I think of myself as a strong woman. I have a hard time admitting when I need help and when I'm not good at things. I would like to think that I can take care of myself all on my own, but sometimes, that's just not the case. Sometimes, it's hard to ask for help. And sometimes you really need help.
When I was pregnant with Zoe I didn't have a fear in the world about childbirth. I had a very easy, simple pregnancy. I had barely any symptoms and I felt like I could kick ass. I didn't feel especially empowered - like some women feel like they were made for making babies, or it made them feel "more like" a woman. I never had that feeling. People choose and don't choose to have babies - I simply chose to. That didn't make me more of a woman, a stronger woman, a sexier woman - it just made me the woman I am. I never had this inherent need to be a mom, it was just something that I came to realize over time that I wanted to do.
As time pressed on with Zoe and I got more and more pregnant, I soldiered on. I finally hit a wall at about 40ish weeks. The time when most people have given birth. I still had to wait another 2 weeks. And this wonderful thing of my blog made me feel loved and supported as I complained that I was tired and just wanted that baby to COME OUT. I felt so loved and supported and cared for by friends, family and strangers. It was a wonderful feeling to have. And here, I turn to you again.
If you've been around this blog for any significant period of time you would know Zoe's birth went anything according to plan (here is Chris' account shortly after her arrival, and here is mine nearly a year later). If you don't want to read a lengthy post, here's the summary: Zoe was 2 weeks late, I was 3cm dilated that last 3ish weeks of pregnancy, we were induced, 24 hours of induced labor I dilated 1cm, I got an epidural at the 24 hour mark and nearly lost consciousness, Zoe's heart rate was difficult/unable to be monitored, we were rushed to have an emergency c-section. I know there is NEVER any planning for a birth - it will hardly ever go according to that plan. There is no telling how any birth will go and as much as doctor's encourage us to make a "birth plan" there is no plan when the shit hits the fan. And it hit our fan hard.
I had really wanted to attempt a natural birth. That was my goal. I felt I could rock its socks off.
Who knows if I could have.
I don't think I really realized how controlling of a person I am until there was a very clear moment where I didn't know what was going to happen to me or our baby. I was terrified as I had an oxygen mask over my face, many people in my hospital room and a baby's heart rate they couldn't track. I sobbed and as I asked Chris if everything would be okay (which, of course he had no idea) his strength in reassuring me it would be was probably the only thing that kept me from going into complete shock.
Zoe came out in her own way. Chris likes to tell me that I had just built such a good home for her inside my belly that she didn't want to come out. That made me feel better, but there was still this ever present feeling that I had failed.
For baby #2 I was determined from the moment we got pregnant that I was going to have a VBAC god fucking damnit. My experience of "giving birth" was so different and traumatic the first time around, and I didn't want to "miss out" on that experience. We met with our doctor (who I love) and he was behind us, whatever we chose.
But as time wore on. I grew increasingly uncomfortable. I couldn't really put my finger on what was up with me, but I was getting grouchier and grouchier and more and more frustrated. Then I went out to lunch with my friend who is also pregnant. Our first babies are 1 month apart and our second babies will be 1 month apart. A pretty special thing to share. My friend's baby was breach the first time around and she tried with all her might to get that little lady to flip. But her baby, just like my baby, was a stubborn little lady and decided how she wanted to come out. I think of this friend as a very strong woman also. She runs marathons, she's a scientist with a badass PhD and is so compassionate.
We both had c-sections and we were both disappointed that we didn't get to have a "normal" birthing experience. Whatever that really means.
At that lunch about a month ago she shared with me that baby #2 is breach as well. And she will likely have to get another c-section (unless the baby or some of the more minor things she does this time around help him flip over). She said that she was disappointed, but I also felt like there was a strength in her realization that she wouldn't give birth in that "normal" fashion this time around as well. We both really wanted to have a VBAC, but her kiddos let her know that wouldn't be happening.
Something in that moment finally made me realize that I was terrified to have a VBAC. I shared with her my fears, things I was afraid of, my questioning if I was being a weak mother. It was such a RELIEF to get all those feelings OUT that I didn't even know I was having until that moment. I realized that's where a lot of my anxiety, frustration and sadness had been coming from - I was scared to have a VBAC and that fear made me feel like I was a weak woman and mother. She made me feel like all of my feelings were okay, and also total bullshit. I am not a weak woman. And I am not a weak mother.
By the time I got home she had emailed me an article she told me about at lunch (here it is) about c-section mommas. I promptly started bawling my eyes out.
I realized in order to make me feel safe and healthy that I really felt like I needed to schedule a c-section. I was nervous to tell Chris because I didn't want him to be disappointed (I'm the one physically giving birth, but we're both experiencing the birth). Chris was incredibly supportive and just let me know that he didn't want me to feel like I "missed out" later. I had sort of rationalized with myself that, "How could this birth go any worse?" Well, in reality, a few decades ago Zoe and I very likely could have DIED in childbirth, and that still happens today. I know it's very rare and I'm not trying to say I am afraid that I would die in childbirth the second time around, but there is a very rational fear that I do not labor successfully this time because my body was given the chance to both naturally and medically and it didn't really do it.
I had to come to terms that that's OKAY. Some women have c-sections, some have natural births, some have water births, some have fast labors, some have long labors. THERE IS NO NORMAL BIRTH.
But the last thing I felt like I really had to come to terms with was the sense of competition among women for the best, the most natural, the "perfect" birth. We talk about mom shaming, but I really feel like there's a sense of birth shaming. People are very quick to say, "Oh, I had a natural birth at home in 8 hours and gave birth in my bathtub. It was a beautiful experience." And somehow that makes their birth "better." I felt (and still feel) like I have to justify my decision. And what it comes down to is my need to have a safe and healthy birth for me, Chris and our daughter. And anyone who thinks they have a better idea of what that means for ME can go fuck themselves.
This is what I want women to share with each other - you are not stronger or better because of the way you gave birth. You are not stronger or better because you chose to give birth or chose to not have kids. We are all strong and beautiful in our own ways. Every decision in life calls for a decision made by the one who is experiencing it. We should not feel the need to know what is better for one person or another. It's none of our business. And as long as people are healthy and happy, they're doing it right for them.
So folks - that's right, I'M SCHEDULING MY C-SECTION because I want a healthy, happy birth that isn't traumatic, doesn't result in fear and anxiety and even more medical intervention. This is the decision me and my partner have come to for our family. Have a nice day. :)