When Raye Lee planned to give birth, she envisioned a much different scenario. The woman from Springfield, Missouri gave birth to a boy, Roxas Orion on Aug. 15 — and even with the best birth plans, things can change, as she soon discovered. On Friday, she posted about her somewhat traumatic birth experience, and this new mom's C-section Facebook post went viral for its candor and passion. Her post featured stark photos of her c-section scar with an extensive note that read in part: "I now belong to a badass tribe of mamas with the scar to prove that I had a baby cut out of me and lived to tell the tale. (Because you can die from this, you know.)"
Lee's post illustrates yet another form of endless criticism that new mothers often face: Oh, your baby is formula-fed? Oh, you're not co-sleeping with your newborn? In Lee's case: Oh — you delivered by C-section? Tsk, tsk, tsk. As if the act of giving birth — no matter how you've done it — isn't enough.
Lee rightly cuts through all that judgmental bullsh*t:
When that first nurse asked you to try getting out of bed and the ripping pain of a body cut apart and stitched back together seared through you, you realized the irony of anybody who talks about it being the "easy way out". So f*ck you and f*ck how you see what I did.
Lee's post is brave, raw, and defiant: She rails against those who would call her "decision" to have a C-section the easy way out. In truth, it was a decision made in a moment of emergency, as her baby was in distress after 38 hours of labor. She describes — in graphic detail — exactly what was done to her body during her C-section, and I think it's important to every mom to read, as painful as it is:
Having a shrieking infant pulled out of an incision that is only 5 inches long, but is cut and shredded and pulled until it rips apart through all of your layers of fat, muscle, and organs (which they lay on the table next to your body, in order to continue to cut until they reach your child) is a completely different experience than I had imagined my sons birth to be.
Like Lee, I shared a fear of having a C-section when I was pregnant with my son. The biggest reason I was so terrified about a C-section is that every major surgery I've ever had previously has been one of emergency: a nearly-burst appendix, an ovarian torsion. I was so scared that the birth I had so longed for after years of infertility would be "taken" from me. While I did end up having a vaginal birth — despite circumstances that could have taken me to the OR — I realize how lucky I was, given that over a third of all births in the United States are by Cesarean section.
One of the biggest criticisms moms who have a C-section face is that they didn't have a "natural" or "real" birth because their baby was cut out of them. I agree with Lee that shaming a woman for how she gave birth is fundamentally wrong: She is a mom, no matter how she gave birth — and it's that she is a mom who survived birth — the United States maternal mortality rate is on the rise while other nations' rates are down — that is more important than how her child entered the world.
Lee's Facebook post is liberating and validating for any mom and a welcome moment of candor: "I am the strongest woman, that I know. Not only for myself, but for my beautiful son... and I would honestly go through this every single day just to make sure I am able to see his smiling face."
Preach it, mama — preach.