My son has eczema. I’ve spent most days since he was born feeling incredibly guilty and at fault for this. I blame myself for having children 15 months apart, for not eating good enough and probably what I beat myself up the most for is having two cesarean sections. I’m a crunchy mom, so that really hits hard. The people I surround myself with believe in the good of natural birth, and I do too. Before I had my daughter I remember thinking things like “why would that mother just give up and have a section? She’s such an idiot! Of course the doctor is going to say she has a baby that’s too big to birth!” . . . I would never say these things to a parent, but I definitely thought them. I was a young and stupid pregnant woman who totally believed if you just wanted natural childbirth enough you could have it.
My thoughts were incredibly offensive and I had no idea what I was setting myself up for. All these months of saying things like “well, she shouldn’t have listened to her doctor” and “doesn’t she know better??” led me to thinking that I was somehow better than these warriors who had been cut open for whatever reason and I hadn’t even experienced one contraction!
With my first child, I picked a crunchy midwife, and a crunchy hospital in a natural birth friendly area to have my baby. My husband was supportive, and stood by me for every contraction. He held my hand, he did squats with me, he helped me breath, and he told me how incredible I was and that I was the strongest person he’s ever seen. The other nurses and midwives and doctors all told us how wonderful he was for not only being there for the birth, but actively participating in it. I never ever felt alone. But I still had a cesarean. My husband didn’t fail me. I didn’t fail me. Things just happened, and we couldn’t do it. I am not a bad mother for that. I am not a failure, and I’m still strong. I’m still a warrior.
That day and that decision haunted me for over a year. I hated myself and my body (you know, for failing me) for months and months. I did everything right, and I still failed. My husband did everything right, and we still failed. I wanted my children close in age, so we tried again after careful consideration and lots of crying and feeling like a complete train wreck. He said to me “why should we let one stupid surgery stop us from having more children?” and we agreed that it was more important to us to have babies close in age then to have a VBAC. I tried and tried for that VBAC, and “failed”. I did all the right things again, I hired a doula . . . she was amazing and everything I needed. I had wonderful people to watch my daughter that I trusted completely. I refused any type of induction, I watched my weight, I spent over ten hours working through labor without pain meds . . . again. I thought I could do it, we KNEW we could do it. Eventually, my son’s heart rate dropped and we couldn’t get it back up, so I went in for an emergency section. He came out and needed immediate attention. He was going to die if I did not make that decision.
It completely changed my perspective of child birth. I stopped blaming myself for the battles I had lost, and commended myself for the battles I had won. I had two beautiful children, I was alive, and I could raise my babies with my husband. I wasted over a year of my life hating myself for something that I had no control over, and having my second child healed that for me. Having my second child showed me that my first child birth was still a miracle, and it wasn’t something I failed at. It ended with a beautiful daughter who has changed my life for the better in every way. These are things that people told me every day when I would cry and hate myself, but it finally really sank in after I had another baby, and the healing birth experience I so needed.
So hey, cesarean section mom. You’re a rock star. You are every bit as incredible and strong as any other type of mom. You are amazing, and you have nothing to be ashamed of. You have nothing to be ashamed of.
I’m sorry moms before me, who had cesarean sections. I’m the idiot. Not you.