I may sometimes joke about not being a real woman as I don’t know what it’s like to have a contraction or go into labour but it is exactly that: a joke, a big Prabulous joke. I have never felt guilt or shame over my c-sections. Why talk about this? Well, it turns out April was caesarean awareness month. It’s also when I came across blogger Next Life No Kids who is spearheading the Mommitment movement, aimed at stamping out Mum-shaming (sorry I’m a Brit). Ha, the coincidence! Because what’s one of the biggest mum-shaming obsessions perpetuated by society (i.e. mothers)? Yep, the passive-aggressive view that women who wind up having c-sections somehow failed at childbirth. Purleeese.
Here’s the thing. Whether a woman has a home birth/hospital birth/gas and air/no gas and air/epidural/no epidural/a scheduled caesarean/an emergency caesarean/a super quick labour/days of hell in labour/a doula/a state midwife/a private doctor/a water birth/a squat on the side of the road and just get it out birth, the ONLY thing that matters is if that child is born healthy. If it is, that’s one lucky child and one lucky mother. I don’t think we truly realise how incredible the female body is or how miraculous pregnancy and childbirth is until we actually go through it. Whichever options we choose or have thrust upon us by circumstances, that baby is a miracle however it came out.
Yes, natural birth is best. It just isn’t always the best option…as I found out:
In a nutshell, Musical M wasn’t thriving as my placenta was no longer viable and she was too underweight to stand much chance of making it out of the birth canal alive, VBAC was apparently too risky with Dreamy D and by the time it came to Cheeky K, my fate was sealed. All three were breach and had the cord around the neck several times.
But a walk in the park those c-sections were not! Spinal block, ice cold operating room, conditions, catheters, needles, stitches, trying to move…everything hurt like holy hell. Granted, my c-sections just involved uncomfortable tugging rather than the searing pain of pushing but everything else…oh God. Trying not to shiver and shake while the anaesthetist inserted that needle. Being lifted and rolled onto my bed as I couldn’t feel my lower half. Trying to feed baby without placing baby anywhere near my sore tummy. Trying to sleep with a catheter and needles in me. The blindsiding tear-inducing pain of trying to walk once the feeling returned in my legs…just the most bloody painful, humbling experience of my life. Up till then. Of course, much later, kneeling on the floor wiping up food and begging a toddler to eat just one frickin’ mouthful would become the most bloody painful, humbling experience of my life. Oh and laughing, sneezing, coughing and just plain breathing? They felt like extreme sports due to the air that got trapped while I was open on the operating table, causing shocking stomach pains once it was stitched back up (as if that poor sucker hadn’t been through enough).
I begged the doctors, nurses, cleaners, the woman in the next bed’s visitors, heck anyone who walked past me for pain relief. Yep, Alternative-Medicine Prabs was replaced by Desperately-Seeking-Any-Fucking-Drugs Prabs. What can I say? Morphine, Voltaren, Co-dydramol, Anythingamol and I became friends. (I think this mum just shamed herself.)
So, wondering how or why I could possibly be glad I didn’t give birth naturally? Here are:
1. Who doesn’t want a four day break from dishes, laundry?
Most of my friends were desperate to get home the same day they give birth. I couldn’t think of anything worse. Just think about it: I got a break from domestic drudgery. Then once I got to my second birth, much as I missed toddler Musical M like crazy and dissolved in tears when I finally saw her, those four days in a quiet room with her brother were heaven. What’s not to like about not having to deal with this for a few days?
By the time it came to Cheeky K, the easiest roomie who just slept all day and didn’t yell Mama, mum, mummy, MAMAAAA!! every few minutes…I’m telling you it was a mini holiday. The only thing missing was the minibar. I asked for a fifth day.
2. Being unable to drive or lift heavy things for several weeks was almost liberating.
I had the ‘luxury’ of cocooning at home with a newborn (if you can call surviving on next to no sleep cocooning) as I couldn’t go far without a car and my driver (aka ‘he who got me pregnant’) was at work. I could wear pyjamas all day (ironic considering the lack of sleep) as I wasn’t going anywhere and could watch trash TV (albeit with a baby clamped to my breast) because hoovering the floor or unloading the dishwasher involved lifting. And I wasn’t meant to lift, right?
3. My biggest fear in life was the agony of childbirth so I wont lie: I WAS relieved when the docs decided I had a date with Edward Scissorhands.
I can’t deny I played at wanting a natural birth. You are expected to want it…because it’s natural… People have different fears: spiders, flying, heights, whatever. Honestly? I didn’t view the act of pushing a rather large thing out of a rather small hole as natural. Nope. Not. At. All. Of course the irony is that despite my pathetically low pain threshold, I was nevertheless able to tolerate being cut open three times.
4. My stomach may be shot to pieces but I now have a shelf to rest my coffee mug.
Visible scars aside, I sprang back into shape super quickly after my first two c-sections. But that third child. Mercy me, that third… I now have the delightful ‘too many c-sections shelf’. Let’s just say when I lie on my side…well…I just shouldn’t. When I lie on my back, I can’t say it’s that much better. Ah, the beauty of the post-caesarean ‘overhang’. The only way to avoid it: big girl panties. But what’s the point of that when I need that shelf for my coffee mug?
5. I may be lazy with kegel exercises but I don’t wet myself every time I cough or laugh or run, thanks to my lady region not being destroyed by pushing three humans out.
Major props to my natural birth sisters but sorry, that is definitely something to be thankful for. I didn’t say it doesn’t happen. It just doesn’t happen every time…
Seriously though, I know c-sections are no laughing matter. Mine were carried out based on medical decisions made by the doctors. Each successive operation can be more tricky and of course I would have conquered my fears and given birth naturally if circumstances allowed. But that’s not the way things worked out. I spent a millisecond feeling like less of a woman for not achieving the trophy-worthy natural birth before snapping out of it and realising I had still very much given birth and was crazy lucky to have each of my little bundles of joy. (Anyway, undergoing major surgery three times is deserving of a trophy in my book.)
Oh and that not being a ‘real woman’ thing. It isn’t because I had c-sections. It’s because I never got my boobs.
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