Today, three years ago, I had a vba2c. My son was born still. I sometimes think that the most important gift I could have given him, was something I could not give my other two children, a REAL birth.
I recently posted a link to the story of my latest REAL birth on facebook and someone decided to tell me that it wasn't fair of me to say REAL birth, that a c/sec is also a REAL birth. I tried to be diplomatic and not offend anyone but seriously ... it was MY BIRTH! I can say what I like about MY BIRTHS! I've also had two c/secs and guess what? THEY WEREN'T REAL BIRTHS! Saying a c/sec is a REAL birth is like saying a prosthetic leg is a real leg, or dentures are the same as real teeth. No one would be that stupid or presumptuous to someone who lost a leg in a car crash. Why must we placate women by telling them that they gave birth via c/sec? Why not simply allow them to grieve?
I think what we need to do here is sit back for a minute and see why we're so invested in telling women that a birth is a birth no matter what. The only thing you need to do to be classed as having a NVD (normal vaginal delivery) is to have a baby come out of your vagina. But guess what? It's not NATURAL if there were forceps, if there was pethidine, if there was an epidural, if the cord was cut and the baby was whisked away to be poked, prodded and given an arbitrary score out of ten.
The reason we're so invested in the REAL BIRTH LIE is because hardly anyone has a natural birth that goes to plan. Well that's true of hospital birth, but not of homebirth. A NATURAL birth is where the mother is supported by those she loves and trusts, and she is the first person to touch the baby, when she pulls the baby to her and greets the baby with whispered joy and shocked elation. When those in the room looks on in silent awe of the moment that is taking place before them and leave.
What's that I hear you saying? "That's not always possible!" Well, NO SHIT! I've watched as a team of strangers tried to revive my still son, while they pumped him full of adrenalin and tried to start his tiny heart, I've been there while time stood still and all I could do was pray*. And my prayers have gone unanswered. I've also been there when my child was taken away from me, living, but needing special care after he was cut out of me. I've also had my perfectly healthy child taken from me because "babies aren't allowed in recovery". None of these experiences were NATURAL nor were they REAL births.
"how can you say that about your children?" I hear you ask. Well that's just it. I'm NOT saying it about them. They are no more their births than you are yours. I think society has latched onto the idea that birth is joyful and tried to make it a one size fits all emotion that women MUST feel when they meet their babies. How was my mother meant to feel when she met me? She'd had a general and I was cut out while she was unconscious. I know she loved me, and I know that my birth was separate to how she felt about me. That's just as well because she was off her face on pain relief! It's the same for me and my kids. I love them but THEY ARE NOT THEIR BIRTHS. My c/sec children are not their births, my stillborn son is not his birth and my triumphantly home birthed son is not his birth either. But his was the only REAL birth. And I can say that about MY BIRTHS. I can say it because it's a fact, and I can say it because I am the only person who can articulate how I FEEL.
It's time to call a spade a spade. Stop lying to women, surgery is not birth any more than dentures are real teeth. Stop having unrealistic expectation of how women should feel about THEIR births. Stop telling women they have unrealistic expectations of birth. Tell the medical world to give birth back to whom it belongs. Stay safe, stay home, and make appropriate use of medical technology only when necessary. Birth CAN be great, birth CAN be amazing, beautiful, empowering, transformative and so many other things. But only the woman whose birth it is can describe it. The more we call c/sec birth, the more we embrace the dangerous, financially motivated, medical approach to labouring women and new babies.
I wish you were here baby boy. I thank you for all that you have given me, and pray* you know how often I think of you.
* I am not religious