer down.
"The Only Thing That Matters Is That Everyone Is Healthy"
That's a depressingly low bar, don't you think? It's the most important thing, sure, but it's not the only thing. Like, when someone complains about air travel (which isn't nearly as important as birth, I'll add), do people say, "Well, the only thing that matters is that nobody died in a fiery crash"? No! They acknowledge, "Yeah, flying can really suck sometimes. Sorry you had such a bad time."
"At Least You Don't Bust Up Your Vag"
Of all the reductionist, silly things you could say, Past Jamie. I mean, I know you know more about vaginas than this. Vaginas are pretty well-equipped to deal with childbirth. It's not like they're unusable afterwards: they're pretty sturdy. (Also: it's not like a c-section means there are no changes down there after your kid pops out. Good luck with that, kiddo.)
"If Your Doctor Tells You You Need A C-Section, Stop Trying To Put 'An Experience' Above The Health Of Your Baby!"
*sigh* Look. Doctors aren't just a bunch of charlatans who want to see us suffer. Doctors know their stuff and there's a reason they are medically certified to deliver babies. That said, doctors are human. They have biases and different doctors will likely have differing philosophies on the same subject.
Sometimes the health of the baby is not the reason a c-section is suggested or performed. It's OK for a woman to look at her options and make a decision. Hey, sometimes a c-section is one's best option. But look here, Past Jamie, calm the you-know-what down and trust women to make their own medical decisions with the doctor of their choosing.
"A Doctor Wouldn't Just Do A C-Section For No Good Reason"
Oh naive, optimistic Past Jamie. Bless your heart. While I still do believe that the vast majority of obstetricians are at the very least trying to work in the best interest of their patient, the truth is there are horror stories about uncaring and (more commonly, perhaps) misguided doctors who jump to quickly to surgery when it is not necessary.
Dismissing these stories and ignoring this problem doesn't do anyone any favors — not the doctors who can and should learn from their mistakes to build better practices, and not the women who deserve to tell their stories and be believed.
"You Just Have To Educate Yourself And You Probably Won't Have One"
Look, I am all for getting your hands on as much information before giving birth as humanly possible. I'll even suggest that knowing what's going on during labor and deliver helps to empower you to have the kind of delivery you want. But, suggesting that everyone (or near enough) who gets a c-section just didn't know any better is so condescending and inaccurate. Ugh. Excuse me. I have to go hide my face in shame now.