Cesarean Awareness Month: Rebecca's Story
I’m excited to share my C-section story as part of C-Section awareness month. Both my daughters came to this world via elected c-section. The first I wasn’t prepared for, the 2nd I expected. Here is my story.
Spoiler! I grow BIG babies. With my first daughter, I remember being in the OB office at my 39week appt and the ultrasound technician scanning my belly, taking the measurements, and asking what the last scan measurements were. "Normal range" I said. Her face looked a little puzzled, "hmmm, your baby is tracking to be 10+lb now. Let me print these results off and get it to the Dr." the technician told me and hubby. As I got dressed she came back into the room and told me that she was going to walk us to the Dr's private office vs the examination room. Me & hubby just looked at each other- what was happening?
As we got to the Drs office she told us that our baby had a massive growth spurt since the last scan and that she recommended a planned c- section. She talked us through the options and outlined the risks. Words like complications, high risk to both mom and baby, shoulder dystocia(aka shoulders stuck), medical emergency, and lack of oxygen. My husband and I looked at each other and quickly made the decision that yes a c-section was the best decision for us. I spent that evening googling c-sections, reaching out to friends, etc. If you know me you'll know that I am a planner, but for this, I was completely unprepared.
After a sleepless night, the next morning we drove to the hospital. I was prepped for surgery, the hours before being wheeled into the operating room flew by in a blur, and honestly I just went with the flow. I felt supported, I trusted that this was the right decision. Every Dr. was patient and answered our MANY questions. The only time I felt scared was when I was told I had to go into the operating room by myself to be prepped for the surgery. My husband would follow me once I was settled. In that moment it hit me, I was having major surgery, but as quickly as it came it left. The nurse in the operating room made me feel at ease, she had studied abroad in Scotland and we talked all things UK (I was born & raised in England) and it felt like a piece of home was with me in that room. Soon hubby joined me and apart from a bad reaction to the medicine which made me feel VERY nauseous. The whole experience was good and my daughter was born later that morning measuring 10lb. The surgeon's first words were ‘wow that’s a 10lb baby head’. Ha! . I wasn't allowed to hold her (the Dr. had prepared me for this, so it was heartbreaking but not a shock) because of the medicine and large amounts of anti-nausea medicine they had given me. But my husband was allowed to hold her close to me and do skin to skin as they completed the operation.
For my 2nd pregnancy, I was under the care of local OBGYN Dr. Will Stroud (OBGYN associates, Madison. AL). During my first appointments, we talked about my first pregnancy and how I would like to try for a vaginal birth with this baby. He supported that decision and recommended that we do frequent ultrasounds so we could keep an eye on weight vs get surprised like last time. Baby #2 stayed within the normal range until 36 weeks, at which point she flew off the charts, predicting she would be born at 10+lbs. Again we discussed the different options. This time around we felt more educated on the discussion. We were prepared for this outcome and had done our research on birthing big babies. We knew that vaginal birth was an option but still wasn't without its risks. Dr. Stroud was supportive, educating, and gave us the space to make our own decision. With a toddler and business at home, recovery was a huge factor for me, and along with the risks, and the high chance of having an emergency c-section after trying vaginally anyway we made the decision that a c-section would be the best decision. We scheduled in the date.
With the 2nd c-section we knew what to expect. The atmosphere was almost jovial, my hubby and Dr joked and bantered back and forth, and it honestly felt like a celebration. Dr. Stroud was amazing. He talked us through every step, form, reassured us, and tried to make each moment special. For example, we were given the option of a clear drape so that we could see our baby lifted from my belly when she was born. In the operating room, he talked my hubby through each phase, and a photographer captured photos of us, the surgeons, and the birth. Some of my favorite photos I have of that day are of my surgeons smiling and laughing with me and my hubby.
My daughter was born weighing 8lb 6oz. Not as big as her sister but still above average. This time she was placed on my chest, we did skin to skin, snuggled, and the tears flowed. She was here, she was healthy.
I had 2 great cesarean experiences and I do not regret our decision that cesarean was the right choice for our family. Yes, I have had moments where I wondered what would a vaginal birth had been like. I’ve also been shamed a number of times for choosing a c -section with phrases like "you didn’t even try?, do you wish you’d had a ‘natural’ birth, oh I’m so sorry that you didn’t get to experience birth like it should be, a natural birth is just the best way to be connected to your baby in those first moments.”
Those conversations hurt, made me feel guilt and shame, and more than once has made me question my decision. But remember, whatever your birth story looks like, remember that you are the person best equipped to make the right decision for you and your family. You are your own and your baby's best advocate. I hope that advice sticks with you through motherhood. Because when the trolls and the mom guilt gets you down (been there, done that)... remember YOU know what's best for them!