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Yes, I Loved My C-Sections

Why a great birth is actually one you feel comfortable with, no matter how it goes down.

Yes, I Loved My C-Sections

Cesarean sections often symbolize some kind of failure or unhappy ending of a story. My first c-section was the scary emergency kind, but my second was planned. Both times, they felt like a relief.

I’m one of those strange people who enjoys being fussed over, especially by doctors. One of my secret wishes (before I had children) was to have something very serious but not life threatening happen to me that would cause everyone to be concerned and require that I be nursed back to health in a very luxurious, spa-like rehabilitation center. I blame the children’s book, Madeline – particularly the part where Madeline gets her appendix removed and receives a beautiful dollhouse and becomes the envy of all 11 of her schoolmates.

And then, in college, my Madeline fantasy came true when I had an emergency appendectomy. It was certainly not the spa experience I had been hoping for, but it gave me some insight as to what abdominal surgery is like. So the possibility of a c-section was kind of like “the devil you know” scenario while a vaginal birth remained a horrifying and foreign concept.

My water had broken at 5am on a Monday, and by 8am on Tuesday I still had not fully dilated. The doctor explained that after a woman’s water breaks, it leaves the baby more vulnerable to risk – especially with all the foreign bodies being put into my vaginal canal to check the baby’s heart rate after a scare the night before, and to check my cervix. Even with Pitocin, my stubborn cervix hovered at 9 cm for hours without budging. My doctor felt that my body would not dilate further if it hadn’t dilated by then, and to wait would be too risky for the baby. The expert had made her decision. I was having a c-section. And I was secretly thrilled.

Seeing my baby after the surgery for the first time was mind-blowingly awesome, but the part after that -- after my husband and baby were escorted to another room and they began to close my incision -- was awful. To this day I hold fast to the idea that I was not drugged enough and that I could feel EVERYTHING. I still remember the feeling of my insides being cauterized, my arms shaking in their loose shackles in crucified Jesus position, and asking if anyone in the room wouldn’t mind holding my hand while I shook and cried.

I don’t know if it was the trauma of surgery, wacky hormones, not having been on any antidepressants during pregnancy, or something about giving birth in general, but from the moment they sewed me back up it was like a light had gone out inside of me.

For the week that I was in the hospital, I was horrified by and mainly obsessed with my post-surgery body and the way that my stomach didn’t shrink but got bigger and bigger from all the fluids and gasses. The fact that I was very constipated weighed heavily on me, literally and emotionally.

On one particularly low point, I spent an hour or two trying to force some movement in that department, and ended up with a ton of fluid accumulating under the surgery area from my efforts of bearing down. When I stood up in front of the enormous mirror in the bathroom, I realized that my vagina appeared to now be twenty times its original size. I ran around the room screaming wildly for a doctor. When one did not come immediately, I settled on the first person in a uniform to enter the room and asked if I could show him my vagina but then realized it was the guy who empties the trash cans. My husband tried to calm me down but I was not reachable. I flipped out so badly I refused to nurse my crying, hungry newborn, insisting irrationally that my husband nurse him (which he did figure out how to do, via a tiny tube hooked to some formula). I felt like a monster and was convinced I would never look like a normal person again. The Monster Vagina went away over the next few days, but the monster inside me was still there.

The short version is I had clinical postpartum depression and thought my baby was evil and trying to kill me. Thankfully Zoloft worked like a magic pill, and I emerged, finally, a normal person with normal mom feelings and a much more normal stomach.

Two years later, I was pregnant with my second son. My doctor felt very strongly that my body is the kind of body that would never dilate fully. If I had been born in the time of more crude medical practices, I would be the woman who had to have the baby ripped from her womb and bleed out on the table. We decided on another c-section. She explained that having an emergency c-section is extremely traumatic for the body, because the body has already been hard at work laboring and trying to squeeze out a baby, and then after it’s been working for hours, it gets opened up and its insides get messed with. An elective c-section would be much more civilized than my first horrific experience.

And it was. My Type A personality enjoyed knowing exactly what day I would be having my baby, being able to pack for the occasion, and making sure that we had care in place for our toddler son. I walked myself into the operating room and watched the entire medical team calmly prepare to bring my baby into the world. In the two years since I had had my first, the hospital had changed its policy about allowing the partner to stay in the room while the woman gets sewn back up, so I had my husband to hold my hand. My doctor made sure to pump me full of medicine and I didn’t feel a thing. I was so high off of how easy the whole thing was, and the drugs, that I was recommending c-sections to anyone I encountered in the hospital who was of childbearing age.

This time I did not obsess over my stomach, and calmly accepted that everything would go back to its normal place eventually. I did not get depressed this time – and I think that the combination of being more in control of my birth and also staying on anti depressants throughout the pregnancy had a lot to do with it.

I fell in love with my baby immediately and to this day am completely intoxicated by his smell and on some days feel I could run away to a desert island with him as my only companion and be happy.

When I talk about my c-sections to people, I find myself readying to say something along the lines of “yeah, I’m disappointed I’ll never get to experience a vaginal birth” but that would be a lie. I remind myself that not all things that can be humanly experienced must be endured. I also remind myself that in both cases, I got the births that I wanted. If I could do everything over again, I would still choose the same path. I am more than OK with my c-sections. I am grateful.

Image source: “Big Yawn” by Flickr user Björn Rixman under a Creative Commons license.

In This Article

    An expectant mama's to-do list can feel endless… but here's the good news: A lot of those tasks are actually really exciting. Planning your baby registry is especially thrilling: You get a say in what gifts friends and family members will buy for your new addition!

    But it can also feel a bit overwhelming to make sense of all the gear on the market. That's why we suggest mentally dividing your registry into two categories: items you need to prepare for your baby's arrival and items that sure would be nice to have.

    Here at Motherly, our editors have dozens of kids and years of parenting experience among us, so we know our way around the essentials. We also know how mama-friendly the registry-building experience is with Target, especially thanks to their recently upgraded registry and introduction of Year of Benefits. Just by creating your baby registry with Target, you'll snag a kit with $120 in discounts and samples. The savings keep coming: You'll also get two 15% off coupons to buy unpurchased items from your registry for up to a year after your baby's expected arrival. Change your mind about anything? The Year of Benefits allows for returns or exchanges for a full year. And as of August 2020, those who also sign up for Target Circle when creating a baby registry will also get the retailer's Year of Exclusive Deals, which includes ongoing discounts on baby essentials for a full year.

    Here are 10 items we agree deserve a spot in the "need" category on your registry, mama.


    A crib to grow with your baby

    Delta Children Farmhouse 6-in-1 Convertible Crib

    First-time mamas are likely creating nursery spaces for the first time, and that can get expensive. Adding a quality crib to Target registry gives friends and family members the option to join forces to make a large purchase through group gifting.

    $269.99

    A safe + convenient car seat

    Safety 1st OnBoard 35 LT Infant Car Seat

    The list of non-negotiable baby essentials is pretty short, but it definitely includes a car seat. In fact, most hospitals will not allow you to leave after delivery until a car seat check is performed. We recommend an infant seat, which can easily snap into a base in your car.

    $99.99

    A traveling nursery station

    Baby Trend Lil Snooze Deluxe II Nursery Center

    It's hard to beat a good playard when it comes to longevity. This item can be baby's sleeping place when they're sharing a room with you for the first months. Down the line, it can function as a roving diaper change station. And when you travel, it makes a great safe space for your little one to sleep and play.

    $99.99

    A swing for some backup help

    4moms mamaRoo 4 Bluetooth Enabled High-Tech Baby Swing - Classic

    A dependable swing can be a real lifesaver for new parents when they need their hands free (or just a minute to themselves). Because many babies are opinionated about these things, we appreciate that the mamaRoo has multiple modes of motion and soothing sounds.

    $219.99

    An easy-to-clean high chair

    Ingenuity SmartClean Trio Elite 3-in-1 High Chair - Slate

    Our best registry advice? Think ahead. It really won't be long before your child is ready for those first bites of solid food, at which point you'll need a high chair. We like one that transitions to a booster seat atop an existing dining room chair.

    $99.99

    A diaper bag to share

    Eddie Bauer Backpack - Gray/Tan

    When you're a mom, you're usually toting diapers, wipes, clothing changes, bottles, snacks, toys and more. You need a great bag to stash it all, and if you're anything like us, you'll choose a backpack style for comfort and functionality. Bonus: This gender neutral option can easily be passed off to your partner.

    $64.99

    A hygienic spot for all those diaper changes

    Munchkin Secure Grip Waterproof Diaper Changing Pad 16X31"

    We can confidently predict there will be a lot of diaper changes in your future. Do yourself a favor by registering for two comfortable, wipeable changing pads: one to keep in the nursery and another to stash elsewhere in your house.

    $29.99

    A way to keep an eye on your baby at night

    Infant Optics Video Baby Monitor DXR-8

    Feeling peace of mind while your baby sleeps in another room truly is priceless.That's why we advocate for a quality video monitor that will allow you to keep tabs on your snoozing sweetheart.

    $165.99

    A comfortable carrier to free up your hands

    Petunia Pickle Bottom for Moby Wrap Baby Carrier, Strolling in Salvador

    A wrap carrier may be about as low-tech as baby items come, but trust us, this product stands the test of time. Great for use around the house or while running errands, this is one item you'll appreciate so much.

    $39.99

    A full set of bottles + cleaning supplies

    Dr. Brown's Options+ Complete Baby Bottle Gift Set

    Whether you plan to work in an office or stay at home, breastfeed or formula feed, bottles are a valuable tool. To make your life as simple as possible, it's nice to have an easy-to-clean set that is designed to work through the first year.

    $39.99

    Target's baby registry is easy to create from the comfort of your own home. Start your Target baby registry now and enjoy shopping with the Year of Benefits featuring exclusive deals available via Target Circle, two 15% off coupons, a year of hassle-free returns, a free welcome kit and more!

    This article was sponsored by Target. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.


    Our Partners

    This post is brought to you by Staples. While this was a sponsored opportunity, all content and opinions expressed here are my own.

    One of the biggest changes in my household once my daughter started homeschooling was that, suddenly, everything and everyone in our home had to start pulling double duty. While I was used to wearing a lot of hats (mom, wife and WFH employee, to name a few), suddenly our dining room was also pulling shifts as a classroom. My laptop was also a virtual teacher. Our living room hutch was also a school supply closet.

    If I didn't want my home to be overrun with an abundance of clutter, I had to find products that could multitask. Here are 10 products that are saving this WFH + homeschooling mama right now.

    Stylish storage cabinet

    Whether I need a place to keep the printer or just want to keep crayons and colored pencils organized, this pretty cabinet provides a mixture of exposed and hidden storage without clashing with my living room decor.

    White board calendar + bulletin board

    With so much on our plates these days, I need a visual reminder of our daily schedule or I'll forget everything. This dry erase version makes it easy to keep track of Zoom meetings and virtual classes—and I also love using the corkboard to display my daughter's latest work from art class.

    Natural Recycled 3-Ring Binder

    From tracking our curriculum progress to organizing my family's paperwork, I can never have enough binders. Even better, this neutral version is pretty enough that I can display them on the bookshelf.

    Bamboo storage drawers

    The instant you start homeschooling, it can feel like you're suddenly drowning in papers, craft supplies and more. Fortunately, these simple bamboo drawers can be tucked into the cabinet or even displayed on top (seriously, they're that cute!) to keep what we need organized and close at hand.

    Laminated world map

    I love this dry-erase map for our geography lessons, but the real secret? It also makes a cute piece of wall decor for my work space.

    Rolling 7-drawer cabinet

    When you're doing it all from home, you sometimes have to roll with the punches—I strongly recommend getting an organizational system that rolls with you. On days when both my husband and I are working from home and I need to move my daughter's classes to another room, this 7-drawer cabinet makes it easy to bring the classroom with us.

    Letterboard

    From our first day of school photo to displaying favorite quotes to keep myself motivated, this 12"x18" letterboard is my favorite thing to display in our home.

    Expandable tablet stand

    Word to the wise: Get a pretty tablet stand you won't mind seeing out every day. (Because between virtual playdates, my daughter's screen time and my own personal use, this thing never gets put away.)

    Neutral pocket chart

    Between organizing my daughter's chore chart, displaying our weekly sight words and providing a fits-anywhere place to keep supplies on hand, this handy little pocket chart is a must-have for homeschooling families.

    Totable fabric bins

    My ultimate hack for getting my family to clean up after themselves? These fabric bins. I can use them to organize my desk, store my oldest's books and even keep a bin of toys on hand for the baby to play with while we do school. And when playtime is over, it's easy for everyone to simply put everything back in the bin and pop it in the cabinet.

    Looking for study solutions for older children? Hop over to Grown & Flown for their top picks for Back to School.

    Work + Money

    Cameron Diaz on having a baby at 47: 'You really have to work hard for it'

    "The only pressure for me now is I have to live to be, like, 107, you know? No pressure!"

    This is the decade that saw the face of first-time motherhood change. The number of first-time mamas under 30 is shrinking, while more and more women are becoming moms after 40.

    Cameron Diaz is one of them. The actress and businesswoman, now 48, became a mom in January at the age of 47. In a new episode of Naomi Campbell's YouTube series, No Filter, Diaz opens up about what it's like to become a mom in your fourth decade.

    "A lot of people do it the other way around ... they get married [and] have a family in their youth," says Diaz."I'm kind of doing it in the second half of my life."

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