Why I Chose To Have An Elective C-Section
As a Canadian, Iâ€™ve always felt out of place in this country. In my heart, I feel like a New Yorker â€“ or as if I should be living in Los Angeles â€“ and often bemoan the fact I donâ€™t have an American passport. I just feel like Americans â€œgetâ€ me better. I like their work ethic, their pride in their country and the fact they do seem to enjoy other peopleâ€™s successes.
There is now further proof that I am more of an American gal, thanks to a recent statistic from the International Cesarean Awareness network, which says that â€œaround a third of U.S. pregnancies end with the operation.â€ Even in Britain, a quarter of babies come into the world via C-section. Apparently, C-sections are the â€œmost frequently performed major surgery in the United States.â€
Data published in the British journal BMC Public Health also shows some interesting statistics. In the early 80s, elective C-sections were mostly performed on women from lower socioeconomic classes. By the early 2000s, they found that upper-class women were the ones most likely to have scheduled C-sections.
Almost eight years ago, I had an elective C-section in Canada and wrote about it in my book Knocked Up and in a national newspaper in Canada that I wrote for at the time. To say it caused controversy is an understatement. To say that Canadians remember that I had a C-section to this day is a reality, as if I was the only person to ever even think about having one.
In Canada, both doctors and mothers frown upon elective C-sections. The smart mothers, in this country, do not talk about getting elective C-sections. That is, if they can find a doctor who will perform one. The first obstetrician I visited, and whom I asked for an elective C-section, told me to go to â€œBrazil.â€ I found another obstetrician, in a different province, who was understanding to my pleas and agreed to give me my elective C-section.
To say that Iâ€™m tired of arguing about my choice is also an understatement. If I could roll my eyes on paper, I would. But while people were only too willing to bash me publically about my decision, and still do, there was a whole other breed of women who privately sent me e-mails pleading for my doctorâ€™s name (no fewer than 50 emails arrived in my in-box). To this day, I still receive the occasional e-mail asking about my experience from women who want a C-section and can I please, please, please suggest a doctor who will perform one.
These women, like me, donâ€™t want a C-section because they are â€œtoo posh to push,â€ which is a phrase I think is totally ridiculous, totally overused and, quite frankly, totally wrong and misleading.
When you have a catheter next to your bed that’s filled with your own urine, and a doctor cutting layers of muscle, itâ€™s anything but too posh too push. Itâ€™s really quite disgusting.
Do you want to know why I chose to have an elective C-section? I can feed you lines, as I have in the past, like, â€œIâ€™m not good with surprisesâ€ and â€œI wanted my mother, who lived in a different city, to be there for the birth,â€ both of which are true.
But, whatâ€™s the truest of all, is that I was scared shitless to go through labor. I was so terrified that the very thought of labor pains and not knowing how long Iâ€™d be in pain for, or when it would start, stressed me out to the point I was having panic attacks and would sob uncontrollably. Once the doctor agreed to an elective C-section, the panic attacks went away. I felt calmer. Who could argue that a less stressed out mother isnâ€™t better for the baby growing inside?
In this day and age, where itâ€™s finally okay to admit that you suffer from mental illnesses like depression or bipolar (like Catherine Zeta Jones), why canâ€™t the medical community comprehend that there are just some women who canâ€™t deal with the thought of labor and consider it a real medical problem? Trust me when I say that just because you tell me that, â€œmillions of women do it every day!â€ it does not make me feel any better.
In Canada, where we are fortunate to have universal health care, it often comes down to a money issue. I can see this point. I had an anesthesiologist at my side the entire time, along with two nurses and a doctor. I was allowed to stay in the hospital for almost three days. Yes, other Canadians had to pay with their tax dollars â€“ but so did I. Would I have paid for this if that were allowed in Canada? Absolutely. And itâ€™s not because I am flush with money. Itâ€™s because, as I said, I was terrified.
Women who think Iâ€™m doing a disservice to my baby by having a C-section can â€“ if I can be so blunt?â€“ bite me. I do not remember the day I was born and neither do they and neither does my daughter. My daughter is thriving. She is smart as a whip, got into the National Ballet School and one of the best private schools in Canada.
I do not judge mothers who choose to have babies at home with no medical assistance. I do not judge mothers who insist you Purel your hands every time you walk in the door. I just smile and move on. I had an elective C-section. Smile and move on. Also, Iâ€™m not a martyr. I do not believe that just because you went through 48 hours of labor that you are a better mother than I am. You are not.
I do not regret having an elective C-section. When I say I really do believe I had a mental medical problem when it came to giving birth â€œnaturally,â€ I believe I did. I believe other women do as well. I believe doctors should be more understanding.
Of course there will always be women out there who choose to have elective C-sections because they think itâ€™s easier. Itâ€™s not, as they will find out. Unlike most of my friends who could work out within a week after giving birth, I could barely walk for a month. Could I hold my baby, like any other new mother, though? Absolutely.
Instead of coming down hard on motherâ€™s who choose or want an elective C-section, people should not be asking, â€œAre you too posh too push?â€ They should be asking us about our mental state and trust us that we know ourselves better than anyone.
Also, I didnâ€™t breastfeed. But thatâ€™s another storyâ€¦.