Friday, September 18, 2009

Vaginal vs. C-section

“I’m glad I could experience a vaginal birth,” said Mary, after I told her my three girls were born by Caesarean section.

Mary and I were with three other women. Another conversation was going on, causing her comment to be unnoticed; plus another distraction prevented me from responding. We were heading to our different cars, so that was the end of that.

Or was it?

As I drove off, I reflected on what she said, taking me back to the days when my kids were infants and toddlers. The means by which our kids were born was major! The other moms and I discussed epidurals, home births, natural births, pushing, labor time, etc. The Academy Award of childbirth always went to the mom that had a home birth, all natural of course, with no tearing, and delivery within a few hours of the first labor pains. The runner-ups were those that had the same experience, but in a hospital. “Wow, Whada Woman!” the audience would rave.

The sympathy award, complete with “aawwww…” went to the mom who had a C-section. No questions were asked. It was assumed that it was a horrible experience. I always felt the need to tell everyone that I did not need drugs afterwards and that I was up walking within six hours or so after the birth. That was the way I competed.

It’s so nice to be beyond that!

I still like hearing childbirth stories, but now my focus is so much on being happy that I don’t have to have another baby! I don’t need a “vaginal experience” and I don’t “need a boy.” Too late anyway. ha ha

To mothers of young children who still find yourselves having the birth conversation often, that’s part of motherhood. My seventy-six year old mother still remembers and talks about what she went through to have my brother and me.

Whether your baby just popped out effortlessly, or caused you to not want to sit for days, or came via an incision in your uterus and belly, or was handed to you with adoption papers…trust me, you get over it if he or she didn't come to you the way you planned. You’re blessed to have her, him, or them.

I appreciate all birth/adoption stories: good, difficult, or in between. Tell me about yours.

44 comments:

Anonymous said...

I only want to say that I have always felt that a good birth is one where mom and baby are both healthy. I was on the edge between both types of birth and would have been happy with either, as long as my kid was OK! I did not have a c-section, but thank goodness they exist, many of my loved ones are here today because of of this technique!
jt

Anita said...

JT, I agree with you 100%.

Midlife Mom said...

Hey, thanks for stopping by! There will be more Texas stories in a day or two.

I had my one and only child via C-section after a long labor. At the time I was disappointed and felt like a failure but quickly got over it! I think part of it was just hormonal. lol! My son weighed 10 lbs. 5 oz. so that was my claim to fame as he was bigger then any of my friends babies at the time. Now I have had the wonderful experience of watching my grandchildren being born!!!!

Great post Anita!

Anita said...

I hope and believe for grandchildren when the time is right, and I know I will feel exactly as you do about yours. Seeing their births would be extra special, too!
Thanks for your comment. I know there is someone out there with a similar story.
An over 10 lb. baby...whoa! I'll bet he put some muscles in your arms. :)

Aubrey said...

Hi there! I gave birth to both my sons via CS too. But I don't feel that I'm inadequate a mom because of this. It just happened that we have different circumstances. Giving birth is a part of being a mom, the greater part comes after that.:)

Tonya said...

Thanks for stopping by - enjoyed reading this. I had both by c-section, something about my bones being too small - I don't even know what labor feels like and I've 2 kids. Some say I'm lucky, but I often wondered... oh well...too late now - they're here and that's all that matters.

Anita said...

AUBREY and TONYA, thanks for your comments! I loved reading them. I hope more women will share their stories (c-section or not) with a comment or two.

Julie Magers Soulen said...

I agree it is the end result, a healthy baby, that is important!
Thank you for stopping by my blog. I was honored and touched by your words. I am so pleased you enjoyed my photography.

Cheers!
Julie
Julie Magers Soulen Photography
Blog of Note

Candee Fick said...

Since you asked ...

My first delivery was C-section due to fetal distress. My tiny daughter didn't like labor any more than I did and her heart rate dropped dangerously low.

Second time around, I had a vaginal delivery and my very active boy came out kicking. Lots of stitches followed by a hematoma followed by emergency surgery and three days in ICU - for me.

Final baby? Medical issues for me led to another C-section but he wasn't quite ready and was put on a respirator for several days.

Overall, I liked the C-sections better. But, mostly, I love the end result of three unique children.

Thanks for stopping by my blog, too.

Hilary said...

You're totally right. If the outcome is a healthy child and a fit mother, you did well regardless of method. I had one difficult 20 hour labour and one easy(ish) 5 hour go of it. Both boys are still very different in how they do everything to this day.. 22 and 19 years later. :)

Morgan said...

There have been times that I've struggled with the fact that my babies have been born by c-section (4 to be exact). It's not really the fact that their births were c-sections, but because it means any future children I have will be by c-section.

Anita said...

JULIE, CANDEE, HILARY, MORGAN: Thank you for commenting. I see that every baby comes uniquely!

MORGAN, my ob/gyn once told me that he'd delivered a mom's 6th baby via c-section, and all of them came from her via c-section!

Bessings.

Bernie said...

I could tell you stories about my first birthing that would bring tears to your eyea! It took three days with a final forceps delivery and my husvand in my hospital bed sleeping for he was so tired from rubbing my back for hours. Yhey crossed my legs as my doc was at a party and couldn't come yet.

Julie, my second, was a swwetheart. Took her one hour and I didn't feel a thing. No spinal. I had a shot and I don't know what it was. Always had a soft spot in my heart for her. Sort of a kinship for womanhood or something--making it easy.

My last two were a snap. Doc gave me a shot at 5 centimeters in my vagina and I never felt a thing after that. I loved that doc. The last one turned at the hospital and the doc was going for a c section when the baby turned around again and came down on his own.

You should never ask an older lady for her childbirth experiences. Look at all the tmi (too much info) you got.

Anita said...

Hello BERNIE, TMI is good! I wonder what that shot was that they gave you for your second and third children. My mom described a similar experience except I think her drug was something that they put over her nose. Maybe they should start using those things again. :) Thanks for telling me (us) about your four deliveries.

Midlife Jobhunter said...

"You’re blessed to have her, him, or them."

Yes. I never appreciated all the horror stories women told when I was pregnant. I had enough apprehension without having someone tell me fear stories. I remembered that and when friends had babies after me, I tried to tell them the good parts. Like when you were done. Ha!

Anita said...

MIDLIFE JOBHUNTER - Yep, when Eve bit that apple, well...

You're right - the good part IS when you're done. :)

Thanks for the laugh.

andrea said...

LOL, I was in labor 36 hours with #4! (Whoever said later kids come fast?) Went to the hospital, the contractions stopped, the nurses wanted to send me home but decided to check my dilation first. THank goodness, because I was dilated to 8 cm!!!! And even then, she still took 4 more hours to come. (It still takes forever to get her moving.) With #6 I was induced and he almost came before the doctor got there.

Anita said...

ANDREA, these are the best stories! I can get so much out of the one or two paragraphs or sentences that you all are writing.
Thanks for adding yours. lol

Alicia said...

I won't dare frighten you off with my birth stories, but I can give you a quick recap. With #1, I was in labor for 17 hours, had an epidural that did not take, got shot up with tons of narcotics which left me completely numb on my left side for HOURS, finally began to push and push some more. After 1.5 hours, the doctor said either he's going in to get him or I have to have a c-section... they then suctioned him out... oh yeah, and I tore something awful. With #2, I was in labor for 12 hours but the epidural worked! YAY! I didn't make it past 6cm, so the doctor (different doc than #1) said I needed a c-section. He was out about an hour later. Btw, boy #1 was under 6lbs and boy #2 was under 7lbs - I just don't think my body was designed for labor..
With #3, doc already told me with my history that I have about a 20% of being able to deliver vaginally... we've opted for a planned c-section! haha I'm sure I'll have another story for you early next year.

Anita said...

Congratulations ALICIA! I did not know you were pregnant. Your last blog post was in June I believe, and I don't do Twitter.

Anyway, I don't blame you for opting for the c-section. I bypassed labor for my third child, too, and went straight to the c-section.

Thank you for sharing your birth stories. I'm sure my readers weill appreciate it. The maternal instinct and the different ways that it materializes gives women a bond and lots to share with each other.

Keep in touch! Blessings.

AMIT said...

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Anita said...

AMIT, thank you for visiting from India! Your comments are welcome.

the mom said...

My first birth was the best one. Everything regular. Second birth, eleven months later, was done in 15 minutes - luckily I was at the hopital for a check up, but it all was a big shock.
Third child almost died, he stayed in there too long. But finally born, he was healthy and huge - 11,2 lbs.
You're right, you never forget...

Anita said...

THE MOM, thanks for sharing your birth experiences. I'll always love hearing birth stories.
You are blessed to have had good deliveries and to get through the scary situation with your third child.
Any plans for a fourth? :)

the mom said...

My initial plan was four kids (I'm an only child myself), but feel I've got my hands full with three. And my husband does not want any more children (I had to beg for two years for the third one).
And how many kids did you have in mind?

Anita said...

THE MOM, My plan was for three children, and I was blessed to conceive them as fast as I did because of how old I was. After the third child, I had a desire for a fourth for about a year and a half, but I think God knew better and did not give me one. :) The kids require so much attention as I'm sure you know, so three is enough for me. But I stilsl admire people who have more. Many women seem to know how to manage their lives and the lives of their many children successfully, and I think they should be able to do it without critism.
I have only one brother. You have no siblings. I wonder if that has anything to do with wanting more than one child. :)

Trish said...

I love this topic....Im going on my 3rd c-section and people really dont care to talk about c-sections in birthing stories but we go through stuff too! My first obviously wasnt going to be a c-section until it was necessary!!! So I do have stories too!! haha

Anita said...

TRISH, Hello, welcome to my blog!
Thankfully, a c-section "is a way" to have a baby. There is nothing strange or odd about it, even though it is not the choice that most women would make.
As women continue to have c-sections, I hope that others will celebrate the successful delivery and ask questions to the new mom just like questions are asked to the mom that vaginally delivers. It's not something to "keep quiet about."
Wishing you and your growing family many blessings!

Kristen said...

Hey thank you for checking out my blog--I'm reciprocating. :) I am fascinated by birth stories and think it's important to share them. But not to judge them. I really liked what you had to say on the subject. It's true that it seems SO important during pregnancy and as a new mom, but as children grow, people rarely ask about how they came into the world. I am a proponent of natural childbirth and had an amazing home birth experience myself. But the most important thing to me is that women have access to accurate, unbiased information about all their options, and understand them before making choices and formulating judgments. Thanks for a nice discussion!

Anita said...

KRISTEN, I appreciate your wise and caring comment about childbirth, and I also think its great that you had a wonderful childbirth experience. I think I said somewhere in this post that I never tire of hearing how each baby is born. :)

READERS AND FOLLOWERS - I'D LOVE TO HER MORE!

Shana said...

I've only had one so far and it was pretty easy (at least everyone said I was lucky). I was in labor for 7 hours total...I got the epidural at 5cm around 3pm....an hour and a half after the epidural the nurse said it was time to push. I pushed 5 times and out popped my little girl.....I'm not sure about having another one....

Anita said...

SHANA, It's interesting how you had an easy delivery but don't know about having another baby. I remember reading your blog post that questioned your feelings about another baby.

You're the perfect person to let women know that the actual childbirth (most of the time) does not determine how many children someone will have. It's the 18 plus years of raising them! :)

Thank you for adding another dimension to this conversation.

FOLLOWERS AND READERS, KEEP COMMENTING! :)

Peterson Family said...

I was a doula at a hospital here in STL, as well as a private doula working with families in their home too. I have been fortunate enough to be in attendance at over 300 births! I can tell you right now that none of them were exactly alike. Just as each child was unique..so was the way that they entered this world. Even though some births get labeled as cesarean or vaginal, I can tell you from plenty of experience that they are all unique. It makes me so sad to hear women who feel disapointed in themselves for taking meds or having a cesarean. I always let the women I worked with that this was not a contest, there were no medals or awards. I am not judging you and neither should YOU. And I hope that the women knew that I was sincere. I marveled at the strength and determination and yet fragile vulnerability that they would have all at the same time.

Women are amazing!

Anita said...

PETERSON FAMILY - You're right - women ARE amazing!
Thank you for adding your life experiences to this post. It's an excellent message to any woman at any stage of motherhood or future motherhood.
I just wrote a post on 2/2/10 about jobs and careers where I said that I don't know if I would be a computer programmer again if I had it to do over again. Well, you've just made me aware of my fascination with childbirth. Maybe I'd want to be a doula. :)

Peterson Family said...

I think being a doula is one of the most wonderful occupations out there. I am no longer a "practicing" doula but I help point people to ones who are. I have met several women who have said "Oh, don't tell me scary birth stories!" and I think, "Why would I do that?" My goal was to empower women to reach into their very center and find strengths they didn't even know they had.

I told my husband once that men have to act tough but women don't need to act like it, they just ARE.

Let me know how your new career path unfolds! I would be willing to bet that after attending a few births that you would truly understand that women have a strength and power that is more amazing than anything that has ever been invented!

Rachel said...

Such an interesting and lively conversation!

My mother had a traumatic labor and delivery with me (cord wrapped around my neck three times, had to be shocked with paddles at birth, she nearly bled out during the emergency c-section - after a long and painful round of old-class pitocin).

Somehow, after waiting through 7 years of infertility, horror stories didn't phase me. I was so excited and refused to add anxiety to our son's entrance by worrying about a million details I couldn't control.

I will say, that regardless of how a woman births, never underestimate the power of a support team. My friend was a former doula and she stopped by. She ended up staying and coaching me through my epidural free labor.

Ultimately, she got the thrill of a lifetime when the doc stepped out of the room and our little guy came quickly. As I was walking to the bed, he literally slipped out and she caught him.

Fiction wouldn't even come close to how crazy special it was!

As a mom, there's a million ways to beat yourself up - and there's no need to when the process involves such a precise dance with another little human being who might not be so coordinated yet :)

And oh yeah... labor and delivery is the EASY part compared to a lifetime of parenting :)

Thanks for the neat forum - we should all feel proud to have brought amazing children into the world.

Anita said...

RACHEL - I enjoyed your birth story. I must admit that as I was reading it, I envisioned a little one hanging from a woman's body. :) And similar to your positive attitude, I see your unique birth story as beautiful and very special too.
Thank you for adding to this conversation.

Caroline said...

Just because I have to .. :D

I have seven children ~ all completely natural home-births (in the UK) ~ Well, I say all @ home: #7 was actually born in hospital because they didn't have enough midwives that night to send two out to me, so I HAD to go in. I knew the midwife in charge that night :D She gave me an 'easy going, let me get on with it midwife' (no Drs in sight). I'd had my son and was back home before 4 hours was up! The other children didn't believe that I hadn't had him at home! :D I have never used any pain relief other than a tens machine for the first 3 (which I don't think did much). I had Entinox available, but chose not to use it ~ I was away with the fairies on my own endorphins!
My first labour btw was 23 hours by my count (13 hours established labour), my 2nd was 11 hours (6 hours established) and the other 5 have all been 3 hours start to finish! I've birthed all of them kneeling on all fours some have been more 'comfortable' than others! I would say that labour is a very painful experience, but I knew that I had it in me to deal with the pain if I chose to. I think the fact that I myself am a trained midwife had a strong bearing on my attitude and perspective. I also am a person who is very in tune with her body and her baby ~ I trusted myself to make the right choices and I wasn't fearful.
If you are wondering; my 1st (and smallest) was 6lb 7oz, my biggest (#5) was 9lb 10oz ~ the weight of the baby made no difference at all! :D

I might add though, that despite my own wonderful experiences and love of natural birth, I do not negate the necessity and blessing that a C-section can be in it's place. I know of many a woman who has NEEDED a planned section and these too can be wonderful birth experiences if planned in the right hands :D
I think the panic around an emergency section is always quite frightening and can steal from the moments of joy, but if lives are saved THIS has to be the ultimate joy! As has been said, the blessing is the BABY ~ if the birth is a blessing too, well that's a bonus!! :D

Caroline said...

forgot to sign for follow-ups :)

Anita said...

Hi CAROLYN, Nice to meet you!
Seven kids...I have got to hop over to your blog after I leave here. :)
Thank you for another unique story. I hope others have subscribed to the comments so that your childbearing experiences can be shared.
As women, we need to know all of our options, and to believe in possibilities that some people discourage us against.
This post and another that I wrote recently titled "Children," received comments expressing the deepest of thoughts and feelings. I hope I'll continue to hear from others.

ebusinessmom said...

Anita, I absolutely love this article because it hit me like a ton of bricks...well in a positive way of course. I had three C-Sections and I would envy the moms that just, "Spit their babies out." When I had my first C-Section, I was okay with that because my son's life was in Jeopardy and my body just wouldn't dilate past 3 centimeters. The second time around with my second son, I was determined to have a vaginal birth no matter what the doctors said. Hey, I can be quite stubborn and everyone in the hospital knew that right away. I was angry because my body did the same thing and I had to go through that awful process again. It was awful because after C-Sections I have no control over my bowel muscles for at least a week. So I'm not allowed to eat solids for at least a week and the pain it out of this world. I had to teach myself to walk again each time. I almost died after the second child... had to be readmitted right after coming home from the hospital. Did I learn my lesson? Nope! I had a third one because everyone said, "You need a girl." Well, I had another boy. I really wanted a girl, but when I first saw my son's cute little eyes trying to look up at me, my heart melted. My three boys are my world. Would I trade them now for a girl? No. They are all blessings no matter what package, size, sex, they come in. I am blessed to be a mom and I'm truly grateful beyond what words can explain. Peace, love, joy, and much happiness to all of you
WONDERFUL moms.

Anita said...

Hello EBUSINESSMOM-VERNETTE, You've given us another important and blessed birth story.
Everyone has shared something different, which I hope will continue to let people know that the health of the mom and baby (girl OR boy!) is what matters.
It's unfortunate that childbirth involves pain; thankfully, for most, it's temporary,having no serious lasting effects.

Stop by again for another visit when you can!

OTHER BIRTH STORIES OUT THERE? SHARE WITH US; WE'D LIKE TO HEAR MORE.

Amber Koter-Puline said...

Here's a bit of my birth turned PPD story: http://atlantappdmom.blogspot.com/2008/05/happy-mothers-day-and-more-research-and.html. Thanks for stopping by Beyond Postpartum and commenting. Enjoy your blog!

Anita said...

AMBER, I read your post. I'm glad you've brought another aspect of child bearing into this conversation, which is postpartum depression, a very real issue that needs attention.