To the unexpected, unplanned c-section mama, I see you standing there.
Alone, near the back of the mommy group, wondering how, or if, you fit in.
When it comes your turn to introduce yourself and your babe you’re hesitant to touch on his or her birth. Because you don’t know how to start the story, because you’re still digesting how it even came to be.
You feel lots of eyes on you in these settings, and you may wonder why you’ve even come in the first place. You definitely wanted out of the house, after your six week house arrest where you weren’t allowed to lift the car seat to drive around town while you recovered from surgery. But here and now, you feel judged and you feel alone and stupid for having come. So you focus on staring at your sweet little babe, fixing his or her hair with a tuck behind the ear, instead of interacting with the rest.
You may not fit in with this mommy group. And that’s ok- because lets be real, a lot of these groups truly suck and are a sorry excuse for socialization, especially if they’re making you feel the way you do. Some of them do have judgmental women in them. And if that’s the case, get the hell out while you can.
Because anybody who judges your story isn’t worth your time.
I should know, because I was there. And your story is worth telling and you have value.
I saw you labor.
I saw you try.
For two entire days you gave it what you had.
Whether it was the induction that started it all, or your waters breaking prematurely, whether it was your blood pressure spiking or your sugars, whether it was the pregnancy from hell to begin with or this came as a total surprise to you, whatever it was that led you down this path it wasn’t fair. Not to you. Because you wanted a different outcome for your birth.
And I wanted a different outcome for you.
If doulas were in the business of guaranteeing outcomes we’d be a wealthy lot. Unfortunately, this is not the case. But I was invested in you, and we went through this together and we ran the gamut of options to avoid your surgery- Each and every one. I do hope there was support for you in that.
But do know it still wasn’t fair. Because you worked so hard.
Whether you place blame on the health system that seemed out to get you, or on your stubborn baby, or even on me, that is ok. Just don’t place it on you.
Don’t burden yourself with the blame because you, amidst trying to transition to motherhood like everyone else, also had to muster the courage and bravery to undergo major abdominal surgery to bring your child into this world.
Don’t burden yourself with the blame because while you were trying to become a mother you had to make the hard and fast decision to sacrifice your plans and dreams within which to meet him or her.
Trying to learn how to become a mother is burden enough.
You may have felt scared. Sad. Angry, frustrated and disappointed. Fuming, confused, depressed or broken. Unsure of yourself.
And each and every feeling you felt was, and is, justified, whether you’re ten days postpartum or ten years. These wounds take time to heal.
You are not silly to mourn the loss of your vaginal birth. Do that- mourn it. Cry and kick and scream.
You may feel like your partner or husband just doesn’t get it when you’re still “dwelling” on this.
But I know why this is important to you. And I will listen.
As should anyone else- because though your story didn’t follow the narrative you wanted it to, it is so worth hearing.
Because you need to know you are not lesser. Not as a mother, and not as a woman.
Your body is not broken. It is still the temple in which you carried your perfect child, and a purple line marks the place where you sacrificed everything to first meet his or her face.
When you touch that scar as you feed your baby, or in ten years when you’re looking yourself in the mirror on your way to work, remember you were so fucking brave. You are so resilient.
I can’t tell you how much I wanted the birthday to go differently. But your strength throughout it was a gift to me, and to everyone in that room. You- the laboring woman, were the essence of determination, resolve and spirit, and if that’s not a hell of a good lineup of qualities for a woman who is about to become a mother, then I don’t know what is.
So amidst all those emotions floating around that day, there was also pride, on my part, for having had the honour of witnessing you. And I know your memory of that day may not be overridden with that emotion for some time, but I hope you know you made me feel it.
Because you are amazing, c-section mama. You have taught me so much.
As you work through the journey that is coming to a place of acceptance about that day, know that I feel you. Know that when I hugged you and we sobbed together in the birth unit that that was sincere. Know that it’s still ok today to cry. But know there’s more for you.
Know that in addition to sadness, you also deserve, and have the right to feel pride about your cesarean section, as you taught me. About your abdominal birth.
My hope for you is that some day you’ll summon up that same massive strength you had those months ago to set those mommies straight- tell them that you had a c-section, and that sometimes you feel sad about it, but sometimes, there’s pride, too.
All stories are carried by emotion- that’s where you can begin your account of that day. Your feelings are your story- and it’s a good one.