This post follows a period of non-writing due to having a baby. A delicious little baby girl was delivered via emergency Caesarean on the 13th of Jan. That’s the C-word I want to write about – C for Caesar.
I feel like I have to get the birth story out of the way before I can move on with other Outie pregnancy, life, fashion and parenting related things. It is a big thing and I feel like it deserves some air time.
Some people talk about birth trauma and, although not traumatised per se, I am adjusting to a reality that is different to what I really wanted.
Is insensitivity around this topic more common that we think?
I delivered my first baby (now 22 months old) via emergency C-section because he was posterior and he didn’t drop after many hours of labour. It turned out that, at 9 pounds one with a 38cm head, he was potentially too big to fit through my pelvis.
I had given it ‘a good lash’ and was proud of getting to 8cm unaided and without drugs. When the labour didn’t progress and I was told that a C-section was my best choice, I agreed, signed the forms and deep down felt a bit cheated.
For my second child I was adamant that I wanted to do it the natural way.
Why want a VBAC?
I had several reasons, all of which I felt pretty strongly about. I didn’t want the abdominal surgery again, I didn’t want the healing process to prevent me from full enjoyment of my new baby, I didn’t want to have restrictions on my freedom (no driving for six weeks), I didn’t want to have lifting restrictions (how does that work with a toddler?), I didn’t want the recovery I remembered from the first one – and, quite simply, I wanted to ‘finish the race’ and embrace the full experience of labour.
I wanted to push.
There are hundreds of factors that affect the ‘birth outcome’ and I tried my best to control some of them. The medical professionals had advised me that I was fit and healthy and there was no real reason why I couldn’t attempt a normal delivery with my second child. I had hope yet!
At 40 weeks my baby had not yet arrived. The longer it ‘baked’, the less likely I would be able to deliver it naturally due to concerns about size (previous large baby versus me being not-so-large).
I tried everything I could to prevent having another Caesar: keeping my diet healthy and exercising regularly (to combat size) , forward sitting (to combat baby position), hands and knees positions to ensure I didn’t have another posterior baby, I paid for sessions of acupuncture and moxibustion therapy and I used acupressure points regularly at home.
I felt like I had a pretty good ‘tick list’ that was pointing me and my baby in the right direction.
There always has to be a plan B though right? (Or in this case plan ‘c’…)
My baby had a different idea entirely.
I was advised to book in for an elective C-section at 41 weeks (since I had tried everything prior to 40 weeks to bring my labour forward) due to there still being some real concerns regarding the size of me versus the size of my baby.
I hated this plan.
An elective C-section was not part of any of my plans. I felt angry and cheated again for not being able to ‘at least try’. I wanted my baby to choose their own birthday and not just be ‘scheduled in’. I also wanted my body to start the labour process by itself and I wanted to be allowed to give it a go.
I had to give myself a good ‘toughen up talk’ in order to face this reality and I reminded myself that the best outcome is ultimately a healthy mummy and a healthy baby.
Births often don’t go according to plan – and I just had to get used to a new plan.
What I never saw coming was some of the commentary from people in the lead up to the elective date. They clearly didn’t understand the emotional hurdles that came with accepting this as the way my baby would come into the world.
“You are a sucker for C-sections, aren’t you” said one friend .
“Are you too posh to push?” chuckled another.
Another still said, “My sister swears by C-sections. In all her post-birth photos she looks as calm as a Hindu cow.”
People are insensitive. But they also don’t seem to realise that some women really want a natural birth over a Caesar. The feelings of grief and being cheated and ‘failing’ at birth may not be universal – but they are common enough. Preparing for birth is incredibly emotional – and the word ‘elective’ describes the procedure and the fact that it is booked only. It does not mean that I want it.
All of the above people had their heads bitten off and, thanks to me, now have a much better understanding about elective c-sections and why they are not necessarily elected.
( I opened up quite the can of rant…)
At 40 weeks and 2 days, my body avoided the elective date by starting labour spontaneously.
We drove into hospital with regular strong contractions three minutes apart. I felt so grateful that my baby had chosen his/her (at that point we didn’t know what we were having) own birthday.
But 8 hours later with contractions coming thick and fast and my body feeling close to breaking point, the baby was still not descending.
She was not coming out the natural way. She was not descending just like her big brother.
I signed another form and my baby girl was born within the half an hour via C-section.
Healthy baby, healthy mummy.
All stitched up and sent off for cuddles and recovery.
What I really want to say about the C-word is that it is loaded for every mother.
For me, it is kind of a defeat. But it is a defeat that I have accepted after a long healing process.
The grief I have experienced for the natural birth I never experienced was definitely there – but it is now more ‘there’ than ‘here’ because I left it behind when I left hospital.
It has been two weeks and I am nearly back to normal again.
All of my fears about the C-word are not nearly as bad as I had thought now that I am on the other side of the procedure.
It hasn’t been all roses but it is still better than what I had pictured in my head when I was still pregnant.
The lifting restrictions have been managed with teaching my toddler to climb.
The no-driving rule has been (and is) tricky but it just means I ‘actually’ have to take a break (this is better for me because I am not the resting type).
The pain post-surgery is now behind me.
In short, things are looking up again.
I am ok with the c-word even though I really thought I wouldn’t be.
PS. We named our daughter Ninia Kowhai. (I knew I was having a yellow baby)
(Ninia (nee-nee-ya) Suffused in light, Kowhai – yellow)
It’s so nice to be able to look on the bright side again.
Love Katrina (Outie) X
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