At the very first prenatal visit of my second pregnancy, my doctor asked if I was planning to have a second C-section. I was so focused on wanting to see a strong and healthy heartbeat, I hadn’t even considered how this baby would come into the world.

With my first child, I had an emergency C-section after 22 hours of hard back-labor—something I was wholly unprepared for. I did my breathing and visualization exercises, listened to music and had essential oils (and an epidural). I had my husband and doula for support. I was 9-centimeters dilated when they told me my baby couldn’t wait any longer.

The experience was very intense. I had never really thought about needing a C-section. I was scared and it all just happened so fast. It wasn’t the birth I had envisioned.

Did I want to do that all over again?

My doctor told me to think about it and around 20 weeks pregnant, we started talking more about what my birth plans were.

They gave me information about vaginal births after Cesareans (VBACs), and they said they would support me with whatever decision I made.

Yet I was so conflicted.

On one hand, I wanted that movie moment where you get to fully dilated, push and clutch your sweet baby in your arms. I had been so close to that experience before.

But because of that experience, I also knew that having a C-section didn’t make me any less of a woman or any less of a mother.

This time I had a choice.

I could labor again and risk the unplanned C-section scenario again. Or I could schedule a date to go in and meet my baby. I could choose. It was so empowering.

Deciding to schedule a second C-section

After lots of thinking, I chose a scheduled second C-section. There was so much about it that felt right for me. I could make sure my family was all in place to take care of my toddler. I could wash all the little clothes, and I could have a less hurried experience. So I signed on the dotted line. I knew it was right, but it was still one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever made. I was choosing to have surgery, something I knew was a big deal.

But I was also choosing to do it on a day that my favorite doctor was available, the one who had to change shifts right before my daughter was born. I was choosing.

But as the saying goes, if you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans!

I had a nice dinner with my family the night before my scheduled C-section. I did a long bedtime with my daughter, our last before she met her sibling. I laid down at midnight, knowing I would be meeting my little one at 10 am.

How my plans for a second C-section changed

I woke up an hour later in full-blown labor. The real deal, throw the phone down while the doctor is talking to you, yell at your husband, get this baby out NOW labor.

Contractions came on suddenly and powerfully, and we rushed to the hospital.

When I got to the hospital, my doctor met me and said, “You are 6-centimeters dilated. Do you want to wait and try to push?”

“Nope!” I replied.

So they prepped me and took me to the operating room.

I was in labor, but everything was healthy and fine. There was no emergency, so people took their time, and the room felt very calm. The room was full of peaceful conversation and laughter. We all joked and to help take my mind off of everything, my husband bored me to death by talking about how bond markets work—it was perfect.

And it wasn’t scary this time. My doctor talked me through the entire procedure. This is what I had chosen, even if the baby’s timing was a bit off.

It felt like everyone in the operating room was on the same team waiting to meet this new little being. We didn’t know the baby’s gender so I asked that my husband be allowed to tell me.

When our baby was born, we heard the most wonderful cry, followed by my husband saying, “It’s a boy!” Everyone laughed at the look of shock on my face. A boy?! I was convinced it was going to be another girl!

After a quick clean up, my sweet baby was placed near my head until I was ready to go to my room for my C-section recovery. I was free to touch him and kiss him and snuggle his little face. When I was all ready to go, he was placed in my arms. We had every moment together that a mother would have with a vaginal birth.

Although I didn’t push, I gave birth just the same. It diminished nothing about the moment of becoming a mother again.

It is so easy to make assumptions about people when we don’t know their story. Some people might assume that I chose a second C-section out of vanity or because I thought I was ‘too posh to push.’ And it couldn’t be further from the truth.

I chose it because I know my body and my mind.

I know how scary it felt for me when things were moving so fast and I could see the concern on everyone’s face. I knew how comforting it would be to have my doctor—this strong, amazing woman got to deliver my second child after spending my entire first labor with us. I chose it because I wanted what was best for my baby and me.

Five years later, I can’t imagine it any other way.

A version of this story was originally published December 3, 2019. It has been updated.