Sunday 31 August 2014

Reflections on a C-Section

I wrote this about two months ago. The end of my maternity leave was in sight, and I was thinking about the past year. It's funny, I always talk to my students about the power of writing. It can help you sort through your thoughts and help you heal. This was written as an attempt to sort through my emotions over having a C-section. I wasn't ready to hit the publish button then, but now I think I am. I also hit publish, because when I was recovering from my C-section, filled with mixed emotions and mummy guilt, I found comfort in some other women's stories of their own emotional recovery from C-sections.

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Having a c-section really threw me for a loop. It was definitely unexpected; it was definitely unwanted, but it's what I got.
I had a fairly easy pregnancy.  I wasn't too sick.  I had some summer heat swelling, but overall a nice pregnancy.  I enjoyed being pregnant, knowing this little person was growing inside me, feeling him move around, wondering what he would be like. I was nervous about the actual birth, but was also looking forward to it. I wanted to join the "mommy club" and be able to swap stories of my child's birth with other mums. 
I was a week overdue when I finally went into labour.  I had been scheduled for an induction three days later, and I was so excited to go on my own.  I didn't want to force anything.  All day long I timed my contractions, so I would know when it was time to go to the hospital.  After having contractions all night long, my husband stayed home the next day, and we waited... and waited... and waited.  We waited until 1am the next morning.  That was after about 24 hours of contractions.  My husband finally said, "It's time." The timing wasn't quite what they told us at prenatal class, but it was close, and I was tired. 
We got to the hospital and everything was looking good. I was being monitored and things were progressing on their own.  I was able to push, and I remember thinking, "This is what it's like!" I was really excited.  Unfortunately, it was slow going. I was so determined, but I could tell that it wasn't going as it should. Eventually, a nurse returned to my room and gently told me that it may be necessary to do a C-section. 
My heart immediately sunk.  I didn't want one.  I think I knew that it would be a possibility when things weren't progressing as well as the doctors wanted, and I could hear them checking the monitors and mumbling about how our numbers weren't where they wanted them to be.  The nurse said that it wasn't a "for sure" thing, but she wanted to prepare me for the possibility.   
In the end, it was my reality. Once the decision was made, things went very quickly. I didn't really have any concept of time, but before I knew it, we were in an operating room with lots of people in scrubs moving quickly around the room. My little boy was still a bit stubborn and gave us some trouble, flipping and rolling around when he shouldn't, but he arrived safely at 12 noon, on the dot.
In the end, I had a very healthy and happy baby boy. Since then, he has grown into this funny, loveable, friendly little boy. I know in my heart that's all that matters. Sadly, on a fairly regular basis, my brain fills me with guilt and sadness over the fact that I had a c-section. Why do I have so much guilt? Why does the thought of it make me so sad, even as I watch my 8 month old walk around my loving room, clinging to furniture and taking breaks to stand on his own? I wish I knew. Thoughts of not being woman enough. Thoughts of not being strong enough. Thoughts of failing. I've never really failed at anything. Why did it have to be the most important thing?

It's been 8 months and I don't think I have mentally recovered from having my baby.  It gets easier all the time, and I hope that someday I will see my C-section as an act of strength and beauty, instead of a weak one. Until then, I'll keep reminding myself that my son is happy and healthy, so I must have done something right.

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