I'm Still Learning To Cope With My Unplanned C-Section

My baby's first birthday is almost here. As any mom knows, there is so much action packed into a child's first year of life. But one moment you'll never forget as a mother is the time you gave birth.

A year later, that day is still very fresh in my mind. Everything turned out fine in the end! But I had an unplanned c-section, and some days, I'm still learning to cope with it. Sometimes moms fixate on their birth plan and lay it all out, step by step, while others go with the flow. I was somewhere in between these mindsets in the days leading up to our baby's arrival.  I knew my body wouldn't follow a birth plan, no matter how much time I put into writing one. But I also thought a plan would provide peace in the unknown. It didn't. It also didn't tell me how any of the events would go that day.

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My husband and I checked in to the hospital the night before my induction. The next morning, we got started bright and early. By 5 p.m., I was told I couldn't have the baby on my own, because there just wasn't room for her to dropdown. After 10-plus hours of laboring, after all the contractions that should have been productive, my baby still hadn't dropped at all. Despite having my water broken hours earlier, she wasn't showing any signs of distress, and neither was I, thank goodness — but I was a sobbing mess.

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I never wanted a c-section. I never thought it'd happen to me. My pregnancy had followed the textbooks flawlessly. Somehow, though, there I was being told very kindly by my OB that the operating room was being prepared for me. We moved in about 10 minutes later. It was a strange thing, knowing they were working on my insides but only feeling tugging and pressure. I could tell my doctor was cutting, but I couldn't feel any pain (Whew!). Each minute felt like an eternity to me — probably because I'd had very little time to process what was happening — but soon enough, my nurse shouted that my girl was here! and I waited for her tiny cry. It was the most beautiful sound I'd ever heard.

It's true what they say, when people tell you as soon as your baby's placed on your chest, everything else fades away. That is the case even after a c-section. All the pain, all the worry, everything negative disappears. In that moment, it was only me, my girl, and my husband, who had just made sure I hadn't broken his hand during the surgery. It was a stress I'd never known, but a stress that was quickly replaced by a peace I'd never felt before.

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Cephalopelvic Disproportion caused my c-section. CPD occurs when the baby's head is too large to fit through the mom's pelvis. Large babies, abnormal fetal positions, and a small or abnormally shaped pelvis are included in the list of causes of CPD. I fall into the small pelvis category, so all of my deliveries will be via c-section. I think that's the hardest part for me — knowing that I have no choice but to go under the knife every time (VBAC is an option for some, but not for me). It's what's best for my babies; their safety will always come first.

Also, I learned firsthand that few people will tell you how proud they are of the way you handled delivery, because you had to have a surgery. I hate to share that, but it was true in my experience. It's another one of the ways mothers can be overlooked after giving birth. If you're still reading by this point, you might be thinking, Get over it, Ashley. It's not a big deal; you had a healthy baby in the end. You are so right! That's the most important thing, and I am so grateful for it.

Regardless, I can't tell you the number of birth stories I've heard, where the mom has proudly said something along the lines of I didn't have to have a c-section, or I was so glad I didn't need a c-section. Moms don't just say these things for no reason. It can be scary. It is, after all, a major abdominal surgery.

You can compound that fear if it's happening to you and you're not mentally prepared for it. It really bothered me in the first few weeks post-delivery; I'd find myself in tears off and on. Then, one day, it was easier. Then I realized I'd gone weeks without thinking about it. Most days it doesn't even cross my mind now. However, there will probably be moments here and there, when I look at the white line on my abdomen and feel a pang in my chest. The line is neatly drawn. Faded, but still foreign. Still unwanted.

My doctor is one of the very best out there. I will always trust his judgment. He did a wonderful job monitoring my pregnancy and delivery, and I don't believe my baby or I was ever in any danger because we were under his care. Still, there are many risks to having a c-section. I just try not to think about them; there is no point in worrying, especially since it's medically necessary for me.

I'm also forever grateful for modern medicine. If it weren't for my c-section, we wouldn't have met our baby. I love her so much, I would elect to be cut open over and over to save her life. I'm sure other moms can relate; over 30 percent of us deliver via c-section. It's unfortunate this procedure has become so commonplace today, but in a way, it's a comfort to me. I know I'm not alone, that other moms have triumphed over a similar trauma, and that I will be okay, today when I look at my scar and later when the incision is once again fresh and tender — because my family has met another baby.

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