After my medical school obstetrics rotation, I knew I never wanted a cesarean section. The whole procedure seemed so brutal and unnatural. I couldn’t imagine that there were people who elected this procedure over a vaginal birth (read more about what ACOG thinks of this here). While my first delivery was an uncomplicated vaginal delivery of a 5lb 2oz boy, my second was more challenging. After two hours of pushing, I found out that she had flipped face-up and gotten her 8lb 1oz self stuck. Unable to get the baby to agree with flipping herself back into the proper position, the OB eventually recommended that we proceed with a c-section… and I cried. I cried because I knew exactly what this procedure would entail and envisioned myself in the operating room where I had stood many times before: cutting, cauterizing, pulling, irrigating, sewing. I cried because I felt like I had failed at doing the first motherly duty for my daughter; My body had failed to perform what it was built to do.
Over the years though, I have witnessed many horrifying birth stories, where the outcomes for the baby and/or mom are devastating. Stories that I wouldn’t even want to share here because they will only scare those still planning on bearing children. So, I am thankful that despite needing a c-section, my daughter and I are healthy and our birth story has a happy ending. I am also thankful that I live in a time where interventions like c-sections are available and that I was giving birth in a place where this service was quickly and safely available. Not so many years ago, my daughter and I would likely have died during childbirth without the medical knowledge and skills that the specialty now possesses. And who knows what would have happened even now if I had been doing this at home or hours from a major hospital. So while I was scared, disappointed, and frustrated about having a c-section, when I looked into the faces of my obstetrician, anesthesiologist, and neonatologist, I felt grateful, confident, and safe. Minutes later they were introducing me to my precious daughter and I cried tears of joy and relief. I thanked all of the doctors and nurses involved. There were times that I stood beside them performing this procedure that I thought barbaric, but it wasn’t until I was lying on the table that I learned to appreciate it and the heroes who helped me deliver my baby.