Jamie Kenney

9 Ways Having An Emergency C-Section Prepares You For Motherhood

Ad failed to load

After 18 hours of very painful labor, my OB came to my bedside and said the words many mothers dread: "Your baby is in distress and we need to perform a c-section." Like most women, I'd planned to deliver vaginally, but here I was, only 5 centimeters dilated, unable to stick the landing. While I don't believe in fate, I ultimately believe that my son was born exactly the way he was "supposed" to. Besides, I've also come to believe that having an emergency c-section prepares you for motherhood far better than any amount of reading or classes.

If we're being honest, despite planning and even looking forward to a vaginal delivery, I was open to the possibility of c-section. For whatever reason, I had always suspected my son would be born via cesarean, and I'd made my peace with the possibility ahead of time and before it was a necessity. Above and beyond that, I trusted my OB completely, and in her desire to help me achieve the kind of birth I wanted, so when she said, "We need to do a c-section" I didn't question if she just wanted to go home for the night. I believed her, and I regret nothing.

My experience with an emergency c-section helped shape me in the early days of motherhood. Not only did it assist me in bringing my son into the world, it taught me a tremendous amount moving forward, including the following:

Ad failed to load

Nothing Will Ever Go According To Plan


Not having the sort of outcome you'd been expecting or preparing for is actually a pretty good foreshadow for having children in general. Here are other things I planned on...

-making my own baby food (nope)

-not co-sleeping (nope)

-not allowing more than an hour of screen time a day and only then after the age of 2 (nope)

-taking up running during maternity leave (lolwut?!)

-never yelling at my kids (bwaaaahahahahahahaha!)

This is just some of the bigger plans I had, never mind the day-to-day schedules and itineraries we attempt to accomplish time and again. That's okay. Parenthood is basically just a very, very long series of backup plans.

You'll Get Judged


I think we've all learned, by now, that all moms are judged for the kind of birth they have by someone, but I will still contend that c-section moms get the worst of it. Don't assum that an emergency c-section will soften the blow for some of the judgier jerks out there. It won't. It's unfair, it's stupid, and it sucks, but it happens. On the bright side, it toughens you up for the judgment you are sure to face for literally the rest of all your parenting decisions ever because, apparently, how we choose to raise our children is subject to the scrutiny of family, friends, and strangers. Yippee. #headdesk

It Can Be Painful


While a c-section necessitates being good and numb, that doesn't mean that nonsense doesn't eventually hurt like hell. Recovery from a c-section can be really painful and take way longer than one would like. Similarly, parenthood can be painful. I don't just mean the emotional pain that can go along with having your heart walk outside of your body in a dangerous world in the form of your child (though that is a bit of a doozy). I mean physically, too. For example: my 4-year-old routinely (if inadvertently) headbutts me in the vulva. It happens (he's rambunctious, uncoordinated, and his head is basically at the perfect height) and it hurts. My 2-year-old thinks my breasts are those stress relief balls you can pick up at a drug store. She is strong and her nails, no matter how short they are, are inexplicably razor sharp. Your c-section has prepared you for this constant onslaught of physical torment.

Ad failed to load

Your Children DGAF About Your Pain


Your baby doesn't care that you have just endured significant abdominal surgery to bring them into this world, and their incessant and numerous demands will not be abated except by your performing them. This instinct to rank your physical and emotional well-being somewhere below "the Lego under the couch" and "the toy I haven't played with in years that my sister is now holding and I don't want her to," does not end in infancy.

You Will Be Amazed By What Your Body Can Endure


I am continually amazed that a child was cut out of my body (while I was awake) and the only evidence is a tiny scar normally obscured by underwear. As time goes on, I'm still sort of shocked by (and proud of) my body's ability to keep pace with this whole parenthood thing. From breastfeeding to sleepless nights to playing non-stop while surviving on nothing more than the crusts of PB&J sandwiches and the last remnants of sliced apples that my children don't eat, it's all pretty damn impressive.

You Will Need Help


Handling a new baby after a routine vaginal delivery is tough enough, but when your body is recovering from surgery (or some other kind of physical trauma) it's even tougher. You're going to have to ask for help, and that's a great thing. All new moms need help but often do not feel empowered to make a request. But when you need help, like, standing up, it helps open the floodgates for making other requests. As your baby grows up, you will keep needing help so please keep asking whenever you can!

Ad failed to load

Sometimes You Just Need To Take It Easy


You will have to sit back and heal after an emergency c-section. Jumping right back in at your usual pace (like I did after my daughter was born via VBAC, which was a massive mistake, by the way) is just not possible, largely because if you're not hobbling you're nevertheless incapable of walking your usual pace for very far. Rest is essential. This does not stop being true after you've recovered, or ever, because your kids are going to drain you. Take this c-section lesson with you into the future as well.

Careful Planning Is Required Before You Do Anything


After a c-section, getting around is varying degrees of difficult, but always decidedly difficult. My recovery was great, better than those of most other c-section moms I've talked to, but I still needed help getting off my couch months after the birth of my son. As such, before I sat down, I always spent a decent amount of time scanning the room and checking to see what I would need with me to keep getting up to a minimum. Was the baby within reach? Did I have to pee? Did I have food, water, and tissues near me? Did my enormous pad need to be changed? Was my phone on me? Was my phone charged? Where was the remote control? Where was my book? These are the things you have to take into account. As you move from "recovering" to "recovered," and your outings become more regular, you'll find you need to go through that same mental process with the mountains of baby items and considerations to take into account before leaving your home. Do you have enough diapers? Wipes? Formula? Blankets? Change of clothes? Are you going to bring the stroller, the baby sling, or both? Do you have extra socks because she always loses at least one while you're out? Life becomes a very long checklist of covering all possible scenario and c-section moms have extra experience in this arena.

You Might Feel Conflicted At Times


Any way you feel about your c-section experience (or any birth experience) is valid. Some women are tremendously grateful for their c-section while others were legitimately traumatized by how their baby was born, especially in cases of medical emergency. More still, it seems to me, fall somewhere in-between, or vacillate somewhere between the two extremes, or even feel both things at once. All this is totally normal. You will almost certainly have days like this about parenting, too, which might be hard to hear. Parenting can put you through the damn wringer, and you may find yourself filled with resentment, self-doubt, and sadness, even as you continue to adore your children more than anything you've ever experienced, before or since. It's complicated, is what I'm saying.

Ad failed to load
Must Reads

10 Reasons Why I Won't Apologize For Giving My Toddler A Pacifier

My first child had no interest in a pacifier. I tried a couple times to get him to take one, but he always spat them out and gave me an incredulous, judgmental look. But my second? It was love at first suckle. And after a while, the incredulous, judg…
By Jamie Kenney

Being A Dog Parent Prepared Me For Having A Baby, Really

I’ve always wanted kids; I was never as sure about raising a puppy. Then I spent six months living with someone who brought home an eight-week-old golden retriever puppy, and I see no way to make it out of that experience claiming not to love dogs. I…
By Heather Caplan

20 Of The Most Popular Unisex Names Of All Time, That You'll Be Hearing More Of For Sure

You might think of unisex names as a fairly recent trend, but the truth is these versatile monikers have been commonly used throughout history (well, some more commonly than others). That's why the team over at Names.org recently compiled a list of t…
By Jacqueline Burt Cote

How To Have A Date Night With No Babysitter, Because It's Easier Than You Think

After having children, many couples feel that their love lives immediately go out the window, but it's so important to make your romantic life a priority so both you and your partner can be the best versions of yourselves you can be. As we all know, …
By Abi Berwager Schreier

9 Ways Baby No. 3 Made My Family Feel Complete

My husband and I decided to have another baby right after we got married and, well, we had no idea what we were getting into. I got pregnant right away, endured a high-risk pregnancy, and, before I knew it, my third baby had arrived. Together, we emb…
By Steph Montgomery

8 Stereotypes About New Dads That Are *Totally* True

Much like new mothers, new fathers have a lot on their plate. Parenting can be scary and complex, especially at first and regardless of your gender. People want to do right by their kids, after all. And since all new parents are a hot mess, dads are …
By Priscilla Blossom

8 Differences Between Being Pregnant In Your 20s Vs 30s, According To Science

Whether you're planning a pregnancy, or just thinking about your future family, it's typical to think about things like child-spacing, how many kids you want, and when to start trying to conceive. When making your pro/con list, you might also conside…
By Steph Montgomery

16 Moms Share Remedies For Their Most Intense Chocolate Cravings During Pregnancy

For better or worse, pregnancy is usually synonymous with odd cravings. Sure, there are the stereotypical combos like pickles and ice cream that plague gestating women the world over, but there are other mind-boggling combinations, too, including but…
By Candace Ganger

Putting Sunscreen On Your Kid Doesn't Have To Be A Fight — Here's How To Do It

I am almost translucent, so me and sunscreen are basically besties at this point. Even though my children are beautifully deep brown thanks to my husband's genetics, I still slather them like biscuits being buttered because I refuse to take risks wit…
By Cat Bowen

7 Things A Mom Really Means When She Says She Doesn't Want Anything On Mother's Day

Every year my family asks me what I want for Mother's Day, and every single year I tell them the same thing: Nothing. So, by now, they know that when I say "nothing" I absolutely do not mean "nothing." In fact, there are more than a few things a mom …
By Candace Ganger

19 Moms Share The Way They Cured Their Pregnancy Comfort Food Cravings

I was obnoxiously sick during the first trimester with, "lucky" for me, both of my pregnancies. For the first three months I lived on saltines, lemonade, and fresh bread. Once I was able to eat, however, all I wanted was savory and sweet comfort food…
By Dina Leygerman

8 Fascinating Facts About Babies Born In May, The Luckiest Month Of All

The height of all things fresh and springy, May is an excellent month to have a baby. It's a time of growth, graduations, and outdoor celebrations. And these fascinating facts about May babies will give you more reasons than ever to appreciate childr…
By Lindsay E. Mack

I Used To Judge Formula-Feeding Moms — Until I Became One

The other patrons in the hip Brooklyn restaurant probably couldn’t care less what I was feeding my baby, but I’ll always remember the shame I felt as I quickly mixed up his bottle of formula in front of them. I admitted to my childless friend that I …
By Katherine Martinelli

7 White Lies It’s Necessary To Tell To Keep Your Relationship Healthy

Telling lots of lies typically isn't associated with a healthy, strong, lasting relationship, and that's still certainly true, but not all lies are exactly the same. Though you've probably heard from someone at least once or twice that the lie they t…
By Lauren Schumacker

The Skinny Jeans That Saved Me Postpartum

Accepting my post-pregnancy body is hands-down one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done. It’s something that I still work on every single day. During my first pregnancy, I was 20 years old, so I managed to bounce back quickly. In fact, I dropp…
By Allison Cooper

7 Ways Your Baby Is Trying To Say They Feel Safe

In those first weeks of new motherhood, it can feel like you need an interpreter for your newborn. With their limited means of communication, figuring out what message your baby is trying to get across to you can be a challenge. With time, however, y…
By Kimmie Fink

Here's Why Dogs Are Obsessed With Babies' Poop, According To Science

Most family dogs seem to understand babies, and they're more than happy to make friends with the newest member of the pack. It's adorable... for the most part and until you go to change your little one's diaper. Suddenly, you're wondering why dogs ar…
By Lindsay E. Mack

6 Signs You're Meant To Have A Big Age Gap Between Kids

There's a five year age difference between my two children, to the day. Their age gap wasn't planned but, for a variety of reasons, works well for our family. And since I was so focused on having a second baby, I totally overlooked the signs that wou…
By Candace Ganger

Here's How To Introduce Your Pet To Your Baby & Make Everything As Calm As Possible

Our home, which we lovingly refer to as “the funny farm,” is filled with four-legged family members. We have two crazy beagles and two cat jerks, and boy are they loved and spoiled. (As they should be.) But we are now finally having a baby of our own…
By Abi Berwager Schreier

Here's The Right Birth Method For You, According To Your Zodiac Sign

If you're pregnant, you've probably given childbirth some serious thought. Some moms-to-be prepare a meticulous birth plan, while others are comfortable just going with the flow. And me? Well, I made a plan... but that plan was useless when faced wit…
By Steph Montgomery

My Dog Knew I Was Pregnant Before My Family Did

Growing up, I was 100 percent sure I'd be a mom one day. To a dog, that is. My baby plans came later. And once my husband and I were sure we wanted both a dog and a baby, we'd add to our joint dog-and-baby name list over Sunday brunch or on date nigh…
By Melissa Mills