Upon the release of the October Cosmo magazine with Kate Hudson as the feature, my mom’s groups have been swirling about something she said. She filled out a questionnaire to go along with her interview and her response to the prompt “the laziest thing I’ve ever done” was “have a c-section.” She is getting a LOT of flak from fellow c-section mama’s that the answer was insensitive and inaccurate. Ok, pump the brakes people. Every c-section is different, every vaginal birth is different, shame on us for saying her response is a direct insult to all c-section Mom’s everywhere. She is speaking to her own personal experience and there isn’t even much context for her response. She could have been joking or she honestly felt that way about her birth experience. I know a few Moms that have had c-sections that claimed it was the easiest and fastest recovery and that they preferred it to other vaginal births they’ve had. I’ve also talked to Moms that said their c-section was the most painful, traumatic experience they’ve ever had and that it was accompanied by shame for not delivering naturally. I, myself, relate more to the latter.
I had an emergency c-section with Eleanor, my first, and it was nothing I had control over. I won’t share detail for detail because that could be a whole other post but basically she wasn’t tolerating even the early contractions and my fluids were dangerously low causing her distress. Hence the emergency rush to the OR. I dealt with a lot of emotions afterwards from relief that we were all ok, to this sense of loss and failure for not experiencing the natural and beautiful childbirth as its “meant” to be. And the recovery was no walk in the park. When the meds wore off from surgery it felt like a hundred bees stinging my lower abdomen. I couldn’t laugh, cough, sneeze, walk without shearing pain. I was feeling much better after 2 weeks but I remember thinking it was way more painful than I expected recovery to be when you hear about women wanting to have c-sections and potentially electing to have them with no medical reason.
When it came time for baby #2 I knew we had a choice to elect for a repeat C or try for a VBAC (vaginal birth after C). I struggled with this decision immensely. I’m a control freak and knowing what to expect was a huge draw but I also felt shame in that. I wanted so badly to experience childbirth in the worst way but when we kept learning that baby was very large and our OB started really saying it would be safer for a c-section we followed her lead. I was scheduled to go a week early but a week before that went into labor on my own. I remember feeling happy that I was experiencing painful contractions because at least I got to go through part of the natural process. But boy was this c-section different. I felt way more than I think I should have but was terrified if I told them that they would put me to sleep and I wouldn’t be able to meet my baby right away. I kept looking at Ryan asking is everything going ok?? This is extremely uncomfortable and dare I say it painful. I felt like someone was inside my body jumping around and pulling on all parts of me. I felt every single poke, prod, cut, and stitch. It took longer than the first too. It was traumatizing. I have never felt more relief in my life when they were done and she was in our arms.
Recovery…..holy s#!t. It took a full 4-6 weeks to feel remotely mobile and like myself again. The pain was double what my first was, it was really intense. It would take me 5 minutes to go from sitting to standing and walk to the bathroom always ending in a flood of tears. I was on painkillers for 2 weeks longer than my first. I almost fainted just taking showers. We wondered if something was wrong the pain was so bad and lasted so long. So for me, when people judge and say things like “lucky, you got to have a c-section” or “the lazy or easy way out” I want to scream. This by no means was easy, or lazy, or pain free. Nor was it anything to feel shame about. I did what was right for both of my girls to be here, I’ll always have mixed emotions about it but I wish people would stop throwing all birth experiences into stereotyped boxes. When a Mom shares her birth story, don’t be so quick to assume you know what she went through or how she felt. Acknowledge both the beauty and the struggle they may have gone through and listen in a supportive way. C-section, VBAC, vaginal, pain free, epidural assisted…..we’re all amazing for birthing these bundles no matter the way, the recovery or the emotion surrounding it.