Wednesday, May 19, 2010
A Tale of Two C-Sections
My first child, my son, was an emergency c-section. A combination of "problems" conspired with a lack of knowledgeable labor support to send me racing to the OR. I put "problems" in quotes because while macrosomia ("big baby") and failure to progress SOUND medically fear-inducing, they are seldom the emergency that cut-happy OBs make them out to be... they are more of a "problem" when something RARELY goes wrong and results in a malpractice suit.
The result was an emotionally devastating three HOURS of recovery time in which I was not ALLOWED to see my first child. Laying in bed alone, struggling to wriggle my toes in the hopes that such an action would get me back to my room faster...
I still think there was a lingering negative impact on my parenting. It seemed to me that from the start, I wasn't supposed to have had my baby. Nature itself tried to tell me by not letting me birth him.
Unsurprisingly, this thought came back with every parental doubt that entered my mind. I cried silently more times then I care to admit, wondering if I had done something that went against the laws of nature by conceiving and raising (but not birthing) this child. Or maybe the stress-filled rush of the c-section permanently turned my child from a trusting baby into the fussy, colicky creature that protested life's sudden changes at every turn. After all, I couldn't save him from the cutting, ripping entry he made into the world; how could I protect him from anything?
Years later, I had gotten past this little emotional issue... or so I had thought.
With the impending birth of my second child, I discovered to my horror that I wasn't ALLOWED to birth my second child either. In fact, I wasn't even ALLOWED to go into labor this time. This was made all the worse my a time-table set by the doctor's estimation of my due date, which I know for a fact was either a week late (unlikely) or THREE WEEKS TOO SOON. That's right, he not only wanted to rip my second child out of my body, he wanted to do it before she was ready... and no amount of protests on my part could convince him his precious ultrasound was wrong. Never mind that I knew when I had sex and when I didn't.
As I struggled with the stress of late pregnancy and raising a (still fussy/needy) pre-schooler, I tried to find a way out of this mess. However, it turns out that in my state (bass-ackwards Nebraska), my choices were to schedule a c-section, labor (alone) at home, or show up at the hospital in labor and hope they didn't FORCE me into surgery (they can and have done that). Enter more weeping...
In the end, I didn't have the strength to fight them and scheduled the c-section. As with the first, there were no complications during the surgery or during recovery. However, there is still the emotional problems that no one seems to care about as long as you don't murder your children.
Like the nagging suspicion that these aren't my kids... I mean, really, how would I know? And, with the second one, the more nagging suspicion that she is almost a preemie, taken weeks before she was ready. The doubts and worries that plague me with every cough and sniffle - c-section babies are more likely to have respiratory problems, even into adulthood. The sudden bouts of paranoia - increased chances of SIDS. Sometimes I go about parenting with a disconnect that frightens me - a disconnect that I feel comes from not feeling or even seeing my babies leave my body.
All of this is made worse by the so-called comforting words of well-intentioned people who just don't get it. "At least you're all healthy/alive." "She's so pretty, because she got taken out via c-section." "Congratulations!"
Yeah, "congratulations". Like I did anything more then not kill them in utero and then lay there like an incompetent log while someone else did the work of bringing them into the world. I didn't even get to see or touch them unless someone else allowed it and facilitated it.
And so the pain and doubt continues.