After I gave birth to my little boy, like most new mums, I was dizzy with pride and happiness, gazing at his little fingers and rosy chubby cheeks.
But as I was enjoying those hazy, dreamy moments of first motherhood, I was jolted out of it by an unwelcome comment: "You had a C-section? I’m so sorry, perhaps you should have consulted a better doctor,” said my friend’s mother when they called to meet the baby.
Suddenly, my bubble was popped. I had been expecting her to say something more like, “Congratulations on your beautiful new baby.” I never thought that the mode of my labour would be part of the discussion.
For a minute, I felt like a failure. Maybe I should have tried harder? Perhaps I had deprived my child of something that he is entitled to?
But, after some hugs and words of encouragement from my family, I also knew that I would give up my life for my child, and having surgery to get my baby out into this world doesn’t make me any less of a mother.
Don't tell me you're sorry
I feel that judging a woman when she is at her most vulnerable, both physically and emotionally, is simply cruel.
And why do people always feel entitled to an opinion when it comes to women anyway? Whether it is the birth plan, the mode of delivery, or how you feed your baby, women’s life choices seem to be fair play for other people’s assessment.
The statement that troubles me the most is when people say “I am Sorry,” about my C-section .
Sorry for what? Sorry that I just gave birth to a healthy baby?
Shouldn’t it be just “Congratulations on having a healthy baby”?
For the record, my original plan was to give birth naturally, with the option of an epidural, if I chose to use that option. C-section wasn’t part of my birth plan (not that it would matter if it had been, of course).
What happened was more than 10 hours of difficult labour, followed by emergency surgery as my baby’s umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck. Now, after 10 hours of labour you might be expecting to finally get to hold your baby, but instead I was told:
“We are going to have to cut him out of you”.
My answer: “Anything to bring my baby into this world”.
Still a birth warrior
I have heard and read countless announcements along the lines of “My wife/sister/cousin is a true warrior queen, giving birth absolutely naturally and with no drugs!”
That’s marvellous and, trust me, I am happy for them. But I’m a warrior too, let me tell you.
I was willing to be cut up to get my baby out! Isn’t that warrior enough?
The last thing I want to dwell on is being made to feel I am not as good a mother because I needed surgery to get my baby out.
Just because I had a less “natural” route to get my baby into this world, doesn’t mean I am any less of a mother.
C-section-shaming is as bad as any other kind of discrimination. Making accusations against the doctor does not help, while making assumptions about the mother and her 'fear of the pain of labour' is downright hurtful. Besides, having the invasive surgery that is a C-section is by no means an 'easy way out' of childbirth, believe me.
Judgment is the last thing new mothers need
My intention is not to argue about the pros and cons of C-section via vaginal birth.
Giving birth naturally wasn’t an option for me, so I did what I had to do to get my baby into this world. I chose to prioritise my baby’s life, as any other mother would do.
No matter how you are going to bring your baby into the world, keep your eyes on the unmatched joy that comes out of it: a cherished baby - nobody should ever be sorry about that.
C-section mums don’t need to hear you’re ‘sorry’, all they need is to have your support.
Be there for them, reassure them that they made the right decision and that they are no less of a mother than anyone else.
Birth is birth. There might certain ‘ideal’, ‘natural’ ways to do it, but the most important part of the entire labour is the end result – the birth of your baby.
Motherhood can’t be defined by a single choice or moment.
Motherhood is defined by the many such moments, memories, occasions, milestones that add up to a lifetime of love and goodness.