I am the survivor of an unnecessary c-section.
Ten years ago, reading something like that would sound overly dramatic. A cesarean? No big deal, right?
But as anyone who has had an unplanned, emergency c-section can tell you (and even some mamas who had time to mentally, socially and physically prep their post-partum environment) they are a HUGE deal.
C-sections, or sections as OBs casually refer to them as, are big deals to the mothers who get them. They are not big deals to the OB, nurses, anesthesiologist, pediatrician, and all the other people involved in your surgery. They might not even be a big deal for your significant other (but they probably are more of a deal than he or she will let on).
And certainly, they seem to be no big deal to your friend Jane who will say to you as you lie disabled in your hospital bed a day after the birth, unable to get up and pee or breastfeed unassisted – at least you have a healthy baby!
Well, I’m here to say out loud, because it seems to be ridiculously taboo to do so – that, most times, NO. And fuck Jane.
No you don’t have a completely healthy baby. That baby has been stuffed with more than 5 different drugs to make the surgery possible that have absolutely affected her breathing, her APGAR score, her alertness, and possibly her ability to breast feed.
And what about the mother? Does anyone care if the mother of the baby comes out healthy, too?
It would seem in American culture, no.
I can’t tell you how many times – starting hours after giving birth to my first child (and that’s hard to type, because honestly it still feels like my OB gave birth) – I heard the words, “At least you have a healthy baby,” or “At least the baby is ok.”
Those words to me, while usually well-meaning, are dripping with condescension and ignorance. I mean, what about me? When I was pregnant everyone was asking how I was feeling, and now, suddenly, no one cares?
Was I spoiled as a pregnant woman, that people cared about me as a human being? Or did I give up my right to be cared for and about as a human being as soon as I became a mother?
I’m here to say hell no. This is unacceptable. I am a person. Who just underwent major abdominal surgery. Who in their right mind would walk into the hospital recovery room of a person who just had debilitating and painful abdominal surgery and respond with a shrug, and a judgy attitude of, well, at least your purpose has been served. You are just the vessel, afterall. Now let me pick up and cuddle that piece of soul and flesh you’ve been growing for the last 9 months. Jane. Your mom, your dad. Your Aunt Minnie. And especially your OB and the eight nurses who’ve administered your medication.
Nope. Nope. Nope.
This is some serious disrespect for us mothers. This is a whole box of issues that feminism has left in the corner, a bit afraid to touch. This is ridiculous.
I’m here to stand up and say this was a huge deal for me AND my baby. Neither of us were completely healthy coming out of this experience, and it could have been not only avoided, but tended to much better in our months of debilitating postpartum. I’m here to tell it how it really is when one gets a c-section (mainly, an emergency c-section, but I’m sure some other planned c-section mamas can relate, too). Because as a culture, our great US of A has really let maternal health slide, as well as newborn health.
Csections are big deals to mothers and babies. We are survivors. And we have a story to tell.