Maybe this is a bit of rambling… even a bit of ranting, perhaps. First, let me say and fully express that every woman’s choice of child birth is her own (as well as her mate’s? OK, don’t shout me down here), but seeing so many women excitedly reject epidurals and c-sections as well as opting for at-home-deliveries these days, has been eating at me in a way that belittles my own experiences. Not because these choices are being made, NO, but because I’m seeing so many women put down the former alternatives as though they are somehow… the negative choice to make. It’s easy to feel shy when women around you say, “I didn’t use drugs to deliver my child” as if they did a better job. Or, “I told my doctor NO c-sections” as if women want c-sections (do they??).
Listen, sometimes we do what we gotta do. Let me share my childbirth stories (that I’ve kept private until now) so that you might have a better idea of what I mean…
Midnight. 12:58am to be exact, I crawl into bed after talking with my mother, 9 1/2 months pregnant with my son. My stomach feels enormous, it IS enormous. Even my belly’s skin burns. My hips ache beyond all reason and I can barely take it anymore (Yep, welcome to pregnancy). I have just two days until my due date… ‘why isn’t he here yet’, I’m thinking. And I pray, exasperated and hopeless: “God, I’m done. I just can’t take it anymore”. And like a cliche scene from a movie, my water instantly bursts, soaking the bed beneath me as I’m climbing in beside my sleeping husband. My reaction is severe to say the least, and my husband jumps out of bed to rush us to the hospital.
When we arrive, we still have some time to wait though. They run through their usual questions and procedures and we wait. And wait. It turns out my baby will be delivered by my doctor’s business partner… which is hard on me, as I am ridiculously modest (especially at the time) and I have not seen him prior. Point is, we are unfamiliar with each-other… and what should have been a planned c-section was not, since my regular doctor felt as though I should be able to deliver my son vaginally (which this new doctor would later insist the opposite – hence, scraping my membrane several times for the last few weeks).
When it was nearly time to push, I did request an epidural. It seemed to help at first, and pushing seemed normal. During my 12 hour delivery with my son, things started to take a turn for the worse… and the drugs completely wore off. You could tell by the doctor’s and nurses reactions, something was dreadfully wrong. I couldn’t push him out. There is a horrible feeling inside your gut to admit that, to admit defeat. I also started to loose so much strength, that I fainted. They woke me up, talked me into another epidural and I continued pushing again. I am truly thankful for that second epidural, because it helped me regain some composure and try again. This time, I was able to get the crown of his head out… but obviously, that’s not enough. The second epidural was wearing off too, and by now it was up to the doctor to take control with his hands and make sure my son wasn’t lost that day (by pulling him out himself).
When they finally pulled him out of me, with a gaggle of nurses pushing and shoving on my tummy, he was frozen. Purple. Breathless. They denied Thomas’ the pleasure of cutting his umbilical cord or for me to hold him… they swept him away as soon as he entered our world, and worked hard to bring him back before he could just as quickly depart. The great and beautiful news is, they succeeded. Although my baby boy was kept in special care and had a high white blood cell count, he was healthy (not to mention HUGE) and ready to go home after only 4 days in the hospital. And although I was just left with a little tearing (ok, stage 5 tearing – the worst) I was lucky too, for there was risk of me hemorrhaging and dying with him.
My doctor recommended, or to be more precise, insisted that my next child would be delivered by Cesarean (maybe you can remember back to me knowing the day and time I would have Ayla, but some of you were confused why I was so ready for her to come on her “due date”). “You gave me a ton of grey hairs”, he said. “If you have a child in the future, I advise that you have a c-section… to protect both of you”.
Fast forward 4 years… Surprise! I’m pregnant with a beautiful baby girl (ahem). I have a new doctor now, but he is friends with my former doctor and fully trusts his judgment on possibly having a c-section. However, he allows me to make the choice… and doesn’t recommend one thing or another. To cut this novel short, I did eventually choose a c-section – But it was one of the hardest, most emotional and difficult decisions I’ve ever made. I read a lot of horror stories… and saw a lot of gruesome photos. But I did what I did, because I put my daughter first in fear of repeating my first experience. Who knows if this time would be better or… worse. I’m happy to say, it ended up being such a quick and simply surgery, with Ayla out and in my arms in under an hour – ready to nurse as soon as they handed her over to me. Minimal scaring, and super quick recovery.
No, c-sections aren’t natural… but I am grateful we have that option, and I’ve really learned to respect what doctors are capable of in that field. There are times I wish that my first delivery could have been “natural”, but actually… it kind-of was. I had two epidurals which wore off so quickly, I fully experienced my labor. But in all honestly, you are “experiencing” your labor no matter whatever way you choose to have your child delivered. I would like to say it was beautiful, well, I would rather say that my son is beautiful. And my daughter is beautiful. And the funny thing is… my scar is beautiful. I used to dread the idea of a c-section, but honestly… this tiger’s earned her “stripes”.
All of our (birthing) stories are beautiful. THE END.