After the initial anxiety of pregnancy subsides (very quickly). You begin to bubble over with excitement about the prospect of nurturing and raising a child of your very own. Images of toting around little mini-you, or mini-him dance around in your head, and on top of the hour you normally spend in Target, tack on an extra 45 minutes for wandering aimlessly around the baby section. What will I teach him or her? How will I feel when I hear “Ma-Ma” for the first time? Will I cry at the sight of first steps? (picture that, me? cry?) But first, you have to actually BIRTH the child. Go through labor and delivery. The hard stuff.
When the third trimester announces itself with sleepless nights and swollen feet, the anxiety comes back full-force. This time it’s all about pain. I wonder what that first REAL contraction will feel like? So…you’re going to stick THAT needle in my back? Wait…you may have to manually break my water? EPISIOTOMY!? *wide eyes* But you try to remain calm because, well…you have no choice. The baby has to exit your body one way or the other, and you may as well feel like you have some semblance of control over how this happens. Come up with a birthing plan, they said. It will make you feel more comfortable, they said.
So this was my plan:
Hospital birth because I wanted to be around Doctors and have access to pain medication and emergency intervention
Epi-DAMN-dural Because are you out of your mind? I’m not passing 7 lbs of human flesh and bones through my barely-there hips, without ALL of the pain meds. Just no. Idc.
Go into labor naturally as in, not inducing the labor. I wanted to let the baby bake as long as he needed to, even if it was past his due date.
THAT’S IT! Simple requests right?
Well, boy was I shaking in my boots, when the Dr. came in around my 44th hour of active labor and said
” We’re going to have to do a cesarean”
She said some other stuff like “the baby’s heart rate…” and “…water being broken for too long” but that was all a blur. All I heard was cesarean. I. Did. Not. Plan. For. This.
I’ve prepared my mind to push, now you’re telling me that I don’t get to push, but instead I will lie awake on an operating table while you slice my stomach open, remove organs, yank my baby out, put said organs back, and then STAPLE me closed. Like…why is this even a thing?
But I had no choice. My plan was out the window and I was being wheeled into the operating room for an emergency c-section. I “delivered” a healthy, alert baby boy and for that I was so thankful. But after that pain medication wears off? Yea, that’s when you realize that you have 14 staples going across your stomach. Standing up straight? Fuggedaboutit. Walking? Laughable. And even after the super-tough two-week long recovery. I still couldn’t help but feel weak compared to the other moms that got to push.I felt like I didn’t do any work, I felt cheated out of my birthing experience.
This morning, a friend that I grew up with and his girlfriend delivered their second baby boy. It was especially sweet to see him speak so highly of her strength, and to see her speak so highly of his support during her labor and delivery. I couldn’t help but feel a tinge of jealousy. Not at their beautiful exchange of love and support, but simply at the fact that my husband and I didn’t get to exchange that type of praise. Was I still strong even though I didn’t do the hard work that most other women do? Was I still strong even though I didn’t get to physically bring my child into the world by my own force? No matter how hard I know a c-section was on my body, I still feel less-than, around all of the other warrior moms who didn’t get an epidural and pushed for hours, or even pushed for minutes. I feel like pushing is a mother’s rite-of-passage. I missed mine, and I may never get the chance at it.
I’ll never forget binge-watching documentaries on birthing, where the resounding theme was.
“I am a woman. I can do this. My body was made for this.”
Here I am, with a body that God designed perfectly for birthing children, and for whatever reason, I couldn’t do it on my own. My body WAS made for this…right?
The feeling that my body didn’t do what it was designed to do is unshakable. And I’m still jealous of all of you whose bodies did do what they were supposed to. But I have my son, and he’s everything. Besides, there are at least two pros to a non-vaginal delivery: I didn’t have to worry about my son’s head being mis-shaped while passing through the birth canal, AND since I didn’t have to deliver him vaginally, I’m still perfectly in tact, if you know what I mean. *wink wink* And that’s quite alright with me.