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 blog, I 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.