From the day I got pregnant with my first child, I dreamed of a calm, peaceful labor. The sterile hospital room would be transformed into a sanctuary with flickering candles and a chanting Tibetan monk soundtrack in the background. The nurses would be in awe as I swayed serenely through the surges and breathed my baby into existence. I would be a warrior mother, bringing her child into the world as millions of women have done throughout history.
As my due date drew closer, it became clear that the birth I had dreamed of would not happen. My daughter was breach, and despite my best efforts to get her to flip, she stayed put, and a C-section was written in the schedule. I was disappointed, but held out hope that I would still get my Hypnobirthing labor experience with my second child. VBACs are so common these days, and it seemed like the right path for me.
But that was not my reality. We moved across the country when I was 36 weeks pregnant with my second child, and despite my objections, my new OB gave me deadline: if I didn't go into labor by my due date, I would have to undergo a second C-section. I tried every old wive's tale in the book to get that baby to come out, but he stayed put. I was devastated when my OB broke the news at my 40 week appointment that I was barely 1 cm dilated. I spend the rest of the day crying, feeling robbed of the birthing experience of my dreams.
Now here I am, about to undergo my third C-section. Some friends encouraged me to find a doctor who would support a VBAC after 2 C-sections, but to tell you the truth, I just don't have the energy or the desire to do that. It would mean extra long drives to each appointment with a 20 month old and a 3 year old, only to rush back in time to teach in the afternoons. It would mean investing so much emotional energy into something that may never happen. It would mean if something went wrong, I would be risking an emergency C-section anyway.
And really, I'm finally at peace with birthing my children via Cesarian. It was not my original plan, it was not what I hoped for or imagined, but it's the way it worked out. And it's the way I got my 2 beautiful babies safely into my arms.
So maybe you're staring down the barrel of a scheduled C-section and you're feeling disappointed about it.
Maybe you have a deadline to go into labor with your very large baby.
Maybe your baby is breech, and just won't flip.
Or maybe you have another condition that makes surgery the safest options to get your child out.
And you trust your doctor. You understand the reasoning for the C-section, but you're still feeling frustrated and disillusioned.
Dear expecting mama preparing for (or recovering from!) a C-section - this one is for you!
It's ok to feel disappointed. So much emphasis is placed on the wonder of natural childbirth. And let's face it - we all love a good going-into-labor story! When you are denied these rites of passage as a mother, it feels like you are out of the club. And really, anytime an experience does not live up to our expectations, it's hard not to feel let down. Acknowledge how you feel about it, and talk with someone who will lend a listening ear such as your husband, or a friend who has undergone a similar experience.
You are not taking the easy way out. Don't let anyone tell you that. You are undergoing major surgery, and recovery from a C-section is long and difficult. You will have to stay in the hospital longer. You will not be able to lift your toddler. You will be monitoring the bright red scar for signs of infection. Honestly, you will be a warrior for taking care of your newborn baby while also letting your body heal from surgery.
You are not a lesser woman or mother for having a C-section. Whether it's other people in your life, or simply the voice inside your head telling you this, know that it is ridiculous. You did what you needed to do to get your baby safely into the world, and that is what motherhood is all about. We are often called up to sacrifice our own wants and desires for our children.
The manner in which you gave birth will matter less with time. I won't say the feelings of disappointment will go away as soon as the baby is here, especially if the C-section is unplanned. However, with each passing milestone your child reaches, the significance of that surgery will fade into the background. When your child walks for the first time, argues with you about their bedtime for the first time, or enters their first day of preschool, this will be the furthest thing from your mind. Promise.
Do not let this define you. Much in life does not go as it was planned. There are so many factors over which we do not have control. Yes, it may feel unfair, but it is how we respond to disappointment that matters. This is what makes us stronger. So absolutely, give yourself time to work through the feelings of disappointment, but also realize that you can choose to have a C-section and enjoy your baby, or have a C-section and be miserable. Someday your own child will face disappointment and unfair circumstances, and you will encourage them to move forward.
Mama, you will get through this, coming out the other side stronger than before. And you will make one awesome mother.
A Mom Who's Been There