Thoroughly Modern Mammy Maria discusses the way in which other women can look down on mum who decide to have a c-section as opposed to a "proper" birth.
Magazine and Slabberloid Headlines last week were announcing the arrival of a Baby boy for Cheryl and Liam. How lovely.
The “news” was quick to inform us that Cheryl had opted for an “invisible C-section”, which apparently is performed by a surgeon of such skill and brilliance (and cost) that she won’t have a scar afterwards.
(My initial response to this is probably not suitable to print here on such a lovely forum, but if you’d like to read it, pop over to my Facebook page.)
The headlines started the “Too posh to push” and “natural vs section” debates again. It suggested that she chose the easy way out, and at no point considered that there may have been medical or indeed emergency reasons, for her section. And plenty are quick to criticise her. But do you know what I don’t get? Why the HELL is it anybody’s business? Can you imagine anyone ever asking you how many stitches you had in your ladybits? Or if you pooped on the table? Imagine!
And it reminded me of an encounter I had while pregnant with Princess. Here it is…
I am Section Mum
“Are you hoping to do it properly this time?”
I kid you not. This is what I was asked recently by another Soon-to-be Mum with whom I was having the “When are you due?” conversation.
She’d asked if this was my first. I’d answered that it was number two.
“Me too” she smiled. Then she asked if I’d had a tough time last time. I replied that I’d had to have a planned section. Her next line floored me.
“Aw, so are you planning to do it properly this time?”
Now in her defence, she was an absolute stranger, who probably didn’t intend any harm whatsoever. I don’t think she even realised that she’d said it…but she had.
I smiled politely and said Goodbye. As I walked away, my smile remained on my face, somewhat forced… I wasn’t quite sure whether I wanted to laugh or to cry.
Smug I-push-mine-out-Mum carried on, oblivious to the fact that she could have just offended or upset the other very pregnant lady.
The word “properly” has been bothering me since.
Because not only did it dismiss my first childbirth, it suggested that I did something wrong; that my first birth was improper.
Did she automatically assume that I was “too posh to push”? Did she think that I asked to have my stomach sliced open and my baby lifted out by surgeons? Did she really class a C-section as a sub standard, improper way of delivering a child? If she’s told that she needs to have one this time, is she going to say No because it’s not the proper way to do it?
What is the proper way? I listen to conversations all the time about childbirth and babies. There seem to be so many proper ways to do things.
Without medication. With just gas and air. With classical music on in the background. Without bright lights and alarm. Mammas who breathe through the pain are fantastic. Those who refuse drugs are wonderful. Those who have 60 hour labours are phenomenal. But those who take as much pain relief as we can have are equally as brilliant.
I don’t know of any new Mother who had Andy Peters standing waiting at the bottom of the bed to pin a Blue Peter Badge onto their properly born child afterwards.
I applaud and congratulate these warrior women, in the exact same way as I applaud and congratulate the woman who, for whatever reason, may it be medical, personal or indeed emergency, has to undergo the trauma of childbirth on an operating table.
A caesarean section is not what any woman anticipates when thinking of how their baby will be born. It’s terrifying. It’s painful. Your body goes through all of the same physical and indeed hormonal reactions to having just given birth as the body of a woman who has been lucky enough to give birth naturally.
There are stitches. There is afterbirth. There is pain… by God there is pain.
But most importantly, with the help of some higher power and whatever wonderful staff that are on hand in the hospital, there is a baby.
And that is what childbirth, in any form, is about.
It’s about getting your precious little darling out of your big swollen tummy as quickly and safely as possible. It’s about causing as little trauma as possible to your newborn, regardless of what your own body must go through. It’s about love.
And there is absolutely nothing proper about any of it.
Every woman dreams of a quick, pain free labour and uneventful delivery. How many do you know that have achieved that? I’d love to meet them.
Of course I’d love to have experienced childbirth like most women do. But do I feel like I have missed out on anything?
Do I feel that my darling daughter is any less born than her friends or cousins? Nope.
If my next child is born by VBAC, will that be more proper than Mini-me’s birth? Eh…no!?
But If I do manage proper childbirth this time, does that mean I’m finally a real mum and that I can finally be admitted into the proper mum club? Well I think you know where I’m going with this!
I’m already a real mum. I’ve already had a proper baby. I’ve already been through the horrors of childbirth, perhaps just a little differently to others.
In the same way as some women judge others for not breast feeding, or for taking whatever drugs are safely available to them from the doctors, or for giving their baby a dodey, that lady judged me for having to have a c-section to bring my baby to me safely.
And of course she didn’t intend to offend, but when we so flippantly share our own opinions on bump and baby matters, (and we do!), we sometimes dismiss experiences that we have never had ourselves.
And we should consider that before we speak.
My experiences of pregnancy, birth and of being a Mummy are very different to every other Mummy’s experiences. My experience isn’t exclusive. There is no such thing as properly when it comes to being a Mum..
So if this time round, my consultant advises me that I should have another section, I’ll listen to her, because guess what? That’s her job. She knows best and I trust her. And because it’s my job too…the only job a mother has when they go into hospital, is to get their little bundle out of their belly!
And I will happily hang upside down from the rafters, singing Jingle Bells, buck naked and high on horse tranquilizers if that ‘s what it takes to get my little one here properly.