For some women, the question of whether or not their cesarean was necessary never crosses their minds. In fact, I’ve even heard some women say they wished they had signed up to have a c-section from the very beginning.
I was not one of those women.
If you’ve ever read my Birthing Journey, you know my first child was born via c-section. You also know I firmly believe he should not have been. You also know it took me 8 years and 3 VBACs to heal from a 6″ scar.
When I would tell people that having a c-section was bothering me, most would say, “At least he’s healthy.” I wanted to scream. He may have been healthy, but I was not. I couldn’t get past the fact that I felt broken. I felt like a failure. I felt cheated.
The question of cesarean necessity is a complicated one, and it runs MUCH deeper than medical diagnoses.
Very few women go into birth wanting a cesarean, especially in my circle of granola mom friends. The more natural the birth, the better. Some are even viciously militant about the way they give birth, which only adds to the struggles a mom who ends up with a c-section feels. So, my first plea would be to avoid judging anyone based on how they gave birth. Not every c-section mom is “too posh to push.” And if you are the c-section mom, understand that you didn’t “cop out” just because you had a cesarean.
If you are a mom struggling with the question of how necessary your c-section was, let me encourage you to redirect that question away from where you were to where you are now.
The question of whether or not my c-section was necessary had consumed me. I was angry not only about the surgery itself, but also about what this meant for future births. I was worried what people might think when they found out my very first birth was a c-section. I worried my home-birthing friends would scoff at me. I was worried I had lost credibility as a mom. And the longer I dwelt on the past, the less hope I had for the future, and the more fear I felt concerning that future.
But, I didn’t need to “just get over it.” What I truly needed was to put the past in it’s proper place…as part of my story.
When you begin to see your c-section as part of your story, you begin to see how you can use that story to help others and shape a future that accepts its past. In fact, true healing came in the form of a La Leche League leader telling me to choose to have the best birth *I* could have when I was pregnant with my 3rd child. She knew what it was like to be disappointed in a birthing experience, but she also knew what it was like to move forward, making choices only she could make. She chose to use her story, to help me. And I choose to use my story, including the part she played, to help others. I learned that my expectations and my reality did not have to be at war with each other.
Several years ago, I wrote a post about birthing expectations on a friend’s blog. In it I wrote these words:
“I was not a product of my birthing experiences, nor a martyr to my birthing expectations. I could make a birth plan, I could desire an unmedicated vaginal birth, but that did not mean a different sort of birth was a failure and made me ‘less than.'”
Following my first c-section, I chose to change OBs and find one who was VBAC-friendly. I went on to have 4 successful VBACs. (You can read about those births HERE.) In 2009, I had a 2nd c-section. I made the choice to try for a VBA2C and worked hard to find a doctor who would support me in that. (You can read about my first VBA2C HERE and my second one HERE.) Now that I have had a third c-section, I know I will no longer VBAC. That too is part of my story.
I made the choice to be fully accepting of the cesareans in each case and fully accepting of the future beyond those cesareans. I purposely did things to enjoy my pregnancies and ease the expectations I used to feel were so much a part of the experience. I told myself each moment was another part of my story, and I would make the best choices I could.
If you have had a c-section that you feel may not have been necessary – or even one you know was necessary – and you are struggling with difficult feelings, you may have to face disapproval or guilt or drastic changes to your birthing future, but remember these things are a part of YOUR story, not someone else’s story. How you birth doesn’t prove what kind of woman you are, it doesn’t give you super mom status, and it won’t get you to Heaven.
How you birth is YOUR moment, but, I can almost guarantee you, God will place someone in your life who needs to hear what you have to share. It’s part of that Titus 2 mandate for older women (or women further along in this journey)…teach them to LOVE THEIR CHILDREN. Part of loving your children is loving the moment they were born…that moment when
YOUR story became THEIRS.