I received the March 2013 issue of Pregnancy & Newborn in the mail last month and was all too happy to flip it open to the “Welcome to the world” birth stories. As a first-time mom to a beautiful 16-week old daughter, I looked forward to reading, and possibly relating to, other moms’ birth experiences. Unfortunately, I was extremely disheartened to find that not one of the moms’ experiences mirrored mine at all.
You see, I had an elective C-section. And I was and am so happy with my choice.
Though I always envisioned myself being a mother, I never felt comfortable with the thought of vaginal delivery. My mother had given birth to both my younger brother and me completely naturally, “just because she could.” I have friends who’ve done it and had no complications or horror stories. I applaud other women who choose that birthing method; I just knew it wasn’t for me.
I was very fortunate that my doctor understood how I felt and had no issue at all scheduling me for an elective C-section. I didn’t feel comfortable playing God and choosing my child’s birthday, so I let my doctor do it. My husband and I kept our baby’s birthday a secret from everyone so we’d still get to make the “It’s baby time!” phone call. It was totally worth it; even if you’re scheduled, it’s still nice to be able to surprise your friends and family!
The night before the birth, I could barely sleep. I was like a kid trying to go to bed on Christmas Eve, except my excitement was tinged with anxiety. I’d read so many negative stories about C-sections, so many testimonies from women who were miserable that they’d had to have one. I’d read articles about how terrible the healing process is. I wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into, but I knew the baby was going to have to come out sooner or later, so it was time to relax and hope for the best.
The next morning, we set out with our hospital bags and made our “It’s baby time!” phone calls. Baby’s grandparents were ecstatic and rushed to the hospital as soon as they could. I was prepped for surgery; everyone in the delivery ward was so kind and friendly. They helped assuage some of my fears about the procedure. Despite this, I was most afraid of the spinal block injection. I’d been afraid of it for months. A good friend of mine who had had a C-section the year prior assured me that it was nothing to worry about and gave me a detailed play-by-play of what to expect. In reality, the spinal block was nothing at all to be afraid of! I didn’t even know they did it. I lay down on the operating table with my husband sitting next to me and we anxiously awaited our baby’s emergence. We didn’t know the sex of the baby, but were 100 percent convinced it was a boy.
After what seemed like an eternity (which was actually mere minutes), my doctor announced that the baby was out.
“What is it?!” we asked anxiously.
“What do you think it is?” he asked.
“A boy!” we shouted in unison.
“Guess again! You have one more guess,” he replied.
We looked at each other and cried happy tears. What a wonderful surprise! She was pronounced perfect and healthy and was the most incredibly beautiful child I had ever seen. My husband left the OR to watch her get cleaned up and to announce the happy news to her grandparents in the waiting room.
I was wheeled into a recovery room, in a happy daze. I was so grateful that she was healthy, and so shocked that we had a girl. My overwhelming happiness trumped any discomfort from the surgery—the recovery was uncomfortable, of course, but I don’t imagine an episiotomy is a cakewalk either. But each day gets easier and life goes on. She’s 16 weeks old now and I’m completely healed. I feel exactly the way I felt before I had the surgery. I plan to deliver any additional children the exact same way.
I seldom have the opportunity to read positive stories about C-section births. It seems to be the route women end up taking only when something goes awry, and that’s OK. But instead of feeling guilty or disappointed with yourself, be happy that your child was born safely.
I am no less a woman, and certainly no less a mother, for having an elective C-section. Just because I didn’t push her out, just because I didn’t have a drug-free delivery doesn’t make me any less of a doting mom to my little girl.