Cesareans are not something to fear. They are a thing to be aware of, and a thing to educate one's self on. I for one have had two cesareans. I would say my second was much more relaxing than my first. When my son was born, he was the type of kid that did gymnastics within the womb. This not only caused an issue for him, but an issue for me as well. The doctor came in and informed me of her medical decision to slice me open. I cried, I pleaded, I still had the surgery.
During the operation, she told me everything that was happening, answered all my questions, and reassured me that I was doing well. I could still feel the pulling and tugging of my insides, despite the pain medication. My hospital stay was three days, and I was recovering quickly. The six weeks that followed were difficult. I could barely sleep, didn't want to eat, and worshiped my pain killers. I enjoyed my son and knew he was worth this wound.
A year later, my daughter Amelia was born. She was a planned c-section. I was informed that due to the fact that my kids were less than 18 months apart, that I would be having another planned surgery. A bit relieved I didn't have to push and a bit sad, I prepared for a night of sleep before the surgery. However, my body decided I didn't need that sleep and the contractions came at 10:00 pm. I sometimes wonder, since my body was going into natural labor could I have done a VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean)? I will never know, and I didn't press the issue.
Here I am today, a survivor of two c-sections and a woman who can look at her scar and wonder if there will be another wound some day. I want to hide it in the summer, I will admit. But it's apart of me and gives me character. My husband calls scars "hardcore," so I guess that's what I see when I see my battle scar. There are other women out there who have also experienced the Cesarean battle field, and like me they wave their banners high and love their children. Here are their stories.
12 Kristin Engle
For Kristin Engle, having a natural child birth and having everything about the birth be natural was important to her. She and her doctors discussed her birth plan, and wanted it to be a special event.
The day her daughter was born, she recalled having extreme pain, heavy contractions, and 'inconsistent cramping' as she calls it. Her cramping continued on and so she went to the hospital. While she was there she attempted to solider on through the pain, because being natural was still important to her at this point. To feel better she would get up and walk, sit on the bouncing ball, and sometimes made her way into the tub.
After hours of this pain, poor Engle gave into an epidural. The doctors had to break her water, which she was upset about. It had meconium in it, meconium is the earliest poop of a baby. This means an emergency was under way, because Engle could not progress any further. She felt unprepared and was nervous. In her story she says, "I cried. I was scared, sad, frustrated and unprepared, but I had no choice but to have surgery." Despite all of this, Engle had a lovely baby and a safe delivery. She still admits to having feels of confusion and regret, and she warns all mothers to educate yourself on vaginal and cesarean births.
11 K.K. Goldberg
Goldberg is a loving mother of twins. The day of her c-section, she was relieved her body even made it this far. She was afraid of having a miscarriage during the first trimester, because she has a high risk for infertility. For her a Cesarean was a walk in the park. In Goldberg's Huffington Post narrative she says, "This is fitting, because of all the things I struggled with to have any kind of birth — infertility, IVF, high-risk pregnancy — the C-section was relatively easy."
I am personally amazed with anyone who can call a Cesarean easy. I am just happy she got the twins of her dreams. When her doctor and Goldberg planned her c-section for after Christmas, she was relieved that she didn't have to make her body perform for natural childbirth. She was more excited about the c-section, than about having a positive pregnancy test, she recalls in her autobiography. Her excitement towards her c-section made it even easier to plan. Since it was scheduled, she could plan for things, like which music to play during her surgery. To the surprise of her surgeons, she brought in Hawaiian music that she and her husband both enjoyed on their honeymoon. I am happy to say both of her twins came into this world perfectly healthy and lovely.
10 Rachel Lau
Rachel Lau was like any mother, anxious to meet her new baby. A week before her due date, she began having horrible contractions and serious pain. She began to count the time between the contractions, and realized it was time to go to the hospital. She woke up her husband and they headed out the door, beginning their new adventure. The hospital checked to see how far Lau had progressed, she was only dilated 1 or 2 centimeters. This was not enough for them to take her into the hospital.
They instructed Lau to walk around the hospital, she still did not progress. She describes what happens, "When they checked me again I hadn't dilated any further, but the contractions started hurting more. Since I was strep B positive, they decided to admit me so they could start my IV antibiotics." Strep B positive means there is a type of bacteria within the digestive tract or reproductive areas of men and women, about a quarter of women are believed to carry this bacteria.
For this reason they admitted Lau, into the hospital. The gave her Pitocin, a drug that helps labor to begin. They soon asked Lau, if she would like an epidural and without hesitation she accepted it right away. Hours later, she had only dilated 3-4 centimeters. This was not enough, so the doctors decided to prepare her for a c-section. In her narrative, Lau describes not being emotionally prepared for a Cesarean, as it was not apart of her birthing class. She trusted her doctors, surrendered to the experience, and was confident with her husband at her side. She remembers the c-section happening so quickly, that there was not enough time for her husband to cut the cord. Lau was happy to announce that she had a healthy baby boy, and is she could plan ahead she would happily have another scheduled c-section.
9 Amanda Boyarshinov
Amanda Boyarshinov is a brave woman. She has experienced a vaginal birth with her first, an emergency c-section with her second, and a VBAC with her third. Her story is a testimony, to many women who wonder if a VBAC is possible. I am going to focus on her second birth story. One day as Boyarshinov, was in the park she noticed something in her body was not feeling well. Nervous, she phoned her husband and he immediately took her to the doctor's office.
In her personal story she says, "The trip to the hospital, the beeping of monitors, the failed induced labor, the meetings with the doctors—they all seemed to happen in a blur, and I was heartbroken. " She mentions here, that everything was a big blur. Even for myself, it all seems a blur for me that I had to have an emergency c-section. I relate to her story and know where she is coming from. It is heart breaking to have a doctor come in and tell you, they have to slice you open. Boyarshinov, mentions feeling like a failure as a woman, for not giving birth the "correct" way. I also felt like a failure, like my body didn't know how to perform properly. In the end, Boyarshinov survived the tears, endured the surgery and had a healthy 8.5 pound baby boy.
8 Andy Rose's Mother
Andy's mother, whom I will call Clara, had a horrible experience with her c-section. She found it to be the most traumatizing experience of her life, and felt as though bonding with her baby was next to nothing. She had a breech baby, and attempted to mentally prepare for this surgery. As someone who has gone through this surgery twice, I can tell you there really is no way to mentally prepare for a c-section, even when it's a planned one.
My second child was a planned c-section, and even though I knew what to expect, I did not want to be sliced open and feel the tugging and pulling that Clara describes. In Clara's story, she pasted out from the medicines she was taken, and woke up when her daughter was four hours old. Afraid she had missed out on bonding time, she nursed her there in the recovery room. A nurse came in and showed Clara, pictures of the big event that took place. She cried because she missed it all, she missed her baby's birth due to the drugs. She missed those first few new born hours, and she would never get them back. She was too traumatized from the surgery, to feel like a good mother. Clara even questioned whether or not a Cesarean was necessary for her and Andy, according to her other countries besides the USA deliver vaginal breech babies daily. Perhaps the USA is just more cautious in this area. Either way, Andy Rose was healthy, beautiful and arrived in this world safely.
Kate, is a mother and blogger, on her blog she recalls her planned c-section experience. She writes, "Quite obviously, everyone’s experience is different (sometimes great, sometimes awful), but my hope is that this could potentially put you at ease if you have a c-section scheduled in your future." I was touched that she wanted to put her audience's mind at ease, and was respectful and informative in doing so.
During her experience, Kate admits that she was not afraid at first for her surgery. For her, her surgery felt more like an extended doctor's visit. As the time nearing the operation drew nearer, her heart raced and she became nervous. With her husband, Justin, by her side she gained her confidence once more. While in the operating room, she recalls being completely numb and not completely tuned in because of all the drugs. As they were pulling her breech son, David, from her body she remembers the operating table shaking violently. Her husband and her joked that if they yanked any harder, she might have slipped under the operating curtain.
It took Kate several days, to realize that David, was her son because she did not see him physically leaving her body. In her account she recalls, "I would look down at my belly, which was now empty, and then look at David. I sort of had to make the connection myself. (I should add: at this point I feel totally connected to him. It was just the initial shock and not seeing him “exit”)." Her son was born a healthy baby boy, and as for Kate she recovered nicely.
6 Kristin Auger
Meet Kristin Auger, a mother who is like myself, like me her first child was an emergency c-section and her second was delivered by planned Cesarean. She, like other c-section experiencing mothers, questioned the usefulness of her body. She wondered if her body, was denied a rite of passage, because she did not deliver vaginally. Her first child, was delivered after 14 hours of intolerable pain.
In her c-section narrative she states that, "The Pitocin created fast, breathtakingly painful contractions with almost no rest time in between. The pain was nearly unbearable and dilation just wasn’t happening for me."
Auger found herself only dilated up to 4 centimeters. The doctors ordered for a c-section, and she was relieved in a way. She was more scared of all these unknown drugs being in her body and hurting the baby, than being put under the knife. After the surgery, she remembers feeling too weak to even hold the baby, and was happy that her husband was there to help out with it. For her second surgery, the doctor allowed her to make the medical decision of whether or not she wanted to VBAC or deliver by c-section. The same doctor, also informed her that it was likely another emergency c-section would have to be ordered. So she decided not to VBAC, and felt confident going into her next surgery.
In 2011, Barrie Hardymon gave birth to her beautiful son Hank. Her journey to get there was one she chose, but it was not easy. She attended a pregnancy yoga class, where she already felt like an odd duck. All these glowing faces, of home birthing mother's intimidated her. During that pregnancy yoga class, Hardymon asked another pregnant woman about her birth plan. This lady informed her she was going to have a "home birth," and Hardymon asked her "What about an epidural?" This mother was so offended by this question and scooted away. In her story, she wondered why there is such a battle between Cesarean and vaginal birth mothers.
There is so much bantering going on between these groups of women, she points out, and there is too much judgement. When Hardymon discovered that Hank was breech, she was relieved that she did not have to give birth naturally. Although, many women told her she was going to be a bad mother if she did not attempt a proper vaginal birth. Having a Cesarean does not make anyone less of a women, mother or person. The end goal in any labor situation, is to get a healthy baby out. Whether by vaginal delivery or by c-section, our goals as laboring women are the same. Let us be reminded to not banter or judge one another, as Hardymon so clearly states.
5 Rachel McFarland
Rachel McFarland, had an elective Cesarean which means it was a planned one. However, in her story she admits that she wanted to have a water birth, with next to no medical intervention. However, her daughter was breech, and the doctor's recommended a c-section. MacFarland said the hospital she attended had little to no experience with vaginal breech infants, but had plenty with breech cesarean children.
Without hesitation McFarland opted for the obvious and safest choice for her, which was the surgery. Her husband gowned up and scrubbed up, so he could witness this big event. McFarland was allowed to play music to calm herself down. She admits she was terrified of needles and did not notice the spinal. She goes on to say, that she was relieved the catheter was placed in post-spinal and that it did not hurt at all. For someone who was terrified of Cesareans, she came out like a champ with a beautiful baby to call her own. She told her story to be a witness to other mother's out there who fear the "dreaded section." It is not something to fear, but something to learn about.
4 Mandi Ehman
Mandi Ehman was about to have her third child. She was 38 weeks along when she was having the most intense back pains of her life. She thought it might be intense labor pain, so she called her husband and told him to hurry. Eventually, she called her mother to tell her the news, and during their phone discussion, she began to cry intensely at this pain. She decided she needed to go to the hospital right then and there. Ehman called the on call doctor and explained that she was having really intense pain. The doctor wasn't convinced, that it was time for her to come in, and told her to take a hot bath. Her husband ran her a bath and the pain decreased. Ehman heard of several experiments that supposedly help labor to begin, the one she decided to try was where you eat many cups of peanut butter. She ate 8 cups of peanut butter in hopes that labor would soon start.
After several more days of waiting, Ehman's back pain returned and was centered around the left side of her back. She had feared that a kidney infection was the cause of this pain. Her husband and her decided to go to the hospital. The drive to the hospital was about 30-35 minutes. When she arrived at the hospital, she told the nurses that she did not know if she was in labor or not. They took her back, and told her she was dilated to 4 centimeters. When they checked to feel for the baby's head, they told her that was not a head they were feeling. To make sure they were correct, they gave Ehman an ultrasound. Nothing on the screen was very clear.
The doctor's then told her that it was the baby's feet they were feeling. They took Ehman to a back room and had her lie down. A c-section was immediately ordered, because her baby was breech. Ehman wishes the curtain was removed during surgery, she thought it would have been cool to witness. She delivered a healthy baby girl named Parker, and she said that Parker was the only one of her three kids that she cried about on delivery day.
3 Amanda Bensabat
Amanda Bensabat had been excited about the birth of her child, the way a bride is for their wedding. She grew up watching her mother delivering babies, and she was intrigued by what a female's body was capable of. She was so excited, that she had her birth plan memorized down to every detail. We all know, that birth plans aren't always how life goes. And for Bensabat, her baby was a breech baby. Her doctor scheduled a c-section one week after they discovered the breech. She recalled her mother observing her depression during that week. She dreaded her c-section experience, and was depressed at what her body was doing to her.
In her narrative she explains, "My amniotic fluid levels were dangerously low, so low that my doctor contemplated doing a C-section right then. The specialist explained to me that the low fluid made the procedure too risky. I remember sobbing; sobbing because I was scared for my baby, for myself, and if I am being honest, in mourning of the birth I dreamed of."
Like some women, Bensabat, was terrified of hospitals and found them to be an unpleasant place. The day of her c-section, she cried during the epidural. No one seemed to know how to locate the proper place to poke her. She held back the tears, and tried to be brave during that hour of pain. Her husband came into the operating room where she laid, and he became her stronghold during that operation.
Bensabat felt all the tugging and pulling, like all cesarean mothers usually do. But she was relieved when she could see her little bundle of boy, and it was healing for her to know he was healthy. Cesareans can be scary for some of us, tolerable for some, but we go in knowing that the end goal is to see our joyous blessings that grant us the gift of motherhood. That is what Bensabat did, she overcame her c-section and became the very mother her son needed.
Vicki is a mother whose experience is close to my own. With her first child, she had an emergency c-section. Vicki developed a pregnancy related liver condition referred to as Intrahepatic Cholestasis or ICP. ICP decreases the flow of bile, the slowing down of bile means there will be a build up or clog in the blood stream. This causes women to itch their skin like crazy. As a result of ICP, Vicki had to undergo an emergency section with baby one. When baby two rolled around, she had a planned cesarean. This time she prepared for it mentally, by getting a good meal in the day before, getting enough rest and watching all her favorite television shows.
She went into the emergency room armed with her man and her favorite tunes. In her testimony she proclaims, "Yes many women have successful VBAC’s but he didn’t want the possibility of an emergency again. It was absolutely the right decision. I had a beautiful, calm birth, everything I’d hoped for with my first." For Vicki, her second birth is what she wanted her first one to be. Her experience is a testimony to all women, it's a reminder that even if we can't have the home birth of our dreams, by having a planned c-section we can take back control of our birth plans.
1 Carolyn Waldrop
For my final woman on this list, I wanted to share my own grandmother's experience with my mother. My mother was born in the 1950s, and they had a different way of approaching cesareans back then. Back then the doctors would use ether to knock cesarean bound mothers out with. Essentially, you would go to sleep and wake up hours later, super hazy to a new born baby.
This is what happened to my dear grandma, she was knocked out with ether and woke up to my mother being in her arms. It was later discovered that ether lowers the mother's heart rate, and thus doctors are not allowed to use ether for cesarean mothers anymore. Also back then, the c-section scar was vertical instead of horizontal. My grandma told me it took her about six months to feel completely healed. I am just glad that today, doctors slice horizontally so we can still wear our bikinis and hide those scars if we so desire.
Sources: fitpregnancy.com, huffingtonpost.com, babycenter.com, parenting.comraddestmom.com, thesmallthingsblog.com, todaysparent.com, npr.org, momtastic.comlifeyourway.net, neworleansmomsblog.com, honestmum.com