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Thursday, 15 September 2016

I had two c-sections (and I don't feel guilty)

I had two cesarean sections (and I don't feel guilty)

I started blogging when my son was almost six months old, so (fortunately for you) there has been a distinct lack of pregnancy and birth chat.

However, the past month or so you will have noticed that I've had a few guest posts on the subjects of pregnancy and birth and I've even written a bit about my own pregnancy. As well as confirming to me how much I really never want to do it again, it has made me reflect on my own birth stories.

It never really occurred to me to overthink the actual giving birth bit of making a baby. I like to live in denial and I guess, as suggested by my friend in her brilliant guest blogI just didn't think the whole contractions and pain malarkey actually applied to me.

Turns out, it didn't.

I gave birth to both of my children, or perhaps more accurately had them surgically extracted, by elective cesarean section.

When my daughter presented breech in a scan at 30-odd weeks I was suddenly glad I hadn't really paid attention in the NCT classes. 

With a knowing smile, I accepted my fate. This was probably due in part to the fact that I had also been a breech baby some 30 years previous. Like mother, like daughter. She wasn't going to turn; she - like me - was an upside-downy and when she refused to budge, despite all the ridiculous looking exercises to turn her, I had no hesitation in taking their recommendations to go for a section.

It wasn't exactly a walk in the park, I have to say. 

The section was due to take place on a Monday, and late the previous Friday I received a voicemail telling me it had been cancelled with no rescheduled date. In fact I was kept waiting until the following Thursday, and I spent close to a week wallowing in misery and bathwater like an angry hippopotamus.

The process itself was as civilised as baring yourself to a room full of strangers, being sliced open while entirely immobile and weeing into a bag can be. I giggled my way through the spinal, in the same way that I giggle my way through my wedding, because I am incapable of responding appropriately to any situation unless the appropriate response is to giggle.

The recovery process was long; it knocked me for six really. 

Being launched into the world of being a first time mum is hard enough, struggling with being unbalanced (hormonally speaking) and breastfeeding, and then adding into the biggest surgery I had ever had... Well, I don't think I realised how limiting it would be, or for how long. Not driving for six weeks was a huge pain in the arse.

The second time around, I decided to go for a VBAC. 

It wasn't a decision borne out of anything other than practicality; although nothing I'd heard about labour or natural births really made me keen to try, I figured that it must be easier to run after a toddler without severe abdominal surgery.

However, at 40 weeks he showed no signs of appearing and unable to get up to use the loo let alone cope with a toddler who was busy discovering the flailing, wailing tantrum (an art she has since perfected) I signed the papers and set a date. I wasn't disappointed; perhaps even a bit relieved that I wouldn't be dealing with the unknown.

Did I ever feel like I failed? 

Well, no, I must say it never even occurred to me to think that. I had my babies, I'd grown them and kept them safe and was more worried about the taking them home and trying not to kill them bit (which, by the way, I am totally doing). Nor did I worry about the bond I would have with my children. Perhaps being a section baby myself, with a fairly good relationship with my own mother, the fears just weren't there. I strongly believe that how you birth your baby is entirely irrelevant to the person they become, or the relationship you will have.

I know there are various insults handed out to C-section mums by ignorant people and trolls looking for a reaction...

Too posh to push, taking the easy way out, entitled, lazy... But of course, this is complete rubbish and I can't even be bothered to address them to be honest. It shouldn't be necessary (although I am lazy).

I suppose a small part of me wonders what labour is like, how I would have coped, whether it would have been an empowering experience. The much, much bigger part is grateful that I have two beautiful (if somewhat maddening) children and a pristine fandango.

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  1. I'm so glad you wrote this! As you know I still feel bad about mine. I too was born by C-section, so I don't worry about any imagined long term effects (I have a pretty good relationship with my mum, and, I hope, a pretty good relationship with Piglet. The root of my issues is my expectations. Unfortunately I thought way too much about it beforehand, had my heart set on a natural birth, and then felt as though I'd failed or done something wrong. I then questioned all my decisions, was I wrong to be induced? Should I have ignored medical advice and carried on? Was it the epidural? Was I weak? Shouldn't I have soldiered on through the pain like a "real woman"? All this ridiculousness. I know it is exactly that-ridiculousness-and have to keep reminding myself of the pristine fandango!

    1. I did quite fancy a serene water birth maybe but to be honest I'd never thought about it long and hard, much less written a birth plan. Maybe that helps. It is ridiculousness. Maybe if you'd have carried on, you or Piglet wouldn't be here. The medical professionals know what they're doing. And it is a bonus ;) x

  2. There's enough 'mummy guilt' out there without feeling bad about how we give birth. Good for you for accepting how your children were born. Too many women feel shame for taking the 'easy way out'. I don't think any method of birth is easy, really.

    It was necessary for me to be induced at 38 weeks due to gestational diabetes. Yes, it would've been nice to experience going into labour naturally, but my child's well-being comes first. I don't feel guilty either. I did good considering the epidural cocked up.

    1. Some people are very scared of being induced. Some love the idea that they'll know exactly when they'll go into labour and they will already be at the hospital, rather than, say, Tesco. Women are all so individual it's impossible to say what will suit people and what is right or wrong - or how anyone should be feeling.

  3. Love this Fran - I had an elective caesarian too as Emma was breech and I have to agree that it's not a walk in the park at all but all that matters is that our babies arrived safely and healthy too. I remember the NCT teacher going through what happens in a caesarian and I completely switched off at the time, thinking that'll never be me...I'll have a water birth just as I planned. Ha! I must admit that I'm so curious about how I would have coped with the pain too - just the other day I read of a mum who delivered the baby herself on the bed waiting for the ambulance to arrive, I guess I'll never know ;-) xx

    1. We barely covered C Sections in NCT but all I remember was that they were bad and to be avoided at all costs. You never know! If you fancy it, there's always a next time...

  4. As most of my friends have heard... I spent £250 on a hypnobirthing course only for Squiggle to be born by emergency c section after he stopped moving (chord was blocking cervix, and he was so engaged he was crushing the chord.) I didn't make it into labour either.
    Looking back, I was devastated that I didn't have my natural, medication free birth (in contrast, daily diet for the first week consisted of a regular dosing of painkillers and fragmin injections.) I couldn't watch shows about childbirth because the jealousy of it was too much, bizarre as that sounds.
    But the longer Squiggle was in the world, and the more I reflected on his birth, I realised that the surgery had been nessecary to his survival. It wasn't just a birth, it was a rescue operation.
    A year on I no longer feel sad about having to have the surgery; I feel empowered, like I had stood up to the thing I had dreaded most. And most importantly, that I had gone in when I did and listened to my unborn baby.
    One thing I get told frequently is how lucky an escape I had, as those who have never had a c section share stories of painful labours. I certainly don't think surgery was an easy way out, both births have their pros and pains. Anyone who has had to have their partners inject them with fragmin would argue the pain of a c section goes on long after the labour pains. At the end of the day, you don't get a medal or special mention for how you deliver your baby. So long as they're here and healthy it's just a different road to the same destination.

    1. I remember what happened and I'm sorry you felt that way afterwards. It's hard to believe it was over a year ago. I'm glad you feel better about it now x

  5. Thank you so much for this. I had my first baby by caesarean section. I had planned a home birth with candles and music and ended up in hospital in agonising labour on every drug they had. My baby was back to back and there was no way he was coming out. I spent a hell of a long time after his birth beating myself up over what had happened, having the ridiculous thoughts you have described - I can't be a proper woman as I couldn't push him out. That with the rush of hormones, the lack of sleep, him struggling to breast feed...looking back I think I wish I had been kinder to myself!! My second son was born two and a half years later and I had a VBAC and felt so different afterwards - it was so weird not having the weeks of recovery and awkward walk and fear of stitches ripping open at any given moment! A different experience but...as you have said, both boys are here and how they come out doesn't matter as long as everyone is okay. So thank you. ��

    1. I'm sorry you felt like that. No woman should have to, but everything about having babies seems designed to make us feel guilty; I think those hormones have a lot to answer for. Thanks for your lovely comment.

  6. I've had two natural births and a c-section terrified me more! Although if it came to it I so would of had one if that makes sense. My friend beat herself out about her emergency c-section but as long as we get these babas out safe surely it shouldn't matter how? Great post :) ox

  7. I had a c-section, classed as a semi-urgent elective as my baby wasn't growing and I was allergic to the induction process... nothing about having a c-section was lazy or easy. I'd much rather have pushed my baby out and been able to walk and leave the hospital the same day. Anyone who thinks a c-section is the easy way out is living in a fantasy land.

    I did feel sad I didn't get the birth I imagined, however, we didn't die so that was the main thing!

    I'll be having a c-section again if I ever have another baby 😍

  8. I had five naturally (don't hate me) and then number six was by emergency c-section and do you know what, give me a natural birth anyway. The lack of control, the sheer horror on my husbands face and a recovery that took 6' months and not 6 days..... Hats off to you ladies that have done it more than once. Most horrible and terrifying experience if my life

    1. Wow I don't hate you I'm just in awe!

      I think a scheduled section is so, so different to an emergency. I was lucky with mine, they knew she was breech so I didn't have to go through labour and dilation to then have all for nothing and a hasty op too.

      Crazy that it would be the sixth that would need a section? I guess no matter how much you think you know what to expect you never really do!

  9. I am proud of my second section (first was a complicated mess that nearly killed me) as I took power over the birth from the get go, and absolutely made the right choice.
    And it was meant to be, my son was born with health complications that could have cost him and me our lives if we'd gone au naturle so walking in to a maternity ward at 8.45 and having a baby by 9.30 was the best thing ever!


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