Throughout my pregnancy, I never considered the possibility that I would have a C-section. Who knows where I got this idea, but I just figured a C-section was what “other people had,” people with complications during pregnancy which I didn’t have. I only skimmed the chapters on C-section in my pregnancy books and we paid little to no attention to the C-section video in our prepared childbirth class.
On D-day, I reached 9 cm. in no time. My OB and nurses all commented on the remarkable rate of progress. But hours and hours passed and I could not get to full dilation. My OB felt “a section” was necessary, but in our stressed and exhausted state, everything that she said was a bit of a blur. Arrest of dilation, failure to progress, baby’s size, possible cervical swelling, etc. Since I was not keen on the idea of having a C-section, we waited a little while longer and even tried pushing, but to no avail. Finally, my OB scared the bejesus out of us by telling us that I could “bleed out” if we tried to have a vaginal delivery and we could be putting the baby at risk.
Needless to say, I had a C-section.
In the months following my son’s birth, I was riddled with guilt and filled with remorse over the C-section. I wish I had asked more questions. I wish I hadn’t let the OB pressure us into having the section. Since the baby wasn’t in distress, I felt like I should have been able to labor longer. Aren’t there plenty of birth stories in which the mothers were in labor for a ridiculously long time?
My reasons for not wanting the C-section were not superficial. It wasn’t just that I didn’t want a scar. Trust me, there are plenty of other things about my body that aren’t perfect so I wasn’t too focused on that. It was that I somehow felt robbed of the true childbirth experience. I felt that I missed out on a sort of rite of passage into motherhood by not suffering through a vaginal delivery. I wanted to prove to myself that I was strong enough to endure what many consider to be the worst pain, all for the sake of my child, but I never got that chance.
I was disappointed that the first few days postpartum were not as I had planned. I couldn’t jump up when the baby cried and pick him up the way I had expected to. I couldn’t walk him to sleep. I couldn’t nurse him without help. I felt like this interfered with my ability to bond with my baby in those early days.
For weeks following CJ’s birth, I questioned whether I really needed a C-section. After speaking with my OB and reading her postoperative report, I felt even more strongly that it was unnecessary. The baby was not in any distress and my OB herself admitted that she wanted me to have the baby “before her shift ended.” I wondered whether I would have been able to have a natural delivery if we had just waited and labored longer. I speculated that perhaps my OB was motivated to do the C-section for financial reasons and/or due to her own impatience. What irks me most is that her decision did not just affect this birth but likely my next as well.
It has been four months and I think I have finally come to terms with what happened. It’s easier to accept when I think about the possibility that something could have happened to the baby if we had attempted a regular delivery. It’s been helpful to talk to others who have also experienced these same feelings of remorse. In the end, I have a healthy baby boy and that is all that matters to me. It goes without saying that he has been worth it all… But I will definitely be switching OBs.
Photo Credit: kellysue.