Cesarean saves me from… myself

I planned for a homebirth. I got a cesarean. Life gives you the experiences you need, in order to grow – not the experiences you ‘want’, right? What often comes to mind, actually, is that if I had had the natural, water birth I had planned… I might now be the unbearable hippy from hell. I have a propensity toward advice-giving. I try to perform some alchemy on it and channel it into blogging nowadays, ‘cos I think it is a nasty habit… but, oh my, my tongue would be bitten raw had I had that perfect Ina-May-esk, enlightening birthing experience.

As it is, what this whole experience of the unexpected brought me was a lot of humility and a lot of perspective. If I had beautifully breathed out a baby while meditating and listening to whale song, what are the chances that I would have come out of this thinking ‘if I did it anybody can do it, if they put their mind to it’ (with hidden corollaries like ‘they didn’t really want it’ or ‘they chickened out’ or ‘they don’t understand how important this is for the health of their kids’ – cripes!). Well, maybe motherhood would have taught me humility in many other ways. Usually my friends and the myriad of experiences they each go through and share with me, (eventually) teach me to see the ‘other’ point of view. This time, though, I don’t need to try and put myself in anybody’s shoes. The life learning was served up fresh, just for me.

And it worked, as I mentioned before, I think this journey from planned homebirth to OR  helped me open my heart to mainstream medicine a little more. I really did delight in the miracle of the triumphant arrival of my gorgeous daughter and all else paled into the background. Whoever helped was, in my eyes, an Earth-angel. You see, I am a natural health fan, all the way, this was my first exception, really, apart from dentistry but I found my peace with it, remarkably quickly, considering. Even my parents were surprised. I mean, really, only herbs and food as medicine for me – ever.  You have to be or know a hard-core crunchy to really grasp what a big shift this was for me. I had, for example, never taken antibiotics before the cesarean or pain-killers for that matter. And, yet, when the time came, I did what I needed to do to safely bring my child into the world, given the human constraints I was moving within. And it felt divinely ordained that it should be this way, for her, for me.

Obviously I am still processing this on some level, as it is over two years, now, since Nica’s birth and here I am writing about it, again. It came up when we were swapping birth stories among some mama-friends, the other day, and it got me to thinking about how rare and lucky it is to say that I didn’t get the birth I planned, at all, and I am fine with that, even knowing that had it not been New Year’s eve and the fact that the specialists I needed were at NY parties, I most likely would have had that vaginal breech delivery I worked so hard to secure a shot at. I hear all the time how not having the birth you want and in particular not finding acceptance of the birth you did have is strongly correlated with post-partum depression. How lucky am I to have been blessed, early on, with a different outlook on this situation? And how lucky are all my friends that life found a way to make sure I was not too up my own arse over the whole ‘natural birth’ thing to really listen to what is true for them, what they went through, what they were able to accomplish given the circumstances or what they wish could have been… I am lucky and blessed and truly believe we had the perfect birthing experience for us, mother and daughter – if not in the physical sense, at least in the spiritual/life-learning sense. Thank you, Universe.

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14 thoughts on “Cesarean saves me from… myself

  1. Yes, yes yes! I know exactly where you are coming from. I’ve come to the same conclusion myself. It took me ages to come to terms with my unplanned cesareans but I now truely believe, like you, that it’s taught me a lot of humility and understanding. We are so incredibly lucky to be having our children today when a relatively safe cesar is poosible – my great grandmother died in birth – I’m so grateful I didn’t. Thank you for sharing your story :)

    • Yes, this is a super-important point – which is definitely how my relationship with mainstream medicine was healed a tad, too – sometimes it is not only necessary but a real blessing!! Thank you for commenting and for your beautiful open spirit that keeps you growing and learning and communicating. Cheers!

      Gauri

  2. I, too, planned to have a natural birth, but it simply wasn’t meant to be. As soon as I saw my midwife, she told me the baby was frank breech. His booty was down and his little feet were in front of his face, like a little yogi. If not for the cesarean, neither of us would have made it. At that moment, I truly appreciated modern medicine. Thanks for sharing your birth story!

    • Yep, Nica was frank breech, too. Like a ‘little yogini’ (in her case) – like that. Yes, I say she is so flexible ‘cos she spent 9 months in a yoga position!!

      Meanwhile, we tried EVERYTHING from acupuncture, homeopathy and chiropractic to lying upside-down on an ironing board with a pack of fronzen peas on the baby’s head and a flashlight shining up my yoni! Hahaha. But she wanted to come that way: butt first, mooning the world. She knew what she wanted. All I had to do was find a way to best honour that.

      We are not alone – the naturals who had a cesarean and are NOT angry about it :D Thanks for adding your voice, here!

      Hugs to you,
      Gauri

  3. I’m glad you wrote this. So many of us that didn’t have the birth we expected can tend to gravitate to feeling like a failure. I think being brave enough to do what you and your baby need to survive and come out healthy is most important. I am so grateful for modern medicine in this instance because both my little girl and I are doing just wonderfully! I get to be her mommy, which might not have happened otherwise!!!!

  4. I disagree. I had a less than perfect birth experience with my first (and it was not cesarean), and I don’t see anything of value that can be learned from it. I felt like I was strapped down and tortured when they used forceps – it felt like my bones were being bent and about to break. I was later treated horribly by a doctor who had absolutely no respect for me; he wanted to check episiotomy stitches and coerced me into letting him examine them even though I said “no” a bunch of times. I was left feeling traumatized and completely broken. People said I should be happy because both my daughter and I were healthy. I cried on my daughter’s first birthday – it was the anniversary day of my days of torture. I went on to have a better experience with my second child, and that good experience only made me realize just what I had missed out on with my first. So I really don’t see what I can learn from it. Just want to forget it.

    • Dear Carol,

      *Hugs*… all I want to do is hug you and say sorry you had such a horrible experience. I am so sad to hear your story. It sounds truly horrific – I can completely understand being angry and upset at this. It is clear that you want the best start in life for your children as well as an empowering birthing-experience for yourself and I totally get being dissappointed (to say the least) when/if that does not come to pass. Birth is a big deal.

      This is hard stuff to discuss in writing, I find. It is the kind of exchange you want to have in person, eye-to-eye, soul-to-soul, know what I mean? Nuance and feeling can get lost… To be clear, I don’t want to argue you (or anyone) into ‘accepting’ what happened or finding peace with it. Plus, if being ‘angry’ (?) at it, helped you fight for what you wanted the second time, then the anger served you in its way, too. But I am totally not judging you or anyone who is pissed off at what happened. I totally get that reaction, too, and think it is totally appropriate, even righteous anger.

      I am here only talking about me. In my own life I find I don’t always have a choice over what happens but I do have a choice over how I react to it. Sh*t happens, as they say (not just in birthing, of course – with everything) and it is in how I deal with it that I have some (apparent) freedom. I can chose to dwell on the negatives of how my birthing story went but I do not see how that will serve me. I suffered from post-partum anxiety, as it was… I had plenty of other things dragging me down. I just feel blessed this was not (consciously, at least) one of them. I could have focussed on the unfairness of it all. I could have told and retold my story to myself and others, getting angrier, sadder… or I could look for the ‘silver lining’ and chose to dwell on that, instead. Honestly though, I don’t even feel it was a choice. I feel I got lucky. I happened to attend a Birthing from Within class that urged us to ‘face our tigers’ (read: fears) before giving birth and I happened to imagine my worse case scenario: cesarean. And at that point, I found myself letting go of the details and truly and spontaneously rejoicing in the birth of my daughter – no matter what. I get that this is rare. In fact, I have only met one other homebirth-to-cesarean transfer that felt it was somehow still a spiritually rich experience.

      But actually, in truth, it was not a choice, when I think about it clearly. If it were that easy, I would also have chosen not to keep any negative thoughts AFTER the birth (about being unsupported, about having a non-stop-breastfeeding-colicky-baby whom I LOVE DEARLY and found it exhausting to try and meet her needs). So life brings you what it brings you, and in my experience even the feelings and thoughts just come, unbidden. I have never found a new-age, self-help book that says that. They all focus on change and taking control. But my spiritual path, Advaita, emphasises this often: you are not the cause of your life, you are the effect of Life. See through it and dance.

      Again, I am talking about me. Sorry this was rambly but I want to emphasise again, I respect your path and your pain and totally defend your right to feel exactly as you feel.

      Loving hugs and thanks for taking the time to write, even when it wasn’t all flowers and butterflies. Thank you,
      Gauri

  5. Pingback: We need more OBs to support vaginal breech deliveries « Loving Earth Mama

    • Awww! Than you so much for including me. How sweet of you to think of my lil’ old blog. I am touched. But honestly, not sure I have the energy and time to participate. I did the first award I was given but have pretty much bottled out since… I have so little time to blog it is hard just doing basic photo and story-update posts… but I am truly grateful that you thought of me and included me: Thank you, again!

      Hugs,
      Gauri

  6. Hi!

    I was searching for Doulas (preferably who are familiar with Weston Price diet) in Portugal and I found your blog… I am enjoying every post you wrote :)
    Are you Portuguese? I’d love to ask you some things by email, if possible.
    Thank you!

    • Ola’ Maria,

      Yes, I am Portuguese but I have been living out of Portugal since I was 18 (umm… let’s just say it has been a long time) and have been in the US for the last 6 so not sure I can be of much help. I heard it is very hard to find a doula in Portugal if you are planning a hospital birth because hospitals just won’t let them in. Have you heard that, too?

      Podes me mandar um email. Eu mando-te um email com o meu endereco.

      Ciao,
      Gauri

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