My third baby will be delivered by C-section.
I know that birth is birth. Healthy baby, healthy mom are truly the most important outcomes. Nothing can overshadow that.
Nevertheless, sometimes I feel a little like I’ve failed. Like this birth isn’t worthy. Like I’m less of a woman because I’m having a C-section. I put all my mental effort into getting these lies out of my head, but they show up regularly.
I always dreamed of giving birth. I imagined it more often than I did my wedding day. Having my first baby lived up to my expectations: I pushed my daughter into the world. The second time around, however, too much amniotic fluid forced an induction at thirty-nine weeks. The induction went smoothly until a head-down baby suddenly flipped to the breech position after my water broke. Soon afterward in the OR, I heard my doctor bark for “MORE HANDS!!!” My husband ignored all instructions to stay sitting at that point. He watched as my doctor and a resident reached into me elbow-deep to turn and exhume the now transverse baby from my womb. I held my breath until the wailing cry came out and he looked at me and said, “You were right. It’s a girl.”
My husband got the first skin-to-skin moments with our second daughter. I watched him sing to her and envelop her in his scrubs. The appreciation, awe, and love I felt for them both held equal room in my heart with sadness and envy for not being a part of that moment. Then my doctor spoke up. “I had to add a vertical cut to the initial horizontal one. If you have another baby, a VBAC will not be a option for you, OK?” The spinal block pinned down my arms; I couldn’t even wipe away my tears.
The emotions after an unplanned C-section roll in and out like tidal waves.
Gratitude for rest and help and drugs (both pain killers and stool softeners, in my case).
Frustration at a sensitive incision site.
Relief that both baby and mom are safe and healthy and alive.
Disappointment that the experience did not unfold the way one had planned.
That’s the one that pushes its way in again and again. I remember my body shaking with the intensity of each contraction as I got close to the end. I remember my mind slipping out of itself as a way to cope with the pain. I remember my body taking over and doing what it needed to do to bring my first child into the world.
I won’t feel any of those powerful, overwhelming, visceral physical responses this third time around. One minute the baby will be in me, and then in a quick flick of a scalpel, he or she will be snuggled against his/her Daddy’s chest (not mine). But the undeniable, joyful fact is that the baby will be with us, in our arms. I, too, will be safe, with uterus intact. And despite the physical feelings not being the same as my first two births, my emotional attachment and love will be. No surgery can ever take that away from us.