Too Posh to Push? - My Elective Caesarean Section
This is a fairly difficult post for me to write. I have been thinking about writing about my decision to opt for a c-section for a while but for some reason I have put it off. I think I have been afraid of feeling judged or tempting raised brows from all the know-it-all, been-there-done-that types, which is ridiculous because for the most part, I simply do not care what people think. It was a decision I made for myself, my baby and my little family. My vagina (that's right - I said it!), my decision. End of. Or is it?
Those who know me will know that I am by large an open book. A sweary, sarky open book. I like to think that I am pretty liberal and there are not many topics of conversation that are off limits to me. I am a fairly confidant conversationalist, if the topic is something I have an educated opinion on. If not, I will either shut up and listen or switch off if I'm not interested. If something bothers me or I don't wish to discuss something personal, I have no qualms in politely steering the conversation in a different direction. However, whilst I was pregnant and the big scary subject of GIVING BIRTH (yes, it deserves shouty capitals) came up, I found myself squirming and feeling uncomfortable regarding my decision to opt for a c-section. This was largely because when people found out about it, they would then ask why and I would feel the need to staunchly defend my choice. I reiterate...MY CHOICE (thanks again, caps lock).
Let me say, I am not ashamed of my decision. I applaud those women who give birth naturally. I applaud those women who deliver with assistance. Or without assistance (ouch). I applaud those who have a water birth, or an emergency section, or a home birth, or a drug induced pink elephants on parade type birth. You are all beautiful and are real life super heroes. High fives all round. Mostly, people were surprised but supportive about my decision. Then there were those who were not so supportive. More 'quietly judgemental'. And let me tell you, they really pissed me off. Especially the relative strangers who decided to wag their horrid, judgy fingers at me and tell me that it wasn't the way nature intended. Or that I was a drain on the NHS if there was no 'medical' need. Or that in their day, they were lucky if they had an asprin etc. Then there were friends (and are still friends...just.) and even my own husband who (once) called me a wimp. "But thousands of women do it everyday"...Good for them I say. A hearty well done. It is not for me.
Opting for a c-section is not an indication of a weak woman. Unfortunately, many see it that way. Now I am by no means at all suggesting that all the newly pregnant ladies should run off to their local surgeries demanding a c-section thinking that it is the easy option. Being sliced open is NO FUCKING JOKE. Let me tell you possums, it was the hardest, most painful, emotional, bizarre thing that I have ever been through. And totally worth it.
But why Katie, WHY?!
I have always wanted children. Not to the point where I would say it's all I've ever wanted. I enjoyed my life before my baby. The spontaneity, the cinema trips, the meals out, the times spent with friends, and the drinking, oh the drinking! Oh yeah, and conversations that didn't revolve around poo. The consistency, smell and volume are a daily topic of conversation in the Modern Military household. Sad twats.
Once we got married, the natural progression for us was to have a child. We had discussed it a few times before we tied the knot and we were both on the same page. The kid page. That's not to say that kids are the only option for newly weds. Parenthood is not for the faint of heart and I respect anyone who has the balls to go against the grain and raise a glass shouting/slurring "I choose life...my life!" Hurrah for you, you sexy bitches. We however, started trying almost immediately. Now, I say 'trying' and by that I mean we were 'doing it' *giggle* without protection, thinking that it would happen when it happened. And it did eventually. I was not checking my vaginal mucus every 4 seconds to test when I was ovulating. Forgive the visual. It took 16 months to get pregnant this way. The non-trying trying way. During these months I was harbouring a little secret. And upon discovering that I was in fact 'with child', it came to fruition and I had to admit it. I was TERRIFIED of giving birth. I was terrified of having no control. Not knowing when my little bundle of joy would decide to enter the world. What if hubby was at work? (bear in mind he works 4 hours away from home!) Too many questions to list. Now, I've seen One Born Every Minute (they don't even show you HALF of what giving birth involves...episiotomy anyone? Placenta delivery? Pah!) and I have read everything on the internet regarding birth. That's right, everything. Took a while I'll tell ya. Not only that, I have been present at a real live birth. Back in 2007, I was asked to be my best mate's birth partner and witnessed first hand the terrifying glory that is vaginal birth. I have been on the front line. That's right folks. I was not an uneducated, wide-eyed little girl stumbling around waving the caesarian flag.
I did my research. I didn't even know I had a choice to be honest. If you read my post about 'finding out', you will know that I was bloody scared. It was only when I was truly honest with myself that after a few short weeks of being pregnant, I had to speak to my doctor about it. I couldn't bear the thought of a vaginal birth. It kept me awake at night, I couldn't function properly when thinking about it and I had real anxiety. Not the kind of 'anxiety' that a Kardashian feels at the thought of wearing Primark. Real, full on, panic. I spoke to my sister at length about it. She is not only a Theatre Nurse in a busy hospital but she herself has had a c-section. She told me to talk to my community midwife about it and ask about an elective section. So I did, and we took it from there.
Every step of the way, I was told to think carefully about what was ultimately my decision. And boy did I do a lot of thinking. And what really was soul searching. I felt that I would be called a wuss. A charlatan. For Christ's sake Geppetto...I just want to be a real woman. The more I thought about it, the more I wanted the c-section. It ticked my boxes. The recovery time was not ideal by a long shot, but if it meant eliminating my encompassing fear which lets face it, throughout my pregnancy would have ultimately had an adverse effect on the little pipsqueak growing in my belly, I was all for it. I spoke to several different doctors and they all agreed that a c-section was an option for me. I really worried what people would think. Pregnancy does crazy things to you, and as a normally headstrung, grounded, rational woman (ahem, husband may disagree) I can tell you, those hormones fucked with me. Normally I would not give a flying fig what anyone thought but those hormones turned me into a quivering, fearful mess. I'm not going to sugarcoat it. I was right to be fearful (but not right to care!). Lots of people judged me. Twats.
I suffered many a snidey comment, especially from older women (even the nurse administering my cannula in the theatre had to put her two cents in). And you know what, really it's not their fault. People are always cynical, quick to judge, even jealous of the comforts afforded to their successors. But although I had the ultimate comfort (sort of) during the delivery of our baby, the aftermath of having MAJOR surgery was utterly horrendous. I don't want to alarm any of you who are about to undergo a section, nor do I want to put anyone off who is considering it as an option for their family. I am simply telling my story and trying to give it the gravitas it needs. "Having a section is a walk in the park" someone said to me. It is indeed a walk in the park. If the park is filled with quicksand. And full of rabid dogs. And on fire. The physical trauma really took it out of me, and I'm not going to lie, I wasn't expecting it to be as bad as it was. But with determination, a squishy new baby to look after and some liquid morphine, I got through those first three days. Not without plenty of tears and a near breakdown at 3am the second night. One day soon I will write my 'birth story', but not yet. The purpose of this post is to explain about my choice for a section. And to tell you that it is in no way, shape or form the 'easy' option.
I don't know where people get off asking you such personal questions about your body and your choices when you're pregnant. It's pretty strange really. Having questions fired at you, all indirectly involving your vagina. People feel a right to ask you all sorts of crap when your pregnant, and have the cheek to judge your parenting ability based on your answers. They are full of advice. You mustn't eat this, you mustn't drink that, you should take these supplements 'cos our Lisa did and she gave birth (naturally with no drugs) to a super baby with the ability to shit gold nuggets and do really hard maths. Sometimes (most of the time...ok, every time) you just want to shout "fuck off!" and if you're anything like me, sometimes you do.
I hope this post will help anybody feeling judged and under the microscope feel a little better. It's ok to want to stab someone in the face who unnecessarily casts speculations about you and makes assumptions about your body and mindset. (I said want to...I am not condoning violence!) We make decisions based on what is best for us and our families. It doesn't matter what Tom, Dick or bloody Harry has to say. My section was the right thing for me, and I'm really glad I went down that route. And I would do it again. My recovery was remarkably quick in the end. I went through a week of hell. And then I just bloody got on with it as my husband had to go back to work 5 days after our baby was born. So I single-handedly looked after a newborn almost immediately after being (albeit by choice) sliced open a few days previously. DID YOUR LISA DO THAT?!?
Nobody knows what goes on behind closed doors, and it is not for us to judge the decisions of others if they aren't harming anyone. That being said, we all fucking do it. I am not going to get on any bullshit high horse and give you any holier than thou rubbish but the point I make is this...Judge from afar people. Go home, sit in your comfy chair, pour yourself a drink (ahhhh, drink) and bitch about others with your husband/wife/BF/GF/friend/cat. Shout your opinionated little mouth off until the cows come home. But do it in private. Pregnant ladies do not need nor want to hear what you have to say regarding THEIR bodies and THEIR choices. So just zip it. Remember, you asked the question and if you don't like the answer that's your problem. It isn't your job to try put doubts in her mind or make her feel small. Clearly...I am slightly bitter.
And to my pregnant comrades...people are going to give you their opinion constantly. Get used to it. Good and bad advice. Names, nurseries, preferred hemorrhoid cream...try to take it with a pinch of salt despite wanting to claw your own face off. Or theirs. Just relax and put your smiley happy psycho face on. Remember, they aren't the ones pushing anything out of their orifices so they may have an opinion, but it is your decision. Don't listen to that woman (there's always at least one) who gave birth with no pain relief, listening to whale music, channeling the chakras of the cave women they are descended from. Good for them. Hope they enjoyed the medal they got for that one. Don't be a hero - take the drugs. Or do whatever the hell you (and the health professionals) think is best. It's your body and your baby. (And the fathers of course)
So long for now lovely readers, with my vagina intact I bid thee farewell till next time. Thanks for taking the time to read this post.
|Ready to be sliced and diced.|