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.

89024228_fedd7d69a8
August 31, 2005

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February 2, 2008

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alomellin
alomellin
14 years ago

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

Eric's Mommy
14 years ago

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.

Kizz
14 years ago

Been reading Dooce?

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

Victoria
14 years ago

*hugs*

Amanda
14 years ago

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.

MommyGeekology
14 years ago

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.

samantha jo campen
14 years ago

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.

Donna
Donna
14 years ago

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.

penne
14 years ago

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.

Jillian
14 years ago

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. ;)

Redbecca
Redbecca
14 years ago

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.

Jenny
14 years ago

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.

Claudia
14 years ago

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.

Claudia
14 years ago

Two – not “too”

Jae
Jae
14 years ago

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. :)

Andrew's Mommy
Andrew's Mommy
14 years ago

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.

Lisa May
Lisa May
14 years ago

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.

Stephanie Parnell
14 years ago

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…

Julie
14 years ago

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.

Cassie
14 years ago

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?

Laura
Laura
14 years ago

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”????

McCashew
14 years ago

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.

Anonymous
Anonymous
14 years ago

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.

Hillary
14 years ago

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.

Susannah
14 years ago

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.

jonniker
14 years ago

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.

g~
g~
14 years ago

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.

Liz
Liz
14 years ago

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. :)

ashley
14 years ago

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.

Magnolia
14 years ago

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..

Lauren
14 years ago

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.

jen
jen
14 years ago

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.

jonniker
14 years ago

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.

Maria
14 years ago

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?

racher
14 years ago

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.

Michelle
Michelle
14 years ago

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.

Katie
14 years ago

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?

kalisa
14 years ago

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.

marta
marta
14 years ago

“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.

beach
beach
14 years ago

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

Peggasus
Peggasus
14 years ago

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?

wordygirl
14 years ago

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.

Sarah
14 years ago

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.

Janet
Janet
14 years ago

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.

J

birdgal (another amy)
birdgal (another amy)
14 years ago

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.

crisitunity
14 years ago

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.

Elizabeth
14 years ago

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.

She Likes Purple
14 years ago

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.

Laziza
Laziza
14 years ago

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?

Lisa
Lisa
14 years ago

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…

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