the spiritual teachings of a cesarean

Imagine if an angel kissed you and it left a mark on your flesh. That is kind of how I feel about my scar. Anya was born by cesarean. This was not the plan… at all. In fact we had envisaged a homebirth, had midwifery care, at home, throughout, hired a birthing tub, the whole shebang and then it turned out Baby was breach and would not – NOT – be turned. We tried everything every culture had to offer and baby was staying put, butt down! We even tried for a vaginal breech delivery but that didn’t pan out either.

So it came to pass that I had a highly medicalised, surgical birth and I am fine with it. I am surprised to say, I feel super-fine about it. Not that I would choose it again, of course not, just that I found my peace with it and am confident that my daughter’s birth, her arrival on this Earth and outside my womb was a blessed, magnificent occasion – and the means doesn’t really concern me.

I know many of the mama bloggers I ‘hang out with’ online are very political about this. And I get that. I have read Ina May, seen ‘The Business of Being Born’ and read ‘MisConceptions’. I am all for natural births and that would have fit in with my lifestyle and choices so well. But I am also for accepting what is, meeting it on the path – greeting reality as it comes hurtling toward you – with a smile, wherever possible. And hey, if my reality included some violent, unexpected feelings in reaction to this intervention-filled birth then that would be welcomed, too (eventually, at least). You can only take it one day at a time, see what comes and ‘eat the food on your plate’, right?

There are things that catch me out, don’t get me wrong. There are experiences I find harder to take in my stride and accept, zen-like. But this, even though it was seemingly against everything I stand for, felt just as it was meant to be. I credit my Birthing from Within classes for this, largely, actually. Birthing from Within is a pre-natal preparation course (summarised in a book of the same name). It is a bit wu-wu in nature (which is probably why I was drawn to it). They had us doing art as a couple to express our fears and hopes about the upcoming birth both verbally and visually, they got us to hold ice (the closest they can come, legally, to inflicting pain on us) to practice different breathing, relaxation and pain-management techniques and, crucially to this story, they encouraged us to visualise our worse-case scenarios and then re-imagine the same situation but with everything that we need to be able to cope with even this, our biggest fear. So, though we didn’t know for sure if Baby was breech at this point, I imagined that she was. I realised that didn’t freak me out that much after all, so I took it one step further and imagined I had to have, *gasp*, a c-section. And in that moment, even in the round when we had to imagine the ‘bad version’ of this story all I could see was my baby, coming out of me and onto the Planet – and nothing else mattered. I saw the doctors extracting her from my belly and the moment looked glorious, triumphant to me. I could see the energy and it looked and felt beautiful. And that was it, the fear was gone – discarded right there and then. [If only I had prepared this well for other things.]

What is more, I think this ‘crisis’ was (as the Japanese characters for this word point to) not just a risk but an opportunity. I took this as a huge hint from Life that it was time to make peace with the medical establishment. Yes, I like natural/traditional medicines and yes that is all I have used in this lifetime (up until now) but I acknowledge not just in theory but in action that there is a place for modern medicine in my life, too. That these two modes of healing are, truly, complementary. Now that was a lesson worth opening to (even if, frankly, I had no choice!)

So, now still, when I look down and see that scar on my belly I smile. I see beauty. I questioned this many times in the months after the birth: was I repressing some dark unexpressed feelings about this? Was I kidding myself about being okay with this? No, I really don’t think so. It has been 16 months now and I am still fine with it. That scar is where my angel came out of me and into the world and that ‘kiss’ is cause for celebration, nothing else.

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5 thoughts on “the spiritual teachings of a cesarean

  1. Aw, that’s such a lovely way of putting it – that it’s the mark of a kiss from an angel. Lovely! I had a caesarean (due to back to back position and foetal distress) after 20 hrs of labour (and several weeks of hypnobirthing classes). But I really didn’t mind. My baby was safe. She was having problems coming out the normal way; the surgeon made the decision and I was like, yes, just get her out. It’s not what I had in mind, but she’s safe and alive and amazing, and that’s all that matters. And I kind of like my “angel kiss”. It reminds me of that crazy night last Jan, when I had my gorgeous girl. :-) x

  2. Pingback: Cesarean saves me from… myself « Loving Earth Mama

  3. I think the reason you feel this way is because you did everything you could to have the baby without interventions including birthing at home. If medicine were practiced responsibly we would all celebrate cesareans as an amazing procedure that saved lives. As it is, most of my friends are conflicted about their cesareans because they rightly don’t trust that the doctors did the best thing for them.
    luckily, I didn’t need any interventions, but I had birth at home because I wanted to know that if I had to have interventions I really needed them this way could embrace them wholeheartedly… instead of mistrusting the hospital.

    • Interesting perspective. I do think that plays into it: I know that I did the best that I could with the resources available to me at the time… but I have met many a woman who was planning a homebirth, did their very best, made informed choices and ended up with a cesarean and are still beating themselves up about it or angry at life for letting it happen this way, iykwim.

      This kind of feeling comes up for me, too, sometimes – especially now that I am pregnant again, and find myself revising my birth story. I can get angry at a system that meant I had a cesarean not because one was medically needed but because there happened to be no doctors on call on New Year’s Eve that were experienced in vaginal breech deliveries. Kind of nuts, really. So, the feelings are kind of cyclical. Sometimes a kind of grateful feeling of grace descends upon me… other times, if my mind gets hold of it, my thoughts may go another way. It is all okay and all finds a space in me, at this time.

      Hugs,
      Gauri

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