I had a c-section. C-sections are easy. Take a moment to hear me out.
Our cousin was pregnant at the same time as I was, expecting a baby girl and due only two short weeks after me. She and I had a conversation – cemented by an utter lack of pragmatic thought and drowned in pools of ignorance. Our words fluttered back and forth, my cheeks flushing and her nodding her head as I made it clear, “I don’t want a c-section.” I said a lot of things around that time.
“I don’t want a c-section.”
“I won’t use an epidural.”
“I’m going to exercise the whole time.”
“I can’t gain a lot of weight.”
“I couldn’t handle having any stretch marks.”
I wish that I was one of those girls that did pregnancy really well. Don’t get me wrong – I was happy and I loved it, but pregnancy for me was like a drawn-out version of the moments after you’ve tripped over the fold in a carpet that you didn’t expect to betray you. It was me squeezing my abs, lifting my neck, and taking rushed, clumsy steps on the tips of toes covered by soles made of rubber that has a particularly good grip – trying and failing to upright myself , eyes on the ground in front of me. It was a rug-tripped marathon.
I became sick early on and had spikes in my blood pressure from the start. “The second trimester will bring on SO MUCH energy,” they’d say. “That’s just part of it, honey, welcome to motherhood,” I’d barely hear as the ringing in my ears began to deafen every conversation and my legs turned purplish-black each time I stood. I worked to convince myself that everything that was happening was normal – had to be – in the same futile way that you hold your breath and dig your nails into your palms when someone says, “We need to talk”. Everything is fine. I recently found a Facebook post where I bragged about my “newfound energy” – quintessential FAKE-IT-TIL-YOU-MAKE-IT social media trash.
To spare you the details and, likely, save them for another time, I’ll keep it brief. The ball finally dropped, I had preeclampsia, and I found myself in the hospital for about four weeks before I had Atlas. Constant prodding, tests, medication – the drill that you would expect. I was, literally, not allowed to move much or sit up most days and was allowed only one wheelchair ride for the weeks that I was in. There wasn’t much to do other than stare at the walls and think. Most days, my blinds were tightly closed because of my migraines, but I was so excited the day of the solar eclipse that I had the nurse leave the curtains open for most of the day. I knew we weren’t in the totality zone, but was hoping that it’d be something fun to see. It was resoundingly disappointing when the big eclipse looked like little more than coverage from a passing cloud.
There were scares, there was pain, there was boredom, but we made it safely to the endzone. We started the induction process the night before I was thirty-seven weeks exactly. There were “rough checks”. I bled. They broke my water. I stayed on an IV of Pitocin during the days and had alternating medicines each night. I labored for three days. On the second night, I was politely pushed into an epidural by all of my nurses and doctors. I had declined, but they were rather insistent since they all had the feeling that I was going to have to have a c-section. They placed it around midnight and it was one-sided, but my nurse said we’d deal with it later. On the third day, they called the induction a failure and said it’d be too dangerous for us to continue and that I’d have to have a c-section within about thirty minutes. I resisted, but I quickly gave it a rest when I saw the fear in Dylan and my mom’s eyes and the concern on the doctor’s face. My epidural was adjusted in the OR, but they had to constantly pump more drugs in me because I still experienced some pain. I’ll stop there. Like I said, I want to keep this brief. The details aren’t the point. I’m getting to it.
After we came home, I was quite a mess and refused visitors for a long while. However, something I’ve noticed in a lot of my interactions since then is how often people insinuate that I’m lucky for having had a c-section since I didn’t have to have a real birth. Stuff like:
“Oh, I would’ve had one if I could’ve. Labor sucked.”
“Wow, that’s easy to have someone do all the work.”
“Must be nice!”
“I was all natural. I guess I just am blessed to be able to handle it.”
“I did it without drugs.”
“C-sections are easy.”
Of course, there are a lot of things that I thought and wanted to say, including my utter surprise at the fact that people actually have no qualms saying these things out loud to other people and how pervasively ignorant it is, but I’ve kept to myself until now. So, here we go:
I could tell you that you had it easy when you got to stay at the job that you loved. Instead, I’ll say that I had it easy when I had someone to take care of our finances while I worried about keeping us healthy.
I could tell you that you had it easy when you weren’t told by the first doctor that you saw that the pregnancy wasn’t viable and that you should prepare for a DNC. Instead, I’ll say that I had it easy that it was viable and that I didn’t have to have a DNC, since many women aren’t so lucky.
I could tell you that you had it easy when you weren’t told that you had preeclampsia, weren’t having to lie stick-still on your back so that you weren’t at higher risk of seizure or stroke, and when you didn’t have to worry about your kidney function. Instead, I’ll say that I had it easy when I didn’t have a seizure or stroke and that my kidney function is now normal.
I could tell you that you had it easy when you didn’t stop feeling your baby move as much and have him fail a couple ultrasounds and have to worry about his safety. Instead, I’ll say that I had it easy that he’s happy and healthy as can be!
I could tell you that you had it easy when you didn’t have to take a bunch of awful medications afterward and wear a heart monitor for 6-weeks. Instead, I’ll say that I had it easy when I found out that I’m okay.
I could tell you that you had it easy when it was safe enough for you to continue with a “normal” birth and when you didn’t have to have major FREAKING surgery that still has you in pain and left with an awful scar because your entire abdominal wall was sliced up. Instead, I’ll say that I had it easy that c-section was an option for us so that neither of us got seriously sick or died – despite the pain and long-term changes to my body, the fear and risks associated with it, and the total lack of control.
I could go on and on, but point is this: we could go round and round comparing ourselves to each other. Someone has had it easier than you and someone has had it harder than you. I am happy to be alive; I’m happy you’re alive. I’m blessed to live this life with the ones I love. I don’t have time to put myself up on an imaginary pedestal by forcing others beneath it. I’m too busy being glad for your successes no matter how they come.
So, that’s it. There’s not much else to say. Things didn’t go as planned – it was scary and hard, but we’re HERE! So, hell yeah, girl. Say it again for the people in the back:
MY C-SECTION WAS EASY!