With my first pregnancy I was coerced into a c-section. My baby was breech, and apparently no one in the area would deliver Frank Breech babies vaginally. What they didn't tell me was that they cannot force me into having a c-section and that if were to refuse, who ever was on call would have to, by law, deliver (I prefer the term catch) my baby vaginally, unless I changed my mind and consented during labour. The surgery was cold and unfeeling, my questions were answered with statements like "all you have to do is sign this consent form and then the doctor will answer your questions." and then: "you ask a lot of questions." It was a horrible and scary experience. I had complications, uterine infection and an allergy to the antibiotics. I wanted to be a good mother, but I felt helpless and tired.
The second time around. I WAS NOT GOING TO HAVE ANOTHER CESAREAN. This pregnancy my midwife had hospital privileges (in case I had to go to the hospital I was planning an HBAC), I got a doula and an Aquadoula (heated birth tub). I got an education, I became a doula in the time since my first birth and had attended births by that time. I went to counselling for my first traumatic birth experience, I got massage therapy and I joined an ICAN yahoo group to read VBAC stories. I was ready and nothing short of my baby's distress was going to make me agree to another c-section.
Well, there were signs of distress and abnormal bleeding. So, as planned, I told the obgyn to give me a tubal ligation with the cesarean, because I never wanted another c-sect again, I didn't think my body could handle it. This surgical birth was better than the last, there was a genuine excitement in the air. The doctor talked about the baby while he performed the c-sect, my questions were answered with respect. Not what I wanted, but not so horrible either. Of course there were complications with this c-sect as well, though not life threatening.
So why did I feel so sad? Because never in my life have I not gotten exactly what I wanted if I put my mind to it. NEVER. My body had betrayed me, it ignored the plan. It went and let itself tear along the inside of my uterus, just one layer though, not enough to cause an emergency, just enough to cause concern. Concern+Meconium+heart Decels=My informed choice to a Cesarean.
I knew I made the right decision for myself. But it was my body's fault, I looked at it angrily when I caught sight of it naked in the mirror. I read VBAC success stories incessantly, punishing it; see that's what you should have done. Until one night after reading Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom, I wrote myself a letter. It went a little like this:
I will never have the birth I want
I will die not knowing what it is like to push a baby out of my vagina
I will never give birth in a tub surrounded by candles
This is not my body's fault.
My body is strong, I love my body for growing my babies.
I believed with all my heart I could do it and I couldn't,
This does not make me weak or foolish.
I am a strong woman and a good mother.
I will never have the birth I want.
I forgive myself
I forgive my body.
I cried writing it. But felt immensely lighter after doing so. So my fellow cesarean mothers; please write yourselves a letter, paint yourselves a picture, or sing yourselves a song. Then get out there and help others avoid/heal from cesareans.