The Perfect Birth

Welcome to the June 2012 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Embracing Your Birth Experience
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have written about at least one part of their birth experience that they can hold up and cherish.
In the natural parenting community, having a c-section is a nearly unforgivable offense – unless it is appropriately mourned, studied, used as fodder for berating the medical community, and held over the head of the recipient to show the mother’s weakness and inability to procure the “perfect birth.”  After all, a good mother would never allow herself to be cut open – right?

But the fact of the matter is that while the c-section rate in America is FAR too high, and while doctors are doing c-sections on women who don’t need them, and while medical interventions DO cause higher than necessary c-section rates, a small percentage of births really do need a c-section to achieve the best possible outcome.  My daughter’s birth was one of them.

My daughter is my oldest child.  When I was pregnant with her, I did as much research as I knew how to do.  I understood that an epidural would lead to loss of sensation, and would raise my risk of c-section (not that my needle phobia would have allowed that anyway).  I understood that induction would greatly raise my risk of a c-section.  I understood that a c-section happy doctor would raise my risk of a c-section and that finding out about a doctor’s c-section rate was important when choosing a doctor.  I understood that birth position would greatly influence my risk of a c-section and that giving birth on my back was not a good idea.  I was prepared!

But I did not prepare for a slow leak of my amniotic fluid that was discovered at 28 weeks.  I did not anticipate preterm labor that started at 30 weeks, with a baby stuck in a breech position.  However, taking the knowledge that I did have, and the trust that I had in my high risk OB whose c-section rate was lower than the midwives I had started with, I was able to formulate a birth plan that worked for my family and my doctor, and most especially, my baby.

Sofiya was a tiny peanut with an overactive thyroid, due to my (believed to be) controlled grave’s disease.  She had done gymnastics in my womb on a scale unrivaled by any baby I’ve ever encountered.  And she had tangled herself in her cord so severely that she was stuck tight in a breech position with the cord wrapped round and round her neck, unable to move.  When the slow leak in the amniotic fluid began, she also ran out of fluid to support her movements.  I was put on bedrest, then in the hospital on magnesium sulfate, to keep her in-utero as long as possible.

While I was in the hospital, the doctor visited me daily and stayed to answer extensive questions.  We discussed my birth options, and since he and I both knew that vaginal birth was optimal, we were both reluctant to do an unnecessary c-section.  But, as we sat together and discussed the risks, it became evident that the choice for a c-section was clear.

Being born at 31 weeks, as Sofi was, the biggest risk she was facing was a brain bleed.  Premature infants get them often, and bleed out quickly.  She was so tiny that I could have easily born her breech – but it would have increased her risk of brain bleed.  The doctor could have attempted an external cephalic version (turning the baby in utero so that she was head down), but this would have also increased her risk of brain bleed.  So, looking at raising the risk of death for my infant, or raising the risks of complication for me, we jointly chose to raise my risks, not hers.

One of the things that made this decision easier was that we got to decide this while sitting and having a calm discussion.  Another thing that made this easier was that I had an amazing OB who I explicitly trusted to make the best decision for ME and MY BABY.  I was also lucky enough to have the time to sit with the decision before it was executed, to have room to make choices for myself within the decision, and to feel like I had some power and control in the situation, instead of having a c-section happen to me.

In the days between the decision and the action, I was able to read, to envision, to prepare, and to make choices.  I knew from day 1 that I would never be able to have an epidural during labor because my needle phobia is intense.  But, during a c-section, anesthesia is obviously necessary.  So, my doctor and I were able to agree on a general anesthesia, to get me through the birth in the calmest possible way.  We were able to talk to the neonatologists and find out what to expect with such a small baby.  We were able to make our wishes about interventions and vaccinations clear ahead of time.

And when the big day came, I was able to roll down the hallway to the OR, calmly knowing that I was making the best possible choice for myself and my baby.

I’ve since gone on to have 2 more babies, vaginally, at home.  Those two births were perfect.  Just as perfect as Sofi’s birth was for her.

There are many things on my parenting journey that I look back on with less than fond memories, but Sofiya’s birth is not one of them.


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be live and updated by afternoon June 12 with all the carnival links.)


8 thoughts on “The Perfect Birth

  1. Trust me, not all “natural birth” or “natural parenting” mamas feel the way you described in your first paragraph. Sometimes a c-section is necessary! Clearly, in your case it was the only option. Congratulations on making the right decision to bring your daughter into the world in the safest way for her. And thank you for sharing your story.


  2. Beautiful…I wish my c-section was like this. Although medically necessary, your experience truly was a “birth.” Thank you for sharing. This is really empowering and a post I will keep around to share with mamas struggling with the decision!


  3. Thank you for sharing your story! So empowering! It was wonderful to hear that you had respectful OB and that you had time to come to terms with the change in plans. Such a beautiful birth story for you to be proud of!


  4. Thank you, ladies! Sofi’s birth is something that I hold dear. I am just as proud of my c-section as I am my two home births. All were consciously made decisions that lead to beautiful, amazing people!


  5. Kellie – thank you. Like you said, it’s easy for us crunchy moms to rave about the flaws of the medical community, but, honestly, there are times when I’m SO GLAD WE LIVE IN THE AGE OF MODERN MEDICINE.


  6. I’m so glad you had a good C-section, for the benefit of your daughter. Clearly this is one of those births that C-sections were made for! I think when women mourn their C-sections, they’re usually doing so because they feel it wasn’t medically necessary (as yours was) or because they weren’t able to come to terms with the change in vision for their birth, since many times decisions about sectioning happen during the tumultuous time of labor. It sounds like you had the great advantages of a caregiver you trusted and who respected you, and time to consider and plan what the best course of action was. I’m really glad for you that that was so — and glad that your daughter is safe and healthy!


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