We live in the information era. Information about anything and everything is at our finger tips. It can be a wonderful thing when you are researching the “best cake recipe” or “top 3 presents for infants.” However, it can also prompt comparison and a sense that someone else’s story is better than ours. This happens a lot with birth stories, especially when things don’t go as planned.
Ever since I first got pregnant, I started reading birth stories, dreaming of the day I would give birth myself, and piecing together a detailed plan of how it would all go down. How strong and empowered I would feel after pushing my babies into the world! I could even see myself holding my slippery babes, kissing their head with exhaustion and relief. Feeling tired as never before but oh so proud of what I had done with no medication’s help.
It was quite perfect…in my head!
Oh, was I in for a rude awakening!
My very first delivery experience was a stillbirth. Now before you feel sorry for me let me tell you, there were many beautiful moments to that story even if the outcome was one that I didn’t see coming. The physical pain was nothing compared to the sucker punch to my heart every time the thought of what was really going on popped in my head. Those were the times when I could barely breathe and wasn’t sure I would make it. However, when it was over, I was able to hold my first born in my arms, memorize his face, tell him how much I love him and how much I was going to miss him.
Seeing the fruit of our love in a tiny person for the very first time is one of the most treasured experiences in my life.
After that I still held on to the desire of delivering my second naturally. As you can imagine, it was a VERY emotionally taxing pregnancy to say the least. It felt like I held my breathe throughout the whole thing up to the moment when I heard him cry. Yes, you read that right. Ethan was breech and we were not willing to risk his life, not for a second. We weighed and chose to got through what we felt was the safest option for our baby. I was an emotional wreck when I went in the OR by myself for the anesthesia. I cried the whole time. It was all worth it when I heard that first cry. The relief!
After that you can imagine that my expectations for a picture perfect delivery went out the window. Of course I held on to hope for a VBAC (Vaginal Birth After C-Section) and even for a VBA2C but my perspective was forever changed.
All I REALLY wanted was to hold my healthy babies in my arms, no matter the cost to me and my body.
I had gone through the worst and recovering from a successful C-section wasn’t it. It turns out I felt just as strong and proud having chosen my boy’s safety over my own desires. I could do anything!
My third boy was in position up to my 39 week check up. My OB was supportive of waiting for labor and attempting natural delivery, but as if his brother had left an instruction manual, he flipped to a breech position at the very last minute and we scheduled another c-section. This time I knew what I was in for. It was a bit of a surprise but nothing I hadn’t done before. I could surely do it again.
My fourth stayed in position the whole time, but I never went into labor. We scheduled a C-section so my wonderful doctor would be the one performing it. (She was going on vacation and I didn’t want anyone else.) My fourth’s transition into the outside world was rough. He scared the life out of us when he stopped breathing for a few seconds after his initial cry. I wanted to jump out of the operating table not caring one bit about my own pain. After he was stable and out of the NICU, I did’t really care how he was delivered. All I cared about was that he was in my arms, safe and sound.
Recovery from major surgery? Any time as long as my babies are safe!
Recently I read a successful VBAC birth story and two thoughts came to mind. One, I would be lying if I say I don’t experience a little bit of envy when reading natural birth stories. I can’t help but feel, if for a split second, that there might be something not quite right with me. That thought fades when I think of what I have conquered. Two, the scale always seems to tip favorably towards natural birth. It is cause for celebration and lengthy blog posts with a minute by minute account of the contractions, the dilation, the transition, and finally the glorious moment when baby cries for the very first time. But those are not the only stories worth telling.
I think EVERY birth story should be recorded in detail, no shame or guilt about how things worked out in the end. The goal, after all, is to keep mom and baby safe.
If that is the outcome it should be considered a successful delivery! So go ahead C-section mamas, share your stories with pride. Feel strong and empowered and oh so wonderful! Caring for a newborn while recovering from major surgery is no easy feat and you are doing it.