Man, I love a good birth story. If people want to talk about their births, I’ll listen ALL. DAY. LONG. As a doula I enjoy each story, even those I’ve heard before. Did you know that as we move on in our lives, we actually remember MORE about the births than the week after they happened? Time reveals more to us, and what it will reveal is how you felt about your birth.
So I love to hear the stories, even the hard ones. But one thing I have a hard time dealing with is women who say, “I had a cesarean section. I don’t really have a birth story.” WHAT? I mean, WHAT?
What if I had a c-section? What if I chose it? What if I didn’t choose it but I can’t remember anything?
Answer: YOU STILL GAVE BIRTH.
I mean, really, people, birth is birth is birth. Home birth, hospital birth, vaginal birth, “natural” birth, birth with medication or surgical birth. You STILL grew a baby inside of you. You STILL loved and fretted and were a bit excited when it was time to meet your baby. You may not have pushed a baby out of your vagina and thereby had stitches in your lady parts, but you DID have your abdomen cut open, your internal organs lifted up and set to the side, a human removed from your uterus, and then stitched up again in TWO different places. You then had to proceed to care for this baby, to feed it, change it, and love it, but without the rush of endorphins that often comes with vaginal birth. That sounds like real birth story to me.
It’s not a contest, but let me be clear here: Cesarean Birth moms are heroes. I mean, freaking real live, walking among us, Wonder Women. They have often had to make very hard choices to arrive where they did, and often times with little or no notice.
If you pushed for three hours and that baby just wasn’t coming down, YOU STILL GAVE BIRTH. If you didn’t ever make it to the pushing stage, but the baby seemed to be less than thriving, YOU STILL GAVE BIRTH. If your baby had to spend time in the NICU because they were born a little early and needed help breathing, YOU STILL GAVE BIRTH. If you were rushed off to the OR and put under anesthesia, so you didn’t get to see your baby until he was hours old, YOU STILL GAVE BIRTH. If you chose a repeat Cesarean birth because it made more sense for your family than a trial of labor, YOU STILL GAVE BIRTH.
They’re walking all around us, these Wonder Women and some of them know they’re awesome, but some of them still worry. My body failed. I can’t give birth. Am I going to bond with my baby? Grandma got to meet the baby before I did. It breaks my heart to hear people talk this way. Don’t live in the shadows, or feel like your birth was less than anyone else’s because a surgeon helped you bring your baby into the world.
It's ok to be disappointed in the way your birth went (yes, even if you are ALSO over-the-moon happy that your baby is here—those feelings aren’t mutually exclusive), but don’t let HOW you gave birth overshadow THAT you EFFING GAVE BIRTH. Own the things your body *can* do. It can grow a person. It can feed your baby. It can hold your baby close when she cries, it has all the right smells and sounds to be the most comfortable and safe place in the world to your child. You are the perfect mom, no matter HOW your baby came into this world, and your story should be bold and beautiful.
If you are a Cesarean Birth Mom who is (still) struggling with birthing via cesarean, please check out the Fredericksburg chapter of the International Cesarean Awareness Network (ICAN). They currently have a Facebook Group and the leaders are working on hosting monthly meetings. They are a great informational and emotional support to moms who still feel like they need a bit of processing, or who would like more information as they prepare to head into birth after a Cesarean.
Own your story. Be bold. Be beautiful, and know that in this doula, you always have a safe and interested ear to listen.