Did you know that April is Cesarean Awareness Month? Neither did I. It seems like there’s a special month, week or day for everything. April 11 was National Pet Day and social media was flooded with photos of our furry friends. Hopefully, you remembered to post a photo of your brother(s) or sister(s) to Facebook on April 10 for National Siblings Day. National Coffee Day is September 29 (hopefully we can score some free joe). So many reasons to celebrate!
Except National Cesarean Awareness Month has not been much of a celebration. As a person who belongs to this crowd, it has only made me more aware of the stigma around c-section births. Reading through articles and blog posts from mothers about their experiences put a real damper on my mood. So many of them have negative interactions when talking about their birth stories. I didn’t use to understand the defensive voices used in articles such as, “My Uterus is Not For You to Judge.” After experiencing some of the judgmental reactions people have to my birth story, I understand those authors, but I refuse to let it take away from the beginning of my child’s life. I will always hold that moment close to my heart.
My son was born March 22 by c-section after trying to push out his giant body for one and a half hours. I was blissfully unaware that many people consider this method not a natural birth; that having a c-section makes me less of a mother, as if I didn’t experience the “real deal.” Trust me, I experienced everything that birth has to offer and no one can tell me otherwise. My water broke, I labored for hours, I pushed with all my might. I listened to the doctor as she advised me that the safest way to deliver my baby was not to force him through a birth canal too small for his body. I weighed the risks of the baby having shoulder dystocia versus me having major abdominal surgery. There was no choice. My baby would suffer greatly if his exit was obstructed. I would be the one to suffer in (and out) of the operating room. What mother would choose her comfort over her child’s?
When I made that decision, I gave up my dream of having my baby placed on my chest moments after he was delivered. Every time I see a photo of a mother with happy tears holding their fresh baby my heart aches knowing that I missed out on a moment I’ll never get back. I was so out of it during the operation, I didn’t even get to hold Leigh until an hour later in triage. But the most important thing was that I was holding a healthy baby. My baby. No operation, doctor or unfairly judgemental person can take away the feeling that I gave birth naturally to a perfect baby boy.
Whether the c-section is elective or not, no one has the right to judge a mother. Either way, giving birth (vaginal or c-section) is basically the hardest physical feat a woman will ever accomplish and it’s often compared to running a marathon. I know it’s the most difficult thing I will ever physically do.
It’s hard to read stories from the many c- section mothers about how they are judged as less of a woman. I never want that to happen to me. My mother-in-law once told me that no one can make me feel something I don’t want to feel. And I won’t let anyone tell me that the decisions I made during my child’s birth was the easy way out. Nothing about it was easy (before, during, and after). Four weeks later and I still feel abdominal pain. I will wear a seven inch scar below my belly button for the rest of my life, a badge I’m proud to have because it reminds me of the first time I put my child before myself. It’s also going to be a wicked cool scar one day soon!