I feel like this post has been a long time coming, both in terms of actually sitting down to write and also in the content itself.
I’m going to write about Caesarean sections. “Oh no” you cry, “not another mummy blog post about c-sections, we get it!”
Well, you may get it. But based on some recent observations, enough other people out there don’t and I really feel I need to express my thoughts on this matter. As I say, it’s been a long time coming. 18 months to be exact.
So I want to talk about c-sections. I want to talk about pity. I want to talk about unfulfilled expectations. I want to talk about fear. I want to talk about disappointment.
When I hear that a women who experienced a vaginal delivery pities one who hasn’t, I’m ok with that. I really feel that most of the time that projection says more about the way that woman feels about herself and how she wants to be perceived by others.
What I find harder to stomach is the implication by society as a whole that you have failed as a “mother” from the get go. Never mind the fact that you grew this little human for 9 months, if you didn’t push it out, and didn’t feel the connection to women and mothers who have done this throughout millennia… can you really count yourself among that exclusive group?
Now, I don’t know about you, but the biggest thing I’ve learnt about parenting is sacrifice. Doing what you need to to keep your child safe. Sacrificing your own wants and needs for this tiny thing that needs your love, your help, your time, your energy is what it’s all about. Was I willing to put my pride in proving that I was A WOMAN and MOTHER above the safety of my child? Absolutely not. Did my ego have to take a back seat? Yes. 100%. And it won’t be the last time it has had to do so in this parenting journey. I didn’t worry about not bonding with my child because I hadn’t pushed him out of me, I knew I’d already been a parent by making the choice that was best for him. I was so scared that he wasn’t going to be ok, I didn’t care what I needed to do to make him safe.
I went from utter fear and exhaustion to acceptance and relief in an instant.
I have never known such a sense of relief washing over me as when the delivery was taken out of my hands. The words from my obstetrician that she “didn’t want to be a hero” just for the sake of giving me my planned vaginal delivery. She just wanted it to be a safe one.
But that brings me onto the hardest part for me to wrap my head around. The shame that came with that relief. Not at the time, but afterwards.
I’m strong. I pride myself on it. I’ve got broad shoulders and wide hips. My body can do what I want it to if I put my mind to it. And my body failed me.
That aspect of having a c-section has been harder for me than any other. I said that my ego had to take a back seat, but I didn’t say I liked putting it there. I spent just the first few months saying I had made peace with my delivery, but I didn’t believe it. It took a long time for me to have faith in my body again. How ridiculous! My body, which safely housed my little man for 9 months, and fed him afterwards, felt like it had let me down because of what happened on a single day.
The need for me to get fit and strong again after pregnancy was so much more than I thought it would be. The need to be able to run faster, lift heavier, swim further stemmed from the need to feel like my body can do great things. My post-baby #bodygoals have not been about fitting into a pair of jeans again, they have been about beating pre-pregnancy PBs. I thought I would want to get pregnant again straight away but I have realised I need to relearn what my body is capable of, outside of its ability to grow a baby.
So finally, the conversation always rolls around to ‘next time’ and VBAC. I felt very obliged early on to say that of course I’d love to try for a vaginal delivery next time because “if at first you don’t succeed” and “you came so close last time!” But then I met with my obstetrician and she gave me facts and statistics. I love facts. And I love making my decisions using them. So now I proudly say that if/when (let’s face it, none of it is a given) baby number two comes along I will be having an elective c-section. And I’ve truly made peace with that now, even if some might pity me for it.