I don’t talk about my c-section much around here.
Want to know why?
Because every time I do I come across a post or a comment left somewhere else or a tweet that gets sent out a day or two later that may not be directed at me but which feels very much like it IS directed at me that says that I don’t have any right to feel how I feel regarding my labor and delivery because the end result, that I came home with a healthy baby, is all that matters. Or all that should matter.
But you know what?
I call bullshit.
I wrote about it seven months ago. And then I wrote my memoir post for The Red Dress Club. I’ve tweeted about my experience. I’ve shared it on Facebook. I’ve shared it in real life with people who’ve asked.
And you know what I’m sharing? MY experience. No one else’s. Mine and mine alone.
So why, then, do people deign to assert that those of us who feel this way shouldn’t? (And by “those of us” I mean me, since I’m speaking from my own experience despite the fact that I know I’m not alone in these feelings.)
I just don’t get it.
Who is anyone to tell anyone else how he or she should or should not feel about any given situation, much less THIS situation?
It feels like telling a woman who struggled with infertility that she is not allowed to complain about the aches and pains of pregnancy because she should just be happy she’s pregnant. Or like telling a woman who has one living child that she shouldn’t grieve the one she loses via miscarriage because she already has a baby.
Would anyone say either of those things??
(If you would say that? Click the red X and leave. Now. Before I get really angry.)
I don’t think that every woman who is okay with having had a c-section thinks that all women who’ve had them should feel the same way she does about her own. But I do think that by and large, we judge each other too harshly on things that are uniquely personal and shouldn’t matter to another soul on the planet.
Perhaps you had a great c-section delivery and you know that yours was medically necessary. Or you had supportive doctors who talked you through the process. Or perhaps you didn’t hear the words “failure to progress” and only hear the word “failure.”
Cool! You had an experience different from mine! HALLELUJAH! The system didn’t fail you!
And the rally cries of “Amen! I just don’t get it! The baby’s healthy!” and “Right on!” and “My only birth plan was to have a healthy baby!” just kind of make me want to throw up my hands and vom on something.
Good for you. GREAT for you that you don’t get it. That you don’t feel this way. That your plan was to have a healthy baby no matter the method of delivery and you were successful in your endeavor!
GOOD. FOR. YOU.
But that doesn’t mean it has to be good for me.
That doesn’t mean that with my next pregnancy, whenever that may occur, I’m not going to do everything in my power to make sure that my next delivery goes differently. Because it matters to me. And I know I’m not alone in this. I know that there are other women out there who feel beaten down and defeated every time we’re told how we should feel. That we should just snap out of it and be happy.
The fact of the matter is that it just isn’t that easy sometimes.
Does anyone really think that I don’t WANT to be okay with this? That we don’t WANT to just revel in the fact that we had a healthy baby who is now a thriving, rambunctious toddler?
Because people, I love my thriving, rambunctious toddler. And you can trust me. I want to be okay with this. But it’s just not as easy as flipping a light switch or waking up and going “poof! I’m okay with this!” Every time I see that scar, the scar that has faded to the point of near invisibility, I am reminded of that moment. That time in that operating room that felt like an eternity. I’m reminded of being left alone in my recovery room for what seemed like YEARS before I finally got to hold my son.
Believe me when I say that I want to close my eyes and not remember those things.
But maybe I DON’T want to be okay with this. Because if I’m okay with this, then that means that I accept a broken system of care for women. And yes, the system is very much broken.
We’re no longer empowered in our birth choices. We’re told when to show up, when to lay down, and when to push and when to breathe. We’re told when to be cut. Doctors threaten to arrest and forcibly cut women open when they do not consent to inductions that they do not want.
What is right about that? How is THAT okay, but me feeling pissed off and angry and hurt and saddened and any other way I WANT to feel about my experience isn’t?
Moms are patients too, you know? We’re not just incubators. Workers on an assembly line. Baby-machines with no rights and expectations of human decency.
The method of delivery may not make the mother. I am no less a mother because my child came out of an incision instead of my vagina. You are no more a mother because your child was delivered au naturale in the light of the moon while a coven of wood nymphs flitted about you with ribbon wands and patchouli (or with the help of a giant needle to the spine filling you with sweet, sweet pain-relieving drugs, as was a decision I eventually became very okay with).
By God if a woman wants ribbon wands she should be able to have them and not have people make her feel like a moron for wanting ribbon wands.
I don’t care if a buzzard lays your baby on a stump and lets the sun hatch it out. Or if the stork truly does put a freshly bundled baby in a Moses basket on your doorstep.
I don’t care. For you. Not if you’re happy with your own experience.
But for me? I care.
And for mothers who’ve experienced what I’ve experienced and who’ve felt the way I’ve felt? I care. A lot.
Why can’t women just support other women? Is that really too much to ask?