C-Section Wasn’t the Worst


c-section wasn't the worstI can remember when I first started thinking about myself as someone who may one day birth and parent other humans, I thought a cesarean section was about the worst thing that could possibly happen to me. The idea of an ugly scar, limited swimsuit options, and major surgery were physically revolting in my young mind (turns out, a c-section wasn’t the worst).

I spent some time researching birthing options when I found out I was pregnant with our first child. I even switched providers to have more holistic, woo-woo care from midwives versus a traditional OB-GYN. My ideal birth was unmedicated, in a birth center with a queen size bed and birthing tub, and not a sterile hospital room with stirrups and twenty nurses in the room. However, that all quickly changed when it came time for little man number one to enter this realm.

My water broke spontaneously at 37 weeks and after 24 hours of labor, we were stalled. Baby’s head was stuck (thanks 90th percentile noggin), and his heart-rate had dipped a few times. So, we headed from the natural birthing center to the hospital for an emergency c-section. At that point, all that mattered was getting the baby out safely and making sure he was healthy.

Fast forward to several weeks later, standing in front of the bathroom mirror with my newborn in the pack-n-play in the next room… that scar was staring back at me. And, surprisingly, it wasn’t so bad. It was straight, very low, and not as ugly as young Olivia imagined it to be. Was it a perfect recovery from childbirth? No. Did it make me afraid of having another c-section? Also no.

So, when the planned vaginal birth after cesarean ended the exact same way the first birth did, with a lowered baby heart-rate and a stalled labor, I was much quicker to accept the idea of a c-section and not feel sad about the outcome. Now, the recovery was worse the second time around….maybe because I had a toddler to care for, too. But apparently that’s normal, and no one told me beforehand.

I’m 12 weeks postpartum, staring at myself in the bathroom mirror once again. They used the same line, and it isn’t going to be any uglier than it was the first time. The big differences I’ve found are that it’s a little harder to recover when you are also caring for a 30-pound toddler and that it takes longer to get your “mojo” back. I’m walking, going to pelvic floor therapy, and trying not to be upset that it’s taking longer to lose the baby weight this time.

All in all, the mental aspect of bouncing back from babies has been the biggest challenge, which we all face regardless of whether our baby gets here vaginally, through c-section, via surrogacy, adoption, or the powers of the universe. Motherhood is an adventure no matter how you got here, and you just need to be kind to yourself as you navigate.


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