Monday, May 30, 2011

I Had A Cesarean

I had a Cesarean in Brazil. For anyone who knows the rate of c-sections in this country, that is not a shock. For me, it was the biggest disappointment of my life.

I am naturally very defensive of my doctor's decision. It comes from a place of fear and shame. I have never gotten over the fact that I did not deliver naturally. I will never stop feeling like I missed out.

The fact is, I didn't go into labor. My doctor stripped my membranes, instructed me to have sex, and basically opened the way for me to do anything that may induce labor. Hell, I was at 42 weeks, the baby had dropped, and my cervix was off pouting for some reason.  Still, my doctor never showed any signs that she was planning on a c-section.  Her hospital was different.

You see, while I did give birth in Rio de Janeiro, I gave birth at a public educational hospital that encourage (aka somewhat forces) a natural birth. They want the doctors that they are training to experience the real thing before they fall into the scheduling trend. That and since I wasn't paying, they would have to eat the surgery fee.

But that still doesn't calm the acid inducing thoughts I have when I think of my c-section. It doesn't matter how many doctors, who have to take my medical history for one reason or another, make a side comment of "Oh it was at the Maternidade? So then it must have been necessary."

You know why? Because I was there when a woman was in labor with an estimated 10 lb baby and the doctor loudly asked if there was time for an emergency c-section. Obviously the pathway would be too small.

I can name 3 friends who have given birth to 10 lb babies naturally (without anesthesia.) I'm guessing it wasn't a party in there but the job got done.

That mini-conversation sticks in my head every time I think of how I had my babies. It weighs over me, even though when my doctor commented about LARGE size of my first born's head in the ultra sound and then stated that "Thank goodness you are a big girl. The Vagina will match the baby." In my defense, I think she meant tall, not large.

It makes me wonder about the lack of education natural birth advocates talk about. I never understood it until I had children. No, not because of my birth experience but from arguing with doctors. Standing up for what I feel is best for my children has made me focus in on the fact that doctors are human, and thus can make errors. To err is human or so I have heard.

The point being in all this is to advise all pregnant women to ask questions! Go get a second opinion. Fight for your right for a natural birth! As someone who didn't, I regret it. And it breaks my heart to hear of women who choose to have a cesarean. They choose to make a risk, raise the bar, and add complications.

To those women, if it's the glamour of the vagina, let me tell you something. Come look at my abdomen. Come over and check out my scar. I'll let you feel the bump where they cut the muscle. Trust me, I have 2 boys and this second one was done cosmetically, it does not matter. You'll sit in your bikini, no matter how low it is, and the skin will fold. You have cut the muscle in your stomach for goodness sake. Your Vagina will heal because that is what it is made to do, your abs won't.

Think of it like this. Take a envelope. Cute a line horizontally down the front where someone would write the address. Now open the flap where you insert letters and close it again. Which opening is more obvious?

So go for the gold ladies! If a Vagina can open up for a Brazilian penis, I think a baby will slide out like butter.  Well, we can hope anyway.


  1. Wow, well said! And when you talk about the cutting of the muscle it really makes those of us who have not had children (yet) understand the severity of a c-section. I mean, besides the fact that it IS surgery.
    I also like the metaphor of the envelope and the vagina.

  2. :( Sucks. I am sorry to hear it. I had one too and it was miserable. Natural birth is way better. Maybe next time!

  3. I hate talking about the birthing experience I had with my son around my family. I ended up having to have a cesarean as well - at 43 weeks, 3 failed inductions, & a doctor getting rather annoyed with my determination to have a vaginal birth he basically boiled it down two ways for me - I was either going to consent to the cesarean or they'd put me under general anesthesia and do an emergency cesarean. I'd previously had a completely natural, meaning not even a tylenol for the pain, delivery a few years before, there was no reason to think I couldn't do it again. After the initial shock of it all, the anger, etc I became comfortable with the fact I'd had a cesarean, to the point I didn't even fight to have a VBAC with my daughter later (not that the state would have allowed it to be a planned VBAC) but I scheduled her cesarean and am happy about it. At least until birth stories are brought up among the women of my family. I had relatively 'average' sized babies for my family 7lbs 4oz(42wk, vaginal), 9lbs 5oz (43wks c/s) & 8lbs 4oz (37w4d c/s) - babies run anywhere from 6lbs 8lz to 13lbs 8oz in my family - all of which have been born vaginally, even the 13lber, who was delivered by my 5'2" grandmother - I'm 6', no reason not to supposedly be able to give birth to a 9lber if body size even matters.

    It's nothing to really be ashamed of, it happens, even under the most obstinate of circumstances. My exhusband likes to tell me I didn't experience real birth because I had to have a cesarean. Personally I'd much rather have had a cesarean than to have another deceased child. I found out later that a fall I'd sustained during my 1st pregnancy had actually fractured my hip & from when it healed of it's own accord it basically prevents my hips from expanding as they should to carry a baby properly, much less deliver one.

    It sucks when our bodies don't cooperate to do as they're designed! May you find peace in time with the way things happened!

  4. OK. I can understand that being manipulated into something never sounds good. Either when it is about having a c-section or anything else. But PLEASE lets stop being paranoid about 'how much more real the real delivery is' and 'I don't feel I am experiencing the real motherhood without going through 12 hours of labour' or 'I took the shortcut, shame on me'. What does count: a healthy baby. My suggestion: talk to some of the parents at UTI (unidade de terapia inensiva) for newborns... I bet they would go through 1 mio c-sections just to have their baby strong and healthy. My youngest arrival spent there only 6 days. Some babies spend there weeks, months... Just couple of thoughs ;-)

  5. For me it's obvious that it comes down to a healthy baby. That is what keeps me ok with all of it. But in the end, when there is a choice, a natural birth is the healthy thing for a baby.

  6. As a natural birth mother I totally agree with Ewa; it all boils down to baby being alive and healthy and a very second close for mom to be so too. And that's why it's silly to actually choose a c-sec, because the chances for mom to come out perfectly healthy are far reduced and then some blabber here and there about hormones, but that will in no way endanger a baby's life.
    So it's not about how real it is or about experiencing it - at least not the way I see it - it's about giving your little one the best start in life that you can (and mommy being healthy or there at all enters in that formula). And if the difference between being too stubborn to not have a c-sec after 42/43 weeks when you are clearly in the hands of people who would rather save themselves that operation and accepting that luckily we do have the technology to do a relatively safe c-sec is a baby whom you have to close your eyes just to see him/her (actual words of a dear friend), well, it sounds like you did give your kiddos the best start you could!
    And if the flabby tummy is still getting you down I guess I can let you stand next to me in front of a mirror, lower our pants and compare; you're still one hell of a sexy mother!
    But yeah, I also feel sad when I hear of women choosing the C to "mantain things intact", sigh.

  7. assunto sério esse... Minha mãe foi me ter em parto natural, eu e ela quase morremos, então os meus irmãos mais novo foi cesariana e tudo ocorreu bem e em total normalidade... Acho que é porque cesariana há menos riscos... Não sei ao certo...

  8. Well said Andrea!

    Plug- Glad to hear your Mom came out ok!

  9. As a former NICU nurse in the US, which I assume is a UTI nurse in Brazil. I can tell you that each morning I went to work and was on the emergency team, I would look at the labor and delivery board for how many c-sections they had scheduled. This is not emergency c-section but planned c-section at 39 wks. It never failed that the team was called to resuscitate or examine the baby and half of them had to spend 6hrs in the NICU/UTI.

    If I need to look at what life experiences have shown me, then what's best for the baby would be through the birth canal. Less complications for the baby and more time with the mother.

    After what I have seen, healthy babies are miracles and so is life. Something I will never take for granted.


  10. I agree with all here that a healthy baby is the top priority, but I really am amazed at how much ignorance there is. I know people who had planned c-sections because they were afraid of the pain of vaginal birth, and when I took my 5 day old son to a pediatrician for a check-up she summarily informed me that NO baby over 3,5kgs should ever be delivered vaginally (whne she saw that mine was 4,145kg and was vaginal birth). No matter that I am of fine German and Polish stock with the hips to prove it! Even though my obgyn was all for vaginal birth, there was no discussion of the birthing process unless I asked questions and birthing classes are not common.

  11. What a fascinating post. I think expat birthing stories around the world are really interesting - I wish you felt better about yours

    . Just found you via Top 25 Expat Mom Blogs - I'm an American expat mom in England :) XOL

  12. I have two healthy boys. I really shouldn't get all poo poo about it. I just wish they didn't have such a high c-section rate down here...

  13. I had one too... my hospital had the highest rates for the area. But my child was breach with a short cord wrapped around his neck, but still same guilt... like you know maybe if I would have wiggled just right. In the end I think C-section stats are for the women who want them-- and there are a lot-- or just don't care either way. But if you go in knowing what you want-- sounds like you did-- in the end why are we making our selves feel a bit less? Sometimes that is just what needs to happen. After 4 days in heavy labor with a 10lb baby my friend finally had to admit her child was not coming vaginally.. I hesitate to say naturally as for some of us C-Sectioners a natural baby in the past would have really meant a dead mom or a dead baby. So in the end we should be happy that C-section scars can even be low enough that a Brazilian bikini doesn't show it.