Living naturally, most of the time.

What’s to like about a c-section?

Welcome to the June 2012 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Embracing Your Birth Experience

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have written about at least one part of their birth experience that they can hold up and cherish.

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Don’t get me wrong; the homebirth I had with my second child was by far the birth experience I would want to repeat if given the choice. I would never have signed up for the c-section I had in 2006, when my breech son failed to drop because, we later found out, he had a short cord, only 8 inches long.

But even though it wasn’t what I wanted, I am grateful for several aspects of the experience. Compared to some other moms whose stories I’ve heard at meetings of my local chapter of the International Cesarean Awareness Network, my family was treated with respect, and my birth experience was not as traumatic as it could have been in different hands.

My OB — who always said my “next one would be natural” — allowed my craniosacral therapist into the room to videotape. Although I didn’t watch the actual surgery part until a year later, I was immediately grateful to have footage of our first moments together. When you are so disconnected from what is happening, the physical imprint of memory is not there.

What was there was a big sheet between me and my baby! So having footage of his first moments, blinking directly into the eyes of my doctor. The video allowed me later to see him when he was taken to the side of the room where my eyes could not follow.

One memory I didn’t need captured on tape but I still loved watching later was when my son was first brought over to my face. He wrapped one hand around one of my fingers and the other around my husband’s, and we sang to him, “You Are My Sunshine.” It was so clear that he knew us, knew our voices, knew the song. More joyful tears have never been shed.

When he turned one year old, I watched more of the footage of my husband following him to the nursery. I was so moved to watch my husband standing over him to shield him from lights and talking to him. Those were lost minutes to me, when the doctors stitched me up while talking about March Madness basketball. The apartness of mother and baby in that first hour is one of the most bizarre things about a c-section.

Later that night, the nurses, knowing that the birth was a far cry from the birth center birth we’d wanted, let us warm our son with skin to skin contact, first with me and hours later on my husband’s chest. That was a profound experience for my husband, and one of my favorite memories.

By contrast, my daughter’s unmedicated birth at home was almost too fast — 4.5 hours from start to finish — for me to really inhabit the experience. And when she was born, a cry of “short cord! Don’t pull her all the way out of the water!” created memories of confusion and concern as I tried to maneuver a too-quiet, tired, and funny-looking baby. She was, and is, fine, but compared to the perfect-looking head of a c-section baby and clear-cut (no pun intended) nature of a surgical delivery, I was surprised by the lack of elation and triumph when my daughter was born at home. Couple those first two or three minutes of awkward positioning in the birth tub and giving us both homeopathic pellets with the fact that my placenta took another 4.5 hours to come. It was hard to settle into new (second) motherhood until I knew I wasn’t going to have to go back to the hospital. When my son was born at the hospital, it wasn’t what I wanted, but it was without a wondering and waiting period.

I’m grateful for my first birth for helping me to be more compassionate about the wide range of birth experiences women have (and then, for breastfeeding struggles, which I had none of the second time around). I know it isn’t always easy, and you can’t always get what you want. And even when you get what you want, it still doesn’t look like you expected.

Our experiences lead us on journeys we can’t anticipate and teach us in the ways we somehow needed to grow. My son has six years under his belt and eight teeth out of his mouth already. And he still has that intense gaze he had right out of the belly.

And my daughter, who entered the world tuckered out and too floppy to hold my finger right away. She’s a pistol of a toddler with a whole lot to say and no lack of fire in her belly. You just never know.

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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be live and updated by afternoon June 12 with all the carnival links.)

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9 Responses to “What’s to like about a c-section?”

  1. Julia @ A Little Bit of All of It says:

    I love how you were able to view everything on video and get to experience it even through the parts you were not there for. And I love that they gave you the baby and encouraged skin-to-skin. That is something I missed out on even though I had a birth center birth because I was transported for hemorrhage after the birth and my in-laws wouldn’t let me hold her for the rest of the day even though I certainly could have. I learned to speak up for myself and will not allow that this next time around though!

  2. Rachael says:

    And even when you get what you want, it still doesn’t look like you expected.

    These words resonate with me — quite a bit.

    It seems you have gleaned much wisdom from both of your birth experiences.

  3. How wonderful that you have a videotape of your son’s delivery and the first hour after his birth! I had an emergency cesarean with my first and a natural delivery with my second, but I wasn’t able to see every moment of the first delivery. Still, there is beauty in each childbirth experience. I love that you, too, are able to appreciate both experiences.

  4. Oh Jessica, I love the image of you two singing to your baby – what a beautiful way to be greeted in this life.

  5. Amy W. says:

    “I know it isn’t always easy, and you can’t always get what you want. And even when you get what you want, it still doesn’t look like you expected.”

    This is an important revelation for all of us to have! Thank you for writing about both of your experiences. It’s important to remember to police our perceptions and to trust in our experiences!

  6. “You really just don’t know.” Nothing sums up a first birth experienc like that. Delightful story. Any way things go, they’re full of wonder and beauty – even when we can’t know it at the time.

  7. How wonderful that you have footage of your baby’s first minutes of life even though the birth itself did not go according to plan. I love that you sang to your child. I plan on singing “Happy Birthday” to my baby girl when she comes to this world next month :) And your second birth was just 4,5 hours! I’d love that to happen for me!

  8. ajira says:

    Thank you for sharing your birth stories. It is always a wonder to hear another woman’s birthing experience. I, too, had a caesarian birth for my first and hope to have a natural birth for the next. Someday. My hospital and surgery experience were not warm, however. They were pretty much as horrible as most of us hear about. I was not prepared for the eventuality of birthing in a hospital, after deciding to birth at home, I chose to ignore the possibility. Definitely something I would not recommend to other mothers as I feel this impacted my experience of the experience, as it were. I am still grieving, three years later and have yet to write my story down. It is time.

    Thanks again for giving me more to think about regarding my own experience of and the very nature/purpose/possibilities around birthing in a hospital through a surgery. It can still be a connecting experience, clearly.

  9. Chantal says:

    Thanks for this lovely post. We are considering a VBAC homebirth for our next one. I’m still so nervous over the idea, though. The c-section really scarred me, physically and mentally!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Labouring naturally: nature’s gift | Stone Age Parenting - [...] What’s to like about a c-section? — Jessica at Crunchy-Chewy Mama is glad she her second child at home, …
  2. Strocel.com | Embracing Birth in Spite of the Difficulties - [...] What’s to like about a c-section? — Jessica at Crunchy-Chewy Mama is glad she her second child at home, …
  3. Hybrid Rasta Mama: I had a C-Section – So What? - [...] What's to like about a c-section? — Jessica at Crunchy-Chewy Mama is glad she her second child at home, …
  4. Finding Joy in an Imperfect Childbirth Experience | LivingMontessoriNow.com - [...] What’s to like about a c-section? — Jessica at Crunchy-Chewy Mama is glad she her second child at home, …
  5. Carnival: Embracing Your Birth Experience. | the other baby blog - [...] What’s to like about a c-section? — Jessica at Crunchy-Chewy Mama is glad she her second child at home, …
  6. Embracing Our Potential: Birth as a Metaphor « alivingfamily - [...] What’s to like about a c-section? — Jessica at Crunchy-Chewy Mama is glad she her second child at home, …
  7. All The Woman I Am. « This Woman's Work - [...] What’s to like about a c-section? — Jessica at Crunchy-Chewy Mama is glad she her second child at home, …
  8. Birth Story: Part One – Moon on a Stick! | Gentle Mama Moon - [...] What’s to like about a c-section? — Jessica at Crunchy-Chewy Mama is glad she her second child at home, …
  9. I Was Foolish Then | Radical Ramblings - [...] What’s to like about a c-section? — Jessica at Crunchy-Chewy Mama is glad she her second child at home, …
  10. Little Sister’s Birth Story: A VBAC Adventure - [...] What’s to like about a c-section? — Jessica at Crunchy-Chewy Mama is glad she her second child at home, …
  11. Focusing on the Beauty of Birth » A Little Bit of All of It - [...] What’s to like about a c-section? — Jessica at Crunchy-Chewy Mama is glad she her second child at home, …
  12. Embracing Our Potential: Birth as a Metaphor | Natural Parents Network - [...] What’s to like about a c-section? — Jessica at Crunchy-Chewy Mama is glad she her second child at home, …
  13. Be a Man: One Father’s View on Birth | living peacefully with children - [...] What’s to like about a c-section? — Jessica at Crunchy-Chewy Mama is glad she her second child at home, …
  14. Celebrating and Sharing the Possibilities of Perfect Birth - Child of the Nature Isle - [...] What’s to like about a c-section? — Jessica at Crunchy-Chewy Mama is glad she her second child at home, …
  15. Embracing Our Birth Stories | Diary of a First Child - [...] What’s to like about a c-section? — Jessica at Crunchy-Chewy Mama is glad she her second child at home, …
  16. Sacred This Time, Too | the single crunch - [...] What’s to like about a c-section? — Jessica at Crunchy-Chewy Mama is glad she her second child at home, …
  17. A Journey in Birth Confidence | The Artful Mama - […] What’s to like about a c-section? — Jessica at Crunchy-Chewy Mama is glad she her second child at home, …

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