Tuesday, May 20, 2014

C-section soap box

Six years ago with my doctor said that I needed a c-section, I remember crying. Paul was worried that I felt like a failure or something, but I simply didn't want to be limited in the number of children we had. But I accepted my fate, had a decent experience in the OR and with recovery, and was ready to try a VBAC next time around.

Remember how my water broke 7 weeks early with Anna? Well after sitting around the hospital on bed rest for a week and not going into labor, I pretty much expected that a VBAC wouldn't happen. I think I was pretty okay with it. Honestly, my body ached from being on bed rest and I just wanted to have a baby and be done with the hospital. Again, good experience with a great recovery.

With Niels, I searched and searched for a doctor in Texas who would be willing to at least let me try a VBAC, since most docs won't after two. But I also wanted an excellent surgeon, since again, I knew my chances were pretty high that I wouldn't be able to do it. My doctor was willing, but would only let me go to 39 weeks before scheduling something. Honestly, vaginal birth still terrified me, and when 39 weeks came, I was ready to schedule everything. During that third surgery, my doctor discovered that I physiologically would never be able to birth a baby naturally. He also said that I healed well enough to try for a 4th baby.

So now that my fate is sealed and all my babies will require surgery, I've done some thinking and had some experiences. Whenever I tell people I have to have c-sections, I get a variety of responses. Pity is most common. While I know that being cut open repeatedly is not ideal, I really don't deserve any pity. I am able to carry children, where many woman can't. I have had healthy children so far, where many babies are sick or even die at birth. Maybe I need to be more humble, but I don't like being pitied for something that really doesn't matter.

Another response is skepticism, in the sense that I perhaps didn't really need to have c-sections at all...that if my doctor had just let me try a little longer, if I had mentally/physically prepped myself more, and if my doctor hadn't been so anxious to end his shift and go home, then I could have done it vaginally. In essence, they think I failed. This is certainly the most irritating response. Although I know there are many doctors out there who do perhaps jump to surgery too quickly, I for one would be dead if I didn't live in a time when c-sections were possible. When people portray that vaginal birth is the superior way to deliver in all cases, I get extremely irritated. Again, I probably need to be more humble and lighten up. But I have spoken to quite a few women who send this vibe to me when we exchange stories.

And that brings me to the last response I get - indifference. This is the response that I aim to portray whenever women gather together and share birth stories (which we seem to do a lot as women). I don't mean indifference to the story being shared, but to the method of birth. If you want a home birth, go for it! If you want a midwife, great! If you don't want an epidural, more power to you!  If you want an epidural, enjoy it! If you need a c-section, so be it. It really doesn't matter the way you choose to or have to have your baby. Just the fact that you are able to create and carry a baby inside you is amazing. And having a healthy baby is such a blessing. I wish people wouldn't put so much stock in how the baby actually comes out of you and just enjoy the new life that has been created.

Maybe I am a little oversensitive about this issue. Maybe people aren't passing judgment that I was a failure or that I had a knife-happy doctor. But having spoken to other "c-section only" mothers, I am not the only one who has had these reactions from others. 

I know that many people out there don't care how the baby comes out. But hopefully next time you hear a birth story you will be careful that you are aware of how your reaction to your story comes across to the new mother you are speaking too. 

Soap box over. More pictures of Anders to come :)

P.S. One nurse once said, regarding c-sections, particularly VBACs, "Why would you ever want a VBAC? Once you have messed up one part of your body (from birth), why would you want to mess up another part? Just keep them coming out the same way!"


U Pesci Fet d'a Testa said...

You are the best! I'm so glad you're still blogging -- we love seeing pictures of your beautiful family. It helps us feel like we're not *quite* so far away. Congrats on Anders and on a healthy delivery!

Annie said...

Well said Melanie! Personally haven't had a C-section, but I repeatedly hear women comment on how awful it would be to have one. I try to interject with, "The goal is a healthy mom and healthy baby!" How that happens doesn't really matter! You have beautiful children and thanks for sharing your "soap box!"

Cox Family said...

Oh Melanie, you hit it on the nail. I was told to my face by someone that a mother couldn't bond with their baby if they have a c-section. I couldn't believe it! Having had both a c-section and vbacs there was no difference in my bonding or my experience of loving my babies.

Kurt and Kristy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kurt and Kristy said...

Great post! I agree! My sister had all 3 of her kids c-section and has had some of the same reactions.

Marcee said...

I love your post and feel the same way you do! After trying to deliver our first son (over 17 hours) it ended in a C Section due to various reasons, but mostly because my baby was in jeopardy. What's funny is as C-Section moms, we still have stories! And they are great ones. I bet all four of your births were different even though they were all section babies. Mine were! Great post, glad to hear that others feel the same way that I do! :)

Steven and Erika said...

people (especially women) are full of opinions about birth and I agree...its really silly. Every birth story is different and its cool to talk about! Perhaps some don't know how to respond to a c-section birth if they've never experienced it and it comes out as pity? I find that people in general respond in very tactless ways when they haven't had first hand experience. I can fill a book with goofy comments about cancer! haha! I don't think they meant to be hurtful...mostly just didn't know what to say! Looking at it from that perspective made it easier to let some of the crazier things just roll off my back. i personally have never had a C-section and while Im terrified of them, I am glad that they are available! SO glad we have you and those 4 cuties! Anders is sooooooo stink in CUTE!

Elise said...

I love this. Thanks for telling it. I remember very well you telling me your c-section story, and I really really hope I didn't react any of these ways! But I think of ALL birth stories as being heroine stories, so I guess I'm of the impression that all birth deserves a little bit of pity. No, pity is the wrong word. Sympathy? Amazement? Kudos?

Also, sometimes it's a little hard to perceive how women feel about their birth stories as they tell them. Maybe before I react, I should wait... or ask them how they felt about it and respond with the appropriate emotion.

Anyway. You and your babies are gorgeous. (I mean GORGEOUS.) And healthy. And... that's all anyone could want from a birth story.