Labor / Delivery: A C-section Doesn't Make me Less Than
By Amy Menefee
I absolutely loved being pregnant - probably because I felt fantastic the whole time. (Don't be mad at me!) I would say I had some pretty normal fears and anxieties about what child birth might be like but I was excited for it! It probably wouldn't be easy, but the reward at the end - pulling my baby boy up on my chest and hearing those first cries after the hours of hard work I put in, had to be priceless. To have my husband next to me, in awe of what a badass I was during labor and delivery. I craved that moment!
It was just three weeks weeks before my due date and I went to the doctor for a regular check up and found out my baby had flipped around and was now breech - butt down, folded up like a beach chair. (Just one week before mind you, he was in the normal head down position). I was crushed. I want to pause for a moment and express that I 100% understand the news could have been worse. Breech babies are still healthy, but at that moment my whole plan and my dreams were shifting. I was bummed. The doctor advised me it would be unsafe for me to try and deliver a breech baby and I would need a scheduled c-section. C-sections are the safest way for a (breech) baby to come into the world, but the mother is more at risk. C-sections are so common these days, but let's not forget it is a major surgery and carries risks associated with that, not to mention a longer healing process. Oh! And the added bonus of a battle scar. The doctor told me I could try a few things on my own to help the baby turn back around and he also brought to my attention an ECV (external cephalic version), or "version" as they're more commonly called. It's a procedure done at the hospital by an OB to try and manually flip the baby from the outside by pushing on the mother's stomach. Long story short - it hurt so bad. I couldn't take more than 60 seconds of it. Forget it.
After that failed attempt and now knowing I had tried everything I could, it was time for me to reprogram my brain to start really preparing for my c-section. I had my pity party, I tried to DO something about it, but bottom line I was ready to meet my baby and was prepared to do whatever I needed to.
When the big day came everything went incredibly smooth! I had never been operated on so the big, bright, white, COLD, operating room was a little nerve wracking. I'll never forget how nice the anesthesiologist was who gave me my spinal block - I didn't feel a thing. (They numbed me first of course). Then just like they warned me, I pretty much immediately went numb from my chest down. They quickly laid me down on the operating table, put up the curtain and there I was butt-ass naked surrounded by nurses and doctors and BOOM! Five minutes later I heard the sweet, first cries of my healthy baby boy. I was officially a Mommy. My head and heart were spinning! I got a quick peek at him over the curtain before he was whisked away by nurses to clean him off, weigh, and measure him.
"Five minutes later I heard the sweet, first cries of my healthy baby boy. I was officially a Mommy."
Don’t get me wrong, there are dozens of “pros” to having a c-section: You can plan! You don’t need to rush out of the house in the middle of the night. You have time to shower and even put on a little make-up. You can let family know ahead of time when to plan to be at the hospital. You aren’t exhausted and sweaty from pushing for hours. I mean hey, I have no idea what a contraction even feels like! You might be thinking “sign me up, how could there possibly be any cons?”
Well, remember when the nurses whisked my baby away? It was only for 10 minutes, but my husband got to go along and be with our son for the first few moments of his life while I missed out because I was still on the operating table being sewn back together like a ragdoll. When the nurses finally did bring him back I was so excited to get a good look at him and hold him close to me. But if you’ve had a c-section you know first hand that when you’re on the table with the majority of your body on the other side of a curtain, you can’t really hold your baby without some assistance. (I just want to gaze at the child I created with my body, is that too much to ask?!)
The hardest part for me though? Sure I couldn’t hold food down without vomiting for 24 hours, or stand up without feeling like my guts were going to fall out the first couple of days. But what I cared about the most was if anybody, my husband in particular, was proud of me. The moment I “craved” for so many months wasn’t able to happen. I had already mentally accepted that, but maybe not emotionally. I wanted to shout from the rooftops that I DID NOT TAKE THE EASY WAY OUT. I’m not any less of a Mom because I didn’t labor with my child! (And neither are you!)
Almost 3 years later I had another breech baby boy and another planned c-section! (The rate of breech recurrence in a second consecutive pregnancy is 9.9%). At this point I’ll probably never know what it feels like to pull a baby up on my chest and have that experience I craved for so long. (And still do if I’m being honest). But I’m proud of my battle scars and I have two healthy, happy, beautiful little boys to show for it! Life is good!