10 Things I'm Glad No One Told Me About Getting A C-Section
I didn't know I was going to have a C-section, but deep down I had a feeling I might. Despite my labor starting on its own and progressing steadily, and despite my totally normal sized baby and his position, I just knew. So when my normal-sized baby went into distress before my cervix was ready to accommodate him, I wasn't entirely surprised that he was going to come out via my stomach. And while I generally believe that knowledge is power, there are things I'm glad no one told me about getting a C-section.
As much as I believe that forewarned is forearmed, I also believe that sometimes knowing your fate means you end up trying to fight it. For example, consider literally any Greek myth that involves an oracle. Those stories never, ever end well for the person trying to change their destiny. I also believe in my propensity to psych myself out in over-preparing or overly worrying about things that I feel like I can influence. Another example? My wedding. Now that was a fool's errand.
But as with Greek mythology and (some aspects) my wedding, sometimes it's best to just sit back and let what's going to happen happen. Who knows, you might wind up delightfully surprised.
That I'd Need One
On the one hand, it would have been nice to know ahead of time rather than going through 18 and a half hours of awful labor only to have a C-section. But I think aiming for a vaginal delivery throughout my pregnancy made me more conscientious of the things I was "supposed" to be doing, like exercising and eating right. Having a labor experience was valuable to me for a few reasons, too, but mainly because it prepared me for my second (vaginal) delivery. Having been through labor before was a huge factor in making a successful VBAC attempt.
I also feel like knowing I was for sure going to have a C-section ahead of time (rather than just preparing for the possibility) would have weirdly stressed me out more than my eventual emergency C-section.
I Wouldn't Be The Only One "Scarred For Life"
My husband looked over the curtain before it was baby time, and it was not an enjoyable experience for him. "I saw inside of you," he told me, wide-eyed. "It's... we're just sacks of meat and fat."
I wouldn't have warned him if I had the chance, either, because I feel like he respects the depths of the C-section experience more having seen what goes on. I had to feel it, so it's only fair that he had to be low-key traumatized by witnessing it.
How Terrifying The Scar Is
Maybe a little warning would have been nice, just so I was sort of prepared, but I just don't think there would have been any sufficient preparation. Because I think even if I had time traveled and, as a professional writer, given a detailed description, I still wouldn't have imagined just how bad that incision would have looked three days after surgery (which is when I happened to have glanced it in a mirror).
Best to leave that to destiny.
Also, it was a very pleasant surprise to discover that time would render it all but invisible. That seemed impossible a few days postpartum, but within weeks, even, it was totally manageable.
The Precise Awfulness Of Recovery
Some tips would have been nice, including but certainly not limited to: bring a pillow with you everywhere because you'll need the support when you get up or cough or something, take the medication as often as you need and is safe, and walk every day to keep recovery on track. But I'm glad no one told me just how crappy it would be sometimes, or how tired I'd get with just a little exertion. I don't think I needed to know how I wouldn't easily get out of a comfy chair for weeks and weeks without help, or how the first couple weeks would have me moving at a literal shuffle. That only would have scared me and, honestly, it wasn't so bad in the moment if you could just accept that you don't have much choice but to take it as it comes (you don't have too much choice in the matter).
That First Postpartum Poop
Like Voldemort, Sauron, and Richard Spencer, such sinister forces should not be mentioned. No good can come of it. Some things must be left to the darkness.
How Itchy The Incision Site Would Get
If you have a C-section, you will not have pubic hair. Because if you haven't shaved or waxed ahead of time, you will be shaved. And let me tell you that there are few things on this planet weirder than the sensation of having a nurse shave your pubic hair (especially when you can't see her doing it on account of your pregnant belly). There are few sensations worse, incidentally, than that of a scar healing and pubic hair growing back at the same time.
There's nothing to be done, so best not to dwell on it or bring it up before it happens.
That I'd Be Sort Of Numb For Years
Not in any disconcerting way, really, so saying, "You'll be numb for years" sounds way scarier than it actually is. It's more of a, "Hmm. When I touch the general area of my scar it still tingles in a weird, dull way. How unusual." It hasn't impeded my life in any way and, like I said, it doesn't feel bad, so I'm glad it's something that just sort of came up as a matter of course than something I felt I had to prepare for or, worse, worry about.
Most People Would Be Super-Supportive & Lovely
Fortunately, I got very few awful reactions from people (and none of those were from anyone whose opinion mattered to me in the slightest). That would have been useful to know, actually, so I could just let go of any defensiveness about my birth experience that I might have had. Most of the people in my life were awesome. Of course I could have guessed that (I'm fortunate to be surrounded by mostly extraordinary humans), but the surprise of everyone I truly cared about being supportive was pleasant.
Some People's Reactions Would Bum Me Out
While most people were cool, I'm probably glad I didn't know ahead of time that some people's reactions to my having had a C-section would be kind of a bummer. It's not that they were intentionally awful, but their own negative feelings about a C-section (whether from personal or imagined experience) would overshadow the actual exciting news that I had a baby! Like, "OK, can we stop talking about how sad you feel it is that I didn't have a 'natural birth' and just listen to how I actually feel about it for three seconds? Because I have thoughts."
I'd Love It
A lot of just how positive I felt about my C-section came from two main reasons: I had prepared for it and I didn't know exactly what to expect, but I suspect it would be kind of negative. Preparing for the possibility of a C-section helped me get over not having my "ideal" birth and expecting something bad made it so that when it wasn't it was such an unexpected twist that I could really lean into all the positives (and, honestly, there were lots, even though it was an emergency). Aside from the baby himself, this was the best surprise of all.