Upon finding out I was pregnant, I never thought about a c-section. I never planned that for myself.
But I never planned for twins, either.
As one might expect, twins changed a lot about my expectations surrounding birth and breastfeeding.
Because there is so much risk and unexpected events involved with twins, things always seemed up in the air. When I tried talking about my birth plan and my want to attempt a vaginal birth, I never seemed to receive a sure-fire “yes” or “no” around it.
Perhaps they didn’t want to come out and say that over half of the twins born in the US are born premature-so setting a birth date wasn’t done until I hit 35 weeks. Perhaps they didn’t want to worry me by throwing out the dangerous facts and statistics that come with delivering twins vaginally. Perhaps they wanted to stick to protocol-which is delivering twins and multiples by c-section.
Either way-I ended up educating myself about the process and procedures, recovery expectations and timelines, and pain relief and medication options of both birthing experiences. I bought the necessary items for healing from both. All in all, I wanted to be prepared without surprises before the birthing day arose. I suppose I was looking to gain and maintain some kind of control.
Let me say-we all know there are two possible exits when it comes to birthing babies-and neither are all that much “fun.”
But I wanted to attempt a vaginal. Not because I actually wanted to push two babies out of my hoo-ha.
But I thought birthing the twins vaginally (or “naturally,” as they say) would prove that I was a woman. That I earned the title of mother. That I was stronger because I did it naturally.
Why did I think that?
I suppose because that’s what society has whispered in my ear since I was a little girl. That our strength as a mother is defined by how we choose to birth. That a c-section was the “easy way out.” Or that is was “selfish.” Or you didn’t have the tolerance for pain.
In fact, even after having the boys, I felt awkward saying the phrase, “I gave birth…”. I felt like I didn’t have the right or that I wasn’t allowed. Because I didn’t. Did I? The doctors did it for me, right?
No, I didn’t choose a c-section. No, I didn’t want one.
But, it was medically necessary. Twin A (James) was in distress. This twin needed to be birthed immediately.
And so Jimmy and I made that choice to head to the operating room. I sacrificed my wants. I sacrificed my “birth plan.” And I gave up my control of my birth to the hands of my doctors.
Let me tell you the strength that takes.
The strength it takes to take a Tylenol after being sliced open so you are aware and lucid enough to care for and breastfeed two new humans.
The strength and determination it takes to push your body to “re-learn” how to pee after having a catheter in for over 24 hours.
The strength it takes to stand up and dig deep-to get yourself walking while feeling like your insides might fall out of your incision site (thank you belly binders).
The strength it takes to slowly roll, push, or pull yourself out of the bed at night when you hear a little one cry out because you don’t have working abs to sit up anymore.
The strength it takes to allow the weight of little bodies to sit on your incision to honor their breastfeeding preferences.
Now that I’ve undergone the caesarean procedure, I can assure you-this is not the easy way out.
There is no such thing as an easy way out for us, mamas.
No matter the birth route, you will experience pain and suffering in one way or another. And the grit and the strength that you will unearth in your weakest moments will be enough to surprise yourself (and those watching you). From pain comes the most beautiful little blessing(s) your heart will ever know.
And it will be worth it.
If there is one thing I’ve learned, it’s this-it is not how impressive or arduous or smooth or traumatic or uncomplicated or easy or unexpected or horrifying or eventful the labor and delivery that earns the title of mother. Because that title can’t be earned. The title of mother is a gift-one given by our most precious Heavenly Father.
Before you judge the birth of a mother-ask her about her story. Listen to her beliefs. Praise her for her strength. Respect the decisions she makes. Because they are hers to make.
There is no easy way out-but control and power can be found in being informed. 1 in 3 babies will be born via c-section in the US. If you are expecting a little one, I encourage you to review your options, educate yourself on different birth routes, and prepare yourself for all possibilities. Be an advocate for yourself and stand firm in your wishes when you can. A lot of pregnancy anxiety revolves around the birth and there is comfort in knowing what to expect when the unexpected arises.