As I have had more time on my hands lately, I have been reading (a lot) of blogs. I have found this network of women who are lamenting over the fact that they had to have cesarean sections to give birth to their children. They drew me in and I read several of them. But I had a hard time making a connection.
I really, truly appreciate the fact that many women want to fully experience childbirth a la natural. Me, well, I am more of a bring on the drugs kind of person. Epidural – yes, please. C-section – if you insist.
However, I, too, was all set to deliver my babies the old fashioned way – well with the benefit of modern pharmaceuticals and a building and doctors – no woods, no medicine men for me. Thanks anyway. Number one hubby and I checked the box and attended a Lamaze class – watched the video – and realized that we had absolutely no idea what we had gotten ourselves me into. I have to do what? And you get to sit there and tell me how to breathe? I am quite sure that is (not) going to prove to be very helpful.
Our Lamaze instructor was very excited about all things birth. However, being so close to the actual event myself (coupled with the fact that I was the one actually responsible for accomplishing it), I found it hard to share her enthusiasm. So, when she got to the part on c-sections, I remember turning to Number One Hubby and asking if he wanted to go get some lunch. Enough already. There are truly only so many home videos an about-to-be-mom can watch.
I think I can quote that instructor exactly, “I want everyone here to pay v.e.r.y. close attention to this part of the class. No one here thinks they will have a c-section, but I can guarantee you that at least one person in this room will deliver by c-section. You will want to know what’s happening.”
Me to Hubby: Oh, that’s really too bad. I wonder
which one of THOSE women it will be.
Fate: You my sista.
I spent several days in and out of the hospital in the days before Bear was born. I won’t bore you with the details – we all have a story – but the bottom line was the doctors think I was passing a kidney stone. Yes, that was a great idea. Welcome to my little corner of brilliance. Give birth – pass a kidney stone – oh heck, let’s just do both – at the same time – sure. But in a way it was lucky, because in searching for the stone, they found my amniotic fluid was low and that my little Bear was breech. They scheduled me for a c-section a few days later. Seems they were very busy on that particular day and could not do it right away. But didn’t you say my amniotic fluid was low? Whatever. At least I thought I would have time to review the tape. That Lamaze lady was right, maybe I should have paid attention. Oh, you meant me?
I thought I had time to review those tapes until my water broke and we found ourselves in an emergency c-section situation. And, by ourselves, I do mean myself. Oh yes, doesn’t that sound a lot better? My husband was conducting a science experiment to determine exactly what type of fluid was gushing out of me at record speeds, while I was busy doing my best to convince him that we needed to go back to the hospital. Immediately. As in Right. Now. It was the stuff that sitcoms are made of. It seems he was tired and he really just wanted to sit down. Seriously? Let’s leave the alkaline test to the professionals. You know – the brilliant ones who just sent us home.
Needless to say, I had surgery. I recovered from surgery and got pregnant again. I ended up with 3 sections. All three of them emergencies. You’ve now read about Bear. Flower was also breech. I had a granola doctor who wanted to try to flip her for me – but I read about it and decided it wasn’t so much for me. They do it in the operating room in case you go into labor or stress (translation – something goes wrong or worse, very wrong) – it was only about 50% likely to work – and they expect the mom (and I am guessing her little bundle of baby) to get pretty bruised and therefore to be pretty uncomfortable – yes, with labor looming. No thank you. I survived one c-section just fine. Bring on number two. Flower’s birth became an emergency because apparently slipping on the ice late in pregnancy can bring on labor and my water broke again. There is just no rest for the clumsy.
Angel – well, it seems they don’t want you to even consider a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean – if there are any men still reading at this point -sorry) after two c-sections. But just to keep it interesting, I was in a car accident the day Angel was born and learned what decelerated heart rate means in triage. I can assure you that labor and deliver triage is neither the time nor the place to review SAT vocabulary words like decelerated heart rate or STAT.
Because my water broke twice, I had the initial experience of being in labor. Yeah, it is not all it’s cracked up to be. Going into labor gives me the thrill of shaking like a meth addict in rehab. It ain’t pretty. The first time it happened, I was terrified that the anesthesiologist would not be able to get the needle in the right spot. And, YES, I had read all those articles about the potential for paralysis with a misplaced epidural. (note to self – step away from the internet.) The doctor said as long as he wasn’t shaking we were fine. Oh good, I got a comedian. Thankfully a very steady comedian. I can still walk.
The bottom line in all of this is that c-sections are not perfect. But I am very thankful modern science has brought them into existence. If you have ever had a c-section or are facing one soon – even if, my friend, it was something you chose to do – please do not feel short changed. It is one of your first journeys into parenthood and it foreshadows what the rest of your parenting journey will be like – at times scary, at times rushed, at times overwhelming, at times disappointing, and at times rewarding beyond measure. When they put that little baby in your arms, it will not matter one bit how he or she got there. You’ll be just as overwhelmed as any other new parent – with love and joy and a whole new sense of responsibility.
I think it might be the loss of control that is so hard to forget and forgive. And the fear that follows it. Not knowing what will happen next can be extremely overwhelming, especially when a life seems to hang in the balance. But again, that is just one pebble in this parenting path. A pebble that will forever hide in the corner of our shoe as a constant, irritating reminder that we do not control the cosmos. Sometimes we have to walk uncomfortable journeys to get to our destination.
The tears really worth shedding are for those men and women who never get to hold a child they love in their arms.
NOTE: after writing this post, I received a lot of comments via email and on the blog – as a result, I followed up with a post called “Digging Deeper”