On Saturday, we had to call one of those house-call doctor services out for my three-year-old son, Teddy. He had a fever which wasn’t going down after taking paracetamol and was generally miserable, and our local GP clinic was closed.
It was the first time we’ve ever used a house-call doctor, and I was pleasantly surprised that after the phone was answered by an automated IVR menu read out by former Wheel of Fortune host John Burgess (I thought that using a B grade celebrity for publicity might be a bad omen), the doctor arrived in good time and was very professional.
Teddy has always been pretty healthy bar the odd cold here and there, so hasn’t needed to see many doctors. This may have been why I was caught off guard by one of the doctor’s questions while he was assessing my sick little boy. After asking whether Teddy was born naturally, I replied that I had given birth via a caesarian section, and when the doctor followed this up by asking why I had a caesarian I completely fumbled and said that it was because I had had a caesarian previously.
While this isn’t an outright lie, it isn’t exactly the truth either. Neither of my two caesarian births were medically necessary; both pregnancies were a dream, and I had previously had a vaginal birth. The truth is, I had caesarian births with my boys because I damn well wanted to. I’ve never been ashamed of this fact, or at least I didn’t think I was ashamed.
I’ve never cared what people think about my choices, or whether they think I’m “too posh to push”. But in that moment I was concerned about my sick child, and I chose to mislead the doctor into believing that my caesareans were a necessity and not a choice.
Perhaps I perceived an implication in his questions that my choice of birth had somehow lead to my little boy contracting viral tonsillitis three and a half years down the track. Perhaps if I’d sucked it up and gone through labour to deliver him he wouldn’t be a sweaty and hot mess of misery right now. Or perhaps I’ve just absorbed the collective judgement of a society that considers anything other than an unassisted and un-medicated vaginal birth somehow less-than, inferior, or a failure on the part of the mother.
I have been cross with myself since Saturday for not just telling the truth, which is that I had caesareans because I wanted to. I tried birth the traditional way and found that it wasn’t for me, so the next two times I made a better choice for me and my babies and took advantage of the privilege of choice I’m so lucky to have and scheduled in a surgical birth date. If ever I’m asked these questions again, I’ll tell the truth.
I have no regrets for the way I chose to bring my children into the world, and I have no shame.