sex

The birth experience that made me feel like a failure

I've been trying to write this post about my plans to have a scheduled c section for some time now but have really struggled to find the right words. In fact they still escape me but i've fumbled around and come up with the following ramble.

I feel like blog land is over flowing with empowered stories of vaginal births (and rightly so, they are absolutely worthy of being told). Births with drugs, without drugs, in homes, in hospitals, in baths, in beds – whatever. One thing always remains consistent though – the Vagina.

Empowered births are vaginal births.

I've never really written about my past two caesarean births here, for a couple of reasons really. Firstly because 'birth' isn't a topic of great interest to me (although I really do love hearing and reading stories of others) and secondly, because it seems as though the obvious lack of positive literature around the emergency c section suggests that maybe I shouldn't be singing-from-the-roof-tops proud about the way my babies have been born. So I've remained silent.

There's often an air of disappointment around the caesar, isn't there. Have you had one? Did you get sympathy faces?

I did.

When I went into labour with Zeph I didn't imagine that it would result in surgery. I had spent the previous 9 months naively believing that pregnancy was an opportunity for me to train my body for the upcoming experience.  If I practised my breathing long enough, squatted on the massive rolly ball thing frequently enough and visualised the baby coming down the birth canal vividly enough I would have a 'beautiful' birth. 

 
I was led to believe that 'beautiful' birth was vaginal birth. Beautiful birth was drug free birth. Beautiful birth was the result of trusting my body and surrendering to it's womanly power. 
 
After my first emergency c-section, I was surprised, even shocked by peoples willingness to make comment about the way our son entered this world. From the sympathetic pats on the shoulder to the outright 'if you had had laboured longer, you could have had him naturally' comments. Thirty Eight hours was plenty, thank you.
 
It seems as though I should have felt robbed by medical intervention of an experience that I, as a woman, was entitled to. The experience of a beautiful, natural birth.
 

In all honesty, some distant part of me was surprised and disappointed that my body didn't do as I assumed it would. But mostly, I struggled with the notion that having a fat, round headed, healthy baby boy shouldn't have been enough. I found myself politely biting my tongue when well meaning people offered sympathy. Instead I should have noted how pleased I was to have birthed my baby, fed him from my body and bought him home safely.

Yet some part of me entertained the thought that I should have been less proud of this delicious, perfect thing I'd spent the past 9 months growing. Maybe he was less perfect than he could have / would have been if he'd exited via my, you know, vagina.

In fact, it was the words of my father-in-law that impacted me most after the birth of Zeph. With all the attention and discussion surrounding the way our son was born rather than the fact that he was indeed born and healthy, it was Andrew's response that stuck with me.

He walked his tall frame into our hospital room, face absolutely beaming. He folded himself over, kissed me on the forehead, looked at his grand-baby and said to me ' Hello, How clever are you? Look at what you've made!' There wasn't a patronising tone in his voice, not even a hint of sympathy. Just wild, outright pride.

 Look at what I'd made!!  A real human. It didn't matter that I hadn't pushed him out or that moments later my brother in law walked in and gave the wee bag (caesars mean catheters, ladies) next to my bed a tap before inquiring what it's contents were. Dave subtlety informed him and we all did that awkward laugh that follows wee talk.

I was less inclined to allow myself to feel deflated after the  caesarean birth of my lady baby. After 26 hours of labour (and the sound advice of my ob) I decided that i'd take the c section option. No failure there, just a well informed, educated me making a well informed, educated decision. Not one that would (or should) please everyone, but it certainly pleased me.

It takes some effort to feel deeply proud of something that others consider to be 'less than'. But it is possible.

While I couldn't say that caesarean birth would be my first choice, it would appear it is my only choice, and i'm okay with that.

This time around I'm planning a conscious, empowered, beautiful birth, just like the others. One where I will be connected, present and in tune.

It will be a caesar.

I will have a naked baby placed on my chest, I'll feed it from by breast and utter secret love words into it's miniature ears before passing the treasure to Dave so that he can do the same and the doctors can stitch me up.

I'm really looking forward to the birth of this next baby beetleshack. I'm excited. I've never been able to say that about birth before but I can now, and yes, it is empowering.

These experience really help to solidify my opinion that every birth is beautiful. Full stop, full stop. It's not the vagina or the absence of drugs or the calm breathing that makes birth beautiful- it is the first meeting of a baby human that makes it so.
 

 
From the writer: I'm Emily and this is The Beetle Shack. The place my husband, our children and I reside. Decorated with fruity hues and and filled with raucous laughter. We live loudly and large, revelling in the goodness of our Creator. Together we grow vegetables, raise chooks and dream of being semi self sufficient (whilst leaving on every single light in the house). Read more from me at thebeetleshack.com.au.
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