Did you know that April is C-section awareness month? I was, as they say, “today years old” when I learned that information despite having had not one, but two Cesareans.
My oldest child was born 14 years ago this week, and I can still very vividly remember the feeling of dread after laboring all day only to be told that I’d need a Cesarean to deliver her. I’ll never understand why, but I’d been somehow conditioned to believe that not enduring the contractions and experiencing the physicality of a vaginal birth made me less of a woman. Less of a mother. Not as accomplished. As if I hadn’t done enough.
I had been induced and had an epidural. Despite the best efforts of the doctor to break my water, they were unable to and I never progressed past 2 cm dilation. It had been a long day already. I was young, tired, scared, and confused. And completely disappointed in myself that I hadn’t been able to do the thing that my body was literally designed to do.
As time has passed, I realize that I am every bit the woman and mother that my vaginal birth counterparts are. My teen still rolls her eyes and thinks she knows everything. My twins who were also born by Cesarean still bicker incessantly. I still drive them to and from a million extracurriculars and playdates. We still enjoy family time and vacations. Each day I wake up and parent my children, and not one time in the course of 14 years has my parenting ever taken a different turn just because I didn’t push my children out myself – except that I’m blessed to be able to jump on the trampoline with them without tinkling my pants! Yay C-sections!
There is trauma to our bodies with any of these methods. A C-section certainly isn’t the “easy way out” that the stigma implies. Your body has literally been sliced open and your organs moved aside to allow a team of doctor’s to remove your baby. You’re stitched and stapled back together again and despite having just gone through major surgery – while WIDE AWAKE – you’re still expected to be a mother to your infant. Your healing is put on the back burner because you need to feed and diaper your baby. (Shoutout to the husbands of Cesarean moms who have to jump right in!) Standing completely upright is difficult. The nurses will make you walk to halls. They’ll also come and palpate the stomach to help the uterus return to its normal size. None of these things are easy in any regard.
Regardless of your journey, celebrate it! Vaginal or c-section? It’s not a contest of which is more difficult. Having an epidural or going drug free? Both still warriors. Home birth or in a hospital. Champions. And while we’re at it: the brave women who experience pregnancy and don’t get to home with a baby. May they be the most heralded of us all.