As the month of April comes to a close, so does Cesarean Awareness Month #CAM2017. People usually become passionate about certain causes when they or their loved ones are directly affected by said cause. For me, I had a great deal of ignorance about cesarean births before I had one myself.
Before getting pregnant, I viewed cesarean births as a cop-out, the easy way out of labor pains--cheating. I subconsciously viewed mothers who've had cesarean births as having not tried enough, or not strong enough to endure real birth. I qualified my mother’s own cesarean experience to say hers was necessary because she had twins, one of them breech. Which one was breech? Me. I caused my mother to have a cesarean birth.
Twenty-four years after I came out of my own mother’s abdomen feet first, I found myself laying on an operating table awaiting the birth of my own child. She was head-down, engaged, and had managed to help me dilate 8cm. However, 20 hours of position changes, nipple stimulation, pitocin, or prayer would not help me to progress any further. My water had been broken for over 30 hours, I had not eaten or drank anything, had not slept, and was ready to meet my baby. (See how I’m trying to justify my decision for a cesarean. It’s what we do when we feel we could have done better). When my doctor mentioned a cesarean, it sounded right. We had tried everything and I was exhausted. What else could I do? At the time, I felt 100% ok with this decision.
Needless to say, I changed my tune about how I felt about cesarean births and moms who have had them. My cesarean was not a cop-out, I experienced hours upon hours of labor pains, and I most certainly did not cheat. There a million different rhymes and reasons for Cesarean births, I know my story is not everybody’s. But I know we all want what's best for us and for our babies. I am now passionate about a cause that I before had very little experience or sympathy for.
This post is to legitimize every mother who feels like her body failed her, that her birth team wasn’t enough, that her birth wasn’t real, and that the scar on her abdomen means she’s broken. You are strong, and beautiful, and your worth as a mother is not defined by which part of your body your baby came out.
I know that not everybody feels ill-will about their cesarean and does not want to be categorized accordingly by their experience. I see you too. I want to celebrate all mothers who’ve had a cesarean birth be it elected or not, necessary or not, emergent or not, gentle or not. Our scars tell a story and yours is important to me.
I will end with a Maya Angelou quote that I learned from a friend at our local ICAN (International Cesarean Awareness Network) chapter meeting: “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”
--Jenny Knight, BbD birth doula.
Jenny sees every woman as a being of deep power, capable of birthing new life into the world. She is honored to serve and guide women and families as they embark on this journey. No matter the circumstances, pregnancy and childbirth are extraordinary experiences. Every woman and family deserves love and support through this miraculous time.