People tend not to share birthing stories with as much pride and self-satisfaction when they involved a c-section. I’ve noticed that if I’m asked about my daughter’s birth and and I respond that I “had a c-section” I’m met with a lightly judgemental “oh…” and if I respond that I “had to have a c-section” that I get a look of extreme sympathy. I think cesareans have been painted in two lights, one where self involved women want to book their birth down to the last detail and one where it’s done in the throws of panic and emergency. But a lot of women, like myself, have planned mandatory cesarians. It wasn’t my choice and, honestly, it wasn’t scary.
Our daughter had low amniotic fluid surrounding her during my entire pregnancy which kept me Googling every possible solution while guzzling coconut water by the litre. While, thankfully, none of the worst case scenarios came to light, it did result in her refusing to turn and drop. I spent all my time stretching into pretzel formations and trying to encourage her movement with massage but it was not happening. After an unsuccessful external version (that, I won’t lie, hurt like a son of a bitch) I was finally faced with the fact that the west coast/doula/au natural birth of my dreams was not going to happen. I was crushed. The milestone Kodak moments I had been picturing suddenly vanished. There would be no running in circles searching for our hospital bags like panicked maniacs on an adrenalin high, no moment where my husband would look at me like some kind of super human capable of more than he ever imagined, no meeting my daughter for the first time sober and aware. September 6th at 1pm sat there on a calendar filling me with overwhelming excitement and a secret sadness that made me feel guilty.
Our daughter’s birthday, however, is is not September 6th. At 5am on September 2nd I woke up to what felt like an enormous elastic band snapping in my stomach, nothing painful but certainly nothing familiar. I was instantly aware that my water had broke and shook my husband awake. We ran around like laughing maniacs and had to stop for gas on the way and I was elated. They kept me under watch for 5 hours because I had eaten a single cracker in the middle of the night to ward off acid reflux. Finally at 10am I was walked into a tiny operating room, given an epidural (totally not the nightmare I had imagined) and at 10:10 Sloan Alexandra Johnson Seydel was born.
I have very blurry memories of the first day of her life but the first moments are crystal clear. They pressed her face against mine as we cried and my husband looked down at us both with complete wonder and disbelief. It wasn’t the birth of my dreams but it was a dream birth.