Yeah, I know. It's been almost 3.5 years since the day I had my c-section, I should just get the hell over it. But it seems like so many places I go today (both in my every day walking around in the real world life and out here on the interwebs), the mom who ends up with or for some reason, G-d forbid, chooses a c-section is made to feel like a second class citizen in the land Womanhood and Motherhood.
My c-section came as a total surprise to us; Ethan had been trying to make a hasty entrance into this world from about 20 weeks gestation on, so the idea that he wouldn't just fly right out when my water broke and my cerclage was cut was just absurd to me. He was 5.5 weeks early. He'd be tiny. My cervix had been gunning to dilate for months--I'd be at 10cms in minutes, sneeze, and POP! out he'd come. It would hurt like a mother, but it would be over pretty quickly, and of course it would be vaginally.
Perhaps I had an unrealistic vision of what my labor would be like given the circumstances of my pregnancy and early labor (and the fact that it was my first time and I was clueless). But "c-section" never entered my mind. And then we discovered that because of my cerclage, I wasn't going to dilate past a certain point (9cms--sonofabitch!), that Ethan was cord-wrapped and wouldn't engage with the birth canal, and that his heart rate was all kinds of pissed off at us. So the game changed and I found myself in a freezing operating room staring at a blue sheet and feeling tugs and pressure instead of pooping on the doctor and feeling the "ring of fire" of delivery.
Fine. So be it. For a long time I grieved that experience. Felt like less of a woman because I didn't deliver my child the way nature intended. Every time someone referred to vaginal delivery as "natural," I felt like a freak of nature. "Did you have him naturally, or was it a c-section?" My c-section absolutely contributed to my postpartum depression and I beat myself up over it a lot.
But as time went on (and the Zoloft kicked in), and I watched my little baby turn into a little boy, I started to feel that wound heal over. Seriously, look at him. Who cares HOW he got here? He got here. That, in and of itself, is perfection to me. And nothing pisses me off more than when the world around me sends the message that it's not good enough.
Go to any Barnes and Noble or Borders bookstore and head to the pregnancy book shelves. You will find books on hypnobirthing, writing your own birth plan, med-free birthing, at-home birthing, having a green pregnancy, a green delivery, all of it. What you won't find is a single book specifically about c-section. Preparing for one, experiencing one, recovering from one physically and emotionally, caring for your newborn after one.
Yeah, you'll find a cursory chapter about "if you should end up having a c-section" in the back of some pregnancy/birthing books, like an after-thought. But that's about it. And I get that no one really WANTS a c-section. I get that they are last options and not the way nature intended us to bring our babies into the world. But you know what? That doesn't mean women who have c-sections shouldn't have more information available to them than the discharge sheet their nurses give them when they are sent home, about how to care for their stitches or staples or whatever the hell the surgeon puts them back together with.
Because of my parenting choices, I tend to read the blogs of like-minded women, or follow them on Twitter. And because I coslept and breastfed and read Dr. Sears books, most of those women are also very anti-cesarean. How many times have they made comments about cesareans as unnecessary and bad for the baby and rallied behind a mother who didn't want to have a c-section, offering her advice about how to refuse one, without hearing the doctor's side of the story? The assumption that ALL doctors are evil cutters who want to "mutilate" women in labor so they can make their 4pm tee-time is insulting not only to the doctors, but the expectant mothers who would defer to them and later be made to feel like idiots because they let their doctor "talk them into" a c-section.
Yeah, I know those doctors exist. But I refuse to believe that my doctor was one of those. He stayed beyond his shift, called in another doctor to confer with about my case. Stayed until well after my surgery so that he could check on me post-recovery. Do I know 100% that my c-section was 100% necessary? Nope. Would I, or would Ethan, have died without it? I have no idea. But I'm going to go with "I trust my doctor" on this one. And I don't want anyone giving me a hairy eye-balled sideways glance because of it.
Then there's the condescending, "Well, I mean, c-sections are okay if they are REALLY necessary," which I imagine falls on my ears in the same way that formula feeding moms hear, "Well, formula's okay if you REALLY can't nurse." It's such a "poor you; you have to live with being inferior" sentiment handed out by the ever-so-smug "I can do it better than you can"ners. I'm tired of it.
Recently I was having a conversation with a group of women about TLC's "A Baby Story" and said how I loved watching it when I was pregnant and still watch it from time to time now (because I am nothing if not a glutton for punishment--hey, infertile lady! Come watch babies being born!!! Awesome). One woman who had trained for hypno-birth told me that she had been advised NOT to watch the show because of how "negatively" it presents delivery and all the things that "can go wrong." Well, TLC's "A Baby Story" has never shown a baby die. Or a mother die. So, I'm not really sure what they show that is "going wrong," but I have to assume she meant the women who end up in c-section. My baby's delivery didn't go wrong; it just went differently than I'd intended. And it probably would have gone that way even if I'd spent months studying with the best hypno-birthing teacher money could buy.
I mean absolutely no disrespect to women who have had vaginal births, med-free births, hypno births, water births, home births, etc (and definitely not to anyone referenced in the above paragraph). Some of my favorite people have had those very experiences, and I am so happy that they got to experience it the way they wanted to. I even follow a woman on Twitter whose labor went so fast she unintentionally delivered in her own home, trying to get down stairs to go to the hospital. She's a freaking rockstar in my mind. BUT that doesn't mean that in that metaphor I have to be a fat, greasy roadie lugging amps around while the rockstars congratulate themselves and each other on being such kick-ass baby deliverers.
I've stopped reading blogs by people who push anti-cesarean agendas and I've unfollowed them on Twitter when they start painting negative pictures of c-sections in broad strokes, or use the "well, it's okay if it's really necessary" line. I've asked the associates at the bookstores, "Where are your books on Cesarean Sections?" and stood there as they looked at me slack-jawed and clueless.
I get that I might be alone on this, but I am sick of feeling like a second class woman and mother because of how my son found his way out of my uterus. Put him up against any other kid his age who shot out of his mom the "right" way, and I will guarantee you that he's as happy and as healthy as that kid. And that? Is the ONLY thing that counts.