But my life has a way of taking unexpected turns, and my birth story was no different.
I labored for 25 hours (14 without drugs) and only dilated a grand total of 4 cm. And really, I think that was a generous estimate. Plus I developed a fever that wouldn’t break after four hours, and my baby’s heart rate had crept up as high as 220 at one point. While technically I had to make the decision to have surgery, with my baby’s health in jeopardy it wasn’t really a decision at all. But it still tore me apart. I felt as if I had failed. Failed to do something my body was made to do. There was definitely some crying, but eventually I swallowed my tears and gave the go-ahead.
From there everything was a whirlwind. I got more drugs, was prepped for surgery, and then wheeled down the hall in what seemed like record timing. The surgery began at 3:08 am, and six minutes later, at 3:14 am, my son was born.
It wasn’t the birth experience I had imagined, and it made recovery very long, painful and difficult, but I quickly made peace with my decision and my birth story. I made the best decision I could with the information I had, and with the health of my baby as my number one concern.
However, I was quickly and abruptly introduced to the world of “Mommy shaming.” On pregnancy and parenting articles and message boards I looked to for advice and support, I read about women being shamed for delivering via sections. Some of these women had scheduled theirs in advance for various reasons, and others, like me, resorted to surgery only after things went awry in their original birth plan. Apparently there are women who look down on those of us who had sections, as if we are weak and took the easy way out. And to take it even further, some even believe that unless you delivered naturally, you didn’t really “give birth.”
Wow. Even though I wasn’t the direct target of those stories and comments, I felt judged, and for a decision I didn’t even want to make. It made me wonder, did I make the right decision? What if I would have just waited a few more hours? What if I just tried a little harder? What if? What if? What if?
But I didn’t have a crystal ball. I didn’t know what would happen if I waited a little longer. I didn’t know if my fever would hurt the baby or if his heart rate would continue to spike. I didn’t know if I would cause more damage by putting off what seemed inevitable.
But I DO know that I gave every ounce of effort in my body that day. Through pain and uncertainty and with God by my side, I did everything I did that day out of love. And you know what else I know? I GAVE BIRTH. I carried a life in my body for nine months and then brought a beautiful, healthy baby boy into the world. I fought for him, and I even have a battle scar to show for it.
If I would have made a different decision out of pride and my baby suffered because of it, now that’s a decision I could not make peace with. But instead, after already enduring 25 hours of labor, I lay there, cut open on a table, wide awake, and able to feel the pressure of my insides being moved around. It wasn’t glamorous, and it certainly wasn’t easy. But given the chance to do it over again, I would.
It doesn’t matter how a baby is brought into the world, as long as he is loved. And I can guarantee you that my son is loved more than words can explain.