Julie Miller, creator of the amazing blog What Should We Do Today? Columbus, OH is my neighbor and my friend! The majority of our friendship has been built over many hours standing to the side of the school playground while we let our four kids blow off some steam before taking them home at the end of the day. You’d be surprised how much ground we’ve covered over the months! Julie and her family are friends to my whole family and having them in the neighborhood has improved our Westgate experience a ton. Julie, thanks for sharing your story!
I have two children and they were both born by C-section. They have two very different stories and I had two very different experiences so I will try to write about them separately as much as possible!
I was induced with my first son at 41 weeks and that was followed by over 30 hours of labor. After pushing for two hours, his heart rate began dropping and I was rushed into an emergency c-section. It turned out that the umbilical cord had been wrapped twice around his neck and when they took him out, he was not breathing. He didn’t breathe for 5 minutes after he was born and after they got him breathing, he was rushed to the NICU, where he stayed for a day and a half.
I was so tired and the whole thing was so surreal. I didn’t see him for several hours after he was born because of his care and my recovery. I had a lot of guilt and regret at not being able to hold him immediately or have skin to skin time right away. I was haunted by the fact that he laid in the NICU for hours not knowing who was his mom or what was going on.
Because he was whisked away, I didn’t get to try to breastfeed him until the following day. We had a lot of problems breastfeeding, due to various reasons - the biggest being him not being able to latch properly. After a few frustrating days, I started exclusively pumping and giving him bottles. We did this for about 2 weeks at home and after that I experimented with a nipple shield that made it possible for him to latch. Eventually we were able to stop using the shield and I was able to breastfeed him for over 13 months.
Because of this experience and the stress and trauma I had surrounding attempting to give birth the first time, I opted to have a planned c-section with my second child.
When it came to planning for the birth of my second child, I talked with my OBGYN about my concerns. I was leaning toward having a c-section again but I wanted to make sure that this time, as long as everything went well, I could hold my baby right away. She assured me that she would be there and as long as the baby was healthy, I could have him next to me. That was what I needed to hear in order to make the decision.
With my second son, after the c-section, I did get to have him on my chest briefly and my husband got to hold him next to me. I did have a lot of shaking and I felt nauseated, so it wasn’t comfortable for me to have him on my chest for very long right in the operating room, but when I moved into the recovery room, I held him skin to skin and was able to breastfeed him. He started breastfeeding right away!
I’ve never been outright told that a c-section was not real childbirth, but I have been involved in conversations where people were very dead set on having a natural, vaginal birth or giving birth at home. Of course when other moms run through their list of reasons why they feel so strongly about these things, you can’t help but feel like they must think you did it wrong.
What would I want the world to know about c-sections?
Sometimes they’re necessary. Sometimes they save a baby’s life. If I had pushed my son out, he probably would have been strangled. We were very lucky. I believe that a c-section saved his life.
A c-section is a major surgery and it’s okay to cut yourself some slack if you have one. You need to take it easy on your body and allow yourself time to heal.
The most important goal is a healthy baby. When you’re pregnant and people around you are pregnant, it’s easy to get caught up in conversations about the “perfect” birth. But honestly, from my point of view, the birth is such a small fraction of your child’s life. 7 years later, I rarely think about it. Any strong opinions I had about birth and labor 7 years ago are thoughts that literally never cross my mind now. So, I tend to see a c-section as a means to an end. As pregnant moms, we bring our babies into the world in lots of different ways and if your way ends up being a c-section, you are not any less of a mom for it.