There was an article going around the internet recently about a birth photographer that would not take photos of a woman’s C-section because the photographer thought it was not real childbirth. I read the article and didn’t think much of it except that the photographer was clueless. Apparently, others on the internet were more vocal about their discontent.
This week, I read an article with the photos of C-section that were put together in response to this. The pictures were messy, beautiful, and awe-inspiring.
I don’t think back to my daughter’s birth all that often. It was the beginning of her life and memorable, but it was messy, painful, lonely, stressful, humbling, gratifying, and about 50 other emotions that major surgery, hormones, and exhaustion made me feel. I went into labor knowing that I was lucky to have had a healthy and normal pregnancy. My husband I were also warned early on in the pregnancy, that if an emergency happens, we lose our decision-making ability, and the medical staff takes over. I had researched the drugs that they could give me to eased the pain, I had read stories about the nightmares of tearing, pain, and other horrifying things that I could only imagine how horrified I was going to be if they happened to me.
People put together birth plans. They go over them with their doctors. The way I looked at it, I was sure the doctor knew more about this than I did. I also felt that this baby had been running my life for 9 months and was going to continue to for the next 18 years, I might as well just go with it. I didn’t formalize a birth plan, but I did as much research as I could ahead of time (mostly on the medicines potentially used) so that I was prepared with my opinion, should that be needed.
I am not normally this laid back. Again, I knew I was not the expert on this and I was going to trust those that were and have faith in the process.
That being said, in my experience, my C-section was most definitely child birth.
First of all, Merriam-Webster defines birth as:
- The emergence of a new individual from the body of its parent
- The act or process of bringing forth young from the womb.
That sounds like my C-section.
According to the CDC in 2014, 32.2% of births were via Cesarean. (https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/delivery.htm)
Women have C-Sections for a lot of reasons and it’s not my place to judge why they have them. That being said, here is my experience and proof as to why a C-section is not necessarily a walk in the park. I may not be the strongest woman out there, but I am healthy and I am tough.
I planned on having a vaginal birth. My water began to break at 3:45am. At 9:00am, I went to the doctor’s office where they finished the process and sent me to the hospital. For the rest of the day, I lay in a hospital bed, watching tv, and experiencing labor. After 12 hours or so, I was only 2.5 cm dilated and that wasn’t changing. Doctors started talking about inducing me. I started doing more research on the specific drugs they wanted to use for this between contractions because I had focused my research on pain killers, not on the drugs for inducing labor.
After a shift change, the night shift doctor also mentioned inducing me. My husband and I sat in a room, listening to monitors, watching sitcoms on tv, and I was starting to get nervous. Then the baby’s heart rate went off the monitor. I remember asking my husband if he should go say something to the nurses. He assured me that there were banks of monitors outside the room at the nurses station along with a ton of nurses watching them. While it felt like an eternity, it was probably only moments before the nurse and a doctor came in. They relocated the monitor and did whatever else it was they felt they had to do. Almost immediately, we were informed that we they were going to perform a C-section and my husband was being gowned up. There wasn’t any time for real panic. They explained what they were going to do in the calmest voices I had ever heard and explained that the doctor was finishing up another C-section and would meet us in the operating room.
While in the operating room, there was nothing pleasant about this surgery. The sounds and talk that I heard from the other side of the curtain were not that pleasant. I was able to feel a lot more of what was happening than I expected. I was nervous about the conversations happening on the other side of the curtain. There were medicines being administered to me and information as to why being told to me and it was all just confusing. On top of that, I was worried about the baby. This was an emergency, how could I not be worried about the baby? There was nausea from a dip my heart rate took. Then I started stressing out how I was going to vomit when I was laying on my back and barely able to move. There was pain, worry, sickness, and fear.
And then there was relief. Within 15 minutes of being notified of the C-section, my daughter was born. There was the comment “look at those cheeks” because she had big, round, squeezable cheeks. My husband was sitting next to where they weighed her and did their tests. He got to hold her first. I got to see her from afar. After a couple of minutes, we were all doing well enough that they could lay her on me and I could stroke her face. I couldn’t move the other arm because it was connected to so many machines. She had dark curly hair and was perfect.
I’m the photographer in our family, but my husband and the nurses got some amazing pictures of that day. There was no question in anyone’s mind that it was my daughter’s birth.
The pain that my body was in for weeks after this surgery also reminds me that this was not a walk in the park. The fact that the state I live in gives two extra weeks for short term disability for mother’s that have C-Sections also indicates that this is not an easy process.
That birth photographer who thought C-Sections were not real birth is clueless. That’s really all that needs to be said. Birth is birth. It’s messy, beautiful, painful, awe-inspiring, humbling, and amazing.