“My husband would never let me have a c-section!”
I couldn’t have been in a worse place mentally, physically or emotionally to hear it and the words echoed in my head for weeks.
I was six weeks postpartum with my first and still processing the events surrounding my emergency c-section. All I could mumble back was something like “yea, it wasn’t fun.” But the words hit me deep. As if it had been my choice to abandon everything I had planned for delivery at the spur of the moment for what I felt like was my life’s biggest failure.
Because that’s what society tell us a c-section is – a failure, the lazy way out.
As if her husband would have stopped her from making the same mistake.
The mistake she thought I had made.
In reality, I was still mourning the birth plan that, from the moment my OB sent me to the hospital that Tuesday morning, was never consulted.
I was mourning the lower half of my abdomen that would never be the same thanks to a crooked, 5 inch incision that would take months to heal.
And most of all, I was mourning the beautiful, empowering birth story all my mom friends had.
I was not prepared to sacrifice so much of what I had built up in my mind over the last 9 months to be MY birth story. My OB barely mentioned a c-section as a possibility for delivery until moments before it became my reality, despite the fact that about 30% of all births in the US are via c-section. Prior decisions about skin to skin, who would cut the cord, delayed cord cutting and pacifiers suddenly seemed so unimportant. Three hours after walking into the hospital, I was laying in a recovery room, unable to move or feel my legs, a bloody bandage taped over my lower abdomen, a brain foggy from anesthesia with a beautiful 8 pound 11 ounce baby girl in my arms.
Without friends to ask about c-section recovery or share in my experience, I felt so alone. And somehow less worthy of motherhood. I blamed myself. I thought my body had failed. I resented that purple scar, as it only served as a reminder of my perceived failure.
I’m here to tell you there is nothing lazy about having 6 layers of you cut open, just to be sewn back together and sent off 48-72 hours later to care for a helpless infant.
I learned in those weeks after delivery that my body did not fail, I am no less worthy of motherhood and my story is no less empowering than anyone else’s. My body grew a whole other human. My body expanded, fed and accommodated her for nine months. My body became her sole source of nutrition moments after her birth.
I was not a failure.
My body did not fail.
I gave myself grace, time to heal and mourn the delivery plan that never came to be. I found a support system of women who had experienced the same traumatic welcome into motherhood. I have learned to love that barely there scar, even if it is still crooked. It represents the length I am willing to go to protect my children and, to me, represents an act of true love.
My husband wouldn’t have stopped me.
And yours wouldn’t stop you.
Later we learned that her abnormally long umbilical cord was wrapped twice around her neck, cutting off her oxygen supply with each Braxton Hicks contraction. A true contraction would have been life threatening for her. A c-section was her only chance at surviving delivery.
5 years later, she is a smart, adventurous, creative, healthy, strong willed, independent little girl, no different from her dramatic entry into this world.
In 2019, we welcomed another beautiful girl into our lives and she entered the world just as her sister did, via a planned c-section. This time was without the drama, no urgency, no bells and whistles, without the fear of the unknown and I was prepared. The scar from her c-section sits just atop her sister’s, barely there and also a little crooked.
If you’ve had an unexpected c-section, repeat after me:
I am not a failure.
I am strong.
I am worthy.
I am not alone.
I am a mother.