Wednesday, December 9, 2015

If Practice Makes Perfect, I Might be a C-Section Expert



So, you probably know I've got five kids, right? 

Did you know I've had five c-sections??  

Maybe you didn't.  It's not in my blog bio, I've never written a "birth story," and I don't have a big ol' "I Survived Three + C-Sections" bumper sticker on the mini van.  I've dialogued with myself quite a bit as to why I haven't written about it much and I'm pretty sure the answer is that I'm afraid of being criticized and plugged into a statistic.  Even though I have made my peace with my c-sections, I still feel vulnerable when they're out in the open for conversation, or debate, or criticism...  

"Women's bodies are designed to give birth, not be cut open."  "Have you heard that most c-sections are unnecessary?"  "Most c-sections are selfish on the part of the mother."  "Did you know that moms and babies are __% more likely to experience complications or death with each successive c-section?"  

Yep, I have heard all of these.  But most of them not until after having my third child (and third c-section) and most of the decisions I made before that were in ignorance.  Maybe that's what's hard to admit and what I don't want to write about...    

Anyway, the fact is that I have had five c-sections and it is what it is.  It does no good for me to regret, and wonder, and what if, and woulda, coulda, shoulda, because my bed has been made (and it's a five-day-stay hospital bed, hehe...)  I have had five utterly un-complicated pregnancies.  I have five gorgeous children; and what gifts they are! They are no less precious to me, or to God, or to anyone for that matter, because they entered the world in a sterile, well-lit surgery, as opposed to any of a dozen other scenarios.  I'm grateful for the surgeries that gave them to me.  


(Aaron, 2006)
My first c-section was not scheduled, but was the only option presented to me after many, many hours of useless labor due to a failed induction.  My other four c-sections were elective and scheduled because I was told by my first doctor that I'd not likely be able to have a natural delivery for one reason or another.  I didn't look into it too closely, and by the time I realized that my first doctor might not have been entirely honest with me, it was too late.  


(Dominic, 2007)
So I probably made some decisions without doing my homework, and I'd certainly never want any other woman to do this same, but I'm not in a position to regret what I've done.  They're in the past and cannot be changed.  And I can say with my hand over the Bible all legal-style, that I have never chosen a c-section out of selfish motivation (like getting too big, or getting too "loose," or getting too tired to being pregnant.)  I've never chosen a c-section because it was the "easy way out;" whichever way you give birth your body is going to feel like you were hit by a bus and tossed hundred yards.  No birth is easy.


(Ruth, 2010)
But I sure am grateful for modern medicine and for my Catholic, pro-life doctor that evaluates women's bodies individually and doesn't automatically say three sections is the limit like most doctors nation-wide.  

And I'm grateful for this body that God has given me - because, if I do say so myself, this body rocks at c-sections :)  

I've joked with friends before that if c-sections needed a poster child, it would be me.   I mean, I have had a lot of practice, and I *might* go so far as to say, I'm good at it.  Or at least my body is.  My sections have always gone smoothly.  I've been totally awake, alert, and participatory.  My babies have been healthy.  Nursing has always gone well.  And my recovery. is. awesome.  


(Clare, 2012)

Never in a million years do I want you to think that I am recommending cesarean births over vaginal deliveries.  I am not.  But I can certainly speak honestly about my own experience with c-section deliveries, which I am grateful to say have been nothing less than amazing.  

Cesarean births are obviously not without their trials, though.  And they're certainly not all physical.  It's a monumental act of surrender to to be essentially not in control of what's happening to you.  During each surgery I've had the choice to bemoan my circumstances or to prayerfully transform them into an exercise in virtue.  I've often prayed during my c-sections reflecting on the fiat of Mary for strength.  I've said "yes" to bringing a new life into the world, and then must surrender myself and my baby entirely into the care of another.  I give myself entirely over to the medical professionals around me and trust that they have my well being at heart.  Total trust.  Total surrender.  Totally offering myself and my little one up to the care of another.  Sort of sounds like how I'm supposed to be with God every day, huh?  I surrender myself entirely - hand my very life over in complete faith - and though I've been poked, and prodded, wounded, and humbled, the result is overwhelming - a result maybe even greater than I could have accomplished on my own - the result of surrender and trust is new life.  

One of the biggest sacrifices a c-section mom may have to make is not holding her baby immediately after birth (though now it's becoming more common!  Yay!)  It's heart wrenching to hear your baby cry but not have held her yet.   It's so bittersweet to have your baby brought over to caress your cheek on the surgery table, but you're not able to reach out and draw him near.  I could waste my energies and emotions on how it's not fair and how much it hurts, or I can choose to embrace it as another of the sacrifices I offer in my circumstances.  I offer it up in union with all that Mary suffered when she could not hold her Son when she must have so desperately wanted.  And I offer it up for the little one I'm waiting to cuddle - her health, her sanctity, her everything.


(James, 2014)
I've experienced it all - the anticipation, worry, surrender, trust, intentional paralysis of the majority of my body with potentially life-altering consequences, not the least of which is -- I get a baby at the end of it!  I've done it five times, but I joke about being an expert, of course.  We're never experts when it comes to life and love!  Neither usually go as planned, do they?  Plus, it's a little prideful and quite frankly, ridiculous, to boast about being an expert at something that happens when you're 75 percent numb and immobile ;)  

I may not have achieved Expert Status yet, but I did want to write something that would encourage and maybe even help other c-section moms.  You've got this, mama!  You may be sacrificing your body for your baby in a way that's different from other birthing moms, but in one that's no less efficacious or rewarding <3  

34 comments:

  1. You've done a beautiful job <3 Surrender is one of the hardest things in the world.

    (Also, as an irrelevant aside, your hair in that first pic! I never knew it was that short! So cute! ;)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Awwww I love these birth pictures!! Beautiful!! I'm reading a lot of historical fiction lately, as you know, and there's so much tragedy with childbirth in the past. I'm so glad for c-sections, and the host of other life-saving medical interventions available. (Some of which I needed in my non-cesarean births). I'm glad you and your kids are here, and glad my kids and I are here, too. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Liz! Ditto - we're so glad you and your girls are here too and are so blessed to count you friends <3

      Delete
  3. I'm thinking of electing my next time around. Sadly natural birth scares me and the fear has not gotten better over the years. And after 4 miscarriages, dome that needed medical intervention to complete, I have little confidence in my bodies natural abilities but alot of comfort and trust with the ob/ldr staff who've taken care of me for the last 5 years. The idea of electing fills me with peace whereas trying natural birth again only gives me nightmares of more dead babies.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Prayers for your future pregnancies, Molly, and your future babies <3

      Delete
  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I had a planned c-section with my oldest and an induction with my three year old. The planned c-section was actually easier to recover from because of the tearing on my induction.

    My oldest was frank breech and we both could have died without a c section. While it's a beautiful, natural thing to have them the good old fashioned way, I'm incredibly grateful for the skill of modern medicine and that a badly positioned baby is no longer a death sentence.

    Fear mongering over c sections is awful. They shouldn't be entered into lightly, but thanks be to God we have an option that spades so many lives!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes! Those stubborn breech babies have a fighting chance now!
      I agree with the fear mongering, but I actually think I would have had a little *more* of it before my first. All I had read were books that actually said "1/3 of births are c-section, so don't be surprised if it happens" and so I think I did take it sort of lightly in the beginning. Then I wise up, and I don't take it lightly anymore :) Still so grateful though!

      Delete
  6. 4 c-sections here, with permission to have a fifth if we'd like in a few years. There's a lot I hate about the discussion surrounding c-sections, but perhaps I hate most the implication that most women go with c-sections because they are the 'easy way' or selfish way to have a kid. Jeez. I can't with that.
    My doctor is crazy secular, she too has been open to evaluating me after each child to determine whether or not we can safely have another. I love that, so much.
    I am so thankful for advances in the medical world that have allowed me to keep having all these babies via surgery. And I love your reflection on prayer. I always get really nervous right before, so I generally go to Confession, have a priest pray with me, and during the surgery I always hold a medal of an intercessory saint and pray hail Mary's. Sometimes outloud (which has to be a trip for my doc and nurses). My most recent baby was really big and pretty high, so it took them a bit longer than usual to get her out, I asked my husband to pray with me and just kept relying on the intercession of Mary! It was really beautiful.
    Thank you for your reflection, I think the experience of the c-section mama is important :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. hi Mary!
      So happy to hear your doctor is awesome! I think having a doc that treats me like an individual and can speak directly to my uterine health and scar tissue status, etc... has been the biggest blessing. I had this doctor before I even realized what a treasure he was!

      I remember that I had just watched a movie at St. Giuseppe Moscati before my fourth section (he was a doctor) and I prayed to him LIKE CRAZY during my spinal. I had only just learned about him, so I felt very brash asking for his intercession so boldly on the operating table ;) My mind was just blanking out on any other saints to call on, so perhaps it was meant to be!

      Thanks so much for sharing your experiences!

      Delete
  7. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Thank you so much for this beautifully written post. All three of my births were c-sections. The first two were not elective and the first could probably have been avoided if I knew more at the time. My second was because my son was frank breech and refused to move!

    My experience with c-sections, though, is opposite of yours. Two out of three were horrible (I really mean it, I would not wish those experiences on any woman). During my first, the epidural did not take like it should have, and the anesthesiologist thought I would be ok, but I could feel the whole c-section. Once my son was out, they gave me something that knocked me out and left me unable to hold my son or nurse him the rest of that day. My last left me with complications and I ended up on physical therapy. Now, I am pregnant again and the doctor is concerned that there are complications and those complications are a direct result of the c-sections I have had. While I feel I have come to peace with it all, as a woman who is now facing complications that carry with it mortality rates, I tend to agree with doctors when they do caution women about the number of c-sections they have. And I firmly believe that we, as women, need to be better educated in all things birth, so that we can advocate for ourselves, especially during the first pregnancy and birth.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Katie, thank you for sharing your experience. I know so many moms who have not had good cesarean experiences and it's such a shame. It must be hard not to recover quickly and be able to be care for your baby the way you long to :( You're in my prayers that this pregnancy and birth are without worry and complication <3

      Delete
  9. I have had 9 natural home births. My sweet sister-in-law has had 7 c-sections. Why things play out the way they do is often a great mystery. One thing I know is that mothers want the best for their babies and are willing to make a true gift of themselves to the point of the ultimate sacrifice for their babies. We all have to say that fiat, regardless of how our babies are entering this world. That fact should unite all mothers. And we shouldn't let lesser things divide us.

    Thank you for this lovely post.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes! There are too many beautiful, universal experiences of motherhood to be divided by the things that may have happened, or that we do, differently!
      Thanks for your comment, Daja!

      Delete
  10. I would never suggest that someone had a c section because it was easier. My first was a c section, related to her being breech (even though I tracked down a doctor who let me try going into labor), and the second was a vbac (hoping for several more of those!). I'd say one reason I wanted the vbac so badly was because the c section was so hard! I had a rough recovery, my daughter wouldn't nurse for six weeks, and so on. I couldn't handle the prospect of doing that again. And I have the utmost respect for women who find themselves, for one reason or another, obliged to continue having csections, and yet are able to be at peace about the risks involved, and the loss of control. You have a strong faith.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am so very impressed by moms with multiple VBACs! There are so many ways to grow families <3 <3 Thanks for stopping by and sharing your story, Phoebe!

      Delete
  11. You are a C- Section Superstar!! My C-S recovery was nothin, nada , zip like yours. I was a mess- but you? Awesome x 5!! I think it has a lot to do with what a strong and graceful woman you are to begin with. Great article!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And I think the same of you!! Your subsequent births have been so inspirational to me <3 <3 Seriously! You're amazing!

      Delete
  12. Love this, especially since my third cesarean is just around the corner. Solidarity <3 and encouraging to know your beautiful family has not been limited by your cesareans. That was my biggest fear after my first. I labored for more than two days and pushed for a little over 3 hours but ended up with a cesarean. I thought that was it. Our family would not be able to grow as naturally as God would have (both my husband and I always dreaming of having a large family). At the end of the day, His Good and Holy Will be done and yes to all the intentional Fiats and letting go we have to do and say. My last cesarean was during the hour of mercy and that was such a comfort. Healing was much more smooth and less painful than my first (which was pretty traumatic given the laboring and pushing and crazy). I have so much I'd like to share but my heart is continually hashing out all the feels. Hugs to you and thanks for the encouragement!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Still praying for you and your little one, dear Amanda!
      Don't feel obliged, but I'm here to chat or just to listen if you ever want a sympathetic ear <3

      Delete
  13. Thank you!!! C-sections x 3 for me (breech first baby). I could so relate to everything you wrote. I feel no sadness about my c sections. I'm just thankful for my three kids :).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Way to go! Thanks for sharing, Keely!

      Delete
  14. Yes ... c-section is definitely a complete and total surrender. Your arms are even spread out in the shape of a cross ...!

    I had an unexpected emergency c-section with my second twin (his brother was delivered vaginally), and while I'm sure it had something to do with the circumstances, I felt much more dependent on God during his birth.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow! You had a pregnancy that ended in both a vaginal *and* cesarean delivery and then you had twins to care for!!!! You're amazing!
      I imagine that emergency c-sections are very different from what I experienced, and I'm guessing the recovery might be as well! Thanks for chiming in here!

      Delete
  15. Thanks for this! I've had 3 c-sections, and we're hoping for more...so it's nice to read something positive. My experience has been very similar to yours- first baby was 42 weeks, big, labor was induced but didn't progress, etc. Second was overseas and I wasn't "allowed" to VBAC. 3rd was an elective c-section. I have had very easy pregnancies and relatively easy recoveries- the worst was the first actually, since the c-section followed days of labor, and I didn't know what I was in for. Thanks for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Jennifer! Yeah, I guess I do sort of feel like the first one was a blur, but once I knew what to expect, I went in with my game face on ;)
      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your experience!

      Delete
  16. Thank you for this! As a 6 time c-section Momma,it helps to hear stories of others who have had more than the "allowed" 2 or 3 c-sections. My first c-section was not planned. I tried vbac with the second baby but ended up with another c-section. Five years later, we welcomed baby #3. Five years after that, babies #4-6 were born within 3 years. Like you, my body is good at it. I heal quickly and my doctor said my scar tissue looks better than most people with one c-section.
    I would have loved to experience natural birth but it wasn't meant to be for me. I had years of guilt for not being able to deliver naturally. I am thankful my body was able to carry these precious babies. How they were born doesn't matter. God trusted us with these souls. He put the right people in our lives to make sure we were safe.
    Again, thank you for sharing. It really does help.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Theresa
    You truly have a beautiful soul, a glass half full gal, our mindset can really make a huge difference in how we view life.
    and along with you as poster girl for C-sections is my friend Angela, not sure if you read her blog, (http://www.threeplustwohomeschool.com/) but she is about to have 9th child and 8th c-section.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. amend that, her 9th C-section

      Delete
    2. Thanks for your kind words Erin! And thank you for sharing the blog link! I've enjoyed poking around at her site :)

      Delete
  18. Thanks Theresa for sharing- c-section X 5 for me too!

    ReplyDelete

Like the old song says, "comments are a girl's best friend." Or something like that... So... leave a comment! I love chatting here! Pretend you're on my back porch, kick the broken plastic sandbox toys aside, sip your iced coffee, or beer, or (__fill in the blank with your beverage of choice__) and let's talk about all the things, because back-porch blogging is what I do!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...