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"The reality of having a Caesarean."

This is me immediately after my C-Section:

Gabrielle after birth 1200

JOKES.

The picture above is many hours after my elective caesarean birth (second baby), after a rest and after doing my face (and I’m a makeup artist).

This is the REAL me after my Elective Caesarean. SHATTERED. Post puke:

gabrielle 2

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This is me straight after my first birth (Emergency Caesarean):

Gabrielle first birth

During my first pregnancy I felt so pushed/encouraged/forced to want the most ‘natural’ birthing experience imaginable.

My antenatal class pretty much told me that if I wasn’t drug free and deep breathing, then I was doing my baby a massive disservice; he would start off in the world a drug addled loser and probably stay that way.

My class had some outrageously hippy name like ‘Holistic Healthy Baby’ (which sounded so damn idyllic, but now makes me rage) so really I should have known what I was in for.

I don’t want to start a fight with people who choose to birth ‘naturally’ with no drugs and breathing through your vagina, because seriously, kudos to you.

That is phenomenal.

But it is not the definition of motherhood. As my French friend Anton says “Would you even consider getting a tooth pulled without anaesthetic? Why are people in this country so obsessed with birthing without medication?” It does seem that for some parents an extra achievement badge is earned for their fortitude/luck/efforts.

My very best intentions were thwarted when over 30 hours after my waters had broken, my contractions were minutes long and had only a few seconds between them. I started with the gas but it wasn’t long before I screamed “GIVE ME THE *……* EPIDURAL”, then promptly fell asleep after it was administered.

I was awoken by my (absolutely divine) midwife who informed me that she was worried as my baby’s heart rate was dropping (gosh the details are hazy. Was it dropping or rising? I can’t recall), there was meconium and he was distressed.

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What followed was probably just a routine Emergency Caesarean, but for me it was TERRIFYING. I was so scared that there was something wrong with my boy and began to panic.

The rest is a blur of flapping arms and voices and being trundled along corridors and bright lights. When he was born he didn’t cry immediately which led me to freak out even further.

Baby Rio was born healthy and big and awesome. I however was in quite a lot of pain; having laboured and then had major surgery. Everything hurt. The next day or three were agony. That first assisted walk to the bathroom! Argh! Actually trying to go to the toilet! Argh!

Fast forward to round two and this is me an hour before I held my wee gal:

Gabrielle before birth

Please don’t misunderstand my intentions here. I think vaginal birth is a fucking miracle. This is not an attempt to convince you to have a Caesarean. I am not ‘Pro-Caesarean’, but I do think there is a striking lack of positive Caesarean birth stories and I would like that to change.

I feel it is akin to bottle feeding your baby, where often people need/want/are forced to defend their choices, and have to be constantly reminded that it is ‘second best’.

Frankly if your baby and you come out Earth-side healthy, who gives a shit which method you got there by?!

Too posh to push. I absolutely HATE that saying. Who is ANYONE (other than the health professional/s involved in your birth) to comment on how you birth your baby or why?

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There seems to be some massive stigma attached to Caesareans; be it Emergency: ‘Why couldn’t your body deliver?’ or ‘What went wrong?’ to Elective: ‘Lazy’, ‘Posh’ or ‘Weak’. No one actually said these things (to my face), but I know many women who have felt as though their bodies let them down, or they are less of a woman somehow, and I think it’s so sad to feel a sense of disappointment attached to any birth where mother and baby are in full health.

For our second baby we elected for a Caesarean.

It was less than two years since our first and to be honest, I just didn’t want to birth ‘naturally’.

Where I had gone into my first birth with wholesome aspirations of assuaging the soreness (holy shit contractions are next level, aren’t they?) with visualisations and flank breathing, I was now terrified of birth and couldn’t face going through it all, potentially ending up in the same position.

The only part of a ‘natural’ birth that appealed was passing on the flora from the birth canal (there’s no pretty way of saying that). Late in my pregnancy I tested positive (like 25% of pregnant women at any one time) for Group B streptococcus (GBS).

This would mean that if I were to birth vaginally then my girl would be given antibiotics at birth. This information cemented my choice. Who gives a shit about ‘natural flora acquisition’ when antibiotics are going to be administered?

Seemed like one absolutely cancelled the other. But to be honest, even if this were not the case, I just felt that I did not want to birth vaginally. Judge away if you want, but I’m comfortable enough with my choice.

We had the luxury of knowing what date she was coming. We planned for my parents to have Rio for the night, had a romantic dinner out at a restaurant and got a great sleep. In the morning we awoke and drove to the hospital, chatted to our Surgeon and trotted off to the allocated room and ‘had’ a baby.

The best part of this experience for me was that I REMEMBER IT ALL. Rio’s birth is such a fuzzy memory. Time and events are confused and I don’t feel as though I participated that much. Isn’t that ironic? My elective C-section felt MORE PARTICIPATORY than my natural labour/emergency C-section!

Gabrielle's birth

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Both of my children scored well on the Apgar Test, both kids were walking and talking before the stupid books told me they must be, and most importantly they are ALIVE AND HAPPY. AND SO AM I.

Gabrielle's birth 2

Kudos and love to every mummy and daddy out there, whether you pushed that baby out, were handed that baby, signed for that baby, chose that baby or had no choice at all in how that baby came into your arms.

Parenting these kids makes me a mother. Loving these kids makes me a mother. Not strangling these kids when they drive me flipping mental, is what makes me a mother.

Frankly my vagina has no bearing on how I view my achievements as a parent.

This post originally appeared on Rio and Sunday and has been republished here with full permission. You can also find Rio and Sunday on Facebook and Twitter

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