The Thing About C-Sections

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I tried to have a natural birth. I really, really did. I gave it the old college try, 200% of myself, complete and utter dedication. I was scared shitless about the idea of having a c-section and wanted to avoid it at all costs. How could I spend 6 weeks recovering from major abdominal surgery with a newborn to care for and work to go back to?

When my doctor gave me the option of inducing at the start of my 39th week, because my pregnancy had become more or less intolerable, I said no, it’s OK, I’ll keep on suffering – because there was an increase to 50% chance of c-section if I induced. But here’s the thing. When you go into the hospital to have a baby you sign a whole bunch of waivers & consent forms at registration, and every single visit thereafter (if you preregister, like I did). These forms basically say the hospital has the right to do a c-section without your additional consent if your life or your baby’s life is in danger. Whether you want it or not. Whether you are a crunchy granola chick or too posh to push. Doesn’t matter. They call the shots in life or death.

And this is what bugs the piss out of me about some mothers who complain that they had c-sections against their will. For one thing, they signed those forms, because they chose to have their baby in a hospital. I am a huge proponent of hospital births, by the by. I know that many people deliver at home safely, but what a risk that seems to me!

But the unfortunate thing is if you go the hospital route you may just have some or all of your birth plan go out the window (mine was mostly adhered to, thankfully) and you may end up with a c-section. Period. I know that there are exceptions, and there are some people who were genuinely forced against their will, in some manner…somewhere, at some time. I don’t believe this is the case in the majority of moms who feel maligned because they were given c-sections.

I’ve read mamas complaining on Facebook that even though their baby was in fetal distress, they were given a c-section against their will because they felt that if they were given a little more time, they could have made it happen vaginally. But the doctors and nurses are bound to protect your unborn baby’s life as if he was a full-grown person living and breathing and walking and talking amongst the rest of us. Why? Because, quite frankly, you carried to term. Abortion isn’t legal past the second trimester, and they are going to take every measure to save the baby’s life, even if it means carting your protesting ass off to surgery while you scream “no” at the top of your lungs.

Frankly, I think this is not a bad thing. Mom and baby are often both saved by emergency c-section. In my case, my c-section wasn’t an emergency. It was leisurely. My son’s head was just too big and got stuck in my too-small pelvis. I pushed for almost two hours, after laboring for 7. The poor thing’s head was worse than a Conehead from SNL by the time he was pulled from my belly surgically. There was no choice. I was just not going to deliver that baby vaginally, it was a simple matter of incompatible anatomy.

I’m very grateful the surgeon who delivered my son, who was not my regular OB/GYN (though he is known to be a gifted surgeon), was a master at his craft. You can’t see the scar at all – and you couldn’t see it at all from a few weeks out. The recovery was so much easier than anticipated. I was up and caring for my son by the second night. None of the nurses could believe how well I was recovering. So I got a blessing there, a little break from the 6 weeks of bedrest I anticipated, and feared.

Because, I really did try my heart out to have my son vaginally. These things happen, and I wasn’t about to blame the doctors and nurses. It was nobody’s fault. Knowing from my birth plan that I was planning to breastfeed, the staff at the hospital rushed me through post-op and had me back with my son and nursing him within 45 minutes of delivery. (I know not every hospital is that way but if they could do it, so can others – just push for it.)

I hope that more mothers who must have c-sections they didn’t plan for find peace with the whole experience. C-section saves lives, and sometimes c-section is just the only option. Yes, it comes with risk, as all surgeries do. Trust the medical staff to know when those risks are outweighed by the inherent danger to you or your baby of trying to do it naturally if either one of you is in distress, or if for some reason only God knows, your child simply was not designed to be birthed through your body.

2 thoughts on “The Thing About C-Sections”

  1. Hi Dina, I found you through Kim. I agree with you on the C-sect, my experience being like yours. I was in labor 24 hours and also pushed for 2 1/2 hours. Same thing, baby to big for me to push out and baby was showing signs of distress. It was hard not to push. I did not fair as well afterwards. The surgeon was great since I had high risk specialist with both my sons. I just don’t do well surgically. My daughter was easy. Adopted at 6 weeks. 🙂 You have a beautiful baby. I enjoy 3 grands now.
    http://www.garden4mylord.com

    1. Hi Susan, sorry for the belated reply! Very nice to ‘meet’ you. 🙂

      24 hours is such a long time to labor (my mom labored 21 with me, I’ve always felt badly for her), you poor thing! I hope it wasn’t too painful the whole time.

      I guess I was fortunate in that my labor was relatively fast – 7 hours before pushing began. But, it was augmented. I arrived at the hospital with water broken and 5cm dilated but NO contractions. To this day I have no idea what a contraction really feels like. I think, based on one really bad back cramp I got when the first epidural (I had 2) started to wear off, that I actually would have back labored through the whole experience. :\ The doctor decided that since I was in labor and had to be bedridden because of the water breaking and the dilation, they’d go ahead and induce contractions – but I got the epidural first. Very odd, almost surreal birthing experience…I had planned an epidural but not quite the way it happened! I’ve read that a normal dose of oxytocin/pitocin during normal vaginal birth is at 6 – by the time I was wheeled into surgery, I was being given a dose of 20. The contractions were off the charts on the monitor for most of the labor, so I am very thankful for that epidural those ~9 hours before surgery…

      At the hospital where I had my son, they tend to cut off pushing at around 2 hours. They will let you push longer if they are sure you can manage it, but in most cases the doctors feel if you were going to be able to have the baby vaginally, it would happen with less than 2 hours pushing. It was close to 2 hours for me before the doctor gave up. 2 1/2 is a very long time to push – you’re a trooper.

      Some militant natural birth proponents make me feel like I just called it quits instead of pushing through it because they feel a baby’s head should always be able to fit. Perhaps it’s because of the weird labor I had, the way my water broke and I dilated before any contractions came, but my pelvis just didn’t open up enough, or I may actually just be built really small there!

      I would have been so scared had I experienced what you experienced with the baby being in distress. 😦 I am very glad that all went well, even though you had a rougher recovery.

      I appreciate the compliment about my son! 🙂

      I’m adding your blog to my blogroll & will visit when I can!

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