Monday, May 4, 2015

Cesarean. It's not the end of the world, it's the beginning of your baby's life.

As I start this next post, here is my usual disclaimer: This is my view of my life and medical situation.  My choices are made on what has been best for me and mine.  I've consulted medical doctors and made decisions based on their information.  

Cesarean or C-section seems to be a hot subject.  It's gotten a bad rap and for a lot of women this is their birth option.  I'm hoping that I can help others to understand why I made my choice for my baby and me.  Please be understanding with someone's decisions, especially those sweet and hormonal moms out there trying to get their baby here safely.

When I gave birth to Ava it was a tricky situation.  She was a breech baby.   At 5 months, my midwife started preparing me for the idea of a cesarean birth.  

Why did she prepare me for so long?  She told me that sometimes when women are not prepared for the idea of a c-section they struggle with having one.  Depression can set in, they might be upset that their "birth plan" changed, and so on.  During my pregnancy with Ava, I also had low amniotic fluid.  This factor also put me on bed rest and made it harder for her to turn into position in the final days of pregnancy.   Together with my midwife, another OB, and myself we made a plan to have me go on bed rest to raise the fluid and then try and physically turn Ava before the delivery.  

Things not to do while pregnant and on bed rest:
  • Watch a baby being turned, a vaginal birth, or c-section via internet videos
  • Listen to other people's hellish personal accounts of everything that went wrong with their birth
  • Get opinions from too many people
I did all three.

My Dr. tried turning my strong willed baby a few times. It was painful and unsuccessful.  My amniotic fluid wasn't cushioning the baby enough, so she would turn back to the breech position.  There I was, prepped and headed into surgery for my first c-section.  I would be lying to say I wasn't nervous.  With all the planning in the world I still had a little anticipation anxiety for sure.  Ava came out safe and perfect in just a few minutes.  She was beautiful and everything I had waited for.  The c-section was just a footnote in her arrival.


There was pain after the surgery.  Looking back, I feel like it was more from trying to turn her than the actual surgery. My stomach muscles were bruised.  I had experienced major surgery.  There were staples, I couldn't cough without pain, walking was rough, I needed pain meds for days, and I couldn't pee without help.  Would I do it all again?  Yes.  This was my birth option, she had to come out and that was her exit.  
Multiple women I know have had a "C" and it never really stressed me out as far as a scar, or the pain factor.  I've honestly never been that girl that wanted to be in labor for hours on end. I don't know anyone that would.  I knew from the miracle of modern medicine that my scar would heal and my baby would be safe.  I also never associated having a c-section with being selfish or being less of a mother.  You're birth plan doesn't make you a mother, your actions and how you love your baby does.

After a couple days in the hospital, the bandages came off and I got my first look at my "new" stomach.  Post baby your stomach looks about 6 months pregnant and still full.  My incision was beautifully symmetrical and low on my belly.  They told me it would go down over time and shrink substantially.   Guess what?  They weren't lying.  By the following summer I was wearing a bikini and my scar was never visible to others.  The pain from surgery went away after a few weeks and I never looked back.

From my previous post on infertility, you might remember that it was a suggestion for me to try and have my babies somewhat close together.  So a year and a few months after having Ava, we became pregnant with Cohen.  Before and after he was conceived the top question I would get from everyone was "are you going to have a VBAC with your next one?"  

VBAC = Vaginal Birth After C-Section

Again, I carefully considered the pros and cons of a VBAC vs. a C-section:
  • A VBAC is a lot less expensive than a C-section
  • A VBAC can cause bladder problems and result in additional surgery
  • A C-section is major surgery and requires more downtime on your body
  • A C-Section can be a scheduled birth (which was a plus in my book!)
  • It had only been two years since my previous birth and the scar on my uterus might not be strong enough for a vaginal delivery
  • I had also been told that a second c-section isn't as painful as the first
Then I did the best thing for me and talked to a Dr. He was very receptive to all of my concerns and wanted to help me achieve the best and safest result for my baby and myself.  Tim, my Dr., and I went through every risk of each option and again I made the decision very early in Cohen's pregnancy to have a scheduled cesarean birth.  Even with the knowledge of my previous painful c-section, I figured that was it.  Decision made.  Then the questions of others poured in.
I'm opinionated, but a huge thing I have learned about motherhood is sometimes unsolicited advice, however thought of as helpful, can be hurtful to others.  I was really surprised about the concern I received about having a second c-section.  I'm using the word concern, but really it was more like a judgment.  Sometimes the questions hurt.  I felt like others doubted my choice, like I just made a snap decision without thinking.  I started feeling frustrated when other people would ask me about my birth plan, like I had to somehow defend it.  I only care about the safety of my baby and me.   Why does so-and-so care if I do it this way? 

Questions like "Why would you want to do that again?" "Why wouldn't you want to have a baby the real way?" "Isn't a c-section really bad on your body?" "You can't nurse if you have a c-section, right?  Surprisingly, this question came up a ton.

I think we are afraid of what we don't know.  Between the repeated questions and the hormones of pregnancy I was getting angrier by the minute.  I just never realized the lack of knowledge there was out there about C's.  Most of the mothers I've talked to that have had a c-section didn't find their birth to be that traumatic.  It was the people around them that made it seem that way. 

In a perfect world pregnancy wouldn't involve discomfort, weight gain, stretch marks, or morning sickness.  Birth would mean your body went right back to it's pre-pregnancy state, you could leave the hospital in your skinny jeans and not your maternity stretch pants, you would look gorgeous while pushing out that watermelon, and maybe somehow you could bypass 30 people seeing your lady parts in the process.  This is real life.  People have seen my lady parts and some days only my maternity pants fit. So just like my post-baby body, a birth plan isn't always perfect.

Cohen's big arrival came quickly.  I checked into Labor and delivery at 6 am.  The anesthesiologist gave me a spinal block for the surgery instead of an epidural.   With a c-section, you are not put completely out by the anesthesiologist.  I was numb, but could still feel pressure in my stomach.  Tim had geared up in his scrubs, the nurses prepped me, the doctors with scalpels in hand went to work, and within a few short minutes I could hear my sweet, fresh from heaven, baby boy crying.  He was perfect.  Tim rushed off with him to be checked and bathed.  Both times my husband has left with my baby and it can be rough.  The anesthesiologist distracted me while they closed me up.  This time instead of staples, they used glue and somehow made my incision site smaller than before.  

After the procedure I was taken to my room.  Within a few hours, I could sit up, touch up my hair and makeup (yes, I'm that girl), walk, and snuggle my baby.  I was a little sore, but the pain was manageable and I felt good.

Typically, you can stay at the hospital four nights with a cesarean.  I'm totally that person that enjoys my hospital staycation.  You have help post-surgery, you don't have to worry about food, and you get to relax and bond with your newest arrival.  It takes a town to raise a baby, well for me it takes a hospital staff to get me through the first few days.  Recovery on my second round was a breeze compared to the first.  I'm so thankful that I was able to have options for my birth and a supportive Dr. I think if we take a step back and look at the upside of any situation we will realize what's really important.

Being a mother doesn't always mean you gave birth to your baby, it means loving that sweet, perfect child more than yourself.  Whether a natural vaginal birth, an epidural vaginal birth, a c-section, foster care, or adoption... they are all still the children that our Heavenly Father chose for us.  We are the ones who kiss them better, watch them grow, give hugs, are there for the good and the bad.  We are their warriors, their advocates, their cheerleaders, their best friends, and sometimes their heroes.  Even in our toughest moments, we know that it is all worth it.  We are their mothers.  

Happy Mother's Day
Make it the best one yet.
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  1. Yes! Yes! Yes! You have perfectly articulated how I feel. I have had 5 children and all of them were c- sections. That's just the way it worked. It doesn't make me less of a mother, it's just how it had to happen to get my babies here safely. I'm cool with that!

    I absolutely love this!!

    1. Thanks so much Kristen! I love hearing feedback and congrats on your kiddos!


  2. Thank you for writing this post. I am pregnant with my first child, and am experiencing much of what you did with your first - no bed rest, but breech and low amniotic fluid. We aren't even attempting a turn, though I may try acupuncture. I just can't stand how everyone apologizes to me when they find out that I am probably going to have a c section - like it is the worst thing in the world! Posts like this are so helpful in reminding myself that a c-section isn't bad, it is what is necessary so that baby and I are safe.

    1. Hi gal! I'm so glad you enjoyed it! It's so hard having a ton of people do that to you. Good luck with your baby and I'm interested to know what happens. You can find me at in the future:)