I Still Feel Cheated By My C-Sections

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Another healthy boy – I was elated! And totally devastated. To make matters worse, few people understood my profound disappointment. I dreaded being asked how my son’s birth went. “Everything go smoothly?” friends and strangers would ask. I considered lying but I’d answer truthfully, my disappointment obvious.

The typical response was a chipper and dismissive, “Well, you’ve got a healthy baby, and that’s all that matters.” But that wasn’t all that mattered to me. Of course my baby’s health was top priority – it’s the reason I consented to my c-sections – but I also wanted a vaginal birth. The two were not mutually exclusive, and I resented being told otherwise.

I hate c-sections. I hate lying on the cold operating-room table. I hate the sensation of being numb all over and throwing up afterwards from the anesthesia. I hate the pain right after the surgery, and the skin numbness and burning that I still feel now, six weeks later.  I hate my scar, and the ugly ridge of stomach above it. Mostly I hate that I was a passive participant in my sons’ births. I had envisioned delivering them into this world, naturally and with my husband by my side, and instead they were delivered to me by a team of strangers under bright lights and amidst beeping equipment.

We did the best we could to make my delivery experience my own. Neil Young played in the background for both (though my first son was almost born to Nickelback – now that would have been tragic!). My husband was by my side in scrubs, my midwives continued to oversee my care. But it wasn’t enough.

I don’t know if I will have a third child. And realistically, even if I do get pregnant again, my chances for a vaginal delivery decrease with each c-section. I’m not sure if trying for a VBAC2 (vaginal birth after two cesareans) would make me crazy or just determined. No one knows why I needed c-sections, and no one can predict what would happen next time. All we know is I don’t dilate. My cervix is as stubborn as I am.

I have friends who point out the benefits of not having a vaginal delivery, the benefits of not pushing a thing this big out of a space this small. One friend likes to joke that I have c-sections to preserve my sex life (as if). Another friend, upon hearing my VBAC plan, helpfully advised, “You’ve already got the scar… Save the vagina!”

But I feel cheated out of an experience that I wanted, left out of a sisterhood of motherhood. I wanted to push my babies out, and I’m upset that I’ve been denied that.  Even watching cheesy birth scenes in movies where the woman grunts and screams as her baby is delivered, then all sweaty and exhausted she laughs and holds her newborn, I get emotional. It seems like every other mother, fictional and real, is either able to do this thing or happy to avoid it. But not me.

I’ve gone over my deliveries countless times in my head, reliving the experience and trying to figure out what I could have done differently. Held off on the epidural? Said no to oxytocin? Waited one more hour? Or 10? I asked my midwife what would happen if I were a cavewoman birthing alone in my cave. Wouldn’t I have had no choice but to wait it out, let my baby come naturally?

She reminded me in no uncertain terms, “People died during childbirth.” Point taken. But while I’m grateful for medical assistance and my healthy babies, I’m still not over my c-sections.

(Photo: Martin Valigursky/Shutterstock)

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