Although I was born via caesarean section in the ‘80s it always used seemed to be a bit of a taboo subject if a woman ever needed one.
I was certainly determined to have a vaginal birth. Television, films made vaginal births seem so magical. I wanted that rush of love that these women seemed to have; that is exactly how I imagined child-birth to be.
We were excited about meeting our new baby, from the moment we knew. I was nervous due to a previous miscarriage, but the birth was exciting and new. I had fully planned on having a baby via a “natural” delivery.
The Natural vs The Not-So
Rather than using vaginal birth or caesarean section, it can often be drummed into us that vaginal birth is “natural”. Well, yes it is, it is what women’s bodies are designed to do, except when they don’t. These remarks then leave mothers to feel as though they have failed because of not having a natural birth. I have seen and heard so many women being very much against medicalised births especially caesarean births, that they often forget these types are births are the only way mothers can have a healthy live baby. The natural side of birth is when you get to take your baby home after it.
In my head, I was determined to have a normal birth. I needed to know I could have this magical experience of labour and delivery with my first baby. My pregnancy ended in me having pre-eclampsia, dangerously high blood pressure and an induction. Which then became a “failure to progress”, 40 hours after the first pessary I had my first emergency caesarean. Our new baby was taken straight to special care due to her weight and temperature. I was in pain. Being wheeled back and forward, even having a day of bed rest; not being able to see or pick up my baby when I wanted was not how I imagined becoming a mother.
But she came home, my pain eventually left and she is growing into a fine young lady.
There were times when I felt embarrassed by the fact I hadn’t had the more natural way of having a baby, repeatedly told I chosen the “easy way out”. I hadn’t chosen, and it certainly wasn’t easy. Well, actually I guess it was an “easy option” not because I hadn’t pushed a baby into the world; but having the choice between causing her more distress and hurting her and getting her out the safest possible way, then yes having a caesarean at that time was the easy option. It used to feel like such a taboo to have this way of birth. I sometimes felt embarrassed to have had the operation.
The Next Baby
I fell pregnant again with my second baby, for a short while I thought and discussed trying a vaginal birth. I went back and forth a couple of times, but the closer I got to the dates with SPD becoming difficult to manage it was advised due to the “failure to progress” in my first labour a caesarean would be the better option. It turned out to be the very best option; we’re still unsure of what exactly happened, but there was an urgent need for a paediatrician team to arrive to help him. But he was born safe, he got to go home.
There was a relatively big gap between baby number two and number three. I really felt like I needed to have that magical birthing moment, desperate for this chance I requested and it was agreed that I could attempt this birth I had always wanted. I felt like I needed to prove to myself that I am a proper woman, a real mother. When I became desperately ill just over halfway through my pregnancy it was then I would have that chance once again taken from me. I even asked if I could still try; I was looked at as if I had lost my mind, I probably had. My devastation was short lived because I knew when this 1lb 5oz baby was born squeaking that going down the easy route once again was absolutely the very best option.
Of course, I went on to have caesarean four and five. I think losing baby number three after a month old; put so much into perspective for me. Having other birth options weren’t even in my thoughts; I, of course knew there were no other options anyway. All I knew was I wanted to be able to keep my new babies. I no longer felt sad, disappointed or embarrassed; there was no feeling of grief about not having the perfect birth. My perfect births gave me all of my babies.
We’re not failures, mothers who have to have intervention, whether it is an extra cut, or the top pain relief right down to a caesarean section. These routes are still seen as failures, as mothers being belittled by these delivery methods; some kind of snobbery maybe. These caesarean scars were the first ever windows our babies could see their new worlds. They are the mark of birth, the mark which for me made me a mother. I may not be able to see my scar very well now, but they connect all my children, to me and to each other, my favourite natural tattoo.
In our modern medicine, it is wonderful that there are these choices, and that now there is better choices, for even elective. But no matter how a baby is born, one thing is to never judge or belittle how it came into the world, as long as they make it into our world. No taboo, no embarrassment. Just beautiful new babies.