Some time ago I was talking to a mother whose birth hadn’t gone as planned. She said that she knew that she needed a cesarean, but that she also knew she had missed out on a “very cool experience in life.” I think it is definitely possible to accept the need for a cesarean, while still honoring/recognizing the profound experience of giving birth vaginally. I also think it is possible to acknowledge the magnitude of becoming a mother, regardless of the what happened with the birth–having a baby is a big deal no matter what! Though I’m obviously a huge advocate of natural childbirth, I truly believe that cesareans are often an act of personal courage. I also think that all births are rites of passage and are profound transformations and initiations into motherhood. So, though while some women may have missed out on the sense of personal power that often accompanies a natural birth, they’ve all taken significant and meaningful journeys of their own.
Then, I came across a poem by an anonymous writer in the book Open Season. It reminded me in part of my thoughts above.
For Those of Us Who “Failed”
And what about us who “failed”?
The ones whose birthings were not the finest hour
of their womanhood?
The ones who did not defy all medical intervention?
Those who have no heroic defiant story to tell?
Where do we fit in?
We can’t all be the ones that change the system,
but are we less a part of the sisterhood of those
who have given birth?
To those that have shone at the hours of birth
remember those of us who have not.
Will we, like the Vietnam vets, be recognized
too little and too late?
We experienced giving birth too.
Less nobly than some maybe,
but a noble experience nonetheless.
You say you honor choices.
Can you really honor mine?
I will always honor the process which
brought forth flesh of my flesh.
I honor your births too.
Can you ever honor my experience, or will I
forever be a part of your statistics on
the way things shouldn’t be?
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I had 3 vaginal deliveries and none of them went as planned. I think birth very rarely goes exactly as you hope for in your birth plan. IF I were to have more children (which I’m not) I would love a home birth….so I could relax and not worry about the hour drive to the hospital and the stress of being sent home just to return shortly later (that drive is a killer in hard labor). Still, I have 3 very different birth stories and I hope to pass each along to my children.
This is wonderful, thank you for sharing it. I had to have a c-section with my daughter as she was breech. I had hoped and planned for a waterbirth and did every thing under the sun to get her to turn, but alas she did not. And about two weeks before my scheduled c-section I finally came to realize that she was going to be born the way she was meant to be. It may not have been how I would have liked it and wasn’t in my original “plans” but it was how she was to be born, and as long as she was safe and healthy what else really matters.
Of course I am due to have my second baby in about 3 months and I am working towards a VBAC with this little one. Because I would like to have that exp. of having a vaginal, natural birth and hope that I get the chance. But no matter what happens in the end if I have a healthy baby to hold what else can I really ask for. 🙂
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I had a c-section with my oldest (her head was too big and my pelvic bone too narrow) and had people say that they were sorry that I had to go through that. I told them that whatever it took to get her out safely so that I could spend her whole life getting to know the little girl that she is meant to be was fine with me. It was actually a blessing in disguise, I was pregnant with my second and came down with pneumonia and Influenza A the weekend before she was scheduled to be a repeat c-section. We were in a small Oklahoma town without a nursery or a NICU. My body went into labor on Friday and the doctors spent hours on the phone with OU Children’s Hospital discussing air-evac options for her to make sure that if she was delivered and was flu positive that she would be able to recover. Her head was just as big as her sister’s and my pelvic bone hadn’t grown in the 19 months so she was stuck too. I spent Friday, Saturday (my fever broke Saturday morning), Sunday, and Monday in labor hooked up to monitors waiting for the 48 hours of fever free time to deliver her so that she wouldn’t be rushed 3 hours away. Monday afternoon my husband and I scrubbed up every inch of our bodies to make sure that we didn’t have the virus anywhere on us and then went off to have our baby girl. The Dr. said that if I would have had a vaginal birth (been able to) that she would have been born before it was safe for her and I wouldn’t have gotten to see her for at least two or three days. C-sections are not always the bad that other moms view them as. 🙂 Thank you for sharing this!
I’m glad it spoke to you! Sounds like you went through quite the birth journey yourself!
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