Four years ago, I gave birth to my daughter via c-section after hours of painful labor and then hearing the dreaded phrase, “Failure to progress,” come out of my OB’s mouth. After the dust had settled and I had a chance to think about what transpired during my labor and delivery, I was left feeling like I had no control over the birth process and that my body somehow had “failed” me. I thought that I gave in too easily by taking drugs so soon in the process and that somehow I was a passive participant in the birth of my own child. So when I became pregnant again, I was determined to have the power to make my own decisions as to how I would give birth. I did a little more reading and research this time around and I even drafted another birth plan. But most of all, I had convinced myself that I wouldn’t be disappointed in myself or my body no matter the outcome.
So again, like last time, I painfully labored for 26 hours without progressing. Except this time, everything in my being told me to proceed with my doctor recommended repeat c-section. At that point, what mattered most was that baby and I were healthy and safe. All I wanted most was to see and hold my son. I realized that I was not getting a medal for how I gave birth to my children. I feel proud of having survived all those intense contractions and that even though I did not undergo a natural birth, my body did not fail me. To the contrary, my body gave me healthy, strong pregnancies and two beautiful children.
The day my son was delivered via a repeat c-section, I remember feeling sheer joy, not regret, in the operating room. What made it even better was that the hospital had a new policy that allowed my husband and son to remain in the operating room with me while they checked all the baby’s vitals. I was able to hear them rate him high on the Apgar scale, that he was 20 ½ inches long, and that he was a normal, healthy boy. The staff seemed more supportive this time, too. And when I first laid eyes on my boy I laughed and cried at how he looked (and yelled) JUST like his sister. Though I was unable to hold him or nurse him immediately, I was able to console him while my husband held him close beside me.
Even though my son came into this world like his sister, I am still totally at peace with the way things turned out. I labored for as long as I could and my husband and I asked more questions of the staff along the way which enabled us to make more informed decisions. I felt like I had regained control of the birth process. I realized how lucky we are in this day and age to have choices in how we give birth. It does not matter if you give birth naturally, or via c-section; if you choose drugs or not; and with or without an epidural. What is most important is that we support and empower moms through the birth process and that we bring healthy babies safely into this world.