Why I Still Find It Hard To Say I Gave Birth
I vividly remember the day my consultant advised me that I would, more than likely, be facing a caesarean section. Being Irish I pretended to be fine, smiling merrily at him while he explained the procedure. Inside though I could feel a deep sadness settle over me. I waited until I reached the car-park to collapse in tears and ring my own mom.
Typically it was the one appointment I had attended alone... I never did this again. My mom talked to me for a long time, but I couldn’t throw off the upset and disappointment. It wasn’t a fear of the surgery itself so much but something else, something that went a lot deeper, tied to my fear that this surgery would make me less of a mom somehow.
It didn’t help that everyone I told (outside of my family) would act as if the section was a huge blow and then would struggle to reassure me that it was fine. My mom was brilliant, though, she focused on the positives - no painful labour for one thing. She was my own personal cheering squad! The final blow came at my last scan when the consultant sat me down and told me that my placenta was positioned in such a way that I would need to be asleep during the operation. This meant that my husband could not be in the theatre with me.
So neither of my little girl's parents would see her actual birth - her first moments would go unwitnessed by those who would love her most. This just about broke my heart (it still does). I barely remember seeing my little girl for the first time, everything was a haze and I spent the first day of her life pumped full of morphine. Since that time, I’ve tried to make my peace with what happened. I joke that I had the ‘easy way out’ and the ‘perfect birth’.
Admittedly, I am a big wuss when it comes to pain so perhaps it was for the best. But it took me a long, long time to be able to say that I actually gave birth... quite honestly I still rarely say that. Instead I refer to this life-changing event as having a section or 'my daughter being born' as if I had nothing whatsoever to do with it. I feel strangely absent from my daughter's birth. It has taken on a surreal, dream-like quality.
If you are told that you will need an elective section please do not feel that you have let yourself or your baby down. Remember that a caesarean section is life-saving surgery. My daughter and I would not have lived without it and that is something I remind myself whenever the guilt around her birth strikes. This is only the very beginning of your relationship with your child and you have many years ahead of you to bond, birth is only one of so many milestones you will share as mother and daughter. If you so wish you can request skin to skin contact, you can have that all-important post-birth snuggle.
If, like me, you have to be asleep, try and focus on the days following the birth. You will have a few days in hospital when it will be just you and baba, plenty of time to get to know each other cocooned away from the rest of the world. There is always a plus side. You won’t go through the pangs of labour so you can now easily laugh off all those horrific labour stories friends and work colleagues have been eagerly telling you. Yes there will be a recovery time but quite honestly with a tiny baby you won’t be up for much socialising anyway...and it’s a very good excuse for your partner to do most (if not all) of the running around. Plus if there are certain visitors you would prefer kept away for a bit you have the perfect excuse- you are just too tired from the surgery.
Oh and you won’t be able to do any heavy lifting for a while. Just to be on the safe side your partner will have to empty those smelly bins for at least the next six months- tell him its doctor’s orders. An elective section is very different to an emergency section and the chances anything will go wrong are extremely small. You will be introduced to the team and everybody will be relaxed. They have all done this dozens of times before. I can’t, unfortunately, tell you what it will be like, I slept right through it but I can tell you this, once it is over, you can hold your head up high and say ‘I gave birth... and I have the scar to prove it!'