Redemption through C-section

In my last post, months and months ago, I explained why I was choosing to have a c-section.
In a word, the experience was redemptive. I hoped and prayed that it would be, but I knew there was no guarantee. Here's why I want to share this. I usually read that women want a VBAC (vaginal birth after c-section) usually after an unplanned c-section. Totally understandable. In fact, I was worried that I would have an unplanned vaginal birth and that terrified me. I know how silly that sounds but I was NOT going through that again. I am intentionally using the phrase "vaginal birth" instead of "natural birth" on purpose. My "natural birth" experience was like this: You are locked inside a room with  two options to get out: a bundle of Acme dynamite or a credit card. My daughter MacGyvered  her way out - all shrapnel and glass shards - and I did not want that with my son. All I'm saying is, what may seem natural to the mainstream may not feel that way to everyone. And isn't that a bit like how I feel, not part of the majority in more than a few things? Not only did I have to learn to stand firm in my decision without apology, but I wanted a freakin' re-do, man. This was my last go-round and I wanted to feel that afterbirth glow that my broken vagina did not allow me the first time. I specifically wanted a redemptive birth and recovery experience. 

Jakob Augustus

I reminded them of the clear drapes that would very shortly separate my own blood splatter from my face and I was aflutter with intrigue and excitement.  I lifted my head as high as I could to see as much as possible. Sadly, I only spotted my uterus not much else. I knew it was my uterus because I asked and my doctor who said, "you weren't kidding when you said you wanted to see, were you?" As if I would kid about such a thing! I felt the pressure of being physically sectioned and quartered. Exposed. I could smell the burning and it reminded me of family gatherings at grandma's when they were burning the hair off the goat. How fitting, because this was a family gathering of sorts.

As I lay on the table I remembered my friend, H.K., writing about lying on the surgery table, arms outstretched like Christ on the cross (read her incredible writing here.) I took that moment in. Gaping, open and vulnerable, I have never felt more powerful. The Body broken and the Blood shed for my redemption. Yes, it was becoming clearer, the spiritual weight of this thing: breadwinebodyblood. Here is what else I saw...that giving birth is not the pinnacle of a woman's power. It is her ability to love what is birthed of another, to love what did not come from her but to her. A spouse, adopted child, a BFF, a kitten. I see Mary at the foot of the cross, accepting and loving what was never to be hers.
And the physical weight, too. Birth is the brokenness that brings forth beauty. From the dark womb, this broken temple, a bright light. I was bio-luminescent.

Not everything went according to plan, though. My son was sent to the NICU because he was not breathing well but he recovered quickly, thank God. I knew he was here to stay, the one they called about that day in Ikea while Miley Cyrus sang about mountain climbing. My son, and-picked from among his embryo siblings. The chosen one.

The moment of truth would come slowly with the wearing off of the epidural. How bad would this pain be? The sites of impact were only inches apart but what a difference it made to use the credit card instead of a dynamite. Compared to the vaginal birth, complete with 4th degree tear, this recovery was a buh-reeze. I could actually sit on my butt instead of on one hip or another. I could walk! I could pee without a catheter! I was practically sprinting down the hall by noon after my 8am delivery. I was not messing around. I would be lying if I said I wasn't 98% motivated by the promise of my sister-in-law bringing sushi for dinner. The fact that I could sit with my son in the NICU without the immense pain clouding that experience was worth the slice. I was able to be fully present with my 2 girlfriends and family who came to visit without my thoughts being centred on my centre. Even trips to the bathroom were filled with wonder. The first birth left me dreading the experience with just how long it took to reassemble the inner workings of my undies. First the foot-long subway-sized ice pad, layered with a generous helping of formic-tipped barbed wire, a dusting of steel wool, topped with itchy insulation for good measure and held firmly in place by my granny panties. Comfy to sit on. That's what it felt like for about a month. I was so amazed at the level of freedom the c-section provided me that I HATED my first experience even more. But I did not want to dwell on that part.  I achieved what I hoped I would, a redemptive recovery.

I did not do it alone. I armed myself with the stories and experiences of other women who were willing to share with me. Those whose c-sections were unplanned and their recovery rough. And then there were women who had wonderful experiences. I took the advice of my postpartum nurse friend. I did not want those experiences to happen in vain. I recalled snippets from each one to build my own story. Thank you for sharing, ladies.

I'm glad I didn't succumb to (mostly subliminal) pressure to try a vaginal birth a second time. I did not even give it a thought despite the pamphlets and wall hangings but I could easily see someone trying to go through that experience again. Listen, if you want to redeem your (traumatizing) c-section experience, get that VBAC. I'll raise this 2oz pour of 12 year Macallan single malt to you, love bug. I support you. But I wanted my V back! And, if your experience was like mine, a c-section may be the way to go.  All I'm saying is, when a mama tells you she's going the c-section route, raise your rosé not your eyebrows. All births can be beautiful, yes?

I swear I'm his mommy and not his nanny. 

I am thankful for both birthing experiencing and even my NICU stay for this reason: empathy. The more I walk in different shoes, the more easily I can relate to and understand others, the less likely I am to judge. I'm hoping the more I share, the less someone feels alone. 

Final point, redemption. Mine just happens to be about my birth experience but the opportunity for redemption abounds. Not everything gets a re-do but some things can. Stand up for yourself and for the one life you have.


  1. Cheers to mamas standing strong in their convictions, in advocating for themselves, as well as their babies, to empathy, and to your redemption. Thank you for sharing.


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