Let’s talk about the C word.
Not that C-word. The one that so often comes with a, ‘Oh you poor thing, you’re having a C-section’. And yes. People do actually say things like that.
I went into my first C-section devastated that I wasn’t fulfilling the Earth Mother calling to give birth naturally, which I’d always felt. Something I had always yearned for like it was the holy grail of womanhood. My Mum did it. My Grandmothers did it. Between these incredible women they gave birth to 12 babies without any mention of a C-section. So I just thought I would too. Just like a woman ‘should’.
For medical reasons it was necessary for me to have a C-section with my first baby. Due to the nature of the complications it was all very stressful. And of course the recovery afterwards was not easy. In fact it was shit. I’d had a reaction to the anesthetic and my baby wasn’t in top health. He was whisked off to the Special Care Nursery while I was shoved into a Surgical Suite sharing a room with a new mum who had her baby with her. When my hubby finally wheeled me down to the Nursery, I was desperate to hold my baby boy. I could see other mums who’d had vaginal births visiting their babies, moving around freely as they picked up their precious newbies, seemingly glowing in their Earth Mother Woman Warrior way. They’d just achieved something extraordinary. Then there was me. Wheeled in on the hospital bed, in pain, vomiting from the meds, struggling to move, totally obsessed with the birth I didn’t get to have and miserable that I couldn’t manoeuvre my fragile 2.1kg baby in my pathetic state – and the only thing I could blame was this goddamn capital C.
I fell into the trap of thinking this way of birth was BAD. That it’s somehow LESS-THAN a vaginal birth. That I was just a vessel who played no part in the most important act of my life. That I was somehow not as strong or womanly as those other mums in that nursery.
But now, three C-sections later, I can say that I was SO wrong and I don’t want any other woman to feel the way I did. The experience of my first C was tarnished by my unfriendly doctors, poor drug management, the trauma of being separated from my son and of course the hard-hitting realisation that giving birth in real life doesn’t always play out like your birth plan.
I feel very lucky I got to do it a second time around because the experience left me feeling empowered, confident, proud and just as Earth Mother Goddess-like as I’d ever imagined.
For my second C, I changed OBGYN’s. G A M E C H A N G E R. From the start he never uttered a negative turn of phrase when we discussed my birthing options. We agreed we’d try for a VBAC, but I accepted that the statistics were against me. When the time came for another C-section (again for medical reasons), my wonderful doctor and his team were all smiles, building anticipation about my BIRTH (not fears about my surgery). As they were prepping me they asked what music I’d like playing in the background. Next thing they’re blasting 80’s tunes in theatre while we all laughed about the fact that within ten short minutes I’d be meeting my new baby. When I made a last-ditch quip about having yet another C and some negative comments I’d encountered, the midwife said, ‘Listen honey, your bub’s just coming out the sunroof, she obviously has style’.
As they began, Hubby was at my side holding my hand while the anesthetist commentated a detailed progress report of the birth and took incredible pics (which still give me goosebumps). There was enough sensation that I could feel a bit of what was happening, and they even asked me to ‘push’ as they got closer to delivery. Then as our baby girl was being pulled out of my body and into our lives, the team lowered the surgical screen just enough so that I could see and hear her screaming her first scream. The rush of adrenaline and high of euphoria from that particular moment is something I remember so strongly. They placed her straight onto my chest. I was totally besotted with her, utterly proud of myself and completely ecstatic with the precision, pace and positivity of the birth.
I Am Woman hear me roar! So I did it all again with baby number three.
Never in a million years did I think I would have three C-sections. And a part of me will always wonder what it’s like to do it vaginally. But in the end that’s how it was meant to happen for me – and more importantly, that’s how it was meant to happen for my babies. And I don’t feel like I’m LESS-THAN any other mother in any way.
C or V, it’s not always our choice. But giving birth to a healthy baby is all any woman could ask for.