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Sliced and Diced

For those of you late to the party, allow me to begin this post with a bit of a recap. Mia was born two and a half years ago via scheduled c-section due to being breech. This time around, I elected to try for a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean), went into labor the day before my scheduled last-resort c-section, and ten hours later delivered Owen via... well... I certainly wouldn't call it an "emergency" c-section, but it was a "pretty darned speedy" c-section.

Here's how I feel about that:

I could not have asked for anything better. I got absolutely everything I wanted out of Owen's birth.

First and foremost, I got Owen. Healthy, happy, and huge. His safety and well-being were the only things that really mattered to me, the rest of it was just static. Ok, my safety and well-being were rather important to me too, and while I did have some dicey moments the day after surgery, I'm in one piece, only moderately sore, and able to care for my children.

I wanted Owen to choose his birthday, which he did. He even defied conventional wisdom by arriving smack dab on his due date. I wanted to go into labor on my own. Having missed that with my first pregnancy and knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt that this was my last pregnancy, I wanted to experience labor. Guess what? It hurts. I wanted that "honey, it's time" moment. And while I was not opposed to a second c-section, if it happened I wanted it to be for medical reasons, not because it was the most convenient time for the hospital or my OB.

I have no doubt that this c-section was necessary and appropriate. As Brad put it, my cervix must be good at music or art or something, because it's sure not into physical activity. For whatever reason, labor just wasn't working for me. And considering that I was carrying a 9 pound baby and am a smallish person, even if my cervix had dilated like a champ, the chances are good that a c-section would still have been the best way to go. And to be perfectly honest, I was not at all happy about the prospect of squeezing a baby of any size out of myself the old-fashioned way.

Did I miss something by never having a vaginal delivery? Possibly, I suppose, although I will really never know. Lots of women have told me that they found their vaginal deliveries to be empowering, and I can totally see that. But personally, I feel strong and empowered and amazing because of my ability to carry my two children, to nourish them with my body both before and after birth, to raise and support and love them and teach them to love. I am not likely to be convinced that my experience is missing any fundamental element merely because my children entered the world with the aid of a scalpel. I am too busy being grateful that I live in a time and place where I was able to insure the safe delivery of these children.

I do have regrets. Or really, one regret. Due to the surgery, I have had to ask Mia to continue to be patient with the things that I am not able to do. I have had to ask her to wait for Mommy to pick her up, wait for Mommy to be able to roll around on the floor and run through the halls with her, wait for Mommy to heal and get back to doing so many of the things she wants Mommy to do. And she has been so patient, so kind and concerned, but I had already asked her patience and understanding in the last weeks of my pregnancy, and I had hoped to come home from the hospital ready, or much closer to ready, to do whatever she asked of me. And I'm not, and that bothers me. And I admit to sparing a fond remembrance for my tiny, three-inch, nearly invisible scar from Mia, which has given way to a ragged, red and swollen scab that seems to reach from hip to hip. I don't care about the scar, not really, although in that secret shameful corner of my brain where I store my vanity, I do. Just a bit.

But in the end, please spare me no sympathy. I harbor none for myself.

Comments (51)

Just remember that not every vaginal delivery mom comes home from the hospital running a marathon. Many have complications. I had 4 c-sections, so I wouldn't know from personal experience, but I know other moms. My first 3 c-sections were emergency, but my 4th was planned. I felt much better when I came home from that one and was cooking and cleaning and doing laundry and wound up back in the hospital with high blood pressure and nearly a heart attack.

My point is that your regret over having to ask Mia more patience is fine (of course), but know that you might feel crappy no matter what.

gotta agree with the first commenter,
No marathons for me, and even though it was vaginal - I also share the scapel with my dear c -section friends.

Very well said, Beth.

I also have two c-section babies; the first was an emergency section after 18 hours of labor and four hours of pushing, and the second was scheduled (I use that term loosely because there are a TON of circumstances, including a thirteen week, complete bed rest, hospital stay)due to a complete placenta previa. Do I wonder how it would have felt to finish a vaginal delivery? On occasion. But, I wouldn't trade those delivery experiences for anything because the bottom line is my two gorgeous girls.

Sending you all my best healing vibes.

Yeah, pretty lady- no regrets! I had a vaginal delivery and couldn't even WALK properly for 6 weeks (never mind do anything with my husband...). I would do it the same way again, but I think it's easily 6 of one, half dozen of the other as far as healing goes. Mia HAS a mommy to get back, that's the important part.

I delivered vaginally 3 times. Once with no epidural because I thought I had "missed something". I hadn't and neither have you.

I found while pregnant all three times that people would jump to tell me their birthing stories. Sort of like when you are engaged and everyone wants to tell you their engagement story. The point is that most people are enamored with what happened to them b/c it brought them the loves of their lives. The details only matter because they are yours, and therefore beautiful.

You are a writing machine Beth !

I'm so glad that everything has worked out nicely, despite your physical pain. I do have sympathy for you for that. I'm very glad that you will be gracing the internet with beautiful pictures !

Wow, that was so well written. Lovely. I've never gone into labor on my own (induced the first time and breech c-section the second time) and I DO wonder sometimes what it would be like. But I don't plan on finding out! Two kiddos works for us.

2 things:
1. because of c-sections you are alive. This is what I tell myself in the very rare case I ever thought I might have missed something. For me, if it wasn't for that my oldest and I would be dead.

2. Instead of feeling bad for Mia, think of it as a learning experience for her. Teaching her to be a bit more self-sufficient. It's one of the gifts to oldest children that make them who they are. She's your big helper now. You will recover. She will get her mom back. Right now she's learning that sometimes even mom needs help.

Congratulations again!

My son was born vaginally (barely, thanks to his HUGE head and my lack of hips) with the help of the ol' vacuum after 3 hours of fruitless pushing. I wouldn't really say that the birth itself made me feel particularly empowered and I don't think you really missed anything. The empowering and amazing part for me was meeting my beautiful boy after 9 long months!

I'm glad Owen made it into the world safely and you're on the road to feeling better!

It broke my heart not to be able to grab Piper up in a big hug after having Graham. It wasn't too long before I could do that again, though, and, like Heidi said, she grew more self-sufficient in the meantime.

Great post! I'm trying for VBAC in July, and as long as everyone's safe and happy, I'm not too worried about how this one comes into the world.
By the way, my son also weighed exactly 9lbs 3oz, and although my cervix dilated to 10cm, after hours and hours of pushing the doctors said it was time to 'take the hint' and go for the c-section. And I'm not an especially small person!

For what it's worth, I second what the first commenter said: my sister-in-law had a vaginal birth and was no more mobile coming home than my other SIL who had a C-section.

And b's comment was lovely, and I second it, too, in its entirety.

Other than it being "cool" to see the vaginal birth, from a dad perspective, it's no better in any way. As far as the scar goes... I'm not sure but I think Jen might trade you her stretch marks for that scar.

The second to last paragraph made me cry at work. Thank you.

I'd like to second heidi's points.

That was wonderfully written, Beth! And Heidi raised a really good point, that Mia's learning that sometimes mommy needs help. I laughed at "healthy, happy and huge" (I was 9lb9oz, myself.) and Brad's comment was also rather hysterical!
Wishing you a speedy recovery!

I have enjoyed reading Owen's birth, you had an amazing experience especially with making it through all of the low points, I don't think I could do it and you should feel incredibly empowered. I too have to agree, even if you had a vaginal delivery you would probably be in a similar shape, I could hardly move for a week after Lance and I could barely walk for 6 weeks, hopefully #2 will be easier.

What a wonderful post. I'm so happy you're happy.

I've never been opposed to having a c-section because all I'd want is for the baby and me to be safe and healthy. And now that might have to be a possibility. This kid is estimated to weigh 5.5 pounds AT THIRTY WEEKS. If he goes full term (and being on bed rest, that's obviously the goal) he could be 10.5 pounds. My doctor questions the ultrasound, so we're getting another one in three weeks. If he truly IS that big, then we'll do a c-section which is fine with me because, like you said, even if I tried vaginally we'd probably need one in the end anyway.

This doesn't bother me at all. And the way I see it: I've already experienced labor and some minor dialating (see bed rest above) so really, I don't mind if I don't do it again. It would be nice for him to pick his birthday though. That was a good point.

I've had 3 c-sections, 2 unplanned, and, was always mystified by sympathy expressions for it.

I got the babies, and, like you said, isn't the goal to grow them and get them out?

That was a really good post. I'm so glad that you've taken the time to give us all of the story. I felt very similarly after my 13-hours of labor that resulted in a c-section. There is certainly some reason that it went that way and I got what I wanted out of it - my daughter!

Wear your scars proudly! Way to go! There is nothing better in this world than looking at your two beautiful children and knowing that your body was able to do that, to provide the world with the gift of them.

I'm so impressed by your levelheaded, well-written post on this subject!

I was so wrapped up in how my daughter would get here, I barely prepared for her to BE here. Now, almost 2 years later, I am happy to remember the details of her birth but the politics, the hand wringing of it all is totally lost on me. All I remember is the love.

You rock, really. I don't know how you did it.

Been there, done that (except in the reverse - first was labor ending in c-s with a 10+ pounder, 2nd was planned c-s). Well said. Thank you.

i haven't given birth yet and am not currently pregnant so posts like this FREAK ME OUT about the whole thing.

then again, it also makes me super amazed at what we as women do when it comes to childbirth, labor and just being a mom.

beth, you're amazing!

b summed it up perfectly.

I didn't feel empowered by the way I gave birth to my children. I was too exhausted and overcome by the fact that there was an actual tiny baby. It didn't matter to me how they were delivered. I'm glad for you that you got to experience labor, since that's what you wanted.

The new scar will get nice and little in time.

I think people feel empowered after they climb mountains or finish law school, too, but it doesn't mean _I_ want to feel empowered via doing those things. Like my cervix, I will find other areas to showcase my skillz.

You've got it so much in perspective - you rock. Well written, as well. Love to you and Owen and Mia and Chris! (Even if it is creepy anonymous blog reader love.)

It's amazing how much the older kids seem to mature when the baby comes along. Mine is the same way. He totally gets that he can't always be picked up when he wants or that sometimes mom has to take care of the baby and he needs to wait. Congrats on everything. In the grand scheme of things, HOW he got here is such a small part of who he is. He's here, he's healthy and he is loved. What more could you ask for :)

Two vaginal births, two episoitomys, and labor. Both took their toll. Especially since both were big babies.
I love what you have written because it is open and honest and to the point. You never fail to amaze me.
You get no sympathy from me, just a great deal of admiration!

Wow. Are people feeling sorry for you? Have they SEEN how perfect your children are?

Wow - you have an incredible way with words. You echo my feelings in so many ways.
I have 5 beautiful children after 5 c-sections. It doesn't matter to me by what means they finally arrived. What matters to me is that I am grateful daily that they are here!

I had my first son with an epidural and my second with nothing and I think that EVERY woman who has a baby, no matter if it's her first, or tenth, no matter how it comes out, is an amazing woman. My second son is only 6.5 months old and my 2.5 year old son is still "waiting for mommy" for many things. I wish I could be everything to everyone as well. All we can do is love them and do the best we can and you know what, they think we are the best, at least until they become teenagers.
Congratulations on your wonderful children and your achievements. Personally I think getting through pregnancy deserves an award as well :)

Great post Beth, made me a little teary. I think this completely captures how a lot of woman feel about having had a c-section(s). It's exactly something I would say if I had the same eloquence as you.

This always seems such an emotive subject with some women so against c-sections it's scary. You and your baby being safe and well seem to be the most important things to me, however it happens.

I think no matter how you give birth the healthy happy baby and mommy part is the most important thing and also we all brave no matter what our story might be. Your story definitely is solidly in my top five bravery birth stories! And just giving birth period no matter shows the strength and power of women however they choose to do it because the birth part is such a small part - it is living through, making the best of, enjoying the 9 months leading up the birth and successfully surviving the next 20 (30, 50) years beyond that with your kiddos :)

No two babies are alike - no two deliveries are alike. I'm happy for you that Owen was able to choose his birthday as you had hoped and happy that everyone is healthy and on the mend.

You have an awesome outlook on it all. And you are right; you have Owen and that's enough.

I birth at home because it is the right choice for me (read: control freak!), but I know it is not for everyone.

I have loved reading your birth stories. Thanks for sharing.

My sister had a natural birth and a ce section birth. The first was my neice who was close to 8 lbs and two weeks late. My sister is barely 5 foot and weighs about 110 lbs. She had scarring and pain for over six months with her natural birth. It took her quite a while to get back to running or even any basic activity like that. When the time came for my nephew to be born, she really wanted to try for another natural birth even though the first was so painful. My nephew decided to be stubborn and three days late so the decided on a c section after much much deliberation. She was back to herself within six weeks. She has told me so many times that when I am considering the birth of my child, to think about myself and what a natural birth can do to my body, not just the baby.

You know, even with a vaginal birth you might have found yourself needing more time to heal and such than you expected. I'm sure it is hard to ask Mia to wait for you to heal, but she won't remember the waiting when it is all said and done. I'm about to have my 4th c-section next week, and I know my youngest will have a hard time (he's 2 1/2) adjusting, but it will all be over and none of us will remember it for too long.

Owen was big--a c-section certainly seems like the best way to go now that he is here. Enjoy your sweet new one and that precious girl too.

There are so many choices to make when it comes to having kids--i.e. find out what it is ahead of time or be surprised? Name it ahead of time or when you see it? Natural childbirth or drugs? Etc. But it's impossible to try every choice. I somewhat wished I had left knowing what at least one baby was to the end, but as my husband said, it's a surprise at some point, it's just a question of when you get it. I've wondered what I would have named them if I had left that to the end as well, but each name that I've chosen for my girls fits them perfectly. I had no choice about the c-sections but no regrets about that either. The stomach, the incision--don't look at it in the mirror. I didn't, for a long time as it was too demoralizing. It will all go away but please be patient with yourself. My cousin, a very fit and healthy nutritionist, said she didn't even try to take up a serious exercise program for a year after her kids. With my second I started an hour a day walking program one month after my c-section and I did not lose a single pound before my body was ready to let it go, even after a month. I don't think that was a good idea, in retrospect--it's better to let your body heal and I added needless stress. Anyway, though you don't go back to exactly the same maybe you will even like your new body better in time.

the only thing you missed with a vaginal delivery is the fear of peeing.

i promise, i was scared to pee for about 3 days.


I have 2 c-section babies and have been asked those same questions and I answer/feel the same way you do. I felt sad for Leah that I had to ask her to wait for me to heal- but the better you heal the better mommy you will be in the end. Please take the time you need- it's so short in the long run and Mia sounds incredible, very understanding little human. No sypmathy here- just a big fat AMEN!

You are amazing. I loved everything about this post.

You are a superstar. And Mia will be fine, the little sweetie.

I rather enjoyed this post. It's good to hear some honesty when it comes to subjects like this.

I had an emergency c-section. And while I don't mind missing out on a vaginal birth, I admit that I don't like the scar one bit. (And your first one was only 3"? Dude, while mine is very's long.)

You rule!

You know what you missed? You really want to know? You missed out on one rather important body part vaguely resembling Bubble Yum for the rest of your days.

That's all. :)

It shouldn't matter how we have our babies. What should matter is that they are safe and healthy and that the moms are safe and healthy too. Isn't the entire process of having children, from conception to birth, amazing enough regardless of the details? No one should feel they've missed something... nothing is missed when you get to hold your precious bundle! :) hugs to the happy family!

PS. Bubble Yum - bwahahaha!!!! Good one!

I know that some women find the whole birth experience very empowering, but I honestly don't think that it's the end-all-and-be-all. I'm with you - the fact that I carried and nourished my kid is something to be proud of, the way he came out is neither here nor there. Maybe if you can have it all on your own terms, in the comfort of your home, all that lovely crunchy granola stuff, but for me it was scary, painful (until that beautiful epidural), and overwhelming. I thank God for my epidural, considering I had an almost 9 pounder myself. I do have to say that I hope I'll be able to try again, simply because I think I could face it with more confidence.

You've raised Mia to be kind and loving, and I know she understands, in her own way, that you can only do so much right now. You'll soon be back to normal! Give yourself some time.

I originally wanted to have no drugs when I gave birth to my Little Dude, but, I think my mom, who is a nurse, summed it up best when she saw my misery and exhaustion - "There is no pride in pain."

And, she totally let my grandmother, whom I adore, have it, when grandma tried to pick on me a little for "going at it the easy way."

This being said, yes, I wish I could have been the "rock star" I've seen some of my friends/acquaintances be, by making it through birth with minimal assistance. Only because of the bragging rights, really.

However, my child is happy and healthy. I'm happy and healthy. Does it really matter what his birth was like 20 years from now? No. It matters that he made it, we bonded and our family grew.

I look at it like your grades from high school. Who truly cares that you were the valedictorian or the class clown ten years after the fact?

Sometimes in life, birth being one of them, the destination is more important than how the journey progressed.

Great post and so glad you have two healthy and happy kids!

I recently delivered my 2nd son (January 24th) by c-section. My first born was a vaginal delivery and having experienced both, I'm here to say you didn't miss out. I didn't feel empowered, I felt pain and exhaustion. If my husband and I have any more children, I'd totally choose a c-section over a "normal" delivery every time.

I know I'm late coming to the congrats party... but congrats all the same! My daughter was also 9lbs 3oz... I delivered vaginally, medication free (except for the horrific pitocin) and while I don't regret my choice I can tell you the only thing you really missed was a $*!@ load of pain. Owen is beautiful! And Mia makes a great big sister!

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