Most of the women in my family have had C-sections. When I saw the positive line on my pregnancy test, I was determined not to be “plagued” by a C-section delivery for my little one.
I’m the youngest one in an extended family of many women—in my eyes, I was younger and wiser, I would be above that, I would have a natural vaginal delivery and triumph the struggles of the older generations. I would be the one to finally “get it right.” It all seemed straightforward—I would watch my weight gain, stay home as much as possible during early labor, and simply push out that baby.
But that didn’t happen.
I gave birth nine days after my due date. I labored for three days. I stayed home as long as I could until I couldn’t walk and I was vomiting. After being admitted to the hospital, I begged for an epidural. As I neared the end of labor, I got a fever that rose rapidly while I was pushing—three hours to be exact. Then I quit.
I threw in the towel and demanded a C-section. The one thing I was determined to avoid, I ended up demanding. My nurses and doctors told me to hang in there and keep trying. They told me they could see the hair on my son’s head and I was so close to the end. However, I was completely done.
After being prodded with countless needles, having dirty hair matted to my head, eating only one cracker packet and one mini juice box across two days, and lying vulnerable in a hospital bed gown I simply could not go on.
After delivery, I felt like I had lost the labor and delivery race. A race where I was at the finish line, but couldn’t cross. I was greatly disappointed. The delivery nurses apologized to me, “I’m sorry,” they said, “Look at my scar, it’s shrunk over the years!” along with the many doctors on duty, “I’m sorry, you gave it your best.” I received condolence gifts from family friends in the mail. I made it clear to my doctors, family and friends that I feared and never, ever wanted a C-section so this is how they responded to me.
I laid awake at night trying to sift through my feelings the day after my marathon delivery. In retrospect, it was such a waste that these thoughts were even going through my head as my perfect, healthy baby boy lay next to me sleeping.
I talked to my older sister on the phone, sharing our feelings since now I could understand something she went through that was previously very foreign to me. Together, my true feelings surfaced from our discussion.
Why was I so obsessed with the “perfect” labor and delivery?
Of course, we should be allowed to create a birth plan and aim to achieve that. But shouldn’t we also be celebrating the fact that we created a human, however they come into this world? Or celebrate the triumphs of our pregnancy?
What I’ve learned is that no matter how you delivered, with or without medication, C-section or vaginal, forceps or vacuum—you made a human. And you survived nine months of growing a human.
So instead of mourning my “flawed” labor and delivery, I shifted my attention.
I celebrated my personal triumphs during my pregnancy.
I celebrated that I wrote and submitted a 92-page grant to the National Institutes of Health with no coffee.
I celebrated that I ate the healthiest I have in my entire life, including packing my lunch daily (which is a big deal for me).
I celebrated that I practiced mindfulness, prenatal yoga and kept my voice and stress controlled.
I celebrated that I embraced my body changes and felt good about my evolving figure and my bump and I didn’t focus on the weight I gained as a negative.
I celebrated that I felt beautiful and vibrant.
I celebrated that when I was sick or tired, I gave myself space and time to slow down.
I celebrated that I made a whole new group of friends—mom friends—people who bonded with me during my time in pregnancy, kindly sharing their advice and experiences.
These are the things we should celebrate after birth rather than the one transient moment in time that we cannot control. So, in the end, I’m not sorry I had a C-section. I’m sorry that I put so much focus on something so fleeting.