I love reading birth stories, especially when the author is able to really describe the process in unflinching, funny-only-in-retrospect detail. I love in Waiting for Birdy when Catherine says she “made a creepy didgeridoo sound for 16 hours straight, said ‘Kill me’, then barfed into a trash can.” I love the written choo-choo pantings of laboring women, the geysering bodily fluids, and best of all—of course—the slimy, squalling, heartbreaking result to the whole ordeal.

I have a much harder time reading about the bravery involved with so-called natural births (as though any viable entrance into this world should be described as unnatural). The powerful, indescribable wonder of a drug-free birth, the gift the mother is giving her baby by choosing to be so very strong. The floored wonder of her partner, standing nearby marveling at this pinnacle of human achievement.

It’s not that I don’t understand this. I fully acknowledge the superwoman qualities of someone who endures hours of the most challenging physical situation of her entire life and refusing the intervention that could make it less painful. I am awed by women who have the birthing experience they wanted, that they read about and prepared for and engineered to conform to their preferences.

I understand it and I can empathize with it, but it hurts, a little. I thought I would have that moment of turning to my husband and saying, it’s time. The escalation of it all, the trip to the hospital, the scariness and elation and pain and everything else. Instead, it was a routine visit followed by hours of being drugged and sick and miserable and eventually a surgery and I felt as far from brave as it’s possible for a person to feel.

I guess I will always wonder, was it absolutely necessary for me to be put on the magnesium with Riley? Were they erring too far on the side of being conservative, wasn’t there something else they could do to deal with the blood pressure situation? I felt perfectly fine when I walked in the door, and next thing I knew I was hooked to an IV and gripped by the effects of the medication.

The second thing I wonder about: after the hours of Cervidil with no effect, and the progression of feeling worse and worse with the magnesium, they gave me a choice of Pitocin or trying to rest overnight and having a C-section in the morning. I asked a nurse to be as honest with me as she could, did she think the Pitocin would work in time? They wanted to do the C-section in the morning anyway, because of my blood pressure. She paused, and shook her head. She said it was doubtful. I thought about dealing with the Pitocin-triggered pain all night long, on top of the unrelenting nausea and aching head and trembling, exhausted muscles the magnesium was causing, only to need the surgery anyway. I chose to try and rest.

Maybe I should have tried the goddamned Pitocin, you know? Maybe there would have been a different outcome. Maybe if I had done that, both my babies would have been born without use of a scalpel and a drape.

I don’t have bad feelings about either of my C-sections. They weren’t terrible, they were fine. I saw my babies right away and held them moments later. I recovered with no problems. It was fine.

But. It doesn’t feel brave. It doesn’t feel like that magical spiritual I-am-woman-hear-me-roar experience I now have such a hard time hearing about. I’m torn between thinking, well, that’s great for you, but not everyone gets the birth they thought they were going to have, and my babies came into this world perfect in every way and you know what, we’re ALL brave . . . and I wish I could have had that. I should have tried harder.

Still, still. It’s not too difficult to regain perspective.

August 31, 2005

February 2, 2008


223 Responses to “By any means”

  1. alomellin on July 28th, 2009 12:53 pm

    I feel your pain…literally. My water broke at 36 weeks at 3:30 a.m. So, I guess I did get my “oh shit, this is it” moment. However, we were not at the hospital more than 3 hours before his heart rate tanked and I was being flown down the hall for a c-section. I sometimes shy away from saying I “gave birth” to my son. What does that mean? Did I “give birth” because I grew him? I mean, someone removed him from me, there was no giving of the birth by me. Sometimes I don’t care b/c he is healthy and perfect, other times I feel a little robbed of my experience.

    I will tell you, my mother is of the “I did it naturally” camp. I always tell her, when you die it will not say that you gave birth w/o drugs on your tombstone…no one cares anymore but you. I’m just being a bitch. : P

  2. Eric's Mommy on July 28th, 2009 12:55 pm

    I feel the same way. I went through labor and pushing and everything only to end up having an emergency c-section (Plus the magnesium too, which is the drug from hell). I couldn’t even be awake for it because my epidural didn’t work, therefore I could not have a spinal. I didn’t even get to see my boy until an hour or so after he made his entrance (exit?)

    Our babies came out fine, that’s all that matters.

  3. Kizz on July 28th, 2009 12:57 pm

    Been reading Dooce?

    Wow, Dylan looks precisely like Dylan, even from the moment of birth. How cool is that?

  4. Victoria on July 28th, 2009 12:57 pm


  5. Amanda on July 28th, 2009 12:57 pm

    My first little terrorist was breech and there went that plan. I have never wondered what if. I was terrified of giving birth (the pain) and have always felt that I was somehow saved from it. I never would have CHOSEN to have a c-section, but I certainly never looked forward to the I-am-woman-hear-me-roar event that so many do. I think every birth story is perfect because it’s yours.

  6. MommyGeekology on July 28th, 2009 1:00 pm

    I didn’t have a C-section, but neither of my births went the way I had hoped. I wanted to do it “naturally” and drug-free… but when I got to the hospital I caved, and I had an epidural each time.

    Every time I read a drug-free birth story, I feel like a coward.

  7. samantha jo campen on July 28th, 2009 1:00 pm

    Well my GOD I did not expect to well up at that. Oh but I did.

    I have so many unresolved issues surrounding my bedrest and labor/delivery/NICU with Theo it’s unreal. He’s here, he’s perfect and I was healthy with no complications afterwards. So why? Why do I feel this way?

    You’re right, not everyone can get the birth they want. But hopefully we all get the healthy baby we deserve.

    Surgery is brave, especially when you KNOW what’s going to happen so you can dwell on the details. OMG. I remember your count down with Dylan and I was flipping out. But you did it and you did it well.

    Still, I know how you feel. But I don’t know how to help it.

  8. Donna on July 28th, 2009 1:01 pm

    You know what? I had the pitocin, the magnesium, all the above, and it so really sucked, and I was begging them to do a c section by the time they did one.
    On the other hand, my daughter was born with absolutely no problems, above normal intelligence, and was perfect. Which she might have not been had I not taken that route.
    My son however, was a planned csection, and was even scarier than my daughter because of the anticipation. I chose to have him knowing this.
    He too was born perfect, no problems and also above average intelligence.
    Being brave, it has it’s place. But when there might be a little life in the balance? And then CHOOSING to do it again? That’s brave, (and a little crazy), but the rewards are SO worth it, and you can’t deny that it has been hard, and will be hard, and knowing that, and still loving it, seems awfully damned brave to me. You rock, and don’t forget it.

  9. penne on July 28th, 2009 1:02 pm

    Both mine were induced, so I never got the sitcom inspired, “Honey-it’s time” moment either. While laying there being forced into labor with my first one, a nurse asked if I was ready for the epidural. I said, “Well, maybe just try it without…” And she said something I’ll always remember. “Did you pass the trophy case out in the hall? The one where they put the medals for the women who give birth naturally?” I said, “Uh, no.” She said, “That’s right. Because there isn’t one. Get the drugs, sweetie.” And I did. And I was glad. Two years later, I got them again. And you know, my boys are just fine. Perfect in fact. Just like yours.

  10. Jillian on July 28th, 2009 1:02 pm

    I had an epidural and slept through most of my labor. I have swiss cheese memory and remember very little about giving birth other than the epidural wore off about an hour before I had him so I felt it all and it burned like hell. And I tore and I could HEAR myself tearing inside my head.

    And I wanted to kick my gyn in her self-righteous face.

    You were far more brave than I. If I could hit her in the face right now, I might do it. ;)

  11. Redbecca on July 28th, 2009 1:02 pm

    Oh, I am so with you on this. Mine was born by C-section – water broke early and labor never kicked in despite Cervadil, and by the time the Pitocin really started to do it’s magic, I had a temp of 103, back labor, had been up for over 24 hours straight and only 2 solid meals in 48 hours, and my son’s heart rate was going just shy of freaking out the experts bonkers. I/we was DONE.

    About 6 months later I was talking with someone about it and as I talked I realized I still felt cheated that I didn’t get to experience squeezing that watermelon out the lemon hole and be the brave supermom. I wonder what will happen with #2 (should we be so lucky please). My hubby roots for another C-section. I wonder if I can go natural (I HATE IVs and am allergic to morphine – guess what’s in an Epidural?) and be so brave. But then I look at the newborn pictures of my baby with his not-squashed head and think “who cares”? Yet every now and then I still do.

  12. Jenny on July 28th, 2009 1:03 pm

    You’ve said it better than I ever could. I have never been able to find just the right way of saying how I felt about my C-section.

  13. Claudia on July 28th, 2009 1:03 pm

    Well, I’ll preface this by saying that I had too natural uncomplicated vaginal births.

    With that said, and I won’t touch on whether or not c-sections are always “necessary” or the use/abuse of meds, think of all the babies throughout time who didn’t make it, all the mothers who died of childbirth who would have lived had they had a c-section.

    The end result, I think, is what matters.

  14. Claudia on July 28th, 2009 1:03 pm

    Two – not “too”

  15. Jae on July 28th, 2009 1:03 pm

    It makes me feel bad when women who didn’t give birth vaginally think they didn’t do anything heroic. I think carrying a baby to term and bringing into the world, no matter the method, is breath-taking and incredible and heroic. Just because you weren’t screaming or pushing doesn’t take anything away from it.

    I did my birth au naturel and I don’t think I earned any great bragging rights. As the person above said, my mom is in the “I did it all natural” camp, too, and really, whoop de doo, you know? It’s not like it’s tattooed on the kid’s head… I, too, am being bitchy. :)

  16. Andrew's Mommy on July 28th, 2009 1:04 pm

    I think people who only advocate natural birth is conveniently forgetting the fact that giving birth is one of the most dangerous things that a women can do. Before all the drugs, surgery, etc. a VERY high percentage of women going through natural birth died–or the baby died–or both died.

    As long as the mother and child are safe and healthy after delivery, nothing else matters.

  17. Lisa May on July 28th, 2009 1:05 pm

    Oh, thank you, thank you, thank you for this. I had a c-section, too. It was the polar opposite of how I wanted to give birth. I still yearn for that hour that we were separated after Lily was born. And I HATE that every time I hear one of those wonderful birth stories featuring rock and roll mamas, I weep a little inside for the experience I wanted so badly but didn’t get. I grieve for the opportunity to feel so powerful, so capable, so strong. Am I really any less strong because of how my daughter arrived? Am I less capable as a mother?

    It seems so petty now to still be fixated on that when I have an astonishing, healthy, hilarious daughter. But I guess it’s one of the many many paradoxes that life (and especially parenthood) introduces us to: the need to simultaneously hold joy and wonder and grief. And, as you so beautifully put it, the constant need to put things back in perspective, scoop up the joy and move on.

  18. Stephanie Parnell on July 28th, 2009 1:05 pm

    I am pregnant with my first and will have to have a C-Section for any of my children. I have a disorder that if I exert myself in any way I get a massive headache and could possibly pass out if the pain went on for too long (Spinal fluid builds up in head and can’t flow to my body). As long as I’ve known that I had it I’ve known I would have to have a CSection. People are so insensative when they say, “doesn’t it make you feel bad that you can’t have a natural birth?” And even though I can’t understand why someone would want to make someone feel like it makes me feel when they ask that, I tell them that at least I can have children now, at least I can carry them and still have a healthy child come out of my pregnancy….because prior to the surgery for my disorder and prior to CSections I wouldn’t be able to.
    Why can’t woman be more supportive to eachother? It’s a question I know you have asked and many others have asked…

  19. Julie on July 28th, 2009 1:06 pm

    I can’t put my finger on the exact quote I want, so I’ll apologize in advance for plagiarizing this thought from someone smarter than me…

    Being brave doesn’t necessarily entail feeling brave. People do incredibly brave things all the time while being scared out of their minds, and wondering whether it’s the right thing at all. The act of bravery still gets accomplished.

    I don’t think anyone can argue that motherhood isn’t an act of bravery, no matter how it begins.

  20. Cassie on July 28th, 2009 1:06 pm

    I had that too: the pitocin, the magnesium, the emergency c-section. The feeling that I wasn’t brave. But he’s perfect, regardless of how he arrived. And really, isn’t that all that matters?

  21. Laura on July 28th, 2009 1:06 pm

    Well, er…um…if it makes you feel any better, I can say the flip side is knowing your vajayjay is as tight at 48 as it was at 18. OMG. Did I really just type that “out loud”????

  22. McCashew on July 28th, 2009 1:07 pm

    The only thing I have to say is THANK YOU because one week overdue my “due date” with astronomically high bp hearing the medical staff utter the word “magnesium” sent me into a dramatic tailspin that must have sounded like lunacy to everyone around me. “No, Steve, there was this girl on the INTERNET and it was awful and I don’t want to do it if I have a choice, please tell me I have a choice.” That is all, just thank you.

  23. Anonymous on July 28th, 2009 1:08 pm

    I so know what you mean.

    I was perfectly fine with having an epidural, with whatever pain management. I am a wimp and forgave myself going in.

    But by the time I got to the hospital I was 8cm dilated and I thought I COULD DO IT. I was not trying to be a hero, but I was doing it. I got to 10 cm and pushed for 3 hours. 3 hours with no epidural. Finally they said they had to do an emergency c-section and I felt defeated. Where was my gold star? My A for effort? My standing ovation with legs spread?

    I suppose my gold star is now my 3 year old daughter who I could not give birth to vaginally, who I was not even able to breastfeed really for a myriad of gut-wrenching reasons. But she is my A+, my standing ovation, my success no matter the beginning.

  24. Hillary on July 28th, 2009 1:09 pm

    The thing is, a C-section is major abdominal surgery. You don’t think that’s brave? To CHOOSE to undergo major surgery?

    I had a natural birth, and it was empowering. I felt like superwoman for days and weeks afterward. I still am amazed at what my body did, at what I did.

    But part of the reason I was so adamant to avoid medical intervention was because I’m damn chicken. I’m scared of the epidural, scared of the C-section.

    Just choosing to have a child is brave, I think, considering what havoc it can cause on our bodies and our lives. It’s rewarding, but it’s a risk.

  25. Susannah on July 28th, 2009 1:09 pm

    I so know what you mean.

    I was perfectly fine with having an epidural, with whatever pain management. I am a wimp and forgave myself going in.

    But by the time I got to the hospital I was 8cm dilated and I thought I COULD DO IT. I was not trying to be a hero, but I was doing it. I got to 10 cm and pushed for 3 hours. 3 hours with no epidural. Finally they said they had to do an emergency c-section and I felt defeated. Where was my gold star? My A for effort? My standing ovation with legs spread?

    I suppose my gold star is now my 3 year old daughter who I could not give birth to vaginally, who I was not even able to breastfeed really for a myriad of gut-wrenching reasons. But she is my A+, my standing ovation, my success no matter the beginning.

  26. jonniker on July 28th, 2009 1:10 pm

    So I’ve got my own product of a somewhat-unexpected birth screaming, otherwise I’d respond more fully, but the net/net of my feelings on the topic are that the whole post/issue in question that I’m assuming spurred this entry made my fucking eyes roll back in my head so far I needed a spoon to put them right.

    There is no reason at all to be self-righteous about birth and it amazes me how some people will be so, however unintentionally. And Ricki Lake, for the love of Jesus, can seriously come kiss my giant ass.

    All births are courageous. Being a parent at all is courageous, no matter how you get there. End. Of. Story.

  27. g~ on July 28th, 2009 1:10 pm

    My best friend once asked a girl who was proudly telling everyone she gave birth completely ‘naturally’ (without drugs), “So…can I see your gold medal?” And everyone laughed. It’s true, though, that women who manage it without medication seem to be considered ‘above’ those who get an epidural or have a C. My Mom, on the other hand, who had 5 children (without/with meds, two emergency C’s and a planned C) would say that she was ECSTATIC when ‘epidurals’ were ‘invented’ (right word?) So I guess it’s a matter of perspective. Which is hard to achieve on so sensitive a subject. I’m sure plenty of women in Africa would not think twice about getting an epidural or choosing the life (lives) saving possibility of a C-section.

  28. Liz on July 28th, 2009 1:11 pm

    Fuuuuuck that, Linda. I had high BP when I was in labor with Lilia and if they had said the word “magnesium” one time I would have ripped her out of my belly Twilight-stylee before I let them put that crap in me.

    I had an epidural until it ran out as I was about to push, and I didn’t ask for more. Giving birth felt like the biggest, most painful poop ever. I didn’t think there was anything beautiful or magical about it. You didn’t miss much. :)

  29. ashley on July 28th, 2009 1:11 pm

    Well… Or you could have both died. So, there’s that. Medical intervention/advances has saved many Moms and babies. I could have lost my son during childbirth if I didn’t have an emergency C-section (after 28 horrid hours of labor and trying the pitocin). I was never in the camp that had any regrets about not delivering the old school way, but some women do and that’s OK. You get to.

  30. Magnolia on July 28th, 2009 1:12 pm

    Both of mine are c-sections. I had a similar experience with my first and my second was so huge (they thought) that I just didn’t want to risk it.

    And we found out when I labored for four days without dilating at all that I needed the section badly.

    I didn’t push, I didn’t have a doula, I didn’t have have a ‘brave’ moment. But you know what? I’m a mom and my boys are just so gorgeous and so amazing that I can let it go..

  31. Lauren on July 28th, 2009 1:13 pm

    Girl…I know what you mean. I had high blood pressure and had to be induced, and even though I squeezed that big-headed alien out mah lady bizness, it makes me sad when I hear people talk about how they breathed through the pain and the wonderful feeling without drugs and blahblahblah. It makes me angry at them for being self-righteous, but only because I’m angry at myself for…I dunno. Not winning the Tough Mom award? I also get defensive when I tell people I only breastfed for 4 weeks…but that’s another story. “I should have tried harder” indeed.

  32. jen on July 28th, 2009 1:13 pm

    I wanted that “natural” birth but ended up with an epidural at 9 cm (if anyone had bothered to check me before and told me I was at a 9, I would have maybe passed, maybe not, who knows) and then pushed for 1 1/2 hours. So I get why there is that movement for “natural” births, I do. I like it even. I think doctors should be more willing to allow women to birth at their own pace and pushing on your back is about the most idiotic thing ever.

    BUT. And this is a bit but. We need to remember that women used to DIE from child birth. So Linda, I completely understand how you could think you don’t feel brave. But you were. You could not have tried harder. You made the best decision based on the information you had at hand. To think if you had forgone that medical intervention, or had not had the checkups in the first place, well, you never know.

    So while I agree in some cases medical intervention has gone too far, there clearly is a place for it and women shouldn’t be made to feel badly about the decisions they make to have a healthy child and mother in either direction. It seems like the pendulm keeps swinging furiously from one side to the other and hopefully someday it will just end up in the middle.

  33. jonniker on July 28th, 2009 1:14 pm

    Oh, and my reasons for not wanting an epidural were because I was afraid of a spinal paralyzing or killing me, not because I was all WOMANLY and ROARING and shit. It was because I was TOO CHICKEN. (I had it eventually, anyway.)

    I believe that is the opposite of courageous and is called being a bizarre pansy.

  34. Maria on July 28th, 2009 1:19 pm

    Due to medical reasons that affected me, both my kids were C sections. I could have tried natural birth, but there was a percentage of chance that it wasn’t going to work, and after all my efforts I could end up with surgery anyway, of course after exhausting myself and the baby. I chose not to chance it. I never felt any major pains of labor; I will never know what it is like to FEEL my babies enter the world. But I did go under a knife dammit. Twice. I was scared as hell, no matter how routine the procedure. It took every bit of muster in me the first time not to sob hysterically and hide in a broom closet whispering, “It’s not too late to get out of this.” Please, don’t think you should have tried harder. We do that enough every day through this whole parenting gig…don’t you think?

  35. racher on July 28th, 2009 1:20 pm

    I have had so many conversations with friends about this – I had “natural” childbirths with both my children (they both came so fast I didn’t really have a choice) and have many, many friends who had C-sections and feel as you do. And you know what I say? One, having a baby is amazing, period, and two – you GREW A HUMAN BEING IN YOUR BODY for months on end and *that* I believe is the part that should make us all stand up tall, beat our chests and roar.

    Recommend your site to friends daily, BTW. Love your writing.

  36. Michelle on July 28th, 2009 1:20 pm

    Yes. Just… yes. No one seems to understand how I feel like I just… failed. At the one thing my body was supposed to do, was made to do. Thank you.

  37. Katie on July 28th, 2009 1:20 pm

    Thank you for writing this. I feel this way so often – like I failed in some way by not “trying harder” to have the birth I envisioned. Which, you know, I had a healthy kid and that’s what matters, right? Right? I look at his tiny newborn pictures and I think, “Yes! This is the part that matters!” but then I read or hear birth stories and I think…what if?

  38. kalisa on July 28th, 2009 1:20 pm

    I had “natural” childbirth because, after a lifetime of back problems, I was too chicken to let someone stick a needle in my spine.

    Not only that, but after one child I hung up my childbearing hat and never went through it again. So between the two of us, who was really BRAVE?

    Personally, I don’t get the whole focus on the birthing experience. It’s a means to an end. No more, no less. If you went home from the hospital with a new life in your arms, you succeeded in what you came for.

  39. marta on July 28th, 2009 1:20 pm

    “I got an epidural but not until 8cm” is what I tell people. And in my shitty, judgmental little pocket of brain, I feel all superior to my c-section friends. And then I whack that part of my brain on the wall really hard and realize how stupid that sounds. And my senses come back and I realize that I sound like a LLLOOOser when I tack on that “but not until 8cm.” And I think how brave are my friends who got magnesium or pitocin or friggin STOMACH surgery and still got out of bed the next day (week, whatever) and took care of their newborns. The end. We all went to hell and back and still managed to drag our stapled vaginas and hemorrhoided assholes and big gaping HOLES in major organs out of bed and took care of those children. That is bravery.

  40. beach on July 28th, 2009 1:22 pm

    not to change the subject….but your eyebrows are perfect in those pictures….and Dylan looks so like he looks!!at birth….wild!

  41. Peggasus on July 28th, 2009 1:23 pm

    Yeah, I had no intention of being ‘brave’ or being the Strong Earth Mother, it just happened that way. They both came so quickly (four hours of labor total for the BOTH) of them that there was no time for any drugs for me. If I get extra points for that, I would like to cash them in now. Whom do I see about that?

  42. wordygirl on July 28th, 2009 1:25 pm

    Thank you very much for pointing out the unfairness of the term “natural birth”. What a stinking pile of you-know-what that is: as if, on top of everything else, we need a value judgement on top of our birthing challenges. Don’t internalize that. Birth is a roller coaster, and NOBODY has all the information. You made the right choices with the knowledge and resources available to you at the time, and damned if those two pictures didn’t make me tear up utterly regardless of how those babies came into the world.

    That said, I share a lot of these same feelings when it comes to breastfeeding. I imagined an exclusively-breastfed baby who continued to nurse into her second or maybe even third year. I got a baby who needed formula from Day One and who, when I summoned my strength and determination to spend 4 weeks exclusively breastfeeding (and pumping like mad) gained only 7 ounces the entire month (instead of 4-8 per week). Welcome to Motherhood, please leave your preconceived notions at the door.

    One last thing: as a friend of mine pointed out to me, there has been a lot of hype lately about The Birth Experience. But in reality, birth (and how you get there) is only a day (or two, for some unlucky souls). But you’re going to be a mother forever, and it’s how you parent day after day after day that really matters.

  43. Sarah on July 28th, 2009 1:26 pm

    I have so many mixed feelings about the concept of birth in our society, as natural birth is once again becoming the chic and popular way to do it, along with, y’know, breastfeeding for two years, wearing your baby in a sling, cosleeping, etc.
    I cannot deny to you that there is an amazing surge of adrenaline, endorphins and the like when you finally do push that baby out without drugs. I was lucky enough to do it and it is thrilling. Feeling your twidget rip to your anus, though? The opposite. Ah, but I digress…
    I think this whole badge of honor mentality people seem to be encouraging about natural labor/birth stories is pretty unhealthy and demoralizing to people who actually BENEFITED from the dreaded “medical intervention.” I mean, yeah, you probably could have managed to squeeze out your baby without a c-section or magnesium, given enough time. But who knows? Maybe your blood pressure would’ve been so high by then that you had a stroke, or your beautiful son might have been brain damaged.
    Were they overly cautious drug pushers? Maybe. Were they more worried about being sued than about allowing you every chance to have that perfect, empowering birth? Maybe. But I still think the flip side is that you have a healthy baby and that you are all right too. Can’t argue with results.
    Birth is a miracle, all right, but given the logistics of the size of a baby’s head in relation to a mom’s pelvis, I think the miracle is that ANY of us get out of it alive! And a lot of moms and babies used to NOT get out alive, before “evil” things like forceps and magnesium and c-sections.

  44. birdgal (another amy) on July 28th, 2009 1:26 pm

    Linda, you’ve been reading Dooce haven’t you! You must have been, because I could have written a post almost identical to this one after reading about her most recent birth experience. Even though I had a drug-assisted vaginal birth with both my kids and probably wouldn’t have changed anything, I felt the same sort of wistful knot of regret grow in my stomach after reading Heather’s story. Why couldn’t I have been strong enough to give birth naturally? Did I deprive myself of some sort of life-altering experience?

    I think we all question what could have been to some degree, but you have to try and not beat yourself up over things you can’t change.

  45. Janet on July 28th, 2009 1:26 pm

    Sweetie, I’ve had two C-sections and two VBACs and here’s the scoop: we are so so so very fortunate that we live in a time when we can deliver a healthy baby one way or the other, and mom can come away alive and healthy nearly all of the time.

    If your blood pressure was escalating, I can guarantee you that pictocin was going to make it much worse, and you WOULD NOT HAVE ENJOYED that experience one iota. That is, of course, if you had lived through it. Women have strokes during and just after hard childbirth experiences.

    Your children are happy and healthy. You are happy and healthy. The grass that’s greener on the other side may be astroturf.


  46. crisitunity on July 28th, 2009 1:27 pm

    I’m with Ashley and Claudia and Andrew’s Mommy and all the other women up there who point out that giving birth is serious business.

    I work for a medical malpractice firm and for a while now we have focused on “bad baby” cases – i.e. where the hospital or doctors screwed up somehow and a child that would have been normal was born disabled. And the majority of the cases I’ve seen where that happened were because the doctor should have done a c-section earlier than s/he did.

    It happens often, too often for you to feel so terrible about it, that the baby has to come out before the body’s ready for it. For you to feel like a superwoman is no substitute for having a child that’s essentially a vegetable. I’m TOTALLY NOT saying your feelings aren’t valid, or that you should thank your lucky stars, or any horseshit like that. I’m just saying that natural births may not be all they’re cracked up to be for women whose bodies don’t want to give birth on the perfect timeline…which I’m guessing is a hell of a lot of them, judging by this comments section and the number of c-sections done in the U.S. every day.

    Still. This has to be heartbreaking. I send hugs.

  47. Elizabeth on July 28th, 2009 1:27 pm

    I had a natural birth because the nurses kept telling us on the phone not to come into the hospital. By the time we got there, I was at 10 and it was too late for an epidural.
    I was SO out of it, practically in shock, by the time my son was born. Exhausted and in so much pain. I remember almost NOTHING from the entire day. It was like someone else gave birth to my child, and was very far from ideal. And it certainly doesn’t make me feel braver than anyone else.

    I will say that I was present when my best friend gave birth a year later, and being there for that went a long way towards making me feel better about the whole thing. Being part of such an amazing experience made not remembering much of my own somehow a little bit more ok.
    I think birth is so extreme – however we do it, we get to be proud of it.
    But it does kind of remind me of the idea that other people’s weddings are always more fun than your own. Not better maybe, but way more fun.

  48. She Likes Purple on July 28th, 2009 1:28 pm

    I love Jonna for her second comment because I opted for the epidural with only a brief period of not wanting it because I didn’t want TO LOSE MY ABILITY TO WALK. I never felt the need to prove anything by giving birth in any particular way — at home, in the hospital, drug free or with the help of an epidural.

    I had a really great labor, in hindsight (I mean, it was still labor, you know), and it was actually a nice creamy inside to a craptastic Oreo that was my pregnancy and the first two months of Kyle’s life. I would never even think to want something different — something more natural, god what a stupid, ridiculous way to label it, I agree — until I hear the choruses of women proclaiming how strong and powerful and amazing they felt going at it drug-free. And not because they’re wrong or should feel ashamed to prefer birth in the manner they were allowed to experience it, but because it’s usually presented with condescension, and, I’d argue, that can be the subconscious intention.

  49. Laziza on July 28th, 2009 1:32 pm

    I guess I don’t get this. I LOVE your blog and have been reading you for literally years. Bear with me, because I’m not sure how to question this without sounding like a jerk. So, here’s the thing. I elected to go drug-free for the birth of my 10-month-old son, and I’m really proud of accomplishing that. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and I did it. I think it’s OK to take pride in that, just like I think it’s OK to take pride in electing to have major abdominal surgery because you believed it was the best thing for you and your babies. MY “bravery” doesn’t diminish YOUR “bravery,” and my “pride” doesn’t diminish your “pride.” We elected to put our bodies through the rigors of pregnancy and childbirth and to have children and become parents. THAT’S the bravery we can be proud of – the rest are details.

    Does that make sense? Did I sound like a jerk?

  50. Lisa on July 28th, 2009 1:35 pm

    You and I had the same type of experience and after months of preparing for a natural birth I was, at first, heartbroken because I had an emergency C-section over a month ahead of my due date. However, once I realized we get pregnant to have a baby, not a birthing experience, I got all my priorities worked out. And, in the end, I ended up with a healthy, albeit tiny, little girl who will be two on Friday. I am woman, hear me meow…

  51. Ash on July 28th, 2009 1:36 pm

    Me + 2 kids = one home to hospital birth transfer with epi; one birth, no meds at home.

    I felt like a failure over the hospital transfer. My kid wound up subject to interventions that were unnecessary; that I didn’t know how to opt out of. I still have fantasies of ripping that OB limb from limb. I still cry.

    Birth at home, yes super-woman filled crazy birth high. Better high than any drug I ever took (and I took plenty in my youth) and yes, different than what I experienced giving birth with an epi to my son. The hormones, the adrenalin – it is a different kettle of fish.

    You are no less brave. (I for one would shit myself in the face of major surgery). You are no less hero mama. Nobody is sharing their high to put you down. (At least, they shouldn’t be).

    We dismiss other women with “a healthy baby is all that matters” etc. Forgetting that the birth process, a woman’s birth experience will forever be with her and will have an impact on her relationship with her babies, her children.

    The variety of womens birth experiences are something that only continue to divide us, in a sickeningly effective way. We cannot listen anymore, just to listen, just to absorb, just to appreciate. We hold everything up to ourselves, to our experiences and spit out what doesn’t fit. And after browsing over the comments left above mine, cut the shit out of other women who have done it differently.

    Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. We are our own worst enemies and it’s pretty fucking sad.

  52. Beth on July 28th, 2009 1:37 pm

    i LOVED my epidural, which i got as soon as possible, because I don’t like pain, which I already knew going into the whole thing, so I didn’t see the point in “toughing” it out. i also allowed my dr. to go ahead a start a pitocin drip to “move things along”. the baby was born pretty quickly, and without much pain at all. i thought it was great but I did NOT get my “natural” birth gold medal. i DID get a cute little baby girl, though.

  53. Sarah on July 28th, 2009 1:39 pm

    P.S. I had magnesium with my daughter too, while on bedrest, and omg that stuff is evil. If she had been big enough to come out at that point and someone had offered me a way to make the drug be DONE I would have let them do a damn UNMEDICATED c-section just to end the torture. So I think you endured enough misery to qualify for your bravery badge!

  54. sundry on July 28th, 2009 1:42 pm

    Laziza: no, I’m not saying anything other than “this is how I feel”. You should absolutely feel pride, I’m not in any way saying otherwise.

    Ash: you write “a woman’s birth experience will forever [...] have an impact on her relationship with her babies, her children.” You really think so? I sure don’t. I think we all love the way we love no matter how they got here — that’s one thing I feel sure about, regardless of any birth-related regrets.

  55. Swiggy on July 28th, 2009 1:43 pm

    I felt the same way your post conveys when I read that other post this morning.

    I had my first child the “normal” way, with the aid of an epidural. In fact labor was only 30 minutes. So, I thought for sure I’d be able to have my second the “normal” way without an epidural. Boy, was I ever wrong. Probably more like deluded.

    When I arrived at the hospital to have my second, my contractions were 3 minutes apart. However, once I was checked by the nurses I was informed that I wasn’t actually in labor (????). They were going to send me home, but then decided to check baby’s heartrate. That got me a first class ticket to stay until I had the baby, just so long I as I didn’t get out of bed and was attached to a pitocin drip for 24 hours.

    After 24 hours of misery, I was still only dilated 4cm so someone broke my water, which is when the decision was made to do a c-section. The doc saw meconium in the fluid and said the baby had to come out right then. Since I was only 4cm, there was no chance of laboring any further. I got my epidural and c-section. My baby got a 6 day stay in the NICU, and 11 weeks on supplemental oxygen because of the inhaled meconium. I got to see him for a second when he left the operating room, but didn’t get to hold him for over 7 hours.

    Am I glad he’s alive and healthy today? Absolutely. Do I wish things had gone differently? I think about it every single night when I’m putting him to bed.

    Trust me, I know exactly how you feel.

  56. scantee on July 28th, 2009 1:45 pm

    Births are the new weddings for the upper-middle class. Where once the main obsession was crafting the perfect wedding, complete with the right food, dress, guest list, now we obsess about the perfect birth day, no pain relief, better if you are at home, and of course without the dreaded c-section. It seems that a lot of women think they deserve a “perfect day” for their labors.

    But life just doesn’t work that way. Sometimes it rains on the day of your outdoor wedding or you step in a pile of dogshit on your way to the chapel and sometimes you get an epidural or a c-section. It sucks, and we should work to provide a number of safe birthing options for women, but in the end natural childbirth has nothing to do with bravery.

    I had an induced labor with a failed epidural that ended with a vaginal delivery. Even though I had these interventions I don’t regret one second of that day as it was the day my son was born, the best day of my life. No one can take that away from me or one up my experience just because they went pain med free.

  57. justmouse (or Chaosmomm..whatever) on July 28th, 2009 1:46 pm

    seriously? without trying to be rude or anything…stfu. the birth part is not about bravery, or any of that shit. having children, raising them, loving them even when things are hard, and making conscious decisions to Do The Right Thing even when it would be easier not to, being THERE for them, and all the other million little things you do EVERY DAY (i know you do, cuz i read about it every day)….THAT’S bravery. THAT’S what being a mom is. so i managed to shove a slimey ball of ectoplasmic goo out of hoo-hoo. i didn’t have a choice. there was no time to even ASK me if i wanted drugs. does it make me BRAVE?? no! i was TERRIFIED! it really fucking HURT, yanno?? it was messy and painful, and gross, and exhausting. it doesn’t make me brave though. and to be really really honest with you? i hardly remember it, i was so exhausted and scared! i was so exhausted that when they asked me if i wanted to hold my new baby, this miracle i had been waiting 9 months for, i said NO!

    don’t every downplay your bravery. you made it through your teens. you made it through not one but TWO pregnancies. you quit drinking(!!!). you got fit and healthy. you are writing a BOOK. you are incredibly brave and a HUGE inspiration to me. and to your children. think about this..as your kids grow up, do you really think they will ever look at you and NOT see you as brave? nope. they won’t.

    *hugs to you*

  58. -R- on July 28th, 2009 1:46 pm

    I love how Dylan is looking at you in that picture.

  59. scantee on July 28th, 2009 1:47 pm

    Also, my mom had totally natural births and she was a shit parent. So, there’s that.

  60. Sara on July 28th, 2009 1:49 pm

    I had a lot of guilt and feelings of failure after my daughter was born. If only I had exercised more and been in better shape, maybe I wouldn’t have been so tired. If only I had not been so afraid of blowing an anuerysm in my brain then I might have pushed like I needed to. If only I didn’t totally panic and think I was going to DIE because my epidural wore off. If only I had had a doula there to tell me what the hell I was supposed to do. All of these what ifs bother me still. The end result was my daughter being sucked out of me with a vacuum and having a cone head that pointed harshly to the left for several days. Every time I looked at that little head the first few weeks I felt horrible and gulity and like I had failed her.

    Here’s the thing though – no matter what we did or didn’t do, we grew a human being from the size of a poppy seed into a full blown wriggling human. Our bodies supported and nourished and protected them for months. One way or another we got them into the world and they are happy and healthy.

    The “normal” birth does not exist. We try to live up to some ideal of a wonderful perfect delivery that is largely unattainable.

    I always say my next delivery I’ll do A,B, and C different, but truth is whatever happens will happen. WHat matters is the wonderful, beautiful amazing life we have at the end!

  61. Jeanne Pierce on July 28th, 2009 1:50 pm

    I too have had two c-sections. The first was because of pre-eclamsia. She came 5 weeks early and weighed 3 1/2 pounds. There was a knot in the umbilical cord and the poor little thing was starving. I took her home at 3 1/2 pounds. If I had had her naturally she would have died due to that knot. I chose to have a second c-section with my son born at term weighing 6 pounds 8 ounces. He also had a knot in his umbilical cord it just hadn’t sinched down as much as hers. It probably would have during a natural child birth. I regret neither of my c-sections and have no longing for what might of been. In my case it might have been two dead children and perhaps me as well due to eclampsia.

    My cousins wife got eclampsia and had seizures while giving birth. In her case there was no warning sign of high blood pressure or protein in the urine. She was in one hospital the baby in another and my poor cousin torn as to where he should be. She survivied as did the child. She has had three more children with no problems. I also have a neighbor whose mother died of eclampsia at his birth. It was during the great depression. He was put in an orphanage until his father came back for him at around age 10. I guess I am just grateful for medical interventions that gave me my life and my two beautiful children.

    I also really didn’t have any preconceived plans on what my birth would be like. I think that helped me not be disappointed as some of your are. I am not much of a planner, more go with the flow. I was waiting and seeing about druges etc. I was always open to a c-section. It runs in my family to not dilate very well and end up in a c-section. Doesn’t make us less women or mothers.

    I also was one of the lucky ones that was not bothered by the magnesium! I was mostly driven nuts that they wouldn’t bring me my baby because they thought the magnesium would make it so I couldn’t take care of her! My husband had to have a few talks with some nurses. She was also in the intermediate ICU so they would only let her out for 15-30 minutes or so. They were worried about her staying warm enough. I couldn’t wait to get rid of the IV’s so I could go to her in the nursery.

    I know some of you will still beat yourself up over what might of, should have been. I wish you wouldn’t. Enjoy what you have and remember women did and do die in childbirth. I do hope time will help you all come to terms with it. We are all brave!

  62. Ash on July 28th, 2009 1:50 pm

    I don’t think it has anything to do with how we love them. Love for babies is grand, no matter what. Adopt them from Ethiopia, birth them with a dolphin, whatever.

    But I don’t see how your first in-this-world experience with your child can’t effect your relationship with your kid (in whatever way). It’s a pretty big part of the journey. But that’s just me.

  63. Mrs Soup on July 28th, 2009 1:51 pm

    I was blessed enough to have an unmedicated vaginal birth like I was hoping for. 5.5 hours total from first real contraction to baby.

    BUT I was prepared that it might not happen. I say blessed, not because I had planned/researched/practiced some magic spell that allowed it to work. My baby was in the right spots, moved where she needed to be and came out how she was suppose to.

    Every birth is different. Those that crow about how they were able to have a natural birth need to realize how lucky they were. If someone has a C-section? There is a good chance they would have been dead otherwise.

    You gave birth to a little human. However they came into the world is brave enough. As a loving parent, you are brave and wonderful and amazing.

    Don’t forget that.

  64. Sarah on July 28th, 2009 1:51 pm

    I can’t believe I’m leaving a third comment but I just LOVED what Lisa said: “We get pregnant to have a BABY, not a birthing experience.” We are seriously losing sight of this lately. Not to discount that it is an important day, a beautiful day, but my gosh, the way we put it on a pedestal… It’s kind of the equivalent of feeling like a failure because you tripped going down the aisle on your wedding day or something. Did it make you “less of a bride”? And then other people bragging to you about how everything went so perfectly at THEIR wedding, and it’s all because they weren’t afraid and they trusted their instincts and just let nature take its course!

  65. Angie on July 28th, 2009 1:54 pm

    I gave birth vaginally (with drugs though, by god) the first time. I tore VERY badly, which didn’t heal correctly, which so far has required two subsequent surgeries involving my ASSHOLE. Things are still not repaired, so I will need another surgery. there is a new normal to my body, and I’m not talking about extra weight around the middle. I too hear all of this natural childbirth stuff, and it actually just pisses me the hell off. Apparently, I failed in some manner because my baby ripped me. If I’d done things “correctly” I would have fairly danced out of the delivery room and not needed any drugs postpartum, either. But, in reality, I wish that I’d just had a c-section rather than rippage. My c-section recovery was a piece of cake in comparison.

    And, really, I think it is awesome that SOME women have bodies where they can give birth naturally with easy recoveries, etc. But, do they have to try to convince everyone else to do it, too?

  66. hannah on July 28th, 2009 1:57 pm

    I think it’s hard, with childbirth, because so much of it is often outside our control. I had a pretty medicalized (induction+epidural) birth the first time around, but because it was very much what I wanted and expected (mostly painless, with a doctor I trusted) I didn’t think twice about it.

    I had my second, though, via a very precipitous (1.5 hours total- he was born fifteen minutes after I got to the hospital), drug free labor. Which, you know, is for most women I know the ideal- quick and easy and woo hoo for doing it drug free. But it was so fast, and so not how I expected it, and so scary– I nearly had the baby in the car. I didn’t process how shell shocked I was from it until taking my son to his pediatrician’s- the office is right by the hospital and I have minor, panicky flashbacks on making that drive. (I am very grateful I didn’t give birth at home, which was also a distinct possibility, or I’d freak out every time I went to the living room I’m sure.)

    I mean, I do not think about it that much, but it clearly stuck with me, somewhere, that the birth didn’t go as I’d envisioned, and that’s stuck in my psyche in a weird way. So if it’s any comfort, you could still have those feelings even if you had the “natural” birth.

  67. marta on July 28th, 2009 1:59 pm

    I agree with the comments above about how we can’t seem to just listen to each other and appreciate the myriad of experiences. How it becomes my struggle vs your struggle and there is sadly no room for everyone to be brave in their different ways. Dooce went through a horrible ordeal after the birth of her first child and I can see why she clung desperately to a different way of doing things, anything, the second time around. She was lugging some serious baggage and maybe she went a little loopy the second time but, hot damn, in her shoes I might have too. The real tragedy is that her great second experience is seen as a critique of all our other experiences.
    Linda, I live in the same area you do and I consider myself lucky to have birthed in the epicenter of crunchy-granola-mom central because I got to make a lot of choices my friends in other areas did not. The flip side of that is we’re surrounded by a lot more crunchy-granola-moms and that can be harshly judgmental when we don’t end up on the crunchy path.

  68. Amelia on July 28th, 2009 2:03 pm

    I think it is brave to have a c-section. If I were faced with that reality, I would not have been able to rest the night before due to the anxiety. How can you think that recovering (twice!!!) from major abdominal surgery is anything BUT superwoman-ish? I admire you, even if I did do it “naturally” and without drugs. You know what, though? Mine went so fast that they couldn’t even get an IV in, and putting myself and baby at risk due to precipitate labor isn’t so great either.

    Also, you can always say that you KNOW you didn’t poop on the delivery table.

  69. Beth in SF on July 28th, 2009 2:03 pm

    My kiddo’s heartbeat kept going really low while I was in labor, and I *almost* had to have a C-section. As in, they rushed me into the OR, started prepping my belly, got my husband in the scrubs, the whole deal. Then the heartbeat started to go back up and they ended up not doing it. But, that was easily the scariest part of my labor. I didn’t want a C-section, but when all was said and done, I wouldn’t have been so scared of it. Everything turned out fine, but it’s all for the safety of the baby.

  70. Fi on July 28th, 2009 2:03 pm


    I really think that you are physically a very strong person (err.. running? KILLS ME) and could definitely cope with childbirth if medical professionals weren’t watching over you and trying to make sure that your babies arrived safely. And that’s their job, so who are you going to blame? Yourself for trusting health care professionals? Or the professionals for doing their best to protect you and your babies?

    It matters that babies arrive safely.

    I had a baby without drugs – that’s pretty much the norm in the UK (and definitely at the hospital I gave birth in) and I have had a hard time reading Dooce’s birth-story-entries without cringing a little bit and wanting to say “so?” to them. It’s not really a big deal, is it? It’s just normal. I find it very weird indeed that it’s such a talking point to go through natural childbirth as if it’s really out of the ordinary…. Most people I know with babies didn’t have CS or drugs (other than gas&air) to get them through it, and I don’t really hear people congratulating them for it!

    Anyway. I haven’t got much of a point to my comment, just wanted to say – don’t be silly. You have two amazing beautiful babies and nobody cares by what means they came out. xo

  71. trena on July 28th, 2009 2:11 pm

    I’ve only given birth once thus far and I was one of those that wanted to do it natural and then gave in at 7cm and begged for an epidural. For me, wanting to do it naturally simply came down to an issue of control. The previous two years before I was pregnant, I had suffered because of the incompetence of a nurse practioner (hello medical malpractice) and the resulting inability of anyone to pick it up and wanted as little intervention as possible only because I was so worried about the possibility of the medical community screwing up (with regards to me and my body) again.

    Despite having to break down and have the epidural (which, in retropect, made the entire process bearable and almost pleasant), I can say that my birth experience came very close to being ‘perfect’. Perfect is a different thing for everyone. Seriously though, unless you have always wanted to feel like you’re pushing out the largest poop EVER at timed intervals (easily one of the MOST frustrating feelings EVER), you didn’t miss out. Be proud that your body was able to help create and then carry (all by itself) two amazing little boys.

  72. Haitian American Family of Three on July 28th, 2009 2:12 pm

    Well, I am a mama through adoption and sometimes when I read or hear about birth stories I feel a deep sadness that I did not birth my child. I think the other posters have it right though, in the end we all get to be mamas to our kids and that’s what matters.

  73. Blabbermouse on July 28th, 2009 2:21 pm

    Never had a c-section but I still think I can relate to what you’re feeling.

    I went epidural-less (with pitocin to speed up contractions, doctor’s orders) on my second child, and there was absolutely NOTHING mystical, brave, heroic, awe-inspiring, or dignified about it.

    I was RIDICULOUS. Screaming and swearing and carrying on as if Satan himself were driving an 18-wheeler out of my ass.

    I didn’t feel like a brave super mama then, and I don’t feel like one now. To this day I wonder what would have happened if I’d refused the pitocin and labored “NATURALLY”.

    It’s 2009. Unless you’re popping a squat alone in a field, natural is only a matter of degrees. So I think it’s not the heroism involved in “having a baby exit your ya-ya” that matters so much to women, but rather something deeper. Subconsciously maybe we’re asking ourselves “if I had lived in another time, before drugs and c-sections and hospital births, would I have been one of the ones who survived? And would my baby?” I wonder if anyone who doesn’t have the most natural of natural births has that little niggling fear that makes them feel they aren’t “one of the surviving fittest.”

    But this is 2009. And our job is to do what women before us have done, which is to make choices in the best interest of our health and our babies’ health. I’m so glad we live in a world with more choices and medical options. And more healthy babies and mothers.

    You rock, Linda. With a 17-month old, getting out of bed in the morning is an act of heroism!

    Keep writing and making me think, ladies. It’s an interesting conversation.

  74. Marie Green on July 28th, 2009 2:23 pm

    I’ve had 2 long labors, pushed for HOURS on end during both, and ended up with 2 csections. The first time I had a ton of anger about it. The only “medical reason” that I had a section was because “my time was up”. I still had energy, the babies (twins) were doing fine, I was doing fine. I felt like they yanked the rug out from under me.

    The next time, I was already a childbirth educator and doula, so I *KNEW* how to have a baby. =) Haaaaaaaaaaa! Anyway, after 28 hours of labor and pushing I was begging for surgery. They said yes. However, I suffered some maaaaaajoooooor ass complications from that surgery (and went on to have 4 more surgeries in the first 2 months of her life- GRAHHHHHHHH!).

    I may as well admit it: I’m jealous as hell of people that can give birth vaginally, with or without medication. I’d love to hold my baby right after birth, to not be so effing sick to my stomach for their first 12 hours of life.

    Also, I do have to admit, while I will take to the streets to defend ANY woman’s birth experience NO MATTER HOW THEY DO IT, there *is* something a bit magical (really, that’s the best word to describe it) about being a doula for those “natural” birth. Which makes me even more jealous.

    Finally, one of my main hesitations about having a 4th child is the fear of another surgery-gone-bad.

  75. Rachel on July 28th, 2009 2:23 pm

    I have felt the same way you describe many, many times. It’s been almost a decade since my last c-section (of three) and I still get wistful sometimes wishing that I could have had that roaring-womanhood rite of passage at least once. Instead, I’ve never even had to breathe through a contraction, and all three of my children’s birthdays were written on the calendar before they arrived, scheduled between the doctor’s day off and a national holiday, or carefully placed after one of my husband’s work trips.

    It’s certainly not the most important aspect of motherhood, it’s not even close, it’s not even in the top hundred important things, but that doesn’t mean that it’s nothing.

  76. Melissa D. on July 28th, 2009 2:23 pm

    Sorry if I’m repeating something from above but I think you were very brave. Choosing surgery is not easy and quite frankly scares the shit out of me. I understand how you think about what could have been but think about it this way..Your babies made it out safe and sound. And they are damn cute! Not everyone can say that!!! Haha! Kidding.

  77. justmouse (or Chaosmomm..whatever) on July 28th, 2009 2:25 pm

    just an aside to Haitian American Family of Three: i was adopted at birth, and while i know my mum has always felt a little bit “cheated” that she didn’t give birth to her children, i can honestly say i have never ever resented her for it, nor do i think i could feel any closer to her if she actually HAD given birth to me. our children know instinctively what we have to sit and stew over – we are their MOMS and they LOVE us. :)

  78. Sonia on July 28th, 2009 2:29 pm

    I had a dream pregnancy and a nightmare delivery. I had an epidural, and DOG BLESS whomever invented that stuff!!! My son’s special needs are very likely to have been caused by his birth, which was vaginal and should not have been. His brain was compressed and bruised, among a few other complications. I envy folks who had/have C-sections because of my own experience. Let me assure you, however, if faced with a planned c-section I would be very scared. But I was very scared about the vag delivery too!

    My sister delivered her baby in a birth center, completely without meds or doctor intervention. The entire time I was watching her delivery, all I could think was “Good for her, she’s having the exact birth experience she wanted. But that shit is NOT FOR ME!!!!” LOL! ;)

    The only thing that really bothers me about birth stories, is that some women are SO self righteous about their way being the only RIGHT way. Whatever works for each individual mother/child/family, is the *right* way, I say.

  79. AndreAnna on July 28th, 2009 2:31 pm

    Though I “gave birth” to my children, I don’t consider them any more mine than say, my husband, who did not grow nor birth our them.

    A parent is not made by squirting a baby through a birth canal.

    A parent is made by loving, raising, nurturing a child – no matter how they entered the world – and making their light shine brightly in a world often so dark.

    Rock on. I couldn’t have said it better.

  80. Hilary on July 28th, 2009 2:37 pm

    Listen, I had two babies without drugs and I feel very much the same way you do. I didn’t feel brave when I was screaming my head off begging for drugs (it was too late), pleading with someone, anyone to make the horrible pain go away. I think about the people who have an epidural and are able to enjoy the calm magic of childbirth, and feel a bit sad I was so distracted by the pain. We have a video of my daughter’s birth and I can’t bring myself to watch it. It was that horrifying and raw. I feel the same combination of awe and jealousy/anger when I hear about people who found wonder and power in childbirth. So, we did what we had to do, and the minute we saw our babies it all melted away. I’m glad you wrote this, though. It’s brave and true.

  81. Katherine on July 28th, 2009 2:44 pm

    I’ve always been amazed at the guilt women have about the birth of their children. It doesn’t matter if the birth was C-section, epidural, or “natural,” every women I’ve ever talked to feels like they could have done something differently, something better. I’ve struggled with my own guilt that I didn’t do things like my mother did.

    I feel lucky that I have two amazingly beautiful, healthy, smart boys that I don’t think of the guilt.

    But you are writing about something I think will resonate with every mother who reads it.

  82. Restless Mama on July 28th, 2009 2:45 pm

    All I can say is I totally feel you. Though I was able to deliver my son vaginally I still didn’t feel brave because I was doing it on my back with the help of epidural.

    Magnesium is a bitch I tell you.

    You are incredibly brave.

  83. Christy on July 28th, 2009 2:46 pm

    Every birth is different. There is no right way to do it. Like someone else said, bravery is choosing to do it again. I have three kids, and with each one I was slightly more terrified about having to push a whole person out of me :) And, sometimes, with a vaginal delivery the scalpel still makes an appearance.

  84. Lauren on July 28th, 2009 2:47 pm

    Well, I think your title says it all. I love hearing birth stories, but it is sad when the story has a whiff of superiority about it. I dislike the term “natural” too, I prefer “unmedicated.” Less implied criticism.
    There’s so little that is under your control during the whole process, really the only thing you can control is how you react to events.
    In my little PEPS group of 9 women, we covered the whole spectrum: 5 C-sections (one emergency, two stalled labors, two planned) and 4 vaginal births (two with meds, two without). Each situation required its own type of bravery. I would have had a hard time with a planned C-section, I hate needles and IVs. Luckily for me, I got one of the unmedicated vaginal births, and it really was luck. Jacob was positioned well, I have some good birthin’ hips, I had great support, and labor progressed smoothly. Anyhoo, I’ll stop rambling now and sum up thusly: you rock, and your kidlets are wonderfully adorable.

  85. Kim on July 28th, 2009 2:54 pm

    I had an intervention-free birth (much prefer that term to natural) with my son and you know what? I feel no bravery. I am not roaring. I totally thought I would. I wanted a ‘natural’ birth and read so many birth stories which sounded so triumphant and empowering and I clung to them as some sort of motivation to go through with it. My birthin’ can best be summed up as: It was hard and gross, but now we have Dexter! It wasn’t beautiful, or empowering, or inspiring.

    I’ve never felt brave or strong or like I’m any different a person because of it. Once the pushing phase was underway, honestly, there was no bravery involved. It was mere survival. I was DYING for someone to suggest forceps or suction, because I was going to say, “Yes! That! Do it! Get this thing outta me!” But no one did and the only reason I went on was because there was no way to stop it. No, I wasn’t brave at all.

    I’m very glad I gave birth the way I did because I feel like it made things easier for Dex at the start of his life. For myself, though, eh… whatever.

  86. Lauren on July 28th, 2009 3:01 pm

    I did really roar at the end, funnily enough. Big primal scream while pushing. I scared the shit out of a poor mama-to-be checking in for an induction.

  87. jumbles on July 28th, 2009 3:08 pm

    Laziza really hit it on the head, to me. I don’t see why someone else’s experience should diminish your own. Your babies turned out beautiful and healthy and that is more than an adequate justification (if you feel you need one). Of course there will always be judgmental ass-hats on both sides of any issue, but nobody can make you feel bad unless you let them.

  88. Heidi on July 28th, 2009 3:16 pm

    Oh HOLLY HELL! I am just now realizing that I have to do this all a 3rd time! For the record, not that my opinion really matters, but I think that women who have C-sections and then choose to do it all over again KNOWING what that will intail, are MUCH braver then I will ever be. I felt my second come out, and it was the worst pain I have ever encountered. I could not imagine having my stomach gashed opened, my child pulled from my body, and then stappled and sewed closed! No thank you!!! I think that no matter how your children come into this world, you are “giving birth”. Kutos to you for choosing to do it all over again!!!
    Ohh Kutos. you remember those?? That sounds damn good right now!

  89. Jessica on July 28th, 2009 3:17 pm

    When I got pregnant, I told my OB that I’d had a past traumatic pelvic injury (broke that sucker in three places) and was really concerned about delivering vaginally. But she thought we should give it the old college try.

    My third trimester was so painful that I had to go to twice-weekly physical therapy, and we induced at 39 weeks because I could barely walk.

    After 12 hours of labor and two hours of pushing, the little fella was stuck right at the base of my pelvis and couldn’t get through. So I looked at my doctor and mimed a pair of scissors.

    Anyway, even though he came out through the tummy, my baby is perfect in every way, except for when he kicks me in the c-section scar.

    P.S. I ate nothing but cake while I was pregnant so I probably suck anyway.

    P.P.S. My experience birthing my son was perfect. I wouldn’t change a thing.

  90. Kristy on July 28th, 2009 3:18 pm

    You have a right to feel the things you feel. We all do.

    To gain perspective think of all the very brave women in this world who will never know any birth experience. That’s perspective.

  91. jessica on July 28th, 2009 3:19 pm

    your body made, carried and then produced two heathy, happy, ADORABLE kids. you are woman, roar.

  92. jumbles on July 28th, 2009 3:20 pm

    sorry one more thought– I think what’s more interesting than comparing dick size re: natural childbirth (ok, granted that doesn’t quite make sense) is to try to figure out why the hell the US is freakin 44th in infant mortality in the world (that’s lowest, of course, not highest). Best health care in the world my ass.

    I guess it’s sort of typically American that we all fixate on our individual experience, rather that the collective one. Hope that gives some good perspective, rather than adds to your guilt.

  93. marta on July 28th, 2009 3:23 pm

    In my Bradley class we had six couples. Sixteen weeks of motherfucking crunchy granola childbirth classes, all designed to get the partner involved, the mother empowered, and to gently shove down our throats the glory of unmedicated childbirth. Three c-sections, which puts it well ABOVE the national average. I laugh and laugh and laugh at that fact. (In retrospect, a good class, but really. Sixteen weeks. Agh.)

  94. Melissa D. on July 28th, 2009 3:29 pm

    Okay – I just read some of the comments and want to say that you have a fine group of readers! A lot of love, understanding and intelligence. How refreshing!

  95. Mimi on July 28th, 2009 3:39 pm

    Thank you for writing this. I’ve had so many people look at me with pity because I had to have three c-sections to deliver my children. I don’t want to be pitied. I am HAPPY about those c-sections, and about my resulting beautiful kids. And whatever that Ash said above about how your birth experience will impact your relationship with your kids forever… I’m sorry. But that is just a weird thing to say and not true at all.

  96. melinda on July 28th, 2009 3:54 pm

    i had by no choice, but to give birth naturally. NO CHOICE. waited too long to go to the hospital. apparently i have a high tolerance for pain (who knew) and the stages of labor were 1/2 of what they were supposed to be. lucky that we got there when we did or i would have had him in the car. i would have paid for a c-section. i used to joke with the ob about how to finagle one. all i can say, 7 1/2 years later, there is no laminated card i carry, a tattoo on my forehead or a badge or courage that got pinned to my chest about the whole “ooh and ahh” of natural childbirth. we live in a world with amazing medical wonders, embrace it. he was healthy and beautiful, with all his pieces and parts, who gives a fuck how he entered the world…

  97. Sue on July 28th, 2009 3:54 pm

    Dude, I seriously had a natural chilbirth with my 3rd kid, because she came too damn fast for them to give me the epidural. Let me tell you, it sucked ASS. I was not superwoman, it hurt and I cried and cursed my husband out and I believe my head spun around a time or two. It did not make me a better mom and it did not make me feel like I had done something better than I did with the first two babies I gave birth to. No matter what the circumstance behind the birth, all of us women are either brave or stupid to keep wanting more and more of these little creatures. Also in my book, c-section babies are way prettier, they don’t get all distorted on their way out.

  98. Leigh on July 28th, 2009 4:08 pm

    F$%^ that. I have never ever questioned my decisions. I do not feel that I could or should have done anything differently. I had a vaginal birth and the drugs did not come fast enough. Literally, my bp was dropping and I was going into shock from the pain when I was dilated 3 (3!!) cm. The epidural and pitocin saved my life.

    I am very very sure that I (and possibly my wonderful son) would have died 100 years ago. I’ve never spent a moment wondering if it would have been better for him or for me to have done it differently.

    As I see it, our primary responsibility is to stay alive and healthy for our newborns: whatever that entails.

  99. Cookie on July 28th, 2009 4:08 pm

    My births were not exactly what I expected them to be. Not that there was anything I could have done. The drugs were a given both times, I don’t regret that, but I do wish there had been less intervention, but again I can’t regret that.

    My first-born got the cord wrapped around his neck on the way out; and thus the delivery was aided by forceps in the hurry to get him out and breathing. My second-born was supposed by a scheduled induction, which turned into a c-section due to the fact that every time I had a contraction he lost oxygen. Turns out the cord had a knot in it, which could have been much more serious had I not been monitored when the contractions started. Both are fine, thanks to medical intervention.

    It’s just hard not to feel like I failed as women. That I was weak for taking drugs. Weak for scheduling an induction. Even if it turned out to be the best thing for the health of my babies. Does that even make sense?

  100. Jen on July 28th, 2009 4:25 pm

    I’ve read your blog for awhile now, but have never commented before that I recall.

    Ok, so I am not a mother yet, and have therefore never given birth in any way. So please feel free to tell me to shut up because, hey. What do I know?

    You ARE brave. You carried 2 humans inside of you! You forced yourself to become a healthier person for them when you hadn’t even met them yet! To me, being a mother is the bravest of all things…and the birthing part while wholly impressive is but a small piece of the puzzle. As a mother, you are brave and strong every day…whether you feel that way or not.

  101. Mary on July 28th, 2009 4:32 pm

    As I write this my first baby is kicking the edge of my laptop (in mah belly–s/he pushes back when I rest things there!). And holy crap, I’m trying not to get all freaked out here. Could someone hand me a paper bag? I have NO idea how this birth is going to go. I’m going to be as preapared as I can be, but I’m also counting on the experts I chose to be there and my amazing (nurse) husband to help us all make the best decisions for the situation at hand. I hope we make the right ones, whether it’s “natural,” epi, c-section or whatever. All I can do is make the best decisions I can with limited information I have at the time. And I’m not going to force it one way or another based on my own preferences. And dear God in heaven, I’m thankful we live in a day in age when things like pain relief are options, and I hope we both live, and that we have a healthy little punkin.

  102. Kristin C. on July 28th, 2009 4:35 pm

    My story EXACTLY except for the c-section. I had the labor from hell with 4 hours straight of pusing every minute. I tried to calculate…I pushed something like AT LEAST 480 times. It was hell. It hurt. My vagina was cut to get her out. You did your self a favor and had a c-cestion. Try not to have any regrets….You made two little human beings with your body, that’s brave and awesome enough.

  103. Nicole on July 28th, 2009 4:36 pm

    I can relate- I had 2 C-sections too. The first was an emergency, and the second was planned, at my doctor’s suggestion. I wrestled with feelings of inadequacy and cowardice for a long time. But I’m finally at peace with the fact that it doesn’t matter how my boys got here- what matters is that they’re here and they are lovely. And it’s nutty out there- raising them and allowing them to be able to make their way in this world requires a lot of bravery and courage! I hope you are able to find some peace on this issue! Good luck!

  104. Blythe on July 28th, 2009 4:38 pm

    I haven’t read all the comments but I’m sure most of them say, yes, me too, maybe I could have tried harder, but it all came out OK.

    And I’m just hear to say yes, me too. I didn’t expect to feel the guilt I felt (I didn’t have a C-section but we had to do a vacuum extraction resulting in a big bruised head, NICU, etc). And it lingered for a long, long time. What if I were stronger? What if I hadn’t asked for an epidural? What if what if what if?

  105. Erin on July 28th, 2009 4:39 pm

    I totally struggle with this too.

    Not so much back then. Back then I was exhausted, and had been in and out of labor and on bed rest for more than 20 weeks while taking trebutaline (sp?). When they told me he was positioned transverse and I would need a c-section I readily agreed. At that point, I would’ve agreed to let them remove him from my mouth if I would just NOT BE PREGNANT ANYMORE! Plus, I was young. The labor I had already experienced was terrible and I was petrified of the “real thing”.

    But now, I’m older, wiser, and I feel the same way. I wish I could’ve done that. I wish I could’ve felt that, etc. I feel like the “experience” was stolen from me.

    But at the end of the day, I just have to remind myself that I had a healthy baby who is the light of my life. That’s pretty miraculous!

  106. Michelle on July 28th, 2009 4:44 pm

    Thank you for saying what I have been feeling since my daughter was born a year ago. I feel bad I had a C-section but I know what really is important is that we are both OK. After my water broke I was in labor for more than 12 hours without progressing past 3 cm and my daughter’s heart rate kept dropping. The doctor told me it was my decision but he felt I would end up with a C-section even if I kept trying for hours. I opted for the C-section. I sometimes wish I would have tried harder, done more. I don’t know what I could have done but it makes me sad to read other birth stories and I know I won’t have the chance to push.

  107. Anna on July 28th, 2009 4:48 pm

    Linda, I absolutely believe that giving birth to a child – no matter how – is brave and magical. I don’t think you should feel any shame, and in fact putting yourself through major surgery for the life of your children is pretty darn impressive.

    This is such an interesting topic to me, and I have to admit that I bristle a little when people (not you, but some of the commenters here) make fun of, or make light of a woman’s right to feel empowered and brave for being lucky enough to have the birthing experience she wanted. Just because she feels empowered and wonderful after going through the experience of a natural birth does not mean that she thinks a birth with a medical intervention is Not Brave. Parenting is such a mine field of potential disagreements among parents (co-sleeping, Ferber, cloth diapers, breast feeding, discipline) and it is endlessly frustrating to me that we can’t just applaud one another and understand that what works for one family will most assuredly not work for another. It IS brave to go through child birth, however it is that it happens for you and women should be able to sing on the mountain tops that their natural birth was the best thing they ever did.

    I recently watched The Business of Being Born and thought it was great. While Ricki Lake obviously has an agenda, the agenda is NOT making mothers feel bad for their choices. It is more about educating people about the practice of midwifery and how we have turned away from that sort of birthing process. The director of the film is actually pregnant during filming and intends on a natural birth. However, the film concludes with her being rushed to the hospital for a C-section. She had no choice in the matter and after preparing for a water birth at home, she had to have a C-section in the hospital. She is interviewed when her son is 8 months old and she makes absolutely no apologies and has no regreets about being unable to have the birth she wanted. She had a healthy child and that was what was important.

  108. Holly on July 28th, 2009 4:58 pm

    It all only means as much as you want it to. Mother by C-section, by vaginal delivery, by adoption, by marriage….it doesn’t really matter and it doesn’t make you a better mother (oh, if the only key to being a good mother came through the vagina!)

    How you mother, how you love and how you raise your children – that’s what matters. It’s a choice, every day, to be a good mother, no matter how the rugrats came into your life. Comparing choices and decisions and things that influence your life are beyond your control is fruitless and does not honor the work and experience of being a mom (and I believe mom-to-mom competitive comparisons are hugely destructive to the self confidence of mother’s every where, but that’s off point here).

    Be glad you have them, and that they were born healthy, however they came into the world. ‘Nuff said.

  109. Pocklock on July 28th, 2009 5:01 pm

    This topic is actually on my mind as well. I feel as though I were coerced into a C-section with Bean and it still to this day pisses me off. I was never all natural-ly anyway, but we did have a doula lined up (who couldn’t make it due to a death in her family) and now I’m left to wonder if it would have been different if she were there. Would I have been talked into the pitocin as quickly? Would I have allowed the epidural so soon?

    And now I have to deal with being labeled if I choose to go VBAC for the next one. I have to listen to everyone tell me about all the risks and ask me if I really need to be a hero. That they don’t send you home from the hospital with a trophy AND your baby. Yadda yadda. And I’m not sure if I’m prepared for that.

    But if I go with the C, will I always be left to wonder if it could’ve been different?

    There’s no pretty way to get a baby out. End of story.

  110. Amanda on July 28th, 2009 5:02 pm

    I think a woman having a c-section is brave. I think all moms are brave – period. It’s scary shit raising a kid. xo

  111. Janet on July 28th, 2009 5:03 pm

    You know, this whole thing about missing out on the “experience” is a load of crap. You made a human life, that in it’s self is a miracle.

    I can tell you first hand because I had my first child “all natural” and it was the most excruciating pain I have ever endured. When I got pregnant with my second (and last) child I swore that I would take the freakin’ meds, and I did and I am so glad because was a much better birth experience because I wasn’t in so much pain. I was able to focus on the miracle and wonder of it all.

    So, that said, be happy with your choices and know that you did what was best for your children.

  112. Janet on July 28th, 2009 5:05 pm

    Amen Holly, well said!

  113. Ashley on July 28th, 2009 5:10 pm

    I don’t think it is possible to have a birth go exactly as expected. There are just too many variables. Don’t feel un-brave though, you didn’t get pregnant for the act of shoving a child out your body, you got pregnant to have a family…mission accomplished with everyone intact. Your guts might have been hanging outside your body while birthing, but at least you didn’t have a “code brown” in a birthing tub.

  114. Katy on July 28th, 2009 5:20 pm

    Once again you have expressed exactly how I feel (how do you always do that?:) I ended up with a c-section after having to be induced due to high blood pressure. I pushed for three hours and then begged for a c-section. Even though I know I did the best thing for my daughter I still feel like I missed out on something. I too had a bit of me that wanted to be the woman hear me roar type but at the end of the day I have a daughter that is healthy and thriving and that is what matters.
    P.S. Love your site, your writing is always so spot on for me!

  115. Kelly on July 28th, 2009 5:26 pm

    I’ve been through the same feelings of inadequacy as many people have described here. I had c-sections with both of my kids due to the fact that my first was breech. I’ve got 2 sons and have never felt a contraction, never pushed, hell… I’ve never had a single minute of labor. It took me quite some time to realize that the birth experience isn’t supposed to be some sort of competition or even about reaching your own full potential by having a child come out of your vagina. It’s about your baby, utterly and completely. And I think, for some reason, we tend to forget that fact after it’s over. It is brave to decide to have a child. It is brave to carry a human being around inside your body for nearly a year. And a woman most certainly is brave when it’s time to get that baby from the inside to the outside, however that happens to be.

  116. Chick on July 28th, 2009 5:29 pm

    I’m a mother of two — first by emergency c-section, and once by adoption. Neither one were “natural” but they were both perfect for me. I would NOT go back and do it “naturally” even if I could.

    I realllllly don’t get what Ash was saying up there. It doesn’t make sense. Is that implying that since neither of my babies plopped out of my vagina, that is going to compromise my relationship with them somehow. That’s just weird and wrong and ignorant.

  117. Michelle on July 28th, 2009 5:51 pm

    Also, when I told a friend that I feel that I missed out on a rite of passage b/c I had a C-section, she told me that I had the ultimate rite of passage by putting my child’s needs before my needs and wishes.
    That helped me more than anything.

  118. Lesley on July 28th, 2009 6:17 pm

    Do not let the super human Earth Moms deprive you of your own particular moment of glory on D Day – where the D stands for delivery. Every woman who endures pregnancy and can pop a kid, whether it’s via the Vag or a C-section is heroic and stunningly brave.

    Besides, you’re such a great mom in every respect and it’s really what comes later that’s important.

    How cute the two boys look in those after birth photos.

  119. Lesley on July 28th, 2009 6:20 pm

    Btw, if it was me I’d want to be teleported back to the fifties when they knocked moms out, delivered the baby, and woke her up. :)

  120. Giselle on July 28th, 2009 6:22 pm

    I like the comment over on Semi-desperate Housewife’s blog…, “Why do women have to make everything a pissing contest.” Why indeed? How could there only be one way that is the “right” way. Hell, Julius Ceaser’s mother had a C-section…so women have been doing it for a long time (although I don’t think she survived…so maybe a bad example).

    And I think that all mothers are brave…to send their hearts walking around outside their bodies. Even those mothers whose bodies truly failed them and didn’t allow them to even get pregnant, but whose bravery led them to find children already born somewhere in the world…who were meant to be with them anyway.

  121. kakaty on July 28th, 2009 6:23 pm

    I had a drug-free hospital birth. It was my choice and I’m glad that I was able to do it the way I wanted. I knew a c-section or drugs were a possibility but it was my first child and I wanted to TRY IT before I opted for assistance. My midwife and OB were fine with it and that’s how it happened. When asked, I do say I didn’t use drugs and people’s jaws drop – they can’t believe I GAVE BIRTH without DRUGS and therefore I am either some sort of hippy or some crazy natural-birth activist. And the truth is, I’m not some sort of superwoman nor was I trying to be…I was just wanted to trust my body (with the care and medical approval of professionals). Plus, like jonniker I was scared to death of having anything stuck into my spine unless it was absolutely necessary for my survival.

    My own opinion on the matter, which I don’t normally share because I am a Midwesterner and avoid confrontation whenever possible, is that I don’t think women give themselves enough credit for what they are capable of. Especially when it’s their first birth and they have no idea how their body is going to work through the process. The women who gleefully announce “I’m gonna get the epidural before I even check into the hospital” – I have to admit I feel kind of sorry for them, that they don’t have enough confidence in their body to do what it was intended to do (of COURSE, I am talking about women with no known medical issues that make it impossible to have a drug-free birth).

    I went into the birth of my child expecting the worst pain of my life and partly expecting to request the drugs at some point, but I found that the pain wasn’t as bad as I thought and the farther we got into labor the more I realized I could handle it. And part of what motivated me during some of the more painful moments was remembering stories that I read online of other women who had been through the same thing. I really think that 99% of women who share their stories are just doing that – sharing their stories for others who may be interested…not to divide mothers even farther or be an activist for one way or another. They aren’t trying to say I’m braver then you or stronger then you…they are just saying it was an amazing experience and I want to share it with you.

  122. scantee on July 28th, 2009 6:34 pm

    kakaty-Are you implying that women who have interventions don’t trust their bodies? I think this is part of the problem; you say women aren’t trying to offend, just telling their stories, and then you go on to use offensive rhetoric. Obviously, a lot of women who think they are just “telling their stories” don’t realize what is so hurtful about those stories.

    I had an intervention birth AND I trust my body.

  123. Heather on July 28th, 2009 6:47 pm

    This is a hot topic, apparently. There have been many moments when I think of the what ifs. I went for my scheduled induction knowing one thing: I wanted an epidural as soon as humanly possible. Long story short, epi needle punctured spinal column, spinal fluid leak, no pain relief, crippling fear of trying epi again, medication free birth complete with fourth degree tear that I felt every.fucking.second of. Two hours of emergency surgery to repair the damage, meaning, of course, time away from my new baby. Oh, and a delightfully scarred up nether region. Nothing happened how I thought it would, but here we both are, alive and healthy. “Natural” birth is brave. C sections are brave. Adoptions are brave. Mothers are brave, period.

  124. Amanda on July 28th, 2009 6:52 pm

    I’m aiming for a drug-free birth. I am only 9 weeks, so I know this will take a lot of training and may not end up like I hope. Maybe like a marathon? But I can’t criticize the choices other women end up making when it comes to this. Interestingly, it was the story of Dooce’s first birth and the horrible pitocin/epidural cycle that scared me into researching drug-free/non-intervention births.
    And thanks for the reminder – I’ll call it drug-free or non-intervention instead of “natural” birth from now on.

  125. stacy on July 28th, 2009 7:12 pm

    I labored stupidly and fruitlessly on Pitocin for 8 hours after my water broke with meconium and I still wasn’t “in labor”. I refused the drugs because I wanted to be as drug free as possible but I only dilated to 2cm and was “on the clock” due to the meconium and broken water … they offered me a few more hours of Pitocin labor but come on … 2 cm in 8 hours? I wasn’t going to be 10 cm in a few more. I opted for the C-Section. I’ll never know what might have been. Now pregnant and due in Feb. with my second, I’m thinking I should have taken the offered and much-pushed epidural, perhaps the rest would have helped me dilate? Made the C-Section easier to recover from? Who knows. I’m okay with it. I have to be. Right now I’m 13 weeks pregnant and I have a toddler climbing onto every elevated surface he can find. We both got through his birth without any complications and for that I’m thankful. If I spend too much time looking back, I’ll forget to go rescue him from his next danger-zone.

  126. molly on July 28th, 2009 7:20 pm

    Looking at those two pictures, I can so easily say that no matter if the stork had come by the hospital window and dropped them off into your arms, they are, without any doubt, your sons.

    I am extremely blessed that the only part of my birth plan that I didn’t get was the ‘no episiotomy’ (yes – I’m one of those crazy women that made my husband do perineal (sp?) massage which is WAY WAY WAY past TMI) but I give all the credit to my doulas. I have a pin that says “My Doula was worth the Moula.” Best few hundred dollars we ever spent X 2. All hospitals should have them available for their patients.

    Not that a doula would have helped your blood pressure so I’ll get off my soapbox now…cause you did exactly the right thing.

    Just got my two to bed…better work before hubby catches me on here.

  127. Melissa on July 28th, 2009 7:21 pm

    I don’t tell my birthing story too often because it might scare new moms. But my son had to be delivered almost a month early when a routine U/S showed my placenta had dropped down to cover the cervix, then the maternal-fetal specialist saw that almost all the amniotic fluid was gone. So, he announced the baby was going to be delivered that evening or the next day. I was allowed to choose which OB out of a group of 7 would do the actual c-section.

    And you know what? I was so relieved that the pregnancy was going to be over soon that I could have kissed that specialist. I had been in so much pain in the last few weeks of the pregnancy that I had coached my husband to help me beg for a c-section.

    The hospital staff were fabulous, the labor and delivery team were wonderful in the time leading up the delivery that if the story ended there, I would have been the happiest woman in the world.

    But it didn’t end there. Right after Daniel was delivered, and my husband went off to cut the cord, I heard the 2 OBs talking fast, then one telling the staff to get more blood up to the OR. The pace in that room sped up so quickly and I could hear my normally calm OB issuing orders with the tone of a drill sergeant. She finally came and stood by my head, quietly explaining that she needed to do a hysterectomy. The placenta had grown into the uterus so completely that she couldn’t separate them. At that point, I was so glad to just know what was happening that all I could say was that at least I wouldn’t have any more periods. I’m not always that calm but there wasn’t much point to screaming or yelling, since the OB still needed to finish the operation.

    I was on the table for 3 hours more, then in the ICU overnight. It was 24 hours before I got to see my son and a few hours more before I felt strong enough to hold him. But he was completely healthy, I was alive, and we would be going home together once I recovered from the surgery.

    The second best part (after actually having him) was the pain was gone. The pain caused by a uterus stretched beyond belief; old scar tissue that had adhered to every organ in the lower part of my body which had made every movement of his body such misery while I still carried him. Compared to that pain, recovering from a c-section and a hysterectomy was a walk in the park.

    Thanks for giving me the opportunity to tell my story. And thanks for being so honest about your feelings. You are one brave mom, no matter how those boys came into the world.

  128. Jenny on July 28th, 2009 7:33 pm

    I haven’t read the other comments, but honestly, I think it’s pretty damn brave from the beginning when you see the second line and you think “here we go” followed by months of sickness, or not, sleeplessness, or not, skin stretched out never to be tight again, awaiting that scary and unforseen future (birth by surgery? Or not? last minute medical emergencies? Or not? A healthy baby? Or not?) followed by a lifetime, yes a lifetime, of being a parent and wearing your heart on the outside of your body. Yep, parents = brave. Or crazy.

  129. Michelle on July 28th, 2009 7:38 pm

    My first one? Contractions so wimpy that I did not realize I was in labor. Also? My water broke and I was uncertain about that as well. Doesn’t always happen like it does in the movies. Wimpy contractions meant pitocin and if that ain’t an enormous slice o’ hell then I just don’t know what is. I was BEGGING for the epidural.

    Second time I went to a regular appt and ended up being told that I needed to be induced. Got to the hospital and found out the little one was breach so into the operating room I went.

    I tell you this so you know you are not alone. Of course you are not alone. And, yes, I find those stories of amazingly brave women giving birth with no or little medical intervention both awe inspiring and jealousy inducing.

  130. MizzM on July 28th, 2009 8:13 pm

    I had “easy” labors–5 hours or less with no need (and no time) for epidurals. BUT, my birth experiences, like ALL birth experiences, were unique. For me, childbirth was not painful. Contractions felt like just that–contractions. I did not experience any pain until the doctor was stitching up the tearing caused by delivering babies with giant Charlie Brown heads. Believe me, if my contractions had been painful, I would have asked for an epidural! And, my daughter’s delivery was frightening for everyone involved. When my doctor came round to visit me the day after, the first thing he wanted to discuss with me was birth control and the fact that “next time around I would recommend scheduling a C-section and not even attempting another vaginal birth.” Oh, okay, well, if you say so…

    So, anyhow, I never felt like an awesome, strong, valiant Super Hero. I felt clueless and unsure of every decision I made, and I guess I was just damn lucky it went fast and didn’t hurt. That doesn’t make me a Super Hero, it just makes me a freak of nature.

    But, hey, if you’re handing out awe and admiration, I’ll accept it anyway.

    Even without a traumatic, painful story to tell about childbirth, I can’t say I would ever want to go through it again–it still scares me, despite two reasonable outcomes. I think it is far more important to focus on what happens the day after…and the day after that…and the day after that! The child’s birth is just one short day in what we all hope to be the first of many, many days in that special human creation’s life! I would much rather tell you how great and wonderful my little offspring are than how I crapped on the delivery table…


  131. Jen on July 28th, 2009 8:17 pm

    I think the bravery comes not in how the baby enters the world, but in the act of WANTING to become pregnant and raise a child. It’s a 100% leap of faith, something we have next to no control over. All of us Moms are brave as HELL, regardless of how our labor goes. *hugs*

  132. Alyson on July 28th, 2009 8:41 pm

    Had kids both ways. Each has it’s advantages and disadvantages. In a lot of ways, I think it took longer to recover from the V-BAC.

    The REAL Bravery comes from being a parent, day in and day out. Don’t let ANYONE devalue your birth experiences. They are yours (and JB’s, of course) nobody can take it away from you. Don’t let anyone think you didn’t do “your job the right way” because you didn’t do it the way some granola-eatin’, birkenstock-wearing, peace-love-and natural childbirth mama thinks you should have.

    I’ve had natural childbirth with absolutely no drugs……IT SUCKED! And the only time I can say my husband was really scared of me. (no drugs = Satan coming to visit in the middle of delivery!)

  133. Alyson on July 28th, 2009 8:42 pm

    BTW, what brought on this fit of self-loathing? You’re a Goddess! And don’t you forget it!!

  134. sundry on July 28th, 2009 8:44 pm

    Self-LOATHING? Wow, does it really sound that way? Because that’s not how I feel at all.

  135. Jen L on July 28th, 2009 9:15 pm

    Penne’s nurse ROCKED! That is one of the best, most succinct ways of putting it that I have ever heard! My nurses with both my daughters (both induced at 10 days late, both vaginal births, both – thank god – with epidurals) told me pretty much the same thing, just not with quite as much sass and humor.

    One thing I gotta say though: Every time this topic comes up, someone always feels compelled to make some variation of the “at least your hoo-hoo’s not all icky” comment, and it really pisses me off. It’s just such a ridiculous and ignorant thing to say. They’re called Kegels, people. They work wonders. Look them up.


  136. Kathy on July 28th, 2009 9:23 pm

    For what it’s worth, my first two sons were vaginal. I try not to think too much about the first birth experience…20 hours of labor with pitocin (because my water broke), the baby’s heart rate kept dropping (the umbilical cord was wrapped around his leg)and he was huge and after two hours of pushing, he had to be suctioned out with a medical vacuum device, with a bunch of medical students materializing from nowhere to gather around and watch. My beautiful son was finally born, but…he has a significant developmental disability, and I can’t help but wonder if things would have been different if I had just had a C-section. I’ve had to stop the “what if’s” because it was making me crazy. Every time I hear someone brag about their amazing birth experience, I kind of want to tell them to shut up.

    Anyway, my second experience wasn’t great either (a 10 pounder), and with my third I demanded a planned C-section, and it was by far the best experience.

    In my opinion(and yes, I know it’s different for everyone) C-sections ROCK and I recommmend them to everyone.

    Just my two cents…Your boys are adorable, btw!

  137. Lindsay on July 28th, 2009 9:32 pm

    Ummmm I’m just giggling because Riley looks like a new born baby but Dylan looks like you took a pic of him five mins ago in a cap and blankie and then shrunk it and photoshopped it in. Genetics are crazy.

    Great post too; that Dylan character just got me sidetracked.

  138. Nhalia on July 28th, 2009 9:39 pm

    Wow, I didnt expect to have to read through a million posts to get to the end! Who would have known this would stir up so many posts? ;)

    There is no part about my daughters birth that I regret, in fact I am one of the few that loved every part of it even though it didnt go as planned.

    We had planned on waiting until she decided to grace us with her presence, but at my 40 week appointment my obgyn said that my fluid was low and I would be giving birth later that day. Check in downstairs in labor and delivery, hunney! Yeeha!

    I planned on no drugs, but after the pitocin and then them breaking my water…I got the damn drugs! The pitocin had no ill effects on me thankfully, just sped my contractions up a bunch. I think in the end I pushed for 30 minutes? Shut up, right?

    To me, any woman that has a child is brave and a super hero. I dont care how your little one arrived in this world. Being a mom takes courage. DAILY. How you raise and love those little ones is all that matters. To me, having to decide to have the C-section was brave. Holy hell would that scare the beejeebus out of me!

  139. Tree Dreamer on July 28th, 2009 9:54 pm

    I had multiple “natural” births, midwives, water birthing, the whole Ricki Lake 9-yards, including one where I ended up on mag sulfate and pitocin b/c of high bp and once b/c of meconium. But I don’t think I did anything special, it just was what it was. I would probably do things differently.

    Having major surgery is brave too. Making the choices that have to be made to make sure that baby and you are safe and healthy is brave. It doesn’t matter how they get here. It’s like our version of whippin’ it out and measuring. You didn’t miss out on anything, it’s what you have now that counts.

  140. alfredsmom on July 28th, 2009 10:06 pm

    I hear you. I had two c-sections due to total lack of anything going on down below, even a week and a half after my due date. Inductions failed to help. So, I went thru the wondering and the regrets. Still wonder, still regret, but in a much better place.

    But you know what? C-section women go thru some real pain too and some other horrible gruesome stuff like inability to poop for a very long time, so I think we are all “even”. ;)

  141. Tree Dreamer on July 28th, 2009 10:16 pm

    PS – why do we think that experiencing what is probably the worst pain a human being can go through somehow makes our bonding a better experience or makes the birth somehow more earthy or right? why is it wrong or a woman not “trusting her body” to ask for pain killers so that she can get through it? I didn’t feel any better as a parent or as a woman or a human for going through the pain.

  142. Anonymous on July 28th, 2009 11:04 pm

    You know what? I question myself a lot on my parenting choices: The really short time attempting breastfeeding, disposable diapers versus cloth, etc. but I don’t question how my kids got here. I am just happy that they were born healthy and able to come home with me. For the record, one C-section and 2 VBACs, with an epidural, twice for the second VBAC because the first didn’t work and the second only worked partially. I applaud all those women who are able to do it naturally, but I don’t for one moment think I am less of a mother/woman because I didn’t tough it out, etc. Don’t doubt yourself; you did what you needed to do to have two wonderful little guys. :)

  143. Amy on July 28th, 2009 11:21 pm

    Wow…just got an email today from a co-worker who just had her first baby. She raved about the labor and delivery sans drugs. For a moment I felt like my births weren’t as special because I had opted for the epidural. With the first I had no choice, he was frank breech and they rushed me into surgery. I never had an option. The second was vbac, but just barely. #2 began to decel and the anesthesiologist rushed in, pushed a bollus into my epidural and they were getting ready to woosh me down the hall when the dr said, give it one more try and let’s see what happens. I did with a lot of help since I couldn’t feel my legs at all (so sureal to see your legs in front of you and not feel them) and out he came. I think she was as impressed as I was. Either way, I have two amazing beautiful boys (like you). But still, there is that thought…what if. It’s only fleeting because the end result is what matters!!

  144. Anya on July 29th, 2009 12:10 am

    Thank you so much for writing on this :-) So many stories to read & appreciate. ~ here’s another~Long story long: storybook water breaking in the kitchen, contractions, giddy, ready to go au natural all the way, Roar, barely 1cm after 10hrs, seriously?, failure to progress~what do you mean, I was a week overdue, epidural bliss, 12 more hrs pass, 3hrs pushing, still not freaking out, kiddo not budging (sideways, upside down, nearly 10lbs), 3 tries with vacuum, emergency c-section, kinda getting nervous now, elation at huge healthy baby! Hardly any pain from c-section the next day, feel like wonder woman, that night I am smacked down by a blood & tissue infection, surgery 48hrs after giving birth, surgeon tells my family “we’ll just have to wait & see…..if she survives” seriously?, 10 days in hospital, 2 months on antibiotics pumped right into the ol’ heart, meanwhile I (and husband) have a newborn to care for,wtf?!, seriously?

    It is 2+ yrs later and I just ran my first half marathon and my kiddo is ginormous & spunky and none-the worse for being born via tummy instead of via vagina…three cheers for modern medicine, if it weren’t for the c-section my kiddo would have died in the birth canal (and quite possibly me with him) and if it weren’t for antibiotics my husband would have been raising our son alone within 48hrs after his arrival. I really don’t think about my birth story all that much, except to scoff when people say they “feel sorry for me for not having a vaginal delivery,” I pushed for 3 hrs, what part of vaginal delivery did I miss out on again? I am very interested in adoption in the future, am I going to need to defend that kiddos birth story along-side my (gasp) c-section, a mother with two kids that did not come out of her vaginal canal, so sad. Kidding aside, people who want to focus on how someone comes into this world (especially their own children) cheers to them, awesome. For me, I want to focus my energy on how to be the best parent in the world, not the best labor & delivery case, birth is a few hours (ok, maybe days in some of our cases) parenthood is a lifetime. Cheers to you Sundry for BRAVELY embracing the commitment to be a kick-ass parent…for years upon years upon years after the lights in the delivery room have dimmed.

  145. Emblita on July 29th, 2009 3:08 am

    I think its odd that we women manage to feel guilty about how our children get born. I had to have gas, pictosin, an epidural and had my water manually ruptured. My body SUCKED at labor… my contractions basically did nothing (except hurt…ow). So even though I did eventually push him out (again, OW), I refuse to feel guilt for using some of the modern means we have to have a safe birth. If I’d been giving birth, say 100 years ago both I and my son might have died in labor. That thought always makes whatever pangs of guilt I get go away fast.

  146. Penny on July 29th, 2009 3:23 am

    So the first one, she was late. I went to the dr and he stripped my membranes and left a order at the hospital to start me on pitocin. A happy lil hurricane decided to strike , seriously, and only a freaking nurse to deal with in the hospital. No Dr’s .. 22 hours of hard labor, no pain pills (jerks) and I couldnt dilate past 4. So the following morning storm over, hospital resumes maternity staff, they prep me for a c-section just as my cervix bursts, tears my uterus and shes now stuck in the birth canal. I would have given my boobs for a c-section! The next birth, I made certain that they wrote for lots of pain medicine. I have a serious back injury and cannot get the epidural (life sucks!). The third one, yeah Im a glutton for punishment, that went well. But the last one… I had pre-eclampsia was in the hospital for over a week before he was born. They decided my blood pressure was getting too bad, induced, I ended up having a eclamptic seizure and they couldnt risk putting me under general antheshia.. so at 8 cm dilated they literally went up there and snatched him out! Oh my god… What I woulda done for a c-section. I did mention the last one weighed 10 pounds 8 ounces and was almost 24 inches long… freaking brute child!
    Oh Im sorry do I sound like a bitter bitch about my birthing experiences? No no really all of it was forgotten as soon as I saw their needy little scrunched up faces, their incessant wailing caused me to forgot if but for a moment the immense pain and the fact my body felt like a out of control train went through it. No pain management for me, I like living on the edge. Prepares me for when I will be pulling out my hair taking care of them.
    I do think that kids should send their mothers flowers on their (the kids) birthday as a special thank you for not only having me, but trying to forget the whole process involved of getting me out!

    They should offer hysterectomy’s in the sears catelog… I’m just saying…

  147. Swistle on July 29th, 2009 3:33 am

    I can get very WORKED UP about this issue, especially since if medals are being handed out for Enduring Misery, I have heard a lot of ending-in-c-section birth stories that sound way worse than a lot of ending-in-vaginal-delivery stories.

    I think I’d be more understanding of the “drug-free is superior” point of view if those same people went drug-free for wisdom tooth extractions, appendectomies, broken legs, even HEADACHES. It seems weird and kind of biblical to isolate BIRTH and say that PAIN IS GOOD—but just for that one thing.

    I also get very angry at the talk about the increase of “unnecessary c-sections,” without any recognition of the corresponding decrease in maternal/infant deaths.

  148. Swistle on July 29th, 2009 3:58 am

    P.S. I know nothing about the correspondence or non-correspondence of c-sections and infant mortality. I’m just all MAD about this.

    P.P.S. I also get mad when the word “choice” is overused. I think very few people get to choose their birth experience, but that it’s talked about as if everyone does—as if all you have to do is push your tray down the cafeteria line to decide how your body works, how you experience pain, and how the baby responds.

  149. Laura on July 29th, 2009 4:21 am

    I used to read those birth stories and just sob because after two hyperemesis pregnancies, one delivery with a shoulder dystocia and one delivery that featured a prolapsed cord which resulted in an emergency c-section where I was completely unconcious, I didn’t get a damn thing that I wanted. Couple that with a sister-in-law who had the natural births, no morning sickness and perfect nursing situations and I felt like shit. Then I realized we both had the same outcome- healthy babies. I am in no way negating what you are saying, matter of fact I was a damn bobblehead while reading this because I was in such agreement with you. I’m actually in therapy right now to deal with the whole shit sandwich that was my two pregnancies. So, I am trying to get what I want out of motherhood now that the kids are here. I may not have had an empowered pregnancy and birth, but I am empowering myself now. Does that make sense?

  150. js on July 29th, 2009 4:49 am

    I often find myself nodding in agreement with much of what you say, but my head nearly fell off with the nodding this morning.

    I had a C-Section with my daughter and have felt much the way you describe. I feel cheated in some way, and I feel like I didn’t do the best for her (although without the C-Section we may have lost her). As for the Pitocin? They gave it to me and I suffered through contractions for 48 hours and 36 minutes before they decided to put me out of my misery. So…maybe be glad you didn’t go that route!

  151. C on July 29th, 2009 4:56 am

    I had two vaginal births. The first was horrible, awful, long (64 hours!), full of interventions and nasty doctors (and my husband is a doctor, I don’t dislike them as a rule) and I was a physical and emotional wreck for weeks. One doctor actually told me that because I was not yet a mother, and was not a doctor, that I was out of line asking him any questions throughout the birth. Then breastfeeding was awful, and I wound up pumping after weeks of screaming pain.

    I felt like a huge failure, like my body had failed me. I wanted the perfect natural birth, and I got this brutal, scary experience with all kinds of (necessary) intervention. I was still really raw about it when I tentatively mentioned to a friend that I’d had lots of trouble breastfeeding at first, and she basically said that she had a great birth and was nursing no problem because she’d read a lot. Her comment upset me so much, because I was so prepared- I had a doula, I’d read a ton, and I finally realized:

    If you get the birth you want, you’re LUCKY. It doesn’t have anything to do with bravery or deserving anything or often, being prepared. My first birth was awful, but 100 years ago my son and I would have died without all those interventions.

    Two weeks ago I had my daughter, and it was the empowering natural birth I wanted. Nursing is wonderfully easy, and I feel great. Does it change how I feel as a parent? Not really. I feel better and happier than after birth #1, but not transformed.

    I think at the end of the day your kids turn out the way they do not because of their births or what they ate their first year of life. That stuff is so small in the grand scheme of things. Riley and Dylan are great kids because of who you and JB are, and they wouldn’t be different if you’d had different births.

    There’s always going to be doubt and second-guessing; maybe it’s part of being a parent.

  152. Kaire on July 29th, 2009 5:29 am

    Seriously, as a non-mother, I’d say the bravest part is having a child, no matter how.

  153. danielle on July 29th, 2009 5:33 am

    There are a lot of comments on here so please forgive me if I repeat something someone has already said. I cannot tell you how much I appreciate all the intimate thoughts you share on here. I’m in awe.

    You made a choice presented to you by the professionals and the circumstances surrounding your situation. As a first time Mom, the whole experience is overwhelming. You did the best you could.

    Personally, I think it’s ok to carry the regret with you like a charm on a bracelet. You seem healthy enough (mentally) to hold on to regrets without allowing them to disable you. It’s what reminds us of what we need to do next time a similar situation is presented.

    I love that your blog is like an open letter to your children. There are so many lessons to be learned from your experiences. Except for maybe the Gumby video. That shit was just funny.

  154. Penny in Exile on July 29th, 2009 5:35 am

    Love it. Here’s MY thing. I read a post yesterday that made me feel bad about myself. I understand that MAYBE (just maybe) it wasn’t meant that way, but I sorta think that maybe a little it was.

    I was in labor for 32 hours and I had to have a C Section because after 32 hours I had dilated 6 cm.

    I know a lot of my feelings related to this are MY DEAL, I get that, but I also think the way some people choose to describe their birth makes it seem like any other way is the pussy, you don’t love your baby as much as I do, way to go.

  155. autumn on July 29th, 2009 5:58 am

    I gave birth vaginally but I had an epidural. I had preterm labor and had the magnesium (worst medicine EVER) and nine days in the hospital followed by a month of bed rest to try to hold out at 4 cm and 90% effaced. By the time they finally admitted me I had been in labor for two days and I was exhausted. My midwife suggested an epidural because my daughter was flipped and she said I would be pushing a long time to get her out and she was worried that I would get too tired. So I got it at 7 cm and then they broke my water and I had her later that day. I somehow feel like by getting an epidural before my water broke and never experiencing a hard-core contraction, I somehow did it wrong. We might not have another baby and it bothers me that I might never have the chance to do it “right.” All of these feelings are ridiculous but maybe your birth story is just the first in a long line of parental experiences that you’ll forever think you could have handled better. Parental guilt is a horrible monster, isn’t it?

  156. Michelle on July 29th, 2009 6:13 am

    I had a drug-free birth 4 weeks ago, and I was BRAVE. Not brave in italics – just plain brave. I wanted to give my daughter the best start I could in this world and I honestly believed that I could do that by refusing pain meds. It was a gift/sacrifice for her.

    I was LUCKY because I didn’t have any complications that required interventions – high blood pressure, heart decels, breech presentation etc. On the other hand I did educate myself before hand on unnecessary interventions – you should have seen the attitude I got from hospital staff for refusing pitocin!

    I am glad that Dooce shared that her birth was drug-free. I learned of that 2 weeks before my birth and it inspired me (along with other stories) that it would be possible to birth the way I hoped to.

    I don’t understand at all how someone could interpret her sharing her story and her friend’s story as her thinking her birth (or one way to birth) is superior.

  157. Redbecca on July 29th, 2009 6:16 am

    I just want to say after skimming the other posts here a big THANK YOU to Hillary for putting it into perspective for (at least) me. I was way more terrified of the IV, Pit, Epi and possible surgery than I was of a vag birth, and yet that is the road I had to take. Including vomiting twice in the hours after my fresh C-section incision. Guess how that feels? Waay worse than any contraction, even the Pit induced kind, my friends.
    So in my own way I was the brave soul I thought I could be. Thank you, Hillary.

  158. Heather on July 29th, 2009 6:28 am

    I am totally guessing you read a prominent someone else’s labor story…cause I read it too. And guess what. I’m over it all. Yes, I had 2 c-sections. Yes, the first one was full of Mag Sulfate and panic and preeclampsia (and yes, I also felt totally fine when my BP was 200/110, no kidding). And, true, I have always wondered how I would do if I was given the chance to give birth “the other way.” However, I have learned something. I have a dear friend who has adopted. She is no less a mom, or no less brave, because she doesn’t have some sort of birth story. I know it’s an important event (hell, I just blogged about mine!) but why as women do we have to judge ourselves so much?! You did what you needed to do to have a healthy baby. And that should be all that matters.

  159. Joy on July 29th, 2009 6:32 am

    I struggled for a really long time after the birth of my second child. My first birth experience was was not so great – pitocin, too strong an epidural that made it difficult to know when to push, & a forceps delivery. The second time around I vowed it would be a better experience. I wanted to actually feel my baby being born. Due to my low blood pressure and low heart rate in my baby, I had to have an emergency c-section. I felt so ripped off for such a long time. It was very difficult for me. I had a long & painful recovery, plus feelings of anger & resentment about the c-section. I wondered what I could have done to avoid it. I felt like it was my fault. Turns out, my baby was wrapped in the cord & there was no way for her to get out. I didn’t feel brave at all through my experience. I felt helpless.

  160. bessie.viola on July 29th, 2009 6:33 am

    You made me cry. My God, you can write.

    I have these same feelings. I have a few friends who went “all natural” and that was my intent. So it was a huge kick in the face to have that pulled away, to feel “lesser than.”

    You’re right, it does still hurt, sometimes. Even if the result is absolutely fantastic.

  161. Maria on July 29th, 2009 6:37 am

    Judging by all the things you’ve done and the way you approach challenges, I’m sure that you would have fought through the pain that is a vaginal delivery, drugs or no. The only real bummer is that you’re left wondering how you would have reacted and what it would have felt like.

    It blows my mind how much we (myself included) emphasize the tiny shred of time that is the actual delivery when pregnancy and PARENTHOOD AFTER THAT are so much longer. (And harder.)

  162. Jamie on July 29th, 2009 6:50 am

    I had a vaginal birth both times, once with an epidural once without. So I don’t really have a very good perspective on this. I can say that my medicated birth wasn’t any less special than my unmedicated one (I went “natural” because I’d had a bad experience with the epidural the first time) The end result was the same: Baby.

    I’m not very romatic about childbirth though. I didn’t feel like I was being brave at all, in fact, I screamed like a banshee. You’ve got to get that baby out somehow, the vagina is the easiest (HA!) way to do that, so that’s what I did.

    For a while my 2nd son was breech and we thought he’d need to be c-section, and I worried about recovering with a toddler and a newborn, but as for the experience of the birth, I just saw it as just another way to get the baby.

  163. Akofaolain on July 29th, 2009 6:53 am

    With my son my water broke early, so I had the Pitocin (for 33 hours), then I had an emergency C-section. With my daughter I had a scheduled C-section. All three of us made it through OK, healthy and very happy.
    I believe that their births happened exactly the way they should have, that I didn’t have a whole lot of control over it and the ends definitely justified the means.

    Becoming a mother is probably never easy, even for those women who have a fast labor and delivery. I think we ARE all brave, no matter what our birth stories are.

  164. Erica on July 29th, 2009 6:58 am

    I don’t yet have children of my own and I’m really looking forward to having my own birth story/stories to tell.

    I often find myself fantasizing about having an “ideal” pregnancy and birth experience. I think these kinds of unrealistic expectations of myself and my body can be harmful, so I’m always happy when women share their real experiences. You’ve offered me and others a healthy dose of perspective.

    I really appreciate what you’ve shared here.

  165. Laura on July 29th, 2009 7:03 am

    I want to add another thing- I am actually grateful for all the interventions I had in my pregnancies. Without Zofran pumps and IVs and banana bags full of liquid vitamins my kids and I wouldn’t have made it through pregnancy, let alone delivery. I am very thankful for C-sections because without them my mother would have died in childbirth and I wouldn’t have been here. I am thankful for epidurals because with my first kid I was stuck at 3cm until I got my epidural because I couldn’t relax due to the pain (and yes, we tried all the techniques taught in our birth classes- they didn’t work!) but once I got that epidural I took off like a rocket. I am thankful for episiotomies ((no really) because my son was stuck and would have stayed that way without them. I am also thankful for belly monitors because it was through those monitors we realized my second child was breech. I am grateful my Dr. broke my water because we could prepare for a birth that involved a lot of meconium. Finally, I am so grateful for the nurses who rushed my room when the prolapsed cord was discovered, including the nurse who had to jump on my bed, shove her hand up my vagina (without buying me dinner first) to hold the cord and calmly explained what was going on WHILE I was being pushed, top speed, to the OR.

    Without medical interventions, my children and I would have died if we had even existed in the first place. Sure they weren’t births to brag about but my the results of those certainly are. I couldn’t control how my pregnancies/labors and deliveries went so I focus on being the best mom I can be. I know I am ROCKING at that and that is all that matters.

  166. sharon on July 29th, 2009 7:07 am

    I actually had a doctor who should have given me a c-section because the vaginal birth was not going well. The baby was ok, but I was having a harder time than usual. My son turned out to be 9 1/2 pounds and the recovery was long and painful. When I was pregnant with my next child, I had a different doctor who couldn’t believe I had a baby that big naturally. Turned out I needed a c-section for the second baby because he was breach, but it was a less traumatic experience. And that’s saying something that the c-section wasn’t as awful and didn’t require as long of a recovery as a natural birth.

  167. Ter on July 29th, 2009 7:23 am

    I feel a little underqualified to really comment, as I have only “children” of the fuzzy variety, but after reading through the comments I can’t help myself. As I was reading a thought occurred to me: when you read a human interest story in a magazine, newspaper, wherever, you learn about the person’s life, family, education, accolades, job, etc. Not once ever is it mentioned how the person was delivered, unless it was some extraordinary circumstances (elevator, side of a mountain, some “not usual”/expected place). My three sisters ran the gammut of ways to deliver babies (early, c-section, with meds — I’m presuming here, since I’m coming up so far behind) and while I can’t speak for my sisters, it hardly ever occurs to me that E and her brother were early, that my oldest nephew was a c, etc. When MB and I start our family, what matters is that our kids are born healthy and I get through too. I already know that I’ll be Shot Girl if we have more than one child, as MB and I have opposing blood types, but that’s not going to deter us from having at least two children. While it’s easy for me to sit here and say I’ll let circumstances dictate behavior, I don’t know what I’ll ultimately do or how I’ll feel after, if whatever we decide to do is “right”. Sure, there’s always “what ifs” in life. If grandma had balls, she’d be grandpa. Just the fact that so many women have responded as they have on here, accepting of your decisions and supporting your feelings, should let anyone — moms-to-be, current moms, not-yet moms — know that all the horseshit is just that. If I want to deal with that, I’ll go out to the barn, thanks. Okay, I’m done now :)

  168. Ginger on July 29th, 2009 7:59 am

    I can’t kid you, I do feel cheated for having to have c-sections and it isn’t so much that I wanted to prove my worth, but I wanted that part of being a woman and a mother and I didn’t get it. Boo. Oh well, daughters are lovely, and its good enough, because it has to be.

  169. kristin on July 29th, 2009 8:03 am

    OMG, Dylan looks exactly the same! That is too funny.

    Gorgeous babies. Thanks for sharing, as always. And goddammit, woman, you ARE brave! Kids or not, c-sections or not — you are a brave woman.

  170. Rachel on July 29th, 2009 8:13 am

    I’m going to disagree with those who say you shouldn’t feel regret; your feelings are your feelings. You can know that you did the right thing, in the rational part of your brain, and still feel sad about it. I think you’ve expressed yourself beautifully.

    I had an unmedicated hospital birth (I also hate the term “natural”), which is what I wanted. I do feel proud of myself, and I did feel like a rock star. But I also know that I was really, really lucky — it wasn’t truly painful until my water broke, which was, like, 30 minutes before my daughter was born. And I only had to push for 15 minutes, and I only got through it because I could tell from the way people were reacting that it was going to go fast. But mostly I agree with Hillary: the thought of surgery is far more terrifying to me than the alternative. How brave is it to choose the thing that’s least scary?

    Oh, and by the way, that rock star feeling only made it that much harder to deal with all the problems I had breast feeding. Even though I knew it was illogical, I really felt like I “deserved” a good breast feeding experience because of my drug-free birth. I basically tortured myself with the godforsaken breast pump for 5 months. I should have given up on that much earlier.

  171. patois on July 29th, 2009 8:16 am

    I never understood the feeling of less-than-amazing that I was supposed to feel. I never experienced it. I am one of those who never dilated. Never went into labor. I was destined to die in the field, me and my first born.

    Instead, I lived. So did he. And so did the next two. How they came about has never given me pause or concern that I am less. “By any means.” That’s all that ever mattered.

  172. georgie on July 29th, 2009 8:42 am

    all 3 of mine were induced I had epidurals each time…I’m a wimp and my Dr likes his weekends…

    You have an awesome blog…I am in AWE!

  173. Heather on July 29th, 2009 9:01 am

    I don’t know if anyone will read this comment way down here, especially after all of the really insightful comments above it. Just in case… I think that any time a person makes a decision there is a danger of judging others for not making that decision, or feeling judged. Every time you write about a physical accomplishment, like climbing all those stairs, I feel lazy and fat. I don’t think your pride in what you made your body do was meant to make me feel that way. The same way I am proud of how my body (for once!) worked as advertised. I had a great pregnancy, felt physically capable and proud. I do take pride in my two birth experiences. I did experience an intense high after the second one. I guess people may not believe that the way I have a hard time believing in a “runner’s high”. It’s just a matter of being respectful of others’ choices and recognizing that choice is not always available.
    You really just pointed out your problem with “bravery”. I choose to think that anyone watching any woman’s child be born, by any means, would find it amazing, scary, (maybe gross) but ultimately brave. Calling one woman and her birth story brave isn’t calling everyone else afraid.

  174. Katherine on July 29th, 2009 9:14 am

    Choosing to bring a child into this world and commit oneself to putting that child first 99.999999% of the time is one of the bravest and most unselfish acts I can imagine. All the rest of it is just method.

  175. KB on July 29th, 2009 9:38 am

    The guilt comes from the women who say that those of us who had a c-section couldn’t possibly love our children as much as they do because we didn’t shove them out our woo-ha. BS. BS. BS. BS. When you are faced with “we have to get this baby out NOW” because otherwise your baby is going to die, let me tell you the incredible surge of love and selflessness that occurs when you are whisked to the OR. If I loved my baby less and was so concerned with the bragging rights of MY birth experience, then I wouldn’t have had that surgery. This is where things get heated, because chicks who weren’t ever faced with the life of their child the way those of us with the emergency C were, pass these judgements. And then we reflect on the ideal that we had that wasn’t to be and then we feel bad and guilty and question ourselves. No one can say how much another mother loves their child and what a ridiculous load of bull to say that she can love her child more than me because of one day of that child’s life. How enlightened to pass this kind of judgement.

  176. Sundry on July 29th, 2009 9:45 am

    Heather: “It’s just a matter of being respectful of others’ choices and recognizing that choice is not always available.” YESSS. Also, “Calling one woman and her birth story brave isn’t calling everyone else afraid.” YESSSSSSS, again. These are things I sometimes lose track of.

    I hope it’s clear in my post that I realize this is all about ME and MY issues, and that I’m just talking through my own feelings on this stuff. Everyone’s got a different perspective on things like this, and always helps me to 1) write it out, and 2) hear what everyone else has to say.

  177. Sheryl on July 29th, 2009 9:47 am

    I came to say exactly what Katherine said, only she framed it better: “Choosing to bring a child into this world and commit oneself to putting that child first 99.999999% of the time is one of the bravest and most unselfish acts I can imagine. All the rest of it is just method.”


  178. Ashleas on July 29th, 2009 9:47 am

    You also need to think. We have the largest brains for our body size, even at birth. Um.. Hello! The human pelvis was not DESIGNED to push out a baby with the head the size that they have evolved to. Our pelvic regions are playing catchup with that little leap of evolution there (Or intelligent design if you feel that way). The truth is – childbirth kills because it’s the extreme of what the female reproductive system can do. I’m sorry but a watermelon should not pass through our pelvic bones the way they are currently laid out but hey, they do. And that alone is amazing. The fact that we can make this superhuman, yes superhuman, feat a possibility without killing, without losing a baby or as pain free as possible… is wonderful.
    Natural or not, go moms.

  179. telegirl on July 29th, 2009 9:52 am

    Wow! Maybe I am simple but I never really looked back on the delivery of our son with anything other than a self high-five for getting through it. I was able to do a vaginal delivery with the help of an epidural and it was a choice I had made before going to the hospital. And, by the way, the “it’s time” isn’t as picture perfect as you might think. Mine was a “Honey?! HONEY! Get in here!” as he slept blissfully in bed and then a bewildered call to my sister to find out what the water breaking feels like. Then, it was the nurses at the hospital telling me not to worry, that I had just peed myself. What-the-fuck-ever!!

    Anyway, I don’t feel less of a good mother for having had some drug-help. I don’t feel like a loser because I did not do it “au naturel”. And, mostly, I don’t think any less of *any* other woman for doing what they had to or for doing what is right for them. If anyone else tells you otherwise, SHAME ON THEM!!

    We all rock. We are all brave for even starting this endeavor.

  180. Jenny on July 29th, 2009 10:22 am

    I could have written Rachel’s post at 8:13am. I had an unmedicated birth because I was lucky and things went fast, not because I was some kind of superwoman. I think what Dooce’s labor stories are leaving out is that element of luck: she doesn’t just imply, she outright SAYS that she “created” her birth experience. I call shenanigans. You don’t “create” the way your body responds, or your blood pressure, or the baby’s heart rate. That’s magical thinking. I’m glad I was lucky; I’m glad she was, too. I wish, like Rachel, I’d been luckier with breastfeeding. I hope I’m lucky with my kids’ illnesses. But for many of the things that count, like love and play and education and commitment, it’s not luck. We create it every day.

  181. Becky on July 29th, 2009 10:39 am

    I just had to respond to this one, because it hit home with me. I felt so much the same way after the birth of my first child by c-section. I was planning a “natural”, drug-free birth free of interventions, and my experience was exactly the opposite. I felt disappointed and angry that I was cheated out of the childbirth experience I’d envisioned.

    The second time around, I had a successful VBAC and a much better experience all around. But you know what? I had totally prepared myself for the likelihood of a repeat c-section and so I was pleasantly surprised by the outcome and I think that, more than the method of birth itself, was key.

    I really think that it’s all about expectations. Women who end up having the birth they envision are really, really rare, and those are the ones who get to rave about their experience. The rest of us can’t help but wonder what we did wrong, to not get the experience we expected. The truth is, childbirth is very risky and rarely goes according to plan (just think about the death rates from childbirth 100 years ago).

    Right after my second (VBAC) baby was born, I was very proud and pleased, like, hey! my body can actually do what it’s supposed to! But two years later, it doesn’t matter one bit to me how they were born. I’m just glad that all three of us made it through safely, however that happened in each case.

  182. Muddy on July 29th, 2009 10:58 am

    I took a fairly hippie birthing class and one of the teacher’s big points was: If things don’t go the way that you hope they will, which they may not, make sure you give yourself time to grieve the birth you wanted.

    At the time I felt like that was kinda hooey. But reading this, and all these comments, I think she may have been on to something. People who wanted natural and ended up with something else – pissed. People who wanted that damned epidural and ended up without – also pissed.

    To quote a brilliant philosopher, you can plan a pretty picnic, but you can’t predict the weather. Maybe you’re zen enough not to have had expectations or desires for your birth, but I sure did. The first time a mother gets to hold her child is a bonding experience she will probably always remember. Not the first (two lines? first kicks? message on voice mail from adoption agency?) and certainly not the last, but one of the biggies, for sure. If it sucked for you, maybe you deserve time to grieve.

    For the record, my birth made me feel high, and also like Xena, warrior princess. Brave and lucky. And I agree with heather; by no means does that mean that I think someone else is afraid.

    But also, it’s nice to spread the word that birth isn’t always horrible. It seems to me that the prevailing paradigm is birth = worst pain ever, etc. And maybe it is sometimes, but it just wasn’t for me. I have been in unbearable pain, and birth wasn’t it.

    Every time I heard that, going in, it gave me hope.

  183. Peggy on July 29th, 2009 11:06 am

    Your post is really timely for me. I didn’t go into labor with either of my kids. Scheduled C-sections for each – the first because she was breech, the second because she got too big to try a VBAC. My sister just had her first baby and had that “honey, it’s time” moment that I really wanted, and if I’m being honest, I was jealous.

    Even though my baby is a year old already, I’m still in mourning over the birth experience that I will never had (we’re done after 2 kids). It’s not a constant feeling – but rears it’s head whenever someone I know has a vaginal birth. And I do think of it as a mourning. My body never had a chance to do what it was designed to do. I’m extremely grateful for the outcome of 2 healthy kids and a healthy mom, but sometimes it still hurts. A lot.

  184. Laura on July 29th, 2009 11:10 am

    I gave up the guilt of not having a “natural” childbirth for Lent. I always knew I was going to have a C-section due to some complications that made even getting pregnant difficult. I was resigned to that – could even make it work with my “plan.” Well, that plan didn’t work, either. My water broke at 25 weeks, and I tried to hold onto the pregnancy for as long as possible, finally delivering by emergency C-section at 27 weeks and 3 days.

    The brave ones, to me, aren’t the women who go through childbirth with no drugs. Good for them. Glad they got to have that experience. The brave ones to me are the mothers I met during the 5 1/2 months my son was in the NICU, the women who did whatever it took to maintain their pregnancies for as long as possible to give their children the best chance at survival. These women spent months on bed rest, sometimes hanging upside down, frequently in the hospital, away from their families, for weeks on end. They endured poking, prodding, testing, a complete lack of dignity and privacy for the sake of their unborn children. And, with unfortunate frequency, sometimes it was all for naught. Those women are truly warriors, and none would ever wish their experience on another person.

  185. monkey on July 29th, 2009 11:36 am

    Did you watch the Business of Being Born on Showtime recently or something? I thought it was really preachy, one-sided, and edited to paint every one in the Medical Establishment as the baddies who just want to medicate the sh*t out of every woman who comes through the hospital for sh*ts, giggles and because they want to go home for dinner (and buy a new BMW). It was like a Michael Moore movie-it had some good points but with little perspective. It was interesting to note that the child of the filmmaker probably wouldn’t have survived without the medical establishment, though. And Ricki Lake asking her whether she felt “cheated” of the experience at the end was so very…hilarious.

  186. vague on July 29th, 2009 11:38 am

    Since I don’t have any kids myself, I can’t weigh in with any birthing experiences of my own.

    I just wanted to chime in and say that although I only know you from your writing, I think you are most certainly one of the strongest, bravest women out there.

  187. Courtney on July 29th, 2009 11:46 am

    Since I am without children (but want them, someday, like in the hazy distant future!), I feel a little underprepared to comment on your actual post.

    I do recall that it took you a while to jump off the cliff into actually getting pregnant, which you know, preceeds this whole how you actually brought a child into the world debate. Sundry how did you get to the point where you were ready to get knocked up on purpose?

  188. LooneyJen on July 29th, 2009 11:53 am

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for writing this. I’m going into the hospital TOMORROW to have my third munchkin via C-section and I’ve been agonizing over it. The first kiddo was born after laboring for hours and hours and then having to have a c-section due to low fetal heartrate and failure to descend. Without thinking much about it, I scheduled the second as a C-section as well.

    This time I really, really, REALLY wanted to do a VBAC but no one would take me on as a patient with that goal.

    And it has eaten me up ever since.

    Your entry put into words everything I needed to hear. That it’s the END result, not the process. The birth process, while beautiful and for many, very natural, is not the lovely end result.

    And THAT is what I should focus on.

    Thank you again. :)

  189. Katy B on July 29th, 2009 12:25 pm

    It’s all been said, except maybe this:

    Linda, like me, maybe just wants it to be okay to feel ambivalent about the birth experience. Not about womanhood or motherhood.

    7 weeks ago I went through a medical induction (at 42 weeks + 1 day), 18 hours of unmedicated labor, 18 hours with epidural, another 4 hours of pushing, and finally a c-section. I was fully committed to having a natural birth and I had everything but that. I will always wonder what if I had just waited another day…would I have gone into labor on my own? I will always wish I could have felt that sensation. I will now have a very different set of concerns/expectations if we want to add to our family. I will always mourn the hours after my surgery in which I don’t remember holding my son for the first time.

    Do I want to start a war between moms? No. Do I need another person to tell me that all that matters is that I have a healthy, beautiful baby? No. In fact, that statement makes me feel even worse – as if I don’t matter at all.

    All I want, I suppose, is validation – that it’s okay to feel like my birth experience majorly sucked in some ways. This doesn’t in any way mean I feel ungrateful for a really stellar (albeit loooong) pregnancy and an awesome kid.

    I know that you didn’t intend to draw a line in the sand – and separate c-section and vaginal birth moms. But people jump at the chance to take a side. I understand now better than ever how you don’t have a side in this silly debate, and neither do I. I understand exactly what you mean.

  190. Renee on July 29th, 2009 12:26 pm

    “I thought I would have that moment of turning to my husband and saying, it’s time.”

    I wrote the exact same thing in my birth story. My son was breech and born via scheduled C-section at 39 weeks. I never got to go into labor, and now I’ll spend the rest of my life wondering what it would be like…

  191. Liz on July 29th, 2009 1:20 pm

    Linda, you were brave. Twice. I would have been scared shitless if I’d had to have a C-section. Your boys owe you their lives.

    I gave birth without drugs, and I was proud of myself. But a lot of that pride comes from doing it despite many people who implied or said outright that I wouldn’t be able to. It feels good to achieve something that you’ve been told is improbable, no matter what it is. If drugless birth was the norm in this country it wouldn’t seem like such a big deal, really. It’s not a big deal in many other countries.

    But you know, it wasn’t all me. Luck was on my side. I went into labor not too early, not too late. I was in labor for 15 hours, not 48. My blood pressure didn’t spike. There were no serious complications, and when things did start to get a bit alarming at the end, there was a specialist nearby to help my baby. I had a great midwife and support team.

    I worked hard, yes. But I was also lucky.

    When things move along pretty much as expected, there’s not much need for bravery. But when bad things happen and plans change, you do what you have to do to bring your baby into the world. There is nothing braver than that.

    I think you pretty much kick ass.

  192. Amy on July 29th, 2009 1:27 pm

    Wow…look at the shit you started :) I already commented so I won’t bore you with my birth story. But in reading all of these comments i think it’s good to know that 1) it’s good to be prepared adn 2) anything can happen. Hell, my car almost got towed during my first birth because they threw me into surgery so quickly my husband forgot to go move the car! And on a side note, drugs or not (mine did involve drugs) a doula really helped me. If you don’t know what one is, look it up and think about it! Fabulous. Off my soap box now…thanks!

  193. Sunshyn on July 29th, 2009 1:31 pm

    I’ve never had an epidural actually WORK, ever (there is something about my spine that defies even the best anesthesiologists), so does that mean I had drug-free deliveries?

    I can tell you pitocin SUCKS from the one time I had to have it. You had your babies, you brought them into the world, you love them to pieces, every single day, and that is all that matters.

  194. Judy on July 29th, 2009 1:46 pm

    First, I just want to say that I thought there were laws against 12 year olds having babies. You look so young in those pictures!

    I had three kids, a long time ago. Epidurals weren’t around then. I had three vaginal births. The first took 6 hours and I thought “this is fun!” and rushed to do it again 18 months later. That time it took 3 hours, most of which was taken up by taking the toddler to the friend who was keeping her. The third took 25 hours and I’m still not sure what happened there. But the key is, I got three healthy babies, and I survived in good shape.

    I don’t think of that as heroic. I would tend more to think of a C-section as heroic, because the entire idea of it terrifies me, and the pictures I’ve seen of it have not helped, and then you go home and you have to do all that new-baby-care AND recover from major abdominal surgery.

    All that matters is that you and the baby and even Dad come out of the experience in good shape. Who cares what route you take to the party, so long as you get there, right?

    As for saying “Honey, it’s time” – I never said that. I said things like “I wonder if this is labor?” and “Gosh, my back feels all crampy” and “I think it might be time.” Oddly, experience did not teach me, as each time I was just as unsure as the first, and was never quite sure I was in labor until I was quite a way into it.

    No guilt, no feelings of inferiority, okay? We got healthy babies and we came through it okay. That’s what counts.

  195. sheilah on July 29th, 2009 2:52 pm

    I don’t think there is anything particularly brave about enduring hours of labor when it isn’t necessary. They have found evidence of brain surgery performed 2000 years ago…bet there was no anesthesia used then but you damn sure betcha if I need brain surgery I sure as hell will use some kind of anesthesia. Using the medical technology available at the time is just common sense.

    If you want to go drug-free during labor, then rock on, sister. I chose to get a blessed, blessed epidural. I got a baby; you got a baby. That is the prize…there are no medals given out for going drug-free.

  196. Anonymous on July 29th, 2009 5:18 pm

    So many people have said so many supportive, helpful things. I don’t have much to offer, really, but I will throw in my thoughts.

    — I have no children & am not pregnant, so I have little to offer from personal experience, but I can say that the very idea of being pregnant/giving birth/being a mother is really, truly, terrifying to me. Especially the giving birth part. That part is particularly troublesome, and the only way — ONLY way — I can imagine the rest of it is if I can guaran-DAMN-ty that I will have a C-section when the birthing time comes.

    If were to pregnant, I would SIGN MYSELF UP for the C-section the very instant I learned of the pregnancy. The end result is the same (healthy baby, we hope) so it doesn’t matter to ME one teeny, tiny bit how I get to the healthy baby part. For me, people who want to have the pain and “wonder” (or whatever) of a natural birth, — well good for them & rock on. But I don’t want any of that; have no interest in feeling unnecessary pain, and completely embrace all the “wonder” that is modern medicine, including pain medication and surgical options.

    I sort of think those people who go on and on about how much “better” (that is, those people who get all judgmental and whatnot) natural birth is are sort of like those people who go on and ON about running a marathon. Look, I *KNOW* I could run marathon. Anyone can, in fact, if you are wiling to walk for however long you need to. And barring the health/medical emergency stuff, anyone can give birth naturally. So what? I don’t WANT to run a marathon & feel I have nothing to prove — I am fit, healthy, and athletic — so WTF do I need to run a marathon for?

    I feel the same way about the whole natural birth thing. I just don’t want to do it; don’t see how or why it’s necessary; and f-ck anyone else who feels superior to me because I don’t want to have a natural birth.

    Or run a marathon.

  197. Michelle on July 29th, 2009 5:22 pm

    Sheilah -

    I chose a drug free birth because I didn’t want to expose my unborn child to drugs in-utero (obviously if I needed it to save her life because of complications I would have NO problem with it), and I thought it would be better for the both of us to go without. I was also concerned about the cascade of interventions that can sometimes be caused by an epidural. I didn’t NEED an epidural. It hurt like hell, but I endured it because I thought it was the right thing to do. That is brave.

    I don’t understand how that compares to having unmedicated brain surgery at all. Brain surgery is not a naturally occurring event. You would surely pass out from the pain because your body would not be releasing endorphins at the same levels. And, there is no baby involved to be concerned about when making pain management choices.

  198. .303 Bookworm on July 29th, 2009 6:41 pm

    Speaking as someone who’s never had a child I can’t understand why it matters. I mean, I get that you’d have a vision of how you’d want it to go and all that but really, when does life ever follow that path?

    My two thoughts on the matter:
    1. I’m thankful the wonderful mothers in my life did whatever it took to get themselves and their babies safely through the process. Only a couple of generations back we would have lost many of them.
    2. The really brave bit is not how they ‘birth’ but the fact that you brounght them here and will be responsible for their health, safety, nurturing, growth and development for the next 15-40+ years. I mean WOW! That’s scary!

    Well done you!

  199. Lesley on July 29th, 2009 9:06 pm

    I think it takes immense bravado to carry a baby for 9 months. Come on…it’s sometimes uncomfortable (or downright painful), we look sometimes goofy (and sometimes beautiful), we feel freaking silly (okay, maybe that was just me), I felt like my ribs were cracking, etc. It’s like a 9 month marathon. So, regardless of how that little babe comes out, I think you (and all of us) are all superwoman.

    That being said, I went down the path of natural childbirth. My choice, but it was important to me. But, I initially went down that path more because of MY control issues. Oh yea, I really hate being told what to. (Yea, I’m nuts…I just hate being told to just lay back and..)

    It was tough (I contemplated beating my head against a wall) and I’m glad I was able to go natural, and I felt amazing after. But, I think it’s all pretty small potatoes when it compares to the 9 month pregnancy and then trying to figure out how to take care of and then not screw up this little person.

    Every day is filled with so many tiny, but cool things with our kiddos. Spending all of our time beating ourselves up might make us miss those little things. (okay, so I do it, too!)

    Also, I truly believe that it is practically impossible to have a natural birth unless you have a hell of a lot of people helping create the right conditions (like my doula, 4 midwifes and 2 willing OB’s). And still with all of those people, C-Sections are still sometimes necessary.

    And, by the way, those are two super beautiful faces!

  200. Mary on July 29th, 2009 9:49 pm

    Can I just chime in here, as comment number 200 (and I haven’t read the others). I am much older than you, 48, and my kids are 19, 16 and 12. I had them “naturally.” No drugs. With the first one, I BEGGED for drugs and they wouldn’t give them to me because my blood pressure was so high it would have been dangerous. The highlight of the second one was the nurse telling me to quit bugging her about the breathing, there’s no way I could be far enough along to need to know third stage breathing. He was born 20 minutes later. And with number three, there were all kinds of things going on and I almost needed a c-section but the OB was about 17 and I said no thank you.

    My kids are wonderful. Fine. Amazing. I adore them. And I never even think anymore about how they were born. I did have all of them vaginally, without drugs, but that is not what I would have chosen at the time, had I had options. Even with the third one, I remember thinking, what would have been the big deal about getting an epidural, you idiot? But by then it was too late.

    Let it go. You have the most beautiful boys. Who the hell cares how they got here? What matters now is what kind of (amazing) mom you are, not the 12 hours when they were being born.

    You have lost weight and whipped your body into amazing shape. I can’t do that. I have had babies without intervention. You didn’t do that. Your thing took months, mine took hours. I think I admire you more.\

  201. MEP on July 30th, 2009 7:13 am

    “Speaking as someone who’s never had a child I can’t understand why it matters.”

    It’s kind of like listening to someone go on and on about how wonderful her college experience was, with the sorority sisters and the parties and the football games, when you went to community college and worked a full time job. Both of you got your degree, but she makes it sound way fucking cooler than you thought it was. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter, as anyone who wanted to go to college but couldn’t afford it would tell you. But there are still residual feelings of regret for an awesome experience you missed out on.

  202. Leigha on July 30th, 2009 8:28 am

    Let me tell you something – it took WAAAY more courage for me to walk into the hospital the second time around for a scheduled c-section than it did for me to go in the first time for an induction. I told my husband to stay close in case I turned and ran while we were entering the hospital; he didn’t know until later that I was dead serious. Two c-sections, two healthy kids later, and I’m content with the births that my children had. Did they get the trip through the hoo-haa? No. Are they damaged forever because of it? Absolutely not. The whole point of it is a healthy baby at the end of the day, and the Mommy Olypmics don’t do anything but make some folks feel superior. If they need that, good on them, but I’ve got two kids under five to take care of, and I really don’t have time for the competition.

  203. Ally on July 30th, 2009 9:43 am

    I am probably a really strange woman, but I never experienced any of these feelings. I had 2 scheduled c-sections (by choice), because my biggest fear was to go through hours of torturous labor only to windup with a c-section. I have never ever felt the desire to give birth. it seems to me a horrible, painful, frightening experience, and the LAST thing i wanted was to go through it. All of these shows/movies, with the woman spread eagle and tons of people in the room, pushing and grunting, etc – why is that magical? I never understood. I thought my c-sections were frightening as well, and I think it does take courage to go through such surgeries and to be awake throughout the whole thing. Especially in your case – for a medical reason, and with a absolutely full recovery – why in the world would you even wonder about this?

  204. lola on July 30th, 2009 11:05 am

    I’d just like to point out that women can experience a “high” when having a medicated delivery. I had my first baby vaginally while on an epidural (didn’t feel a freaking thing!!) and man, I’m still proud of that. Years later, I’m amazed that I was able to push a 10 lb baby out of my little body. This may be a bit off topic, but just had to add that it’s not just the “natural” mothers that experience this.

    My second baby was a scheduled c-section for medical reasons, and I do mourn the loss of that birth experience. But then I think – how pampered of me. The audacity of me to actually *complain* about not being able to have my baby the way I wanted – there are millions of women out there who struggle with infertility who would give anything to even be able to carry a baby. I thank my lucky stars to be so blessed. Indeed.

  205. Lisa on July 30th, 2009 11:21 am

    I think the ‘perfect’ birth is a myth. My first son was born an hour after I got to the hospital, vaginally….8 weeks early. He is a strapping almost 16 year old now, but it was very scary for a couple of weeks. My second son was also born vaginally but only 3 weeks early. This after a scary pregnancy – lots of issues. My last pregnancy seemed to be ‘perfect’ only to end in a c-section because I was hemorrhaging. The first and last births seemed so rushed and so scary. My second took 3 hours which was the longest of all. I wouldn’t say any of it was perfect and I had pain meds with all three. I also had three perfect miracles at the end.

  206. Amalah on July 30th, 2009 2:58 pm

    I could have written this post. I’m actually having to turn away from people’s “natural” birth stories because the jealousy is painful. Irrational, probably, but still.

  207. Sam on July 30th, 2009 4:22 pm

    I really do understand. Don’t get me wrong, I *love* reading birth stories, talking about birth stories – and I’m totally thrilled to be a friend’s birth partner in a month or so. (In a hospital, BTW.) I did have my son “naturally” with the help of a blessed epidural and not so fun episiotomy but I felt oh so clueless the whole time. Pushing is freaking HARD and I felt like I was the One Woman in the World who would never actually give birth.

    Because my son had major complications (blood not clotting) after birth, he was airlifted to a different hospital. (There was no way to know this before birth, it’s always a surprise with your first child.) Now I’m worried that I’ll never get to do the “natural” birth again – which I really do want to do, I want to do it BETTER if that makes sense. Any child I have in the future will certainly have the same condition. I want to seriously research my options and not have a C-section unless I have top doctors tell me it’s absolutely necessary. If it is, then there’s no way I would put my child in danger. I think we’re lucky to have options, end of story.

  208. Valerie on July 31st, 2009 7:53 am

    I’d say getting a person surgically removed from your abdomen is pretty damn brave.

    I don’t understand the thought that some people have that a c-section is an easy birth. And it took a shitload of courage for you to go into Dylan’s birth knowing what was coming.

    I planned for a “natural birth” (I also hate that term because) but it just didn’t turn out that way. And I have never felt more brave than when I turned to the doctor and consented to doing the c-section. I was allowing myself to let go of all of the plans I had made, getting ready to go through something that absolutely terrified me. I was doing what was right for my baby and for my health. That’s what a mom is supposed to do.

  209. Trenches of Mommyhood on July 31st, 2009 2:52 pm

    Well, I tend to think that c-section babies have MUCH cuter and perfectly round heads.

  210. Jess on July 31st, 2009 8:32 pm

    Baby, you had a BABY. That’s brave, and heroic, and freaking amazing. I’m sorry, but harboring a child in your body for nine months (more or less) is the miracle. Getting the spudnut out? Details. They started me on pitocin after I’d been dilated to a four for six weeks (dilated to a five for six weeks with my second). Pit. Sucks. End story. I had an epidural after two hours of the worst pain EVER and haven’t looked back. Hell, I had them put the epidural in before they started the pit for my second. I would have had them put it in as soon as i found out I was pregnant again if I could. I’m just sayin. Natural labor is all fine and good, and good for you if that’s your choice and it worked. But you carried CHILDREN in your body and now they’re freaking awesome. If you think you need some killer pain to make the experience more awesome, go knock yourself in the head with a hammer, because brave and awe-inspiring already happened.

  211. Heather Cook on August 1st, 2009 9:55 am

    I think BEING A MOTHER is the brave bit.

    Billions of us have created children. But not everyone has been a MOTHER.

    Look at the abortion rate. People afraid not of LABOR, but of PARENTHOOD.

    When it comes to the labor or delivery, we can’t compare pain any more than we can compare bravery or happiness. We just can’t. There are as many birth stories as there are babies. Incomparable.

  212. akeeyu on August 3rd, 2009 2:02 pm

    I got the mag, too, but I went for the pitocin.

    36 hours later (about 12 to 18 of those hours being Really Goddamned Unpleasant–I think I had an epidural about four hours from the end), I had a c-section anyway.

    If I had known how it was going to go, I think I would have gone straight for the c-section, because there was nothing of value in that 36 hours.

    Yes, yes. I know labor is supposed to be magical and wondrous and spiffy, but labor on pitocin and mag sulfate, labor without being able to sit up or get out of bed for a day and a half (because your blood pressure shoots up into stroke range every time you become vertical), labor that doesn’t actually WORK?

    That is some serious bullshit right there.

    So…um…good for you for skipping that! Good call! Smart decision all the way to the ice cream shop and back.

  213. pam on August 4th, 2009 7:46 am

    i had no choice in the matter (three babies = automatic c/s) but i still feel like i can’t say i “gave birth” to them. they were removed. fuck that. whatever.

  214. JF on August 5th, 2009 8:37 am

    I was born by C-section, and can I tell you how unimpressive vaginal childbirth sounded to me when my mom explained that not every baby was born the way I was? Coming out of mom’s tummy was MUCH more impressive — it involved a knife!

    Still kind of feel that way, actually. Please don’t think less of your bravery because you had a C/S. I bet your wee ones won’t.

  215. Jessica on August 5th, 2009 11:01 pm

    Yes, I feel as you do. I had many feelings of being less than a woman when I had my first by C Section. And then in preparing for a VBAC with my second I kind of healed emotionally from the first. (Didn’t have a VBAC with #2 it turns out). Still, I feel kind of stung when I read about someone else pushing their baby into the world. And when I mention I had 2 C-Sections and I hear, “that’s ok!” I get irritated. Is that supposed to be empathy?
    I don’t know.

  216. Nicky on August 11th, 2009 5:03 pm

    I’m apparently late to the party here, but I’m just going to chime in with my story anyway. After 23 hours of labor and more than 2 hours of pushing, we determined that the baby was absolutely not going to fit through my pelvic bone. His weight was a little on the large side, but his head was absolutely huge. Baby skulls can compress and deform a bit during labor, but not THAT much. Even after getting this news, I still pushed for another hour, “just in case I could get him to fit,” because I was that terrified of a c-section. As my friends sarcastically tell me, I had the “best” of both worlds. The long labor, the hours of pushing, the c-section, and then the need to recover from it all.

    I know, in my heart, that I did everything humanly possible to avoid a c-section while not doing irreparable harm to either my or the baby, and faced with the same situation, I’d do it exactly the same way. There’s nothing I can point to and say that I would have made any different decisions. Still… it’s hard not to feel regret for what I didn’t experience, and will probably never experience. No guilt, but definitely sadness.

    I’ll also throw out there, though, that I’ve never been made to feel “lacking” in any way just because I had a c-section. Nobody has ever said anything to me in person. It seems to me sometimes that the only place the great labor debate is happening is on the internet.

  217. Haus on August 24th, 2009 9:26 am

    ALL births are courageous.

    There is no perfect birth. Birthing, no matter how you do it, is all about losing control. I don’t care how you end it, just starting the journey takes more courage than your average Joe.

    No one will look at your kids in 20 years and say “huh, must’ve been a c-section baby.” You’re here, so are they — something went awfully right there, no matter what might’ve gone wrong alongside it.

  218. jana on September 2nd, 2009 8:41 pm

    You wanna talk about bravery? Something about going under the knife, getting CUT OPEN to insure the safe and healthy delivery of your baby just screams brave to me. Don’t sell yourself short.

  219. jane dredge on November 12th, 2009 1:46 pm

    i always like to go back and look at older xena warrior princess episodes so I go to http://www.xenaepisodes.blogspot.com – I can get them there for free and they have pretty much every episode.

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