C-Sections Aren’t Failures—So Let’s Stop Treating Them That Way

C-Sections Aren’t Failures—So Let’s Stop Treating Them That Way

by Sue Jones
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I’m still working towards taking my birth-story power back.

When I heard my doctor utter the dreaded words, “It’s time to consider a C-section,” my heart shattered into a million sharp pieces. It was May of last year. My baby was crowning. I’d already been through more than 22 hours of labor, the last two of which I spent attempting to push my baby into the world through horrendous back labor that felt like my spine would break with each contracted breath while my epidural was only working, of course, on one side of my body.

So, ignoring my doctor’s suggestion, I closed my eyes and continued to push with all of my might as if maybe the next few pushes would finally force my baby’s head to descend.

But his head didn’t budge.

I was told to switch to different birthing positions, like lying on my side and kneeling at the foot of the bed, to see if they would help. They didn’t. My doctor tried a few different interventions after that, all of which proved unsuccessful in moving my baby farther out into the world.

In a more serious tone, my doctor looked me in the eyes and said, “The baby’s not moving, and I don’t want him or you to go into distress. It’s time to prep for a C-section.”

I cried.

I knew that it was, indeed, time to move to a C-section to ensure the safety of both me and my baby. But because I’d never seriously considered that I would have a C-section, I wasn’t able to truly process this transition in plans. All I knew was that I felt like my power was being taken away and I had been relegated to a witness to my child’s birth rather than an active participant. I retreated into myself so deeply that it would take months after my baby’s birth to even begin to unpack my emotional distress.

I was not one of those pregnant people who had a very detailed birth plan. I really only knew that I wanted an epidural and for my baby to breastfeed shortly after birth. I naively assumed that I would have a vaginal birth because I had an uncomplicated pregnancy, my baby was well-positioned, I went into labor almost to the day of my expected due date, and I didn’t have any pre-existing conditions that were cause for concern. I confidently planned a vaginal delivery and only spent the smallest amount of time learning about what a C-section delivery entailed, just for academic purposes.

So when I was prepped for major surgery in what felt like the blink of an eye, I prayed—to the universe, fate, God, anyone who was listening—that and my baby and I would survive. That I would get to hear him cry tears of consciousness as he entered into the world.

Thankfully, my surgery went really well. My baby immediately cried out when he was born, and my doctor lifted him up so that I could see his wet little body. I cried tears of relief and joy, and I knew at that moment that I’d made the right decision to have a C-section.

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