The baby’s heart rate dipped with each contraction. I heard a beeping sound from my monitor, the doctor rushed in and said those words I really didn’t want to hear, “We’re going for an emergency C-section, now!”
Next thing I knew I was being wheeled into surgery. I was crying – no, make that sobbing. People were rushing all around. The lights were bright. The room was freezing – especially since I was lying there next-to-naked. The nurses and doctors were having TV medical drama conversations about “cc’s” of something. And, all I could think was, “This is not how I wanted to become a mother.”
Does Anyone Really Want a C-section?
I may be over generalizing, but I’d safely bet it’s not the way that most women want to become a mom. Sure, there are a few who plan it from the beginning – but they are a minority. Most women I know who have had one seem to only talk about it with regret, “I had to have a c-section.”
Is it the fact that it’s adding a major surgery (and weeks of recovery) to the process of becoming a new mom? Is it that it’s not the “natural way?” Is it that, until you’ve had one, you really don’t know what it’s going to be like or, because you’ve had one you don’t want to go through it again? Is it because we’re afraid the scar will ruin our chances of becoming a bikini model?
Let me tell you why I would have done anything not to have the first one…or the three I’ve had since. (Yes, four total!) There might have been some fear involved, but more so, it was because a c-section was not part of the birth story I wanted.
Allow me to explain. I think many moms enjoy talking about their own and hearing others’ birth stories. (Our equivalent of a man’s war story perhaps?). When you are expecting a baby you think about how you want your story to go. My plan was a natural birth that would include an epidural only if necessary. I was going to use everything that our 4-hour relaxation and labor-breathing course had taught me. It was just mind over matter, right?
But, it didn’t happen that way. And, for me, far worse than dealing with the pain associated with surgery or recovery was dealing with the emotional trauma of not having a baby in the way that I pictured I would. I lament not knowing what it feels like to challenge my body in the exercise of delivering a baby. I feel like I missed out. I never got to push. No one ever shouted, “I can see the head.” I didn’t get to scream at my husband or make that loud, agonizing grunt that (at least in sitcoms) precedes a huge smile as the doctor pulls out the messy newborn.
Nope, all I did was lie there — numb up to my chest, staring at a blue curtain.
But, on the other hand, I’m a big c-section fan, now…
Here’s the upside. Turns out my pelvis bones were not designed to allow any baby (yet alone my 9 lb. 4 oz. first born) through. Without the marvels of modern medicine, my tombstone would read, “Died in childbirth.” My second-born might not have survived either if she hadn’t been scheduled early. (Her cord had a “true” knot – contractions would have made it tighten and cut off oxygen).
In addition to the obvious benefit of keeping you (and the baby) alive – I think c-section recovery may be easier than recovery from a birth that includes an episiotomy, vacuum or forceps. From conversations with friends who endured these – mid-section recovery is more pleasant than waiting for your sensitive area to heal! I was mostly back to normal after 3 weeks, whereas friends with bad forceps experiences were still healing months later.
There is great benefit to having a scheduled c-section when it’s not your first child. You have the luxury of being able to plan ahead to have help there while you are in the hospital. Plus there’s some freedom to choose birthdays. We chose to have our third on New Year’s Eve (vs. New Year’s Day) in order to get a full extra year of child tax credit. Sometimes you may also have the flexibility to schedule on a date that is significant to your family or, as we did, just fun. My son was born on 7-11-11. (Destined for a bright future in the convenience store biz?)
So, are YOU afraid of a c-section? Or, have you had one and do you feel like you missed out, too?
Watch for “Who’s Afraid of a C-Section? Part 2: What actually happens during a c-section.” Coming in two weeks!