There I was, after nearly 12 hours of labor, struggling to bring my first child into the world.
Despite the encouraging words from the doctor and nurses, things were not going according to plan. It had nothing to do with my efforts or will power. I wanted to have the baby naturally.
This is the only way. I must! I thought to myself.
As time progressed though, it became increasingly clear that this might not be happening. And then, in an instant, the blink of an eye, a flash of lightning, I heard the doctor say, “Keri, we are going to have to take you for a cesarean.”
My husband and I looked at each other with cloaks of uncertainty and confusion. The doctor went on to explain that I had spiked a fever and there was fear of infection and possible dangers for the baby.
OK, I thought to myself. This is not how I wanted it, but I don’t want anything bad to happen.
The medical staff wheeled me out, threw my husband some scrubs, and within a matter of minutes my firstborn had made a dramatic entrance as a new member of the world.
There were quite a few other details in those matter of minutes, but I will spare you the specifics. The important aspect to me was the final outcome ― an outcome where I held my child in my arms and knew all was right in the world at that particular time. Since that point, I have had two other children, both by C-section at the recommendation of doctors and medical staff.
Perhaps I was a little naive, but when I went home with my first child after an emergency C-section it never crossed my mind to be embarrassed by my childbirth story. If anything, I was consumed with thankfulness for my healthy baby boy.
Even though it wasn’t the story I had envisioned, I was sitting there holding a beautiful baby. Nothing else really mattered in those moments.
However, I soon realized that childbirth is a hot button item for many in society. Every woman seemed to have an opinion, and many of them were very strong opinions.
There is also a lot of embarrassment and shame associated with C-sections or using epidurals. Over time I have heard women share their stories with quiet whispers and red cheeks ― quickly proclaiming that “next time” they will do it differently.
I am sure we have all seen the social media proclamations of what type of childbirth is better. Arguments are constantly evolving out of these posts.
Through it all, my heart has broken. It breaks for the women who have beautiful childbirth stories, but feel shame over sharing them. It breaks for the women who had no other choice. It breaks for those who have lost children during or immediately after the birthing process. It breaks for women who wished for a different story.
Today, I want to challenge us, as women, to put a stop to arguing about childbirth. I know we are all going to have our personal preferences and views, but it is never our place to share these in such a way that is harming or shaming another woman. I know there have been times when I have said things and later regretted pushing my personal views onto a friend.
Sometimes birth plans do not work out and the story has a different ending, but you know what I think when I start to wish I had a different story? I remember my friends who have lost babies during pregnancy, and I see their anguish and heartbreak. I know they would tell me to enjoy my baby and embrace the story.
My story is messy, and it is also beautiful. Each childbirth has been special and unique, and I hold onto those moments with joy. When I open up to share my story, it can encourage another mom and give her freedom to share her own story. Maybe it did not progress according to the “schematics.” But life rarely does.
There is so much beauty in childbirth whether it is through epidural, natural, home birth, adoption, or C-sections. There is beauty because in that moment a child is entering the world. No one can argue with the beauty of that moment ― the moment a woman holds her baby for the first time and cries the tears of joy as she knows she is now a mama.
So today, as we go about our ways, let’s choose to break down these walls that have been established in many areas. We can be the change, friends. We can walk together, arm in arm, encouraging one another with our stories. Together, we share openly and honestly without shame. Will you join me?