When I was pregnant and watching DVDs about the birthing process, the OB-GYN onscreen kept insisting that no matter what, “You do NOT want a Cesarean!” She herself had managed to have twins out the viola without drugs, and if she could do it, so could you! She drove this point home over and over: natural childbirth is good, without any drugs is even better. C-sections are BAD. Bad, bad, bad. Epidurals, bad. Pitocin, worst of all.
Of course, I immediately told my husband, “Good God, I am never having a C-section, how horrible! She says the healing process takes two months and it’s super traumatic for the poor baby and so bad for you as a woman! I’m totally going to have a nice and easy vaginal birth.” Well, of course I didn’t have a nice and easy vaginal birth. I ended up having a C-Section. With both Pitocin and an Epidural to boot.
After I got over the initial shock of not being Superwoman and having a simple labor, I had no choice other than to go with what the doctors and nurses were recommending. I ended up having a C because my labor stalled out, my baby was pretty big and facing up and not able to fit through the pelvis. Who knows, it happened and I agreed to it when it was offered as a solution to ending labor. (Frankly, I also really wanted the baby out because there was meconium in the amniotic fluid, and the woman on the DVD had also said, “Meconium in fluid, BAD! Green means GO, GO, GO to the hospital,” and I was pretty freaked out when I saw that.) I thought that would be it. I had a healthy baby boy.
But that wasn’t it. Unfortunately, the first thing people ask you about when you have a new baby is how your labor went. When I mentioned the “C” word, unless the mother had also gone through it and we could commiserate, there was always this little face, like she had smelled something rotten. It was usually followed by a look of pity, an “ohhhh…” and maybe something like “I’m sorry,” “That’s too bad,” or, “You can always have a VBAC [Vaginal Birth After Cesarean] on your next one.” Some would ask if it was an “elective C,” and I got the feeling that had I said yes, they would have felt even more awkward around me, like I’d said I think puppies make for a tasty snack. It got to the point where I lied a few times and just said he was breech, instead of going into the long story and feeling kind of inadequate. One time a woman even told me that if I’d gone into labor naturally and hadn’t been induced, it probably wouldn’t have happened that way.
Sure, the situation certainly wasn’t ideal—I went from my cozy birthing room and watching a Yankees game and expecting an easy “1,2, 3, Presto! Baby!” to a cold steel operating table, major shakes from the anesthesia, and really grossed out because I knew exactly what they were doing below that curtain. I couldn’t sleep with my son next to me the first night because I didn’t have the strength to lift him, and the pain was pretty intense for about a month. But I recovered. My baby is cool in every way and I believe he’s Gap Baby ad cute. How he got here seems to have zero effect on his personality, and it has had zero effect on my life, save for a scar below my bikini line. Except when others make me feel like I did both of us a disservice by having him the way I did.
To be honest, I don’t really feel like I was robbed of the most sacred experience a woman can go through, so I kind of resent it when I’m told that I missed out on something magical that EVERY woman deserves to go through. It makes me think, Am I missing something wonderful? Should I be full of longing and regret? But then I think, Does it really have to matter that much? I’m a mom now, and that was really the end game plan. But I know a lot of other women don’t feel this way, and they are very angry about their Cesareans and feel short-changed by life, or are seriously mad at the way the hospital or doctors handled their births. They talk about it constantly, and frequent VBAC message boards complaining about how their evil OBs probably had a golf game they were late to and forced them into C-sections. I mean, a lot about the C-section sucked, but there were a few positives to it—my nether regions are as intact as they were the night I conceived, and I didn’t have to heal from an episiotomy or tearing, so going to the bathroom after was a breeze. The kid popped out with a real cute round head because there was no coning from being squeezed down the ol’ canal. It could have been worse—my baby could have been born unhealthy in some way.
At the end of the day, I really think it’s just not that big of a deal, as long as everyone involved is now happy, healthy, and safe. Every woman who has had a C-Section loves and adores her children as much as every mom who had a vaginal birth loves and adores hers, and if you were to put two toddlers side by side and tried to figure out which one came out naturally and which one didn’t, you’d never be able to tell. Sometimes, when it comes to labor and birthing experiences, it’s what’s on the outside that counts.