So, after delivering my daughter via c-section and spending inordinate amounts of time on the Internet researching all things postpartum, I realized that there were women out there who, after planning for a natural birth and ending up with a c-section, are disappointed in themselves. Still, other women feel (secretly or not so much so) that women who deliver via c-section haven’t really experienced a true delivery.
Well, I’m here to call bullshit on all of this.
Yes, I wanted a natural birth. Yes, I ended up having to get a c-section because after 3 days in labor, lots of cervidil, a foley balloon, stripping membranes, breaking waters, some of the most painful poking and prodding I have ever experienced in my life, a stubborn cervix that just refused to dilate, a rising fever (after breaking my water), and (what we found out a bit later) a child with a very large head that might have caused some serious problems during a “normal” delivery, a natural birth just wasn’t in the cards. Trust me, I tried like hell, but if your body says no and your baby is in danger, you say yes to a c-section.
Now, I’m here to break it down for you. Here are some things to think about if 1) you’ve had a c-section and are disappointed in yourself 2) you’re a woman/mother who considers women who have given birth via c-section as lesser women/mothers (this may be subconscious) or 3) you’re a person who just wants to know more about c-sections.
C-SECTION DELIVERY IS HARD TOO…FOR DIFFERENT REASONS
Often times you’ll still go through the fun of labor pains. You still get an epidural and a catheter (SO fun — actually, to be honest, not having to get up to pee was a Godsend…re-learning how to pee after surgery…not so much.) But instead of pushing, you’re strapped to a table, Jesus-style, while your body quakes violently from the anesthesia and a tarp is draped between you and your lower half.
You’re conscious for this entire process, so you don’t get to sit out wonderful experiences like smelling your own burning flesh as the incision is made and listening to your doctor chat with everyone and, in my case, have a small debate with the assisting doctor about the method with which to close me up — something no one wants to hear.
When your baby arrives, you don’t see her/him immediately. You hear the cry and what a glorious sound, but if you had my experience, you would have lost so much blood that you’ll struggle to stay alert enough to pay attention. The baby is taken to be warmed, measured and cleaned up and swaddled. Your partner, who was sitting by you to make sure you’re ok, will likely be whisked away to the other side of the room to see the baby before you.
For a few very long moments, you are all alone. Your body has a gaping wound, your baby is no longer with you, your partner isn’t there…all you feel is cold, shaky, and teetering on the edge of consciousness. All I could do was try my best to concentrate on breathing while my body shook and not pass out.
After what felt like 100 years, my baby was brought over to me and held, by someone else, next to my face. I was still strapped down. She was so close, I couldn’t even turn my head. She was trying to suck on my cheek. The nurse cooed “oh, she likes you.”
“YOU’RE GODDAMN RIGHT, SHE LIKES ME. I’M HER FUCKING MOTHER.”…was what I yelled…in my head. By the way, all the nurses were wonderful. I think I was just really exhausted and cranky about not having that moment right after delivery of holding my baby against my chest. It was robbed from me.
By the time my darling daughter was put in my arms, I was barely there. I was so weak, I was scared I would drop her. She lay on my chest while I clung to her, praying she wouldn’t slip out of my arms. I mustered up enough energy to get one photo with my husband. Drugged up, bloated from 3 days of IV fluids and barely there. At least I was smiling in the photo.
They rolled us into the post-op room where I felt myself floating off. The baby was taken from me to be further checked out. My husband left with her. The last thing I remember hearing was my doctor saying as he sat by me was, “she looks very pale,” before I passed out.
When I woke up, I was by myself in the post-op room. Curtains on all sides. Doctor, husband, baby…nowhere to be found. Not even a nurse. It felt horrible. To have a little life inside of me for 10 months and suddenly have it ripped from me. Left by myself with no one to lean on.
A nurse eventually showed up to take all the wires and tubes off of me. At this point I was overcome with nausea and was trying really hard not to throw up. That and I was trying my best to get feeling back in my legs. Needless to say, I couldn’t quite wiggle my toes yet.
I was eventually rolled into recovery where I was reunited with my new baby…but, yes, the c-section surgery was no walk in the park. Maybe a walk in the park if the park was made of lava and my body was made of tissue paper doused in gasoline.
YOU’RE JUST AS MUCH OF A WOMAN AND MOTHER
C-sections don’t make you any less of a Mom-Warrior. You still carried a child in your body for 40-ish weeks. You grew a human being! That’s bananas!
Through no fault of your own your hips might have not been wide enough or the baby’s head was too big. Your cervix said “screw you” or there was some other complication.
You are still a woman. You are still a mother. Chances are, you had your baby via c-section because it was the safest way. You prioritized your child’s health over your dreams of the perfect delivery story. What a Mom thing to do. Feels like the obvious choice, right? That’s because you’re a Mom.
All we can do is be thankful that modern medicine has made it so we don’t have to die during childbirth. Also, your lady parts are intact, so that’s an unseen bonus.
NO ONE TALKS ABOUT THE HEALING PROCESS
I realize that many women who have delivered via natural birth need to deal with that discomfort of not being able to sit down. Tearing, stitches…yikes. And I’m so sorry you have to deal with that. Ugh. I can’t even imagine. I also hear that you guys bounce back and heal up pretty quickly.
Here’s the thing. C-section recovery is just as shitty if not more so. There’s a reason 2 extra weeks are generally tacked on to maternity leave when it’s a c-section. (If you’re lucky enough to get it.)
Imagine finally having your baby in your arms. You have so many plans. So much you want to do. So much caring and parenting you’re ready to take on…but you can’t sit up. You literally cannot sit up because your abs have been sliced in half. You have a wound 9 levels of flesh deep that you need to take care of.
In recovery at the hospital, it will take everything in you to get out of bed and shuffle along the hallway. Nurses will cheer you on. You know the blood flow is good for the wound. The nurses will offer a wrap for your torso. TAKE IT. Because shuffling as your still-stretched skin and oversized uterus sway back and forth, pulling at your c-section stitches, is the worst.
If you get 30 minutes of sleep and wake up, you have to carefully roll yourself off of the bed or couch, which takes a great amount of effort and a whole lot of pain. While in the hospital, recovering, the catheter comes out pretty soon after surgery which means you’ll need to go to the bathroom a lot (because they make sure you’re hydrated.) Even though the bathroom is 3 feet away, it will feel like a few miles because of this newfound pain.
You will be on lots of painkillers at the hospital. Once home, you’ll be double dosing Tylenol and Advil all day for a while…but be warned. If you completely dull the pain, you may push yourself too hard and start to bleed again. You don’t need your uterus to hemorrhage, so take it easy.
Every time you nurse your baby, no matter how small it is, it is resting on your aching, burning wound (until you master another breastfeeding position). Every time you nurse, your uterus will contract…the uterus that has been stitched back together…the uterus that’s trying to heal. It feels like you’re being stabbed in the abdomen over and over again.
This will go on for a while. It is a complete pain and utter inconvenience. However, because you are a mother, you will persevere and not give any of the fucks because, hello, you have a newborn that needs some TLC, whether you’re in pain or not. You will not care about the pain, but it will be there.
WHY BE DISAPPOINTED? YOU HAVE AN AWESOME BABY!
What this all comes down to is, why be disappointed?
What? Because your baby didn’t tear through your vagina onto a bed of roses while you wore a beautiful robe of silks and fairies covered you and your new bundle in fairy dust and magical garlands? Because you had to throw your birth plan out the window?
Because you didn’t get that perfect post-delivery shot for Instagram? (I still hate that photo the nurse took of my husband and I with the baby right after the surgery…the photo that was, of course, posted to Instagram by my brother-in-law after my husband texted it to the entire family.)
So, your delivery wasn’t grammable. The set-up didn’t jive with the Pinterest boards you had been plotting for months prior to the big day. You have a 6 inch wound, intact lady parts and a beautiful newborn baby. What is there to complain about? It was still a pain. There will still be war stories to tell.
And, looking back at the whole ordeal, you’ve got to admit, it’s a situation that takes an enormous amount of will power, perseverance, and pure love for your unborn/newborn child. So, give yourself a break. Judgers, give these women a break. People who just wanted to know, go high five someone who’s had a c-section.
If there were any doubts, I’m here to say STOP and be proud!