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My firstborn turns 5 this month. (5! My baby!) That said, five years into motherhood and two babies later, I can admit this out loud without much care about what anyone else might think: I actually wished for a C-section. (I used to only share this with my closest confidants, but now, what the hell.)
I didn't opt for one outright or special-request it from my OB/GYN or anything, but for nine months leading up to the delivery of my first baby, I hoped I'd need a C-section just so I could avoid the watermelon-through-the-size-of-a-lemon scenario.
I was scared. Petrified. Beyond obsessive about how my baby was actually going to come out in the end. I feared motherhood in a way that confuses me to this day. Immature? Sure.
Do I stand by my feelings at the time? Yes. Because we all have to own our feelings, immature or not.
I ignorantly (and now in retrospect, stupidly) feared most everything involving new motherhood—pregnancy, the feeding, the non-sleeping, the inevitable crying. The Birthing. The birthing part was the worst fear of all. Turns out, fear of childbirth is a real thing. Google it. A "pathological fear of pregnancy and childbirth" is called tokophobia. (Yeah, I'm pretty sure I had it.)
"I just hope they have to cut me open to get the baby out," I'd say to family and friends. Some did not receive my comments well. Looking back, my fear, ignorance and immaturity mortify me. A C-section seemed to be a saving grace for freaks like me who were petrified about the inevitable. However, I honestly thought (and, still think) C-sections
have gotten a bad rap.
"It's not the real way to have a baby."
"You'll always have a scar."
True. True. True. But, I didn't care the first time around, I didn't care the second time around and I certainly don't care now that it's all said and done. The object of the birthing game is to get the baby out safely, effectively and with as little trauma as possible for all parties involved (doctors and surgeons included alongside mother and baby).
I considered myself "lucky" and thanked my busy little firstborn for getting all tangled up and prompting surgical intervention to physically get her into this world safely.
My first daughter required
a last-minute C-section (thanks to her busy little unborn body tangling the umbilical cord around her neck and fluctuating her heartbeat intermittently). After making it through the night in this distressed state, I remember my doctor acting especially delicate as she approached my hospital bed while I laid on my side so that my baby's heartbeat did not go into stress again, thanks to the umbilical cord situation): "Jill, how do you feel about doing a C-section, considering what's happening right now [and how long it's been happening]?" She was so gentle I almost yelled at her. "Do it!" I had no doubts. My husband nodded. "Sure. Do it," he said. (Come to think of it, maybe I was ready and willing because I'd been desensitized about surgery, given my husband's work.
In three words: I was relieved. Wish granted. (My wish was granted again with my second daughter about a year and half later, thanks to me being too chicken to face the risks of a VBAC just 16 months after my prior C-section.)
C-sections were my hope. C-sections were my saving grace. C-sections were my answer to overcoming irrational fear of vaginal childbirth as I headed into new motherhood. I considered myself "lucky" and thanked my busy little firstborn for getting all tangled up and prompting surgical intervention to physically get her into this world safely. (By now some of you definitely think I'm nuts.)
But just for a second, let's get crazy and toy with the pros of having a C-section:
What tired new mommy doesn't want to stay in the hospital for four days? What tired mommy doesn't want to lay in bed, be relaxed and ooey-gooey on painkillers and gawk at idiotic episodes of Jerry Springer with no judgment (except for that one nurse who came in, looked at me sideways and asked "You're watching Jerry Springer?" to which I responded with "No, I just woke up" and promptly turned the channel.) What tired new mommy doesn't want to say, "I'm sorry, I can't do laundry/make dinner/load the dishwasher/change our toddler's diaper/vacuum/drive to the grocery store/get up in the middle of the night and do a boatload of other things for weeks following because I just had a C-section and I need to heal properly"?
Funny how C-sections don't look all that bad when you put them on paper.
No, being cut open was not fun either time. The pulling, the stretching, the
straining, the process of healing. (And I'm told that I healed pretty quickly both times.) It was painful. It was
scary. It was weird. Yes, there are risks for mother and baby via C-section, but the benefits of having a healthy baby delivered via C-section in times of maternal stress outweigh the alternatives (in my mind, at least).
My point? Each of us has our own fears about pregnancy, childbirth and becoming a mother for the first time. So what if you secretly hope to have a C-section? So what if you're intimidated to try nursing? So what if you're scared that you won't know how to hold your baby?
Recognize your feelings and fears going into and through motherhood and think about what options might help you get over the bump.
Because yes, our feelings and fears are valid. Unless you're harming yourself or anyone else in an irreversible way, don't let anyone sway you into feeling guilty about wishing for or pursuing something that might make the transition into motherhood easier for you.
Because we can forget, scars also have the ability to give us wisdom and strength—C-section scars included. I promise, you can overcome it.