To the Unplanned C-Section Mama

September 05, 2018

For many women, most women probably, something about their labor or delivery doesn’t go quite as planned. Like much of motherhood, we like to think that if we do all of the research, watch all the videos, write out a plan, things will go how we want them to. And, like much of motherhood, we are quickly shown how little control we actually have. Labor and birth smacked me in the face with that lesson.


Even though I told anyone who asked that I would “go with the flow” of my labor wants and needs, knowing logically that things change and you can’t really know what you need until you’re in that moment, I still had a vision in my head of how I wanted the birth to go. When it ended up going in the opposite direction, I wasn’t prepared at all. At first, I was able to take it in stride; I had my baby, he was safe and he was healthy. That’s all that mattered. And while, yes, that was the most important aspect, that’s why I agreed to the csection, when I got home and the realities of my recovery hit, and all those post partum hormones came rushing, I began to question myself. 

Here’s the thing about unplanned csections: people often treat you like the lowest rung on the birth totem pole. Not only did you fail at having a natural birth, but you weren’t quite to the point of having a scary, emergency csection, so you just failed all around. You took the “easy way.” And I internalized that idea. I felt like I failed. I pushed aside the reason I agreed to the csection, I pushed aside the fact that I’d had major surgery and was looking at months of recovery, I pushed aside every small detail that lead to the need for a csection and focused on everything I felt I could have done differently. 

Maybe if I’d labored at home. 
Maybe if I played the birthing playlist I’d created but said I didn’t want in the moment. 
Maybe if I’d worn the clothes I’d picked out for labor instead of the pajamas I happened to be in. 
Maybe if I didn’t stay in the tub for so long. 
Maybe if I’d done more squats. 
Maybe if I’d refused the epidural. 
Maybe if I kept pushing. 

Maybe I could have had the birth I’d dreamed of.

Maybe I would have lost my son. 

What I didn’t realize at the time was why, knowing full well the csection was the right decision, why I mourned the loss of an experience so heavily. It wasn’t until we found out that our midwife unknowingly captured a video of Desi being born that I figured out why it affected me so much. 

During a csection, there is a drape placed around you, at about shoulder level, making it so you can’t see what’s going on. Even though my child was still coming out of my body, I was separated from it, blocked from it, not really part of him being born. I didn’t get to see him come into this world, I didn’t get to see him when he made his first cry or opened his eyes, I didn’t get that moment of overwhelming emotion and joy when all your hard work has paid off, I didn’t get to see the moment when his Being separated from mine and the cord was cut. That’s what I was really mourning. Discovering the video was the first time I saw my son being born. 

A little while after, I decided to write a letter to all the unplanned c-section moms saying what I wish someone would have told me, hoping maybe one day it could help a woman out there who’s feeling like she wasn’t good enough. 

To the unplanned, unexpected csection Mom:

You didn’t fail. You put your child before yourself. You laid yourself down on that table for the safety of your baby. You became a mother. 

It’s going to be hard, you’re going to need help, you’re going to feel helpless at times, but remember the sacrifice you just made. Its ok to need help. In no other instance is someone cut open so extremely then expected to care for another being right away. You are doing the impossible. So take it easy. You aren’t weak, you are healing. And you will be for some time. Take it one day at a time. Do not push yourself too hard. Rest often. 

Be proud of your scar. It’s a war wound, it’s a physical reminder of the warrior you are, of the strength you have, of the amazing thing you just did! You’re a mother! That is where your baby came in to the world from!

And if you’re able to: get pictures/video during the procedure. You may not want to see it right away, but one day you will! And you’ll be glad you had them! You’ll be glad you got to see your child’s first moments earth side! 

It’s hard. But it’s so worth it. You are a mother now.

—Deanna Patterson
2.12.18


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