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My c-section confession

September 18, 2013
logo by Christine Hepner

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?

© Copyright 2013

  1. Valerie permalink

    I’m a scaredy-cat when it comes to surgery and would require some serious family support if I ever needed to have it (regardless of the type!). 😛 That being said, I have talked to a great many women about their experiences with c-sections and the ones who have been pleased were generally the ones who knew what to expect, because a) it was their 2nd or 3rd cesarean, or b) it was planned due to an existing medical need (so they researched it beforehand). Usually, the “bad” c-sections are the ones where the woman has already labored for hours or days, been through a whole lot, and then has a surgery she knows little about, all the while feeling disappointment with how things went leading up to the surgery. :/
    So, I researched c-sections last year for no reason other than to understand the process and become more compassionate (I was very much pro natural childbirth prior to my research, now I’m just pro-birth! lol) and boy, did I learn a lot. I ended up writing a series of posts for my blog and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Way to go, mama!! And congrats (belated)! 😉 P.S. Sorry to write a book in your comments.


  2. Congrats! I felt much the same about my csection choice….too bad it wasn’t honored the first time around.


    • grayhairedmom permalink

      Just I guess to be really clear….my choice would not have been honored either if my doctor hadn’t decided it was medically necessary, which is what I think is really unfair. I’m an adult, and if I understand the risks involved, why shouldn’t I get to decide? I think we are a lot more compassionate in dental procedures than we are in childbirth, right? I mean, my dentist has offered me the option to have anesthesia, laughing gas, or novacaine, but my OB can’t?

      Sounds like you had both c-section and natural birth…so sorry you didn’t have a choice.


  3. Omg! That bit about if you want to feel like real woman you’ll just make less money and listen to some Aretha? Priceless. I’m a hater or I guess dissenter of “natural” child birth because I think it’s totally bogus that enduring unnecessary pain somehow defines you as a woman. I object to it on fundamental grounds. But, anyway, you rule. Congrats and good luck.


  4. grayhairedmom permalink

    This is from my BFF Colleen (who did both c-section and VBAC):

    having gone though both each have there own advantages and disadvantages… but I must say… c-section wins!!!

    And MT: I know they say a woman’s size doesn’t really indicate how she will do in natural childbirth, but you are so petite! Your babies must have weighed almost 10% of your body weight! I can’t imagine how tiny women like you ever endure “natural childbirth…”

    I think you made the absolute right call! xoxo S


  5. permalink

    Sally, It must be in our blood. I had an elective C section with Sara. I am sort of a control freak and did not want the drama of a natural birth. My doc looked me in the eye and against his better judgement said OK. Afterwards, he told me that I was the poster girl for C sections. I then had the option of having a C-back with Joseph. I was up a few hours after their births and strolling the halls of the hospital. I went home a day early and recovered quickly. I believe women should have the choice of the manner in which they deliver. I love reading your blog. Mary Therese


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  1. Celebrating Childbirth: 5 Great Ways to Commemorate the Occasion | Natural Childbirth

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