Why a planned c-section birth was right for me, and my account of the mixed emotions I experienced in coming to that decision.
I had a birth plan with Amelia. It wasn’t set in stone but, in my heart, I really wanted it to go according to plan. In reality, it was far from what I had planned.
Millie’s birth story took me a long time to be comfortable with. Silly, I know, but I felt defeated and like less of a mother for having “failed”. Failed is not only what I used to describe my labour, but it was classified as a stalled labour or “failure to progress”. On top of that, I followed SO many women who rallied behind the idea that a woman’s body is designed to give birth, so, clearly (in my mind) since I couldn’t I was less of a woman.
Come. On. – now, two years later, I know better. I understand that Amelia was nearly 10 lbs (of cheeks), in a posterior position, and that my pelvis wasn’t large enough. I also understand that Amelia was a healthy baby, had no trouble bonding with me, and none of that was influenced by how she was born.
When we shared the news that a new baby would be joining our family, it was quite frequently followed up with the same question: will you need to have another c-section?
In speaking with my OBGYN after Amelia was born about whether I would need a c-section for future births she told me it was a 50/50 change but more than likely. For me, that meant there was a chance though. I was hopeful when I learned I was pregnant.
I approached this pregnancy with an open mind – let’s see what happens.
My doctor raised the question of a repeat, planned c-section. Really early on. My ‘let’s see what happens’ attitude went right out the door and was replaced with disappointment. I wasn’t going to get the chance to have a different outcome this pregnancy. I can remember holding back tears.
While Arthur and I have talked through the decision through and through, it doesn’t mean those feelings of disappointment don’t resurface sometimes.
Why a planned c-section Birth for us
Who doesn’t relish the idea of knowing exactly what date (even time) they will give birth! This perk is something many, and I mean many, moms express to me is an advantage.
After 36 hours of labour that did not progress, I can’t help but feel a little relieved to know that I can make plans and stick to those plans. With a toddler at home, that’s golden! Knowing exactly when means I can plan for Amelia well in advance of the baby coming. I can make time to take those last few days with her on her own and make sure she feels settled.
It’s funny how in one sense I’m relieved to have a plan for Amelia but also still struggle with whether a plan for my birth is best for our little guy. Definition of mixed emotions?
Then there’s recovery. I know what to expect, provided all goes according to plan. I can proactively pack clothes that will be more comfortable for an incision, buy compression undies, and know to hold my belly when I laugh or sneeze (I recall thinking I clearly did some damage after laughing once). With all the other curve balls a new baby can throw at you, knowing what to expect is a bonus.
On the flipside, I question whether I will feel sad about not expressing going into labour again. Call me crazy (it’s probably true) but I embraced the contractions. I knew it was pain for a purpose and I was ok experiencing it knowing that I’d be welcoming our daughter. With a planned c-section, that progressive pain with a purpose is nonexistent. It’s ok, I won’t be offended if you think I’ve lost it.
Contractions were painful but, honestly, not as bad as the pressure during my first c-section. Maybe using pain and pressure in one sentence is wrong because it was ‘painful’ by definition but the pressure was FAR more than I expected.
So much so that prior to talking with the doctors extensively I was more afraid of another c-section because of this. I vividly recall trying to deep breath through the pain – I recall that more so than seeing Amelia for the first time.
What I know now is that after 36 hours of labour not only are you physically tired, but your uterus is pooped too. The incredible pressure was because my body was depleted. I was also reassured that with a planned c-section I would have a spinal block rather than an epidural so I would feel much less. I’ve been reassured this by other moms who have had planned c-sections.
I can’t say I don’t have any mixed feelings about this element of my planned c-section. What this does mean is that if I chose to try for a VBAC and ended up requiring another c-section I would be in the same boat as last time. One point for planned c-section!
What the hell do I mean by clarity? Think about the incredible fogginess you feel as a brand-new mom. Now think about those first few days, throw in 1.5 days of labour, major abdominal surgery, morphine, and a tiny baby. Not exactly a candidate for remembering my name, let alone making decisions.
I was SO exhausted after Amelia was born that I felt like I watched things happening rather than participating. Here’s one example: Amelia’s first bath. Arthur and I talked about delaying Amelia’s first bath because there were benefits for her. When the nurse decided the night Amelia was born, hours after her delivery, that she needed a bath I knew I didn’t want it but had zero ability to speak up.
With a planned c-section I can avoid that. I won’t be so exhausted that I couldn’t communicate my intentions. Far more appealing!
So, why the mixed emotions?
The truth is, like so many moments in motherhood, it’s wondering if I’m making the right choice. Am I rushing? Should I let nature take its course? What if it’s too soon? Questions I’ll never be able to answer.
There’s also the stigma that my body is ‘meant’ to give birth. A sentiment that sent me into a tailspin after that theory was shot to hell. Did my body fail me? No! It left me feeling broken, weighed down by jealousy, and wondering what my ‘ failure’ meant about me as mother. I’ve healed but there is always a tiny part of me that becomes frustrated by the language used around birth. I wanted the birth story I read about it and I know, in part, that sneaks into my thoughts when I doubt my decisions.
With a little over a month to go before our little boy joins our family I’m letting the feelings come without second guessing myself. The date is booked, the plan is in place, and I know that the way he is born doesn’t change the mother I’ll be to him. I think it’s time that giving birth, no matter how it happens, is a story worth sharing.
More and more women are sharing my belief. Take Catie Atkinson who is depicting c-section scars alongside natural births in her artwork. What I love most: she herself had home births but wanted to her work to represent births of all sorts.
Cheers to that! If you’re sporting a scar, embrace it, wherever it may be!
If you’re in a position where you’re considering a planned c-section I hope to reassure you that it is normal to have mixed emotions and that you are no less worthy if your birth looks different than you imagined.
Did you have a planned c-section? I’d love to hear about your experience.