I’ll give you three seconds to gather the pitchforks and torches….ready? Good. Deep breath in, deep breath out–let’s do this.
I had an elective C-section for no medical reason. None.
I was simply scared out of my wits.
My college graduation gown had only been hanging in my closet for a couple of months when I found out I was 5 weeks pregnant with a jellybean. That’s what he looked like in his first sonogram, anyway.
At that time, I only had one friend who had a baby. I remember listening with horror as she retold her birth story over the phone while I sat in my dorm. She had an episiotomy only to go home and have her stitches tear. Tear! They effin tore!
I shivered in my Pink collegiate sweatpants, and the feeling tattooed itself in my brain.
Several months into my pregnancy, my then husband and I saw an episode of Oprah about a man who had been in the delivery room with his wife during her natural birth and ever since has claimed to literally have a phobia of his wife’s vagina.
We brought up the possibility of an elective C-section to my OBGYN, and we were relieved to have his support. He reminded us that most of the statistics that were out at that time concerning how risky a C-section was often included those that were done in an emergency.
And so it was decided.
5 Unpleasant Surprises About a C-Section:
1. The pain after I was released home.
For those several days that I was in the hospital following the delivery, I kept wondering when the pain would kick in.
It didn’t register until I got home that without the round-the-clock assistance of a team of nurses and access to the best pain medicine known, my body would immediately pick up where it left off–healing from a major surgery.
I would dread laughing or even slightly reclining–much less lying down–because of the painful use of the abdomen muscles that such actions required.
2. Not expecting to want several more children.
It’s highly unrecommended that a woman have several C-sections. While it varies for individuals, three is often the limit of how many C-sections a woman can likely have before surgical risks should be heavily considered before deciding to have a fourth child. These risks include a weakened urine wall, heavy bleeding, complications with the placenta, and bladder injuries.
Since I had seen little appeal in babies and children before, I figured one would be more than enough. The last thing I ever expected was to love being a mother as much as I do.
I now look at children with a new perspective, that of appreciation and wonder at their wonder. I would have 5 more just like him if I could, but that will not be an option for me with repeated C-sections.
3. A lesson in vanity.
Scheduling my delivery in advance gave me the option of searching the internet and fashion magazines high and low for the perfect hair and makeup look I planned to create for the big day. I was dead set on looking my absolute best for the camera.
Rosy lip. Softly contoured eyelids in shimmering nudes. Waterproof mascara paired with an eyelash curler. Romantic waves in my hair, loosely secured half up but with a claw clip so that it didn’t look like I was trying too hard. These were the makings of a well-received Facebook profile picture.
My unborn son must have been laughing inside just as you likely are at the ridiculous vanity I prioritized. Although my C-section was scheduled a week before my due date, a week before the surgery date, I unexpectedly went into labor.
I had to very quickly gather the rest of the hospital bag must-haves I had procrastinated on packing, so sure the baby would work on my watch. I didn’t have time to grab half of what I had read about in all those pregnancy magazines. And it didn’t even cross my mind to grab my beloved makeup bag. I was just in sheer panic of knowing something so surreal was happening, that I was in labor, pains and all, which was the very thing I expected to not endure.
My baby taught me a good, hard lesson in priorities and vanity before he was even out of the womb.
4. The instinct to immediately want to hold my child
As far as a C-section experience, I didn’t have much else to go on beyond my daily morning dose of back-to-back A Baby Story episodes on TLC. In these shows, newborns looked anything but irresistible to the touch. I felt thankful knowing that the nurses would brisk him off immediately and get him all cleaned up for me before our proper introduction.
Yet, the moment I heard his robust cry, emotions so foreign that I felt they were transforming me into an entirely different person flooded my body. All I wanted was to hold my baby close, to comfort him as he cried out for me. Mommy.
I had completely underestimated how urgent those maternal instincts would feel.
5. My fear
In hindsight, I realize that in that panicked state of research, I hungered more for personal experiences than for cold, hard facts. I wanted to read a story where a woman said that childbirth was easier than she expected, that there was nothing to fear. When I did find such stories, I would dig for another like some insatiable Google creature hunting for a second affirmation of the first affirmation.
Articles may not have been plentiful, but mommy wars already littered online message boards. These women, on either side, felt so strongly convinced that their beliefs were correct. I was completely intimidated at their passion, for I was still searching to find my own.
I watched each nurse’s face twist in confusion when I tried to explain my no reason for the C-section, I immediately came up with a few excuses as to why I just couldn’t take the jump.
I ignored the Lamaze breathing part of the parenting class. I haven’t been doing my kegels. My perineum hasn’t been massaged!
5 Pleasant Surprises About a C-Section
1. The nurses
I stayed at the hospital for five days with my newborn. I was exhausted from the surgery with little chance of rest with my breasts constantly being on-call for my hungry child. But I felt grateful that I had little to worry about those first several days aside from feeding and bonding with my baby. The nurses were there for the rest.
I had a team of professionals there at my beckon call to point out that my baby had his diaper on backwards and that if I held him up just a smidge higher on my shoulder his crying would stop. Had it not been for the C-section, I would have received very little help that first week.
2. My vagina was never a concern.
Many women on the online message boards had claimed that once healed, a vaginal birth made no difference in the shape or look of their vagina. Some claimed there was an undeniable difference, both good and bad.
A friend of mine who had three vaginal births swears that her vagina looked and felt good as new after each baby. Literally good as new, if you know what I mean…
Either way, it gave me one less thing to worry about.
3. I felt no less bonded with my baby.
According to a study done by the Yale School of Medicine, mothers who had a vaginal birth may feel a stronger bond than those who had a C-section. While I see the logic here, this study in particular was done on only 12 women. But even if it had been with a larger group, I can’t say I’m entirely convinced if going off of my own experience.
If the bond I had felt for my baby had been any stronger, I would have smothered the poor kid to death with the instantaneous connection I felt. And with my uncomfortable lack of interest in any baby up until that point, this had completely blindsided me.
I have a friend who gave birth to her son vaginally last year. She told me how unsettling it was during her first four months of motherhood because she did not feel the mountains move and the clouds part upon meeting her baby. She knew she loved him and wanted to protect him at all costs, but it took several months before she fully felt that maternal connection.
Who knows why our bonding experiences were so different, but what I do know is that today, we are both passionate mothers and are madly in love with our boys.
4. My beautiful scar
I won’t elaborate too much on this, but the scar I have is extremely impressive–you hardly notice that it’s there, and it’s completely out of sight when I wear even the skimpiest of panties and bikini bottoms.
5. It calmed my fears
Did you experience anything unexpected during your delivery? How did you handle it?