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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  1. This is an amazing post, thank you for writing it. I think you are incredibly brave to have put up such a fight to get the birth you wanted and felt was best for you and your child - I totally agree with you...that's the actions of a great mother!
    I suffer from anxiety too, though not to the same extent as you, and the prospect of labour and birth in about 10 weeks time (give or take a week or two) is really starting to scare me. I'm doing hypnobirthing to try and help with this, but I think ultimately, there's really nothing you can do to prepare - what will be will be. I think I am more scared of surgery than I am of the alternative, so a C-section would probably not be something I'd voluntarily sign up for, but if I need one, then I guess I have to deal with that too. I think anyone judging anybody for how they give birth is despicable - we are all just trying to do the best for our babies. xxx

  2. You have to do what is right for you! Good for you for fighting.
    With my first she was breech and I had a c-section because of medical reasons...With my 2nd I was told she was breech again because of my double uterus and then at my last scan at 35 weeks or so she had actually turned. They tried to talk me out of having another section but for 35 weeks I had mentally prepared for having one so there was no way I was going to change my mind. x

  3. Great post from an interesting viewpoint. Mental issues are important too - I feel there should be better support for people with fear of childbirth.

  4. I love this post, Hayley.

    I had a crash section with my first son and an elective with my second. And anyone who suggests a C section is the easy option has clearly not endured the recovery!!

    I'm a firm believer that the only person who knows what's best for you is YOU. And I applaud you for pushing for the birth you wanted.

  5. Good for you Hayley! We all know that c-sections are in no way the easy option, and a decision to have one is never taken lightly. The people who are the most judgemental are usually the ones who understand the least.Brilliantly written x

  6. I never wanted a c section mainly because of the recovery time but if that was what was best then of course I would have done so. It certainly doesn't make you a lesser person for not pushing! Thanks for hosting #sundaybest x

  7. Brilliant and honest post Hayley. Kudos to you for writing it xx #sundaybest

  8. Beautifully honest. Fab post #SundayBest

  9. Brilliant honest post, Hayley. Love how honest every single post you write is!
    I've never had a c-section and I'd be petrified if I had too! I raise my hands to those mums who have c-section! Does not make any mum less of a person at all!

  10. To me the most important thing was to get those kids out of my body with us all in one piece- did not care HOW it happened. Great post! #sparklesandstretchmark

    1. Completely agree Kristin, I gave birth naturally but if I'd needed a C Section to keep my boy and me safe then I wouldn't have hesitated!! x

  11. I think you are wrong to say it wasn't medically necessary: from your description it was. Mental health reasons are just as important as physical ones. I disagree it was maternal 'choice' because your wellbeing and that of your child was at risk. Personally I was much more anxious about the thought of surgery than I was of vaginal delivery. Well done for being brave enough to write about this, I wish people had made it easier for you and acknowdged your needs. #sundaybest

  12. I absolutely HATE the stigma that having a C-Section some how makes a woman 'less' of a mother! All mamas are warriors carrying their babies and the most important thing is that baby gets out safe and well! Also, I don't see how one person can judge another on what they choose for their own body.
    Great post :)

    #SundayBest <3

  13. I hate the stigma that somehow having a C section makes you 'less' of a mum - carrying a baby safely is the main thing and no-one has the right to choose for you what you want for YOUR body, whether you choose it or have to do it for medical reasons.
    All mamas are amazing warriors!! #SundayBest xx

  14. I think everyone should be able to choose how they have their baby, no matter what. I was advised to have a C-section during both my pregnancies, but I'm so terrified of being cut open that I insisted I had natural births! #SundayBest

    Louise x

  15. A great post Hayley! Such an eye opener!

  16. What a fantastic post, and a wonderful mother! Xxx

  17. I don't understand why anyone would think a c-section is the easy way out. I had one and it wasn't easy. It was scary. My baby was breach and I still wanted to push her out. I was ready and willing. But the doctor on duty that night hadn't delivered a breach baby in 5 years. In the end I had to do what was best for Peachy. I found the c-section to be horrible on my anxiety. I would rather deal with the unknown of labour than put myself so completely in the hands of someone else. I guess our types of anxiety are different. I will tell you one thing. In Canada elective c-sections are not something you would have had to fight for. They are quite common. #SundayBest

  18. You have done quite a service for those of us in the "C-section community" through this article.

    Anyone who dismisses you as less of a mom for making this choice is overlooking the obvious: you loved your unborn child so much that you FOUGHT for him to have the least stressful entry into this world, as determined by YOU, the only one who truly understood the full picture. I applaud you!

  19. I know this is an older post, but thank you, thank you, thank you for writing it! I'm currently 16 weeks pregnant and dealing with severe anxiety, plus a serious phobia of general anaesthetic... I also believe an elective c-section would likely be the best option for me, and have started pursuing that with the NHS, but there's just SO much stigma around this topic that I've been really horrified to see some of the reactions people get to it. Anyway, thanks again for writing this - it's good to feel a little bit less alone!

  20. Thanks for this great post! I have not had children and am not pregnant but have always wanted a c-section birth, I'd never really considered any other mum had two c-sections and guess what she loves us, we love her, she breast fed just fine, had no depression and somehow (not sure how I managed this with the supposed "cognitive impairment" I ought to have from being a c-section baby) have managed to grow up to be a pretty good dentist. Since moving toward marriage I've spoken with friends and mentioned the c-section plan... to my suprise they were shocked with comments like "dont be so lazy just push" and "don't you worry about the stigma, you do what you want". WHAT?? I had never thought anyone would give a damn how another woman's baby came out. I have been trawling the internet to try and find out all the facts and understand this strange concept ever since. Perhaps there's something in the language - a "natural" birth and a c-section. Perhaps the language needs to be destigmatised how about an "assisted" or "unassisted birth". I wouldn't pull out a tooth without a local anaesthetic and I would expect the same to have a baby extracted from my vagina! Anyway, I'm feeling the stigma badly and it is so unpleasant... not as unpleasant as a 48 hour labour I'm sure but peoples response to my choice about my body is making me feel uneasy so thanks for sharing. Honestly its good to hear about someone just choosing, not an emergency c-section. Thank you.


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