In less than three months, I plan to go under the knife.
It will be a surgery with the most beautiful outcome I can imagine, resulting in the birth of our second daughter. I can’t think of a better reason to be cut open.
As it looks, birthing by cesarean section will be all I ever know. And (this may be hard for some to understand) … I’m totally OK with that.
Make no mistake, it will be painful. It will be messy.
But it will be perfect.
You may wonder how I can say that. It’s not that I set out to have my babies by c-section. In fact, to be honest, the thought of a c-section never seriously entered my mind when I was pregnant with my first daughter. Sure, we’d attended a birthing class, and I’d read through “What to Expect When You’re Expecting,” so I knew somewhere in the back of my mind that it was an option.
And unbelievably, as a notorious over-planner, it’s not like I went into labor with an elaborate birth plan either. My plan after 40-plus weeks of carrying this little life was pretty basic at that point–please, please, PLEASE, just get this baby out of me! Yet, I still assumed she would take the southern route.
However Olivia–and God–had other plans for her debut.
About 14 hours after arriving at the hospital in labor with her, it was time to push. And push I did for over the next two hours. I was making progress and the RN was describing Liv’s full head of dark hair to me, but something wasn’t right. Liv’s head was transverse. I remember my OB made several attempts to turn her head as I pushed, but as soon as the contraction was over, her head would turn right back. It must’ve all been very stressful on her, because her heart rate kept decelerating. And so my OB gently told me that she felt the best option for a safe delivery at that point was to quickly move to the OR.
What happened next struck me as so odd.
Everyone in the room, from the OB, to the RN, to the resident who had been observing my labor, began apologizing to me. “I’m so sorry,” they all said, with tilted heads and sympathetic gazes, as they began prepping me for the c-section to come.
“What are they sorry for?” I thought. “It’s OK,” I reassured them, as I struggled then to NOT push with each contraction as instructed. “I just want whatever is best.”
Less than 30 minutes after the decision for the c-section was made, Olivia Annmarie entered the world. But her experience of trying to find a way to greet it had taken its toll. She wasn’t breathing. Several minutes passed, and we didn’t even realize she was out of my body, let alone being bagged and worked on. I remember asking the anesthesiologist hovering at my head if she was almost out yet, and she replied that she was already out and over at the table. Then, we heard her tender little cry.
After a brief look at her, she was whisked off to the NICU with David following. But thankfully, after those first few moments, she rebounded quickly and had no further issues.
I’m not going to lie–my recovery from her arrival was long and hard. It took many weeks to start to feel somewhat normal again. But through the pain, I would look at my sweet baby girl and nothing else mattered.
She was here. She was perfect. (Even with the little “conehead” she initially sported right above her ear where she had gotten stuck.)
Not long after I got pregnant with our second, the questions started coming. Those who knew I had a c-section with Liv started asking, “So, do you think you’ll try for a VBAC with this one?”
I didn’t mind the question, and I knew the inquiries were well-meaning. But the answer is no, I am not.
Turns out, after discussing with my OB, that I have a slim chance at a successful VBAC. Liv’s birth revealed I have a misshapen pelvis, and it’s likely that if I labored again, it would end with the same result. And so, without hesitation or any regret, I scheduled my c-section for Baby No. 2.
What’s surprised me in the months since my first c-section is that I’ve learned my lack of regret regarding it is considered somewhat … abnormal. I’ve heard other moms describe how they’ve grieved over this method of birth and felt they’d been robbed of a different experience. How they’ve longed and hoped and prayed for another option. How they’ve felt their bodies failed in some way.
I’ve heard other completely well-intentioned moms cheer on those whose chance of a natural delivery is diminishing with mantras of “your body was made to do this!” Except, sometimes, it isn’t. And there should be no shame or guilt associated with that.
Because I believe that the verse we often quote regarding our tiny miracles applies to us mommas too: “I will give thanks to you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made … “ (Psalm 139:14)
If God’s ways are perfect (which they are), then I am also perfectly designed, just as He intended. And since His way is perfect, I can say with confidence that my children’s entrances into this world, whatever shape that may take, are part of His perfect plan as well.
So why did my medical team feel the need to apologize as I headed to the OR? Why the shame and the guilt and the regret expressed by so many? Just because your body doesn’t “do” something–be it a natural birth, breastfeeding, or the ability to bear a child on your own–doesn’t mean you have failed … because wouldn’t that be saying that God has failed in His plans for you?
To me, a life coming into this world–and the nurturing and growth of it–is miraculous and amazing any way it happens. What’s “best” may look different for each mother and child, but that doesn’t change the perfection of God’s design for you.
So to the mom who’s pushed out that child without any medical intervention at all, let me share the truth from God’s Word: you are fearfully and wonderfully made.
To the mom who bears the six-inch scar near her bikini line: you are fearfully and wonderfully made.
To the mom who nurses her babe for 18 months: you are fearfully and wonderfully made.
To the mom who prepares bottles of formula for her bundle of joy: you are fearfully and wonderfully made.
To the mom whose child was placed in her arms by another: you are fearfully and wonderfully made.
There’s nothing to regret about that.
“God’s way is perfect. All the Lord’s promises prove true …” (Psalm 18:30)