This is the third post in the series "Becoming a Mum Via an Alternate Route". In this post four mothers speak about their experiences having C - sections.
"..... I have had two C-sections : and I still battle feelings of failure because of it.... I've heard friends of mine who have struggled through infertility say similar things, as if they are somehow less female because their bodies refuse to get pregnant. I have felt less-than because I had to have C-sections, as if maybe I couldn't handle natural childbirth or I haven't passed the test of motherhood without this rite of passage."
Emily Freeman : "Grace for the Good Girl"
"I assumed I would be having a normal birth. I never considered a C-section.
1st birth - after 40hours+ of labour I was not fully dilated = emergency C-section.
2nd birth - was possibly doctor interference. He thought we'd been in hospital long enough - so C-section no.2.
With our subsequent kids no. 3, 4 and 5, I had no choice = "elective C-section".
That was 5 kids in 7 years.
I felt disappointed because it was not our first choice to have a cesarean, but I 'got on with it'.
A tough side was that I occasionally compared myself to other mums and wondered why I didn't 'get going' so quickly. I felt a bit of a failure, weak, not coping, but looking back, I now realize I was not just 'having a baby', I had surgery too.
There was the frustration of not being able to physically do as much for a while. My husband's practical approach to life meant he was sympathetic, but there was no pampering - it helped me 'get on with it'. But sometimes I over did it because of this approach.
Unfortunately I didn't pay attention to antenatal advice on C-section as I didn't think we would need it.
We were given great help from family and friends - doing the washing, cleaning, meals. Some just came for 30 mins or an hour. With subsequent births, grandparents took the older siblings during the day of the first two weeks as my husband did not take leave. This was very helpful as I was very tired and could sleep when baby slept. Also as kids don't understand, the wound often got hurt by reacting to their antics, or jumping...
One comment made by a family member who was 'annoyed' at the doctor's interference, and that I'd had a C-section, made me feel a little of a failure/that I did something wrong. But after a midwife friend read my medical notes and agreed nothing could've been different, I felt better. I probably agreed with the family member in principle, but "I may've been one who died in child-birth had there not been doctor interference". Regardless God is in control and knows what's best for us.
One single lady made many meals for us, and I was very thankful as it was baby no. 4 or 5, but she once stayed and talked for 2 hours. I was very tired, but felt obliged to let it happen, but in hindsight I should've told her I was struggling.
Looking back I understand more of the effects the drugs and antibiotics had on me. By the 5th child, I was slowly burnt out, and I physically and emotionally went downhill, probably due to the effect of the drugs on my liver and my general health. I put on weight, probably depressed, but 'got on with it' :) Looking back I would have taken probiotics, liver cleansing herbs or such-like had I known, and made 'mum' time. I'd always thought of it as 'having a baby' and didn't realize it was 'surgery' as well.
These experiences have helped me deal with my husband's recent surgery and understand that you need rest in these situations.
I guess I don't have the bladder issues that some friends have had post birth, thankfully as I have a weak enough bladder :)"
From my friend S.
"Moms who have had C-sections need and deserve respect and love for the way they birthed. We need to honour all ways of birth, even the ones that didn't go as we planned. Because it is still the way some children are brought into our lives....
You see, some people seem to think there are two kinds of moms - those who have C-sections and those who do not. This 'battle' divides us, and makes one side feel like a mother who didn't do the right thing.
I had a C-section. I didn't schedule it so I could preserve my vagina, nor did I pick the date because it was convenient. It was necessary and needed..... Many moms like me had to have a C-section in order to be a mother. It's as simple as that. Life or death. A choice that has to be made quickly given the circumstance. Many times the moms who had an emergency C-section are the ones who are often silent, and who are silently hurt.....
There may always be questions. Should I have trusted the doctor? Did I do all I could have? And that's okay. C-section moms bear the scar where our babies were born, and we shouldn't continue to be hurt by the insensitive words that many say without realising that not all C-sections are frivolous choices. We love our babies just as much.... we are attachment parents, we love our children and have amazing bonds with them.
Our vulnerability comes from feeling unsupported, and words hurt.... I am a natural birth advocate but am a c-section mommy. I can be both. I am proudly both. It's true that when you have pain or deep hurt because of something, sometimes anything on the topic is tough to read. You feel defensive, you feel the words are directed at you as if you did something wrong.... And the subject of birth of how we birth is the same, perhaps even more challenging to process and work through....
Not everything in life goes according to plan.
One of my friends told me that her C-section was the best and the worst experience of her life. And that's exactly it for me. It was the best because it enabled me to have my twins healthy after being diagnosed with HELLPP syndrome, and the worst because it was frightening and not the way I wanted to birth. I took a long time, but I've come to terms with the way I birthed...."
Michelle Zipp from her blog ~ thestir.cafemom.com February 6 2012.
"There is a line across my stomach, the pouty frown of a scar carved into my skin in the shape of a crooked, stretched-out "C" ....
Generally it hides quietly below the surface under a pair of jeans or a dress or, gasp, even a bikini. But when mom talk involves sharing birth stories, I notice that having a line on my stomach quickly draws a line in the sand:I'm one of those.....
I know that the number of C-sections happening every year is skyrocketing at an alarming rate. I know that some doctors prefer convenience over care. I also know, however, that my doctor was trying to protect me - from cervical cancer.
The road that led me to having a C-section was a rocky one. It began unknowingly when I was 11 weeks pregnant. The usual tests conducted early on in the pregnancy revealed some unusual results.....
To be clear, I was not diagnosed with cervical cancer. Tests revealed the presence of abnormal cells on my cervix - cells that couldn't be fully diagnosed or treated without risks to the pregnancy....
At 38 weeks, with the okay from my doctor, I was induced. But nearly 24 hours into labour, I wasn't progressing. My son's heart rate was low... Baby was not getting enough oxygen.... He wasn't even a minute into this world and he was already stressed. Emergency C-section it was....
It all felt brisk, cold and unnatural. But just like that, my little six-pound, ten-ounce blueberry squealer was born, and it felt warm, fuzzy and happy....
So, yes, I have a scar on my stomach. Maybe you don't. But the truth is, people come into parenting in so many different ways - whether that's through vaginal childbirth, cesarean, adoption or even fostering kids. Are any of those methods really unworthy or less deserving than an other? Do they count less? I can't imagine a child who would think so....
My son was potty trained in two days. Maybe yours wasn't. I don't believe that colouring on the walls is such a bad thing. Maybe you do. Being a parent looks different in every household. But it doesn't matter. We are all moms. And that should be enough."
Andrea Stanley from her blog ~ shine.yahoo.com October 7 2011