Watching birthing videos, and hearing about all these vaginal births fills me with so much love and hope. However, I can’t help but feel hurt and bitterness towards my cesarean...
April is Cesarean Awareness month, and every motherhood page I follow has been acknowledging C-sections as equal of a birthing experience as natural or vaginal birth. In my head I’m thinking, 'Damn right, they are!'. But, that’s completely opposite of what I feel, and the broken heart for the natural birth I wanted shows. My first born, Elias Foxx, was my fighter babe, delivered via cesarean.
3 weeks and 5 days was how far along I was when I visited the clinic. It was also when I found out my blood type is Rh negative. What? What does that even mean?? So, the Rh factor is a type of protein on the surface of red blood cells. If you have the Rh factor, you are Rh-positive. If you do not have the Rh factor, you are Rh-negative. When you are Rh-negative, you may develop antibodies to an Rh-positive baby. If a small amount of the baby’s blood mixes with your blood, (which often happens), your body may respond as if it were allergic to the baby. Your body may make antibodies to the Rh antigens in the baby’s blood, in which then you become sensitized, and your antibodies can cross the placenta and attack your baby’s blood... resulting in serious illness, brain damage, or even death in the fetus or newborn. Scary thing to first hear as a new mother, right? So schedules for Rhlg (Rhogam) injections throughout my pregnancy were made aside from the usual pokes and pricks.
Around week 16 for blood samples, I learn I am a carrier for fragile-x. What?? Onto lesson number 2... Fragile X syndrome is a genetic condition that causes intellectual disability, behavioral and learning challenges and various physical characteristics. (I will provide links so you can find out more information about being Rh-negative and about fragile X syndrome. Also, I'll have a partial video of my C-section.) Of course, fear is planted. We get an amniocentesis (the scariest thing aside the cesarean itself), only to find out our baby has all 46 chromosomes, not even a carrier, and a boy. I was tired of feeling like a lab rat and at that point of my pregnancy, all I wanted was a natural birth, the way our womanly bodies were created for. From week 34 through the last 39, there was no change in Elias’ position, and my OBGYN scheduled me for the cesarean.
I couldn’t help but feel helpless, and a sense of guilt, as if I was not good enough and that my body was failing to perform up to it’s God-created potential. I was beginning to enter a dark place. I was angry with myself, feeling undeserving to my child, and I constantly thought my OBGYN just wanted another (c-section) so she could go on with her schedule of other deliveries (mostly cesarean at that hospital as so I’ve discovered). It was towards the end of my pregnancy that I finally sat myself down with my journal and just prayed for peace with having the cesarean, and that if there was the possibility of having a natural, vaginal birth that God would make the way of having that happen.
From the breech positioning to the Rh-negative scares, and being a carrier for fragile-x, all I wanted in the end was my baby boy in my arms. Unlike other mothers, I did not struggle with gestational diabetes, my uterus was not abnormal, nor was my baby too large to deliver vaginally. During my cesarean, actually, I was having contractions that ended up prolonging the procedure, and his head got stuck in my uterus through the incision! So they had to cut more to get him out. (You'll see where one of the nurses ask my sister to stop filming.) If only I had planned out this pregnancy and found the support I needed. Perhaps I could have had the birth the way I believe women were so divinely created to... But, the cesarean happened... and my son is here alive and well.
Don't get me wrong… I'm more than grateful for the wellbeing of my son. Nor am I shaming those who choose to have a cesarean out of convenience. But, the fact my son was not born the way I dreamt, naturally, is still a hard pill to swallow. When my husband and I decide on the time for our family to grow, we will take the initiative to do our research, look for a doctor who is willing to go for a VBAC as long as I am eligible, and that the hospital or birthing center doesn’t have a high cesarean percentage.
For you mothers who look at your scars everyday... I am with you. When you see those beautiful birthing videos and photos or crowning and prolonged umbilical cord cutting... I am with you. When you hear about other mother's water births and how many hours of labor they were in... I am with you. When you think of how you were not the first to hold your baby... I am with you. When the memory of being alone in that OR while your baby was taken off... I am with you. I pray that the voids in our hearts our filled with love, hope, and peace. I pray this will bring unity for the mothers out there with this same hidden hurt that we realize, “Hey, I am still upset about this, and that’s OK.”
One day I'll heal, I'm sure. But until then, I have every right to mourn over the reoccurring moments of grief not having the birth I wanted for my son. So do you.