Courtesy of Megan Zander

Actually, I'm Really Glad I Had A C-Section

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Often, when I'm having a "getting to know you" conversation with a new friend with kids and the fact that I had a c-section comes up, the news is met with a sympathetic head tilt and a soft hand pat as she says, "If you have another baby, you could always try for a VBAC." Usually I'll smile, nod, and find an excuse to walk away, because I know she's only saying what she thinks I want to hear. But besides the fact that no, I won't be having another baby, even if I did, I'd happily dance all the way to my OBs office to schedule another c-section. The truth is I'm not at all ashamed or upset by my c-section. It may have been unplanned, but having a c-section was awesome, and I have not a single regret about it.

The circumstances that led to my emergency c-section at just after 5 in the morning on an otherwise uneventful Tuesday were less than ideal. After nearly two months of bed rest, I went into labor with my twin boys at 33 weeks and one day. With the help of my doctors, we had stalled my labor a few times before, but this time there was no way to prevent me from dilating. Just a few days prior, I found out I'd developed cholestasis of pregnancy, which meant every day my twin boys remained in utero the risk of a stillbirth increased. So even though I knew they were going to be premature and would spend time in the NICU, I was more than a little bit relieved that they were going to make their debut.

Courtesy of Megan Zander
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My water broke suddenly around dinnertime, and by the time we drove to the hospital I was already four centimeters dilated. I had read all about contractions in the baby books I devoured while bored in bed all day, and because I consider myself someone with a pretty high pain tolerance, I thought I'd be able to handle the contractions like a champ. Instead, they knocked me on my ass. I was literally crying for my own mommy as I simultaneously told my husband that if he didn't find someone to give me an epidural RIGHT NOW, I wanted a divorce.

He probably thought I'd be devastated if my plans for an unmedicated labor and delivery didn't come to fruition. But I was so happy when my doctor suggested a c-section that had I not been numb from the waist down and connected to tubes and wires, I would've done cartwheels down the hall of the maternity ward.

Once the drugs kicked in and I was fully dilated, I pushed for three long, frustrating hours to try and deliver my babies naturally without making any progress. It was then that my doctor started to get concerned about the twins' heart rates, and he delicately asked me how I felt about a c-section.

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I could tell by the way he asked that he expected me to feel like a failure for saying yes. He probably thought I'd be devastated if my plans for an unmedicated labor and delivery didn't come to fruition. But I was so happy when my doctor suggested a c-section that had I not been numb from the waist down and connected to tubes and wires, I would've done cartwheels down the hall of the maternity ward. (Though, come to think of it, maybe that would have gotten the babies to come out on their own.)

As much as I'd wanted to experience pregnancy in its unmedicated state, I was unprepared for the lack of control I felt over my body in those last weeks of pregnancy and during my labor. I expected to channel Beyoncé when it came time to push, all strong and confident and in control with my hair flowing majestically behind me (in my vision there are fans in the delivery room to help sweaty pregnant women feel more comfortable), but in reality I was terrified and felt completely helpless. Every contraction felt like a wave trying to drown me, and I had nothing to grab on to. I'd never felt less connected to my own body than I did when I was in labor.

Having a c-section was my way of taking back control over my body and what was happening to me. Once the drape was in place and the c-section began, I felt like I could stop worrying about my own body and start thinking about my sons and their well-beings. I stopped staring at the monitors for signs that my body was in distress and began making jokes with the nurses. I relaxed.
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Courtesy of Megan Zander

Things can go wrong during a c-section, just like in any surgery, but the idea that my doctor had done this procedure countless times before made me feel safe and calm. Having a c-section was my way of taking back control over my body and what was happening to me. Once the drape was in place and the c-section began, I felt like I could stop worrying about my own body and start thinking about my sons and their well-beings. I stopped staring at the monitors for signs that my body was in distress and began making jokes with the nurses. I relaxed. My doctor played pop music while he did his thing. I hummed along to Prince. It was honestly relaxing after all that pushing.

Even after the c-section, I was still really pleased with the way things turned out. My bathroom looked like the pig's blood scene in Carrie for days after I gave birth, but I snuck a look at the suction container during my c-section, so I know just how much blood and other baby junk they hosed out of me that I would have had to shed naturally if I hadn't had the c-section. Gross yes, but less gross than if I had to clean it up myself.

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Having a c-section gave me my two healthy children and kept me alive. If I lived in another area of the world or in a period in history before these medical advancements, who knows if either the boys or I would have survived childbirth. I'm grateful that having a c-section was even an option for me.

Healing from a cesarean was similar to any abdominal surgery, but in all honestly, it wasn't all that bad for me. Walking slowly, taking Tylenol, and coughing with a pillow on my lap for a few weeks seemed like nothing compared to hearing my friends who'd had vaginal births discuss the benefits of an episiotomy versus letting your vagina tear naturally. Yes, our bodies are designed for childbirth and a woman delivering a baby is a miraculous thing, but just the thought of having stitches in an area that I associate solely with pleasure makes me cringe.

Courtesy of Megan Zander
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I'm pleased with my c-section for so many reasons: I healed easily and quickly; my my OB hid my scar along my pubic hair line, which made it almost invisible; and I can die happy never knowing what it feels like to squeeze a baby's head out of my most intimate of place. But I'm most pleased with my c-section because it served its purpose: having a c-section gave me my two healthy children and kept me alive. If I lived in another area of the world or in a period in history before these medical advancements, who knows if either the boys or I would have survived childbirth. I'm grateful that having a c-section was even an option for me.

Whether it's a vaginal birth or a cesarean delivery, giving birth is giving birth. Either way, you get to be a parent. Neither way makes you  a "good" or "bad" mom and both take a physical toll on you and require lots of recovery time. Still, if I had to make the choice over again, I'd pick a c-section every time.

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