To C or Not to C: Get this baby out of me! by Zoe Richmond

ZOE-WEB-MHLI had a C-section.  I actually had two C-sections.  It took a while to get the residue of shame off my voice when I made that statement.

Don’t get me wrong, I did not set out to have a C-section.  Quite the opposite.  I was looking forward to the birthing experience. Movies and TV shows make the experience to be excruciatingly dramatic.  Women become a character from some Exorcise-like scene.  I was determined to handle the birthing experience the way we handle everything else in our lives – cool, collected, prepared.  My husband did copious amounts of research in terms what items to pack for the hospital.  He was an Army man, so he saw it as an experience in packing a rucksack.  He agonized over the birthing playlist.   We had long conversations about every aspect of the birthing experience.  In my head, I started to set a timeline for how I would manage my labor, before the actual pushing.  I would not be one of those women who storms into the hospital “I am having a baby, right now!” simply to be turned away because “Girl, you are barely starting to dilate, you are not having a baby right now.  Go home.”

When the labor pains began, I had some thoughts in terms of what I would do.  Our neighborhood has a beautiful walking path and I pictured my husband walking down the path, holding hands, stopping to time the contractions.    I had a chandelier installed over our bathtub.  I would sit under my sparkly chandelier, take a relaxing bubble bath and contemplate my first meeting with the soon to arrive baby.  We would order a movie, make popcorn and watch some sort of rom-com or chick flick.   I bought a lava lamp that I was going to take to the hospital to remove some of the strict hospital sterility.

I had prepped my home and my mind for the birthing experience that would create a stronger familiar bond.  Then all those plans were cut short in month 8.  Zygote (which was the code name for my first boy in utero) was not in the right position.  He hadn’t turned; his head was laying comfortably by my right rib  (so that’s why my ribs were in a constant state of pain.)  I was set on natural birthing, so I tried as many holistic options as I could.  My physical therapist gave me some light yoga stretches to try to flip the baby around.  My acupuncturist did a special maneuver on my toes that I swore made Zygote start wiggling south, only to pop right back into place like one of those toy birds drinking water.  My doctor had some more extreme measure of turning the baby around, a external cephalic version.  We had to do the procedure at the hospital in case the placenta ruptured and we had to have an emergency C-section.  There was also a high probably that even if the baby turned safely, it could spin right back around to the place he has gotten used to.

My husband said it was my decision.  He knew how much I had romanticized natural child birth.  I was also very sacred about being cut open.  Every story I had ever heard about C-sections was a horrific cautionary tale.  Besides the woes in the OR, I was also freaked by the woes of a longer recuperation. We agonized about the decision for a week.  Finally he said.  “Would you take those odds to Vegas?”  No.  (Later we found that he had a knot in his umbilical cord, so we made the right decision.)

My hopes of the birthing story that I would some day tell my child was crushed.  I walked, well, actually, I was wheeled into the Operating Room on September 26, 2016.

And I think everyone has heard stories of horrible C-sections, massive loss of blood, panic, scared.  I had seen all the reports of health issues that are sometimes associated with children that are born through C-section.  There is something intrinsically odd about the procedure.

Instead of a crazy C-section story, we got exactly the opposite.  I got to have a labor experience that was more like a friendly get together, waiting for baby.   I had a good rapport with my doctor, so the whole procedure was the whole room laughing and me talking.  We started late as we waited for an assistant to arrive.  “Will that hurt the hospital’s on-time performance?” I asked.  It might have been the drugs, but I was being very witty.  Or maybe because of the drugs, I only thought I was being witty.   Did we want the curtain lowered so we could see what was going on?  “God, no, no no.”  We didn’t need to see that.  Did my husband want to cut the cord?  I tried to negotiate a discount if he did.  “I’m an IT guy, I did not go to medical school, pass.”   We still got a chance to have our music playing in the background, but the lava lamp had to stay home.

Recovering from the C-section was a lot easier than I thought.  And other than struggling for the first couple of days to make certain movements, I bounced back rather quickly.

But telling people about the medical processes was somewhat harder.  In the Hispanic community, C-sections are frowned upon.  I recall my Grandmother saying, a mother doesn’t love as much a child she doesn’t birth.  During the baby’s “Bienvenida,” a party hosted by my mother to “welcome baby,” I noticed her doing a lot of explaining about my C-section.

“The baby was breached and the doctors said it was too dangerous, she had to have a C-Section,” my mother would say. Then tried to create a redeeming quality by stating “But look, she is breast feeding!”

At first, I found myself being a little apologetic too.  I felt like I had cut a corner in motherhood.  I felt like I had cheated, well, maybe not cheated.  Let’s call it reading the cliff notes instead of reading the assigned novel.  But those feelings started to fade away once I realized that in a 9-month term I had done a lot of sacrifices and a lot of things right for Zygote/Timothy.   Sure, the labor is the climax of the baby story but it by no means defines your pregnancy.  It doesn’t define your “mommy-ness.”  If anything, having a C-section fits in more with our family’s personality.  We don’t go camping, we have an artificial lawn, we like appointments and routines and procedures.  I would have never been the type of person to home birth or tub birth.  I don’t knock people who do.  But it’s important to understand who you are, and what you are comfortable with during this very important part of the process.

I revisited the stories acquaintances had told me about their horrific C-sections and realized those had been unplanned. It made sense their experiences were so contradictory to mine.

I stopped feeling guilty and started extolling the virtues of a planned C-section.  It’s planned! You know what’s going to happen next.  They give you drugs, you don’t feel a thing!  You wouldn’t have a root canal with out a pain shot? Why should birthing hurt more than a root canal! Come on we aren’t driving horse and buggies anymore!

When I quickly found myself pregnant with my second son, or Project Segundo as he was called, my OBGYN asked, if I would want to try to have this one vaginally.

“You can try.” She said.

I said.  “I’ll take the C-section, thanks.”

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  1. One Response to “To C or Not to C: Get this baby out of me! by Zoe Richmond”

  2. For people to be demonizing c-section at this point in time can only be due to lack of knowledge. Not every pregnant woman will have a natural child birth. I think there should be solid awareness towards this.

    By Abigael Matt on Jul 7, 2016