/**/ The Purposeful Wife: What I Wish I Had Known About Having a C-Section

Monday, February 13, 2017

What I Wish I Had Known About Having a C-Section

From pretty much 30 seconds after finding out I was pregnant with my firstborn, my prayers went something along the lines of this: "Dear Lord, PLEASE let me NEVER have a c-section!"

I was convinced of the glories of natural birth, convinced that America's high cesarean rate meant many were not medically necessary, and convinced that major surgery was about the worst thing that could happen to a person.

So I prayed. And I prayed and I prayed and I prayed. "Please, dear God, never let me have to have a c-section."

You can guess what happened, can't you?

As of 2013, 31.3% of American women delivering in the United States will have a csection {via American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists}. The World Health Organization recommends an ideal rate of cesareans to be between 10%-15% of all women delivering. Clearly, American rates are very high. Yes, that probably means many c-sections are unnecessary.

What it also means though, more importantly, is that a lot of women {you? someone you know?} are going to have them. These women need support, encouragement, and understanding. Especially when many of them are so fearful, as I was.

I went into preterm labor at only 24 weeks gestation. After two weeks on hospitalized bed rest, with lots of preventative drugs and hardly any movement allowed, my water broke and there was no keeping her in.

The doctor on call was happy to let me deliver naturally as planned. Unfortunately after my water broke, contractions slowed to a stop. I started bleeding and bleeding, with no progression.

We were unaware at the time, but there was an infection in my placenta that caused it to start tearing away from the uterine wall before our daughter's birth. This scenario untreated can end with a suffocated baby and a mom bleeding out. An absolutely necessary medical reason for cesarean, if ever there was one.

Now I say, "Thank you Jesus for c-sections!"

If I could go back in time to my overly-anxious pregnant self, here's what I'd want her to know about having a c-section.

It's not the end of the world. Really, really, really and truly. Sure, it isn't ideal- but many things in life are not {and natural birth isn't a picnic either, which I can now assure you of authoritatively after having had two v-bacs}. By God's abundant grace, we can endure difficult experiences with great faith, peace, and confidence. Your body is strong and resilient.

There are many many much much worse things in life than a c-section.

Some of your recovery, however, will be tough, so this is what you need to know about that:

Laughing, sneezing, and coughing are going to hurt for awhile. Any noise or movement you make using your abdomen is going to be painful. My best advice is to take the drugs they give you and stay on top of the pain. I pumped breast milk while on these drugs, and was never advised to dump it. My daughter was an extremely ill, extremely premature infant who stayed in the NICU for two months. She came home earlier than the doctors had predicted, and had the best possible outcome. It is safe to take your medicine, and I think it's best to be kind to yourself in this way.

Walk when the nurses advise you to. I really didn't want to get up, but I found that staying in a hospital bed for too long made me much more stiff and uncomfortable. Follow doctors orders! Just be aware that hospital beds might not be the most friendly part of your recovery.

Getting into and out of cars will also hurt. Maybe this depends on the kind of car you own, but getting in and out of our little sedan for the first two weeks or so was pretty painful. Brace yourself, take deep breaths, and don't let it catch you off guard. When you breathe deeply through it it isn't as bad.

You might not be able to sleep in your own bed. Ditto for my bed. It was painfully impossible to climb in and out of my bed... so I slept on our couch quite comfortably for the first week. It worked well for me! Have a back-up sleeping plan just in case.

You might not bleed as much postpartum as you would after a vaginal delivery. After my first v-bac I was shocked, disgusted, and terrified by the big clots and chunks I passed postpartum. Apparently this is pretty normal! But many doctors {at least the one I had for my c-section} will clear your uterus of the clots and much of the other gunk while they are already in there. My bleeding after a c-section was similar to a slightly longer lasting period. One perk!

The scar probably won't go away. Some very lucky, very rare people completely lose their scars. I still have mine {and I know many people who do!}. This really bummed me out at first. What self-conscious new mom doesn't have a few body insecurities?!

Funny enough, during my next pregnancy I though the scar was fading. Spoiler: it wasn't! It was hiding out under the shadow of my bump, thank you very much! I felt sad and nostalgic, because it marked the place where my sweet miracle baby had come into the world. Turns out a scar can grow on you over time.

The scar might stay sensitive forever. This is so bizarre- but five years later, the skin around my scar is kind of sensitive and tingly if you poke it. I don't feel comfortable having things rub against it. I had one friend say hers just plain hurts still {also 5 years after surgery}, and another say she has lost all feeling in that section of her abdomen. She once burnt herself there because she didn't feel the heat on her skin! So be aware that you might experience some weird phenomenons.

It's not the end of the world. I feel the need to reiterate this. If you find yourself in the position that a c-section is necessary, thank God that we have the medical technology to keep you and your baby healthy.

As previously stated, it's not ideal. It's ok to grieve the loss of your ideals- acknowledge how it makes you feel, cry if you need to {I did}, pray over it. Of course! Just take heart and trust that the Lord is good, and that His perfect sovereign plan included this for you. He's got this, and you will be ok.

Having a c-section is one of the best things that could have ever happened to me. Not because it was so much fun, or so easy. Not even because it was the means that God used to save my baby and me {though that is obviously HUGE}.

I needed to have that c-section in order to be humbled, to conquer fears by faith, and to learn to trust and rely more sweetly on my good God. Having a c-section has made me more compassionate and less judgmental towards the birth experiences and choices of other moms.

God knew that a c-section was exactly what this mom needed.

Me and my baby girl then:

And now:

Totally worth it. I'd do it one hundred times over again if I had to!

Also, if it's any consolation, it took me 3 or 4 hours after my son's traumatic natural birth to reluctantly admit I preferred pushing to surgery. Delivering a baby can be a physical shocker no matter which way it comes...fo' sho'.

Calling all c-section moms- what have I missed?!? Please speak up in the comments for the woman who might need to know someday!

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