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My c-section confession
I never wanted to even try “natural” childbirth. There, I said it. In fact, I was thrilled when my doctor decided that we should schedule a c-section. My “birthing plan” up to that point had consisted of doing absolutely NOTHING to encourage natural childbirth. I flat out refused to take classes and I told my doctor from the start that I would prefer a c-section.
Do I feel like less of a woman? Nope. Do I feel cheated of the experience of natural childbirth? Nope. Do I have any guilt about it? Nope.
I’m not necessarily afraid of pain. In fact, I have a ruptured disk in my lower back that was pressing directly on my sciatic nerve for about 6 months in 2002. The pain was horrifying. I spent weeks in bed unable to walk any further than the bathroom where I couldn’t even stand long enough to brush my teeth. I had to grab my toothbrush and toothpaste, and then lie down on the floor on my left side while I brushed. But I refused to have surgery on my back, even after a chiropractor I saw after exhausting every other conventional method of treatment said to me, “I’ve never said this to a patient in 30 years, but you need to go have surgery.” But I didn’t want to “give in.” I’d heard horror stories of surgery actually causing other problems and not solving the back pain, anyway. No thanks.
And seriously, if you want to give birth at home with as little medical intervention as possible, more power to you, woman. I totally applaud and support your right to decide how you give birth. I wanted the same right to decide. I do know that c-sections are major surgery as opposed to the totally natural process of childbirth. Dying in childbirth is totally a natural process, too, but that’s not something I was interested in experiencing, either. (If you honestly think medical intervention in childbirth is a bad thing, read a really detailed account of Henry the VIII’s wife, Jane Seymour’s, experience. She was in labor for something like 4 days and then after managing to somehow survive that ordeal without bleeding to death, she died several days later, probably of infection and a retained placenta. No thanks.)
There’s very little data about women over 50 giving birth (duh), but what little there is suggests that older women have no more difficulty with carrying a child to term than younger women, overall health being equal. And older women make it through labor with no more complications than younger women. However, older women end up having more unplanned or emergency c-sections after making it through labor. So, 24 to 36 hours of labor only to end up with a c-section anyway? Just so I’d feel like a real woman? Ummmmm, no thanks.
To me, the biggest advantage of a scheduled c-section was knowing my due date. The last month of pregnancy was awful. I had an easy pregnancy, and it still sucked. I couldn’t sleep, I had some weird itching problem from sunset to sunrise every day that kept me from sleeping, I was bloated and miserable, and my sciatica kicked back in so I could barely walk. I begged my doctor to move up my delivery date by one week, because I was so miserable (she wouldn’t). I can’t imagine if I had made it to 40 weeks (my c-section was scheduled at 39 weeks), and then still had to sit around and wait. I would have flipped out. Seriously. I was really close to the edge at 39 weeks, trapped in my apartment up 4 flights of stairs all day and all night. Another 3 weeks of it? I would have been literally insane.
As for the recovery time? I know, everyone says it’s harder to recover from a c-section than a natural childbirth. I can’t comment on that personally, but I can say at 51, I was out of bed 6 hours after the baby was born and walking around. Three days later, I walked up 4 flights of stairs carrying the baby in his baby carrier. I played tennis the following weekend. Badly, but that has nothing to do with recovering from surgery.
I have no regrets whatsoever. And when I want to feel like a real woman, I just make less money for the same work and listen to some Aretha.
Next time: I go back to work outside the home?
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