I think I'm part of a small group of women who have enjoyed having c-sections. So far I've had two, and if all my dreams come true, I'll be having a third one when I have another child. I've actually shocked people with the love I've had for my c-sections, and I've never really understood why. My children entered the world the same way every other baby did: they were in my belly, and they they were not. I've long wondered, why is it so shocking that I loved my birth experience?
Seven years earlier, I found out that I was pregnant in a dorm bathroom at my college. I'd recently been talking about how I couldn't wait to have children, but was nowhere near ready for a moment in that moment. I was absolutely shocked when my pregnancy tests came back positive, mainly because I knew nothing about having a kid, let alone being pregnant.
At 12 weeks, I joined an online community of women who were also expecting for the first time, and that was the first time I realized there was a Way To Give Birth and a Way To Definitely Not Give Birth. From the discussions on the board, it seemed like most women agreed: a c-section delivery was a complete no-go. I tried to stay away from those overall conversation because I just assumed I'd give birth vaginally, even though I was definitely going to get an epidural. I didn't have a birth plan because I didn't want to have my heart heart set on a certain experience only to have things go a completely different way. I wanted to be free of expectations and to focus on one thing: having my baby.
When I went past my due date, the doctor gave me two choices: I could wait around a bit longer and see what happened, or I could induce. I chose the latter. The following week, we checked into the hospital and began a Pitocin drip. When nothing happened, they upped the dosage. After almost 12 hours of waiting around, I progressed a little, but not enough. The doctor said he'd come back in the morning to break my water, and when he did, we thought for sure things would progress.
A day later, after spending 24 hours in the hospital, we realized my daughter was stuck in the birthing canal with her head up.
The doctor proposed a c-section and told me that I could wait another 12 hours but that could prove dangerous. He advice came too late, though. I'd already made up my mind: I wanted to have a c-section.
Despite what I'd read in the months leading up to my labor and delivery, I was surprisingly calm. Even though I'd read stories of how terrible and awful having a c-section would make me feel, I still wanted to have one. I had a faint idea of what I was walking into, but I didn't waiver in my decision. A c-section would safely bring my daughter into the world. What else was there to consider?
In surgery, all I remember was the pulling I felt as they got her out of my stomach. Then I heard her cry, and it was the most perfect cry I'd ever heard. It was beautiful. I was fully immersed in the moment. A participant in labor even if it wasn't exactly the way I'd assumed it would go months before. I heard her tears, her profound entrance into the world and was extremely grateful.
In the weeks following my daughter's birth, other women began to share their thoughts on my c-section with me. Their comments ranged from: "But your body is meant to give birth naturally, you should have allowed it to do that," to:
Your poor baby had to be brought into the world in such a hard way.
Someone even went so far as to ask me:
How will you ever know what being a real woman is like if you didn't give birth naturally?
Yes, I'd just given birth, but had my body changed? Had my rights to being a woman, a real woman, been forfeited when I made the well-informed decision to safely bring my daughter into the world? Was I less of a "real" woman because I'd done what was best for my body and my baby? On those occasions, if I ever even got the chance to say that I liked my c-section, fellow parents would give me a look of horror and try to persuade me otherwise. Sadly, as a result, I stopped talking about the beautiful way my daughter entered the world.
I'd watch online as more and more of my friends started to have babies, praising their natural birth experience and shaming women, like me, who weren't able to have that. My conversations IRL with friends were similar. Like all of them, I had carried a human in my body for 10 long months. I went through the back pains, the swollen ankles, the cravings, the sleepless nights, the constant tossing and turning because my belly was so big. Why was my birth excluded? Why did my daughter's arrival not count? Why was it considered "cheating"?
When my daughter was 5 months old, I got pregnant for the second time. I lost that baby, but did get pregnant again, for the third time, shortly after. Everyone kept asking if I was going to have another c-section, or if I was going to go for a VBAC. I didn't want to, but I felt a pressure to at least look it up, so I did. Then I realized that I wanted a birth experience that left me feeling empowered, not one that I'd chose solely because of what other people would think.
So I opted for another c-section.
Personally, I loved that I could just schedule when my son would be born, especially because I had another baby at home to think of. I loved how my vagina stayed in perfect condition, I loved that I didn't have to push a baby out of it. I loved that I didn't have to worry that my son would be breech or that he would get stuck in the birth canal like his sister was. Most of all, I loved that my medical team supported my decision. I loved that my partner did too. I loved that not a single person who was intimately involved with my family planning made me feel less than for choosing what was best for my body.
Most of all, I loved my right to choose a birth that made sense for me.
Much like I did after my first c-section, I felt empowered and strong after my son's birth. I felt like a mother, which was something other people had told me I wouldn't feel. Knowing what I know now, I'd make the same choice over and over again given the chance. How I brought my children into the world didn't diminish who I was as a woman. It didn't make me less brave, less powerful, less in control, or less real. Those choices made me a mom.
Images Courtesy of Margaret Jacobsen (5)