Wednesday, 24 May 2017

C Section Awareness Month: The Scar I Chose To Have

If, like me, you read a lot of blog posts then you will no doubt be aware of the fact that April is C-section awareness month and as such I have read many wonderful posts from many wonderful writers sharing their thoughts, feelings and experiences of C-section births.

I love the visibility of csection mamas across the blogosphere this month, I love the sharing of stories and the outpouring of support for each other.

But there is one thing that always strikes me about these posts, and that is the fact that although all three of my children were born by csection - I find it difficult to relate to pretty much all of the experiences being shared.

 I read about them. I applaud them. But I can so rarely relate. And that is because almost all of them begin with an explanation of the medical reason why those C-section deliveries were required. And usually an expression of how they would not have been that mothers first choice.

Whereas if you were to look at the notes for my first csection delivery, under "reason for procedure" you'd find the simple words "Maternal request".

That's it...that is the whole reason why I had a csection delivery. Not because my baby was breech, not because there was any perceived danger to his or my health, but simply because I asked for it. Because it was my preference.

And as such I have always felt that my own story is not as worthy of sharing, that it's not going to be so welcomed or supported...because c section deliveries are always applauded as being life saving and brave and necessary...but when they were none of those things, when they were simply chosen and preferred, then they become something else entirely.

They become the easy way out, the cheats option, a thing of shame. A thing to never speak of.

Well I'm tired of feeling that c section delivery is no less worthy of being spoken about because I chose it for myself. Womens choices regarding birth are deemed to be important, and rightly so - we all agree that womens choices should be supported - we applaud the drug free birth mamas, the home birth mamas, the lotus birth mamas....but those of us who choose to go under the knife, well we're not so sure about those.

And why is that? Does it make us selfish? Elitist? Spoiled?

I'm sure most of you will have heard all about the birth photographer who recently came to the worlds attention after declining an invitation to photograph a particular birth, stating to the mother "A c section is not a birth, dear".

The world, of course, was up in arms about this woman - what a nerve she had! How dare she treat somebody that way. But it made me many of the people who felt so outraged at her reaction are the same people who cast a judgemental eye over tabloid articles about celebrity mothers and their choice of a c section delivery? Throwing out those age old "Too push to posh" remarks.
 How many of them were the same people who threw those "jokes" and judgements my way four years ago?

That photographer went on to the inform the expectant mother that by agreeing to a c section delivery she had fallen at first hurdle of motherhood and that surely if she couldn't even get through the birth then motherhood, with all of its many trials and tribulations, would prove a challenge for her.

Well I beg to differ.

I chose a c section birth not because I thought it would be easier, but because I knew it would be best for me and best for my child.

Having suffered with thanatophobia, extreme anxiety & panic disorder all of my life I knew what my limits were when it came to the unknown - and I knew that the uncertainy of giving birth would be a huge trigger for me. So much so that I delayed having children for years, so much so that I even considered not having them at all because I just didn't know how I would find a way to control my anxiety around the birth.

But when I did become pregnant, I knew that I did not want my anxiety to be the first thing that my son experienced in this world - I didn't want our first moments together to be ruined by my panic attacks.

I knew my limitations. And I knew that a c section delivery was the right choice for me. To keep me calmer, to keep things controlled. And to create the most calm and healthy environment for my child.

I fought hard for the birth I wanted. I spent the first months of my pregnancy reading up on my legal rights to have that birth, and I fought against drs and consultants who were desperately trying to discourage me in order to meet their quotas. I argued my case despite the fact that my anxieties make doing so extremely difficult.

It would have been easier for me to back down, but I knew it wasn't the right thing for my child - so I kept fighting. And I believe that was the very first motherly thing I did - to fight for what I knew was best for my child. To find a way to be the mother he needed me to be during those first moments of his life.

My c section was not brave, or life saving, or medically necessary in the eyes of the Doctors who performed it.

But it was entirely necessary to my mental state, and I am so glad that I fought for my right to have it, and that I live in a country where I am afforded that right.

My C section scar is not one that was forced upon on me in a moment of life or death emergency, but one that I chose to have. And I'm not ashamed of it - the scar or the birth it represents.

It may not have been life saving, but it was life giving - my birth story was no less of a birth than anybody elses. I bled just the same, I felt pain just the same. But I chose what I felt was best for my child, and I would do the same thing again.

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