giving birth

Stop Pitying C-Section Moms Because They Are Probably Happier Than You Think

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happy mom

We have discussed before how some of us are secretly happy we had a c-section. I cannot say I am one of those people as I did try for a VBAC the second time around but that was for the purpose of a (hopefully) faster recovery and not because I was so traumatized by my c-section. When a group of moms are together, the trading of birth stories is inevitable and after so many of these gatherings over my time as a parent, I can tell you that we need to stop pitying c-section moms. Not only is it usually not necessary, it also makes us feel like maybe we are wrong to not be devastated over the way we gave birth.

Laura June wrote on Jezebel about talking to a group of moms with small babies about their birth stories. She had a planned c-section due to her baby being breach:

Then it’s my turn—I haven’t offered, but people look over and I can see that I’m now expected to tell my story. I say—somewhat flippantly, for complicated emotional reasons—”Oh, my daughter was breech and I had a scheduled C-section.”

“I’m so sorry to hear that,” says one mother, who genuinely seems sad for me.

I nod in agreement. “Yeah, it was too bad it didn’t work out how we wanted. But it all turned out fine, I guess.”

I’m lying. We move on.

Laura goes on to describe the fact that it took her a while to come up with a better and more accurate response and can I say that I love what she said?

“Actually, it was fantastic,” I say now. “I slept well the night before, checked into the hospital, she was born healthy in about fifteen minutes, and I healed up in a few days.”

It’s all true: it was a wonderful experience. But it’s not what a lot of people expect (or maybe want) to hear about a C-section birth.

Bravo and Amen. As much as I wanted to experience a vaginal birth, I cannot say that either of my c-sections in and of themselves were a negative experience. As far as major surgery goes, they were surprisingly pleasant, actually. My first one had some other complications that clouded the day and really had nothing to do with the fact that I was having a c-section but the second one? The second one was pretty much what June described. We had a surgery scheduled and people lined up to watch our toddler for the next three days. The house was immaculate, freezer meals stocked, hospital bags packed and all laundry had been put away. We were ready. This is not to say that we couldn’t have been with a spontaneous birth but I do think knowing what was coming (and when) was a big lift off our shoulders. Our son was born quickly and without complication- I was in recovery less than an hour after we started (from spinal to being sewed up) and was nursing my son immediately. By the time we were rolled into our maternity room, I was asking for my make-up bag, some breakfast and anticipating a flood of visitors and photos. It was actually a very happy and easy experience for me. Yes, I will always be sad that I don’t know what it’s like to be in labor but I do know what it’s like to have an easy, painless and routine birth and for that, I am endlessly grateful.

However, I too had that stock response at first when people asked about how my babies were born. I just sort of went along with the trope that a c-section was something to wince at and pity. But you know what? That does expecting mothers no favors if they are privy to these exchanges. I want them all to know- a c-section does not have to be something to cluck and frown over. It’s just another way for a baby to be born and after watching that new Cinemax show The Knick I am so glad we live in a time where we do because 100 years ago, our babies may not have even made it. I won’t pity myself or any other mom who had a c-section with a healthy baby as the result because I don’t want to perpetuate the idea that c-sections are the lowest rung of child birthing outcomes. They are not. To tell you the truth, they can be pretty great. Seeing my happy, healthy kids is proof positive of that.

(Image: Mikhail Tchkheidze/Shutterstock)