Alternative Title : How to Be Friends When I Had Another C-Section and You Think It’s the Worst Thing That Could Have Happened to Me
I decided to go with the short version…
This summer was definitely exciting. There was so much going on and I was really doing my best to prepare myself for the arrival of my little girl. I had a pro-VBAC doctor, in a pro-VBAC clinic, in a pro-VBAC hospital, in a pro-VBAC community. We were going to do this. In fact we were going to do this so much and so well we really hadn’t talked about the alternatives because we were Team VBAC.
Everyone in my mommy circles seem excited by this. Now I would get the “real” experience of birth. Now I would have this wonderful shared experience with woman-kind. Now I would be complete and on equal footing with all the other mothers I knew. My community was excited, they were supportive, they were the greatest bunch of cheerleaders I could ask for. I had enough book, technique and method recommendations to last me through three births. I was going to do this and it would complete me.
And then things changed.
My 37 week appointment came with the discovery that my little girl was breach. My 38 week appointment came with the confirmation that we was definitely still breach. My 39 week appointment confirmed that she had her head squarely stuck in the top of my ribs, under my sternum with her feet wedged in my right side ribs.
And it was somewhere in those few weeks that many of my cheerleaders turned into pall-bearers. Oh they were still being optomistic with lists and lists of things to try, but as the clock ticked and the due date got closer the tone around me changed dramatically.
I don’t think anyone other than me noticed it because so many people were still focused on being supportive, but instead of supporting my new reality – one carefully decided with medical staff I would be under and the OB who had guided my reproductive health for the last three years – the cheerleaders were focused on the old one.
“I’m so happy”, became “I’m so sorry”.
“You’re going to do so well” became “Have you really done everything you can to avoid this?”.
“This is going to be a beautiful moment” became “This is such a shame”.
“You’re making such a great choice” became “I can’t imagine choosing to do what you’re doing”.
To be honest, I was more than a little shocked and more than a little hurt.
Let me be clear, I know intentions were good and I know people thought this was yet another huge tragedy in my tumultuous path to motherhood, but it wasn’t a tragedy to me.
Now, I know some people fear hospitals and have legitimate horror at the thought of needles, surgery, wounds and scars and what I’m saying does not diminish the reality of your choices, but I feel I need to be clear on this…
After three years of struggle to get pregnant and stay pregnant, after three years of loosing child after child to miscarriage I was being told subtly and sometimes directly that the method I spent hours agonizing over to insure a safe birth for my child was the worst outcome someone could imagine.
Trust me when I say the method of my delivery was no where on my “worst outcomes list”, I already had a taste for the worst outcome four times in a row.
I had just spent three years mourning four children I could do nothing to save and faced with a situation that had multiple outcomes I chose the path I felt would ensure me the best chance at finally saving one of my babies and I was being told this was a tragedy.
My second c-section was not a tragedy (and neither was my first), but the language and the tone around me was that of disappointment and mourning. I was volunteering to be lead alone to sterile operating room alone, have a needle inserted into my spine, strapped to a table and be cut open while fully conscious, separated from my child and stitched back together alone all for the safety and well-being of my child.
If there was a time I needed my cheerleaders it was then. Instead, I dealt with all my fears and concerns quietly and under the radar save for the closest of friends and family. I could not share my concerns about my total fear of my spinal block or my phobia of never waking up from anesthesia if I needed to be put under. I could not share my dread of having to look at another ugly, itching scar to look at or in my case avoid looking at at all costs.
I needed my coaches in my corner, water bottles at the ready, mopping my brow and psyching me up and I what I got was sad stream of mourners patting hand and avoiding eye contact.
So where do we go from here? We move on. What’s done is done and it’s in the past, but as we move forward I hope you remember this. I hope you remember that your worst outcome might be no where near mine. I hope you remember that it takes just as much strength and courage to walk yourself to the altar of the operating table as it does to face a contraction. I hope you remember that I still need, and deserve, the support and strength we can encourage in one another. I hope you remember that it was not a selfish choice, but a loving sacrifice. I hope you remember to ask me first whether or not I’m saddened by the change in plan or need to talk about my concerns in my new plan. I hope we both grow from this experience, I know I have.