Mar 27, 2014

On C-Sections

With this whole second pregnancy comes a second labor story. A chance do it all differently. To have a "natural" delivery and experience a "real" birth.
Because apparently my first labor story is subpar. C-sections are somehow subpar.
The operating room where I delivered.
Given generously by a family I grew up with and go to my home church.
Performed by a doctor who is a close family friend and goes to my home church.
Lots of good juju in this room!
I feel compelled to write my labor story down (because if "people" think I need a do-over, they should at least have all the facts). And this weekend I am going to carve out some time to do that, but first I need to get on my soapbox and talk about c-sections. And being a "real mom."
I have been inundated with unsolicited comments from other moms who have assumed I will be having a VBAC (Vagninal Birth After Cesarean).
Because of course everyone wants delivery to be a holistic experience.
Because obviously I know that "natural" is best.
Because "every mom who had a c-section is obviously traumatized by it".
Because moms who have c-sections don't have a chance to "bond" with their new babies.
Because of course I feel somehow cheated my first birth story.
But you know what? I don't feel cheated. I bonded with my boys -- even though I only got to see them for a few seconds before they were whisked away to the NICU. I don't feel traumatized by the delivery. I don't feel like less of a mom. I don't feel like I missed out on some awesome holistic experience.
In fact, of all the things that occurred to bring me my boys, my c-section doesn't even hit the traumatic radar. And of the un-holistic things we did to get pregnant, the c-section wasn't the worst of our crimes against the crunchy mom culture. We had a long struggle with infertility. We used IVF to finally get pregnant. I had a high-risk pregnancy with OHSS, an SCH, and ICP. A c-section really seemed like a fitting ending to a medical heavy experience. (Although it certainly wasn't the end. We capped off the medical fun with three weeks in the NICU.)
So, I don't appreciate all of the commentators who assume c-sections are a bad thing.
I was pregnant with twins. Who were breech. My water broke at 33w. I had a dangerous liver condition that could lead to many complications for the boys (as if my water breaking wasn't complication enough!). A c-section was the safest way to get them into the world.
And I don't regret having one.
My c-section was a good thing.
Technology is amazing gift. The Lord blessed us with a great team of doctors and nurses who saved my boys lives and got me safely through delivery. What about that is anything less than amazing? What makes this experience somehow less sacred than a vaginal delivery?
I will say this. I went into the delivery with no expectations and no multi-page birth plan. Maybe if I had, I would feel more cheated. Maybe if I expected an empowering experience I would have felt minimized by the epidural and drugs. Maybe if I had expected a spiritual delivery the country music from the anesthesiologist's iPod would have felt wrong.
But I didn't have any of those thoughts going into it. I had seen a c-section on video during our twin parenting class. I knew what I wash getting into.
Sort of.
Throughout my pregnancy, I was aware of the high probability I would have a c-section. And heard from many people about how "gory" it would be when my doctor "gutted" me. I was told it was major traumatic surgery and I should prepare for untold amounts of pain. I was surrounded by people who seemed pleased when they could scare me with c-section horror stories.
So when it came time for my actual procedure, it was nothing like that. It just wasn't as bad as everyone told me it would be. It was weird. I felt hands inside of me. I could hear surgical tools (although thankfully not very well thanks to the aforementioned country music). It was uncomfortable (but what part of giving birth seems like it wouldn't be?). But it wasn't painful. It wasn't gory. (Or at least I didn't see anything gory.) I was "gutted" but by the time I saw myself I had been put back together. It was major surgery. I did have a recovery period. But even that just wasn't as bad as I was led to believe.
And I got the end result I wanted. I am a mom. All I wanted was healthy babies. I got those.
My c-section was a great thing. Because it brought Tripp and Davy into the world.
My c-section was a great thing. Because I am now a Mom.
My c-section was a great thing. Because it gave my two healthy baby boys.
Pictures from the OR.
Of the non-gory variety.
Some of the photos - well, you can't unsee them.
And the guilt attempts from the mommy brigade assuming I am less of a mom without a natural birth experience is really unnecessary. Because, due to my c-section, I am a Mom now.
So forgive me if I am not inclined to stress about having or not having a VBAC.
Forgive me for being unconcerned with how this next little boy comes into the world as long as he is healthy.
Forgive me for feeling at peace if I end up with another c-section.
And I might have another c-section. If I end up with ICP (cholestasis) again, I won't be allowed to go past 37w and will have to have a c-section. If this little boy remains breech, I will have another c-section. If I go into labor too early, I will most likely have a c-section (the risk of uterine rupture is MUCH higher the sooner it follows a c-section and, in fact, many OBs would not even consider me a candidate for a VBAC only 18 months after a c-section. Some require a full 24 months.)
In all honesty, I might choose another c-section.
And that's okay!


  1. Perfect post, my friend! Just like with all things, we are all different and do what is best for us. I'm sorry people have given you a hard time about it but so glad you are standing up for what you think is great! And any way a baby comes into the outside world is great in my book!

    1. Exactly! As long as he gets here healthy I just don't understand the big to do!


    Some people seriously commit the naturalistic fallacy when it comes to pregnancy, and it is unsettling. In your case, I suspect at least some of those making assumptions about how natural/holistic = better are acting as if their endurance somehow gives them bragging rights. A book I've been reading by Brené Brown - it was either The Gifts of Imperfection or Daring Greatly - was discussing how there are two perspectives that both confuse effort and value:

    1) Some people assume if something isn't easy, it must not be the right path;
    2) Meanwhile, others assume the opposite, if a task isn't arduous, then there's no reason to be happy with the achievement

    Her point is that whether something is valuable - and I see no reason this wouldn't apply to childbirth, since bringing a new life into your family is definitely a valuable endeavor - is not determined by how easy or how hard it is. No matter how you're comfortable having your child, it - the experience and the child him/herself - will definitely be valuable. Sounds to me like some people are losing sight of that!

    I've actually considered this - technology helping us have children more safely - for years. It is personal, because after all, I might be a father some day (...laaawd help us) and I would want my lovely spouse and newborn to both arrive safely. I would want my spouse to do whatever reduced her health risk, and make her as comfortable as possible. I've been confronted with the aversion to unnatural when it comes to childbirth, and something you hits directly on my response:

    "Technology is amazing gift. The Lord blessed us with a great team of doctors and nurses who saved my boys lives and got me safely through delivery. What about that is anything less than amazing? What makes this experience somehow less sacred than a vaginal delivery?"

    Less specifically, God allowed us to live in a time when technology - which is just the application of knowledge of his creation - is readily available, so why is it not okay to avail ourselves of it?

    Whether seen literally or as merely a parable, I reflect on the story of Adam & Eve. Cast out, the former had to labor, and the latter was made to suffer labor pains. We regularly use technology to make work easier and safer. We see this as progress that most people do not work in the conditions their great grandparents had to endure. We have used our free will to build up a body of knowledge to try to get ever closer to a city in the light. Why is it that somehow using technology to make giving birth safer is not also seen as something to celebrate?

    Happy, Healthy, Safe, Improved Choice, Equal embrace of knowledge, the fruits of learning I missing something here? Aren't these all things that 80% of us see as positives???

    It seems to me, the Luddite argument that sees using technology as taking something away from life, is the same argument fascists could use to persuade that war as a test is something to embrace, and trying to achieve peace is not merely unattainable in perfection, but is not even desirable, because it would rob us of the romantic struggle of nationalistic combat. Along this same line of thought, is a soldier who risks being shot out of the sky but does use "smart bombs" any less a hero because he - or she! - is not enduring the trench warfare and mustard gas of World War 1, or the bayonet close combat of the War Between the States? Would we say that makes their tour of duty not a "real service"?

  3. I wish I could hug you! Thanks for sharing this, it had me in tears :) It's so upsetting when things are portrayed as black & white, good or bad. My wish for every mother is for her to feel empowered and informed as she brings her babies into the world, whether that's in a tub in her living room or with the help of doctors in an OR. Bravo to you and best wishes as you prepare for meeting your new son, what a blessing <3