Tuesday, October 16, 2007

ICAN video

This was just posted today to the ICAN email list and I have to share it. It moves me to tears. I had written a post about this topic last week and had not posted it yet. I decided to go ahead and post it now along with this video.

(And yes, my pictures are in the video-the 3rd picture is me holding Joshua for the first time and near the end there is a picture of my cesarean scar.)

And here is what I wrote last week... Just some processing I'm doing... I really just wrote it for myself to kind of sort through my thoughts and emotions. Yes, call me crazy, but even almost 3 1/2 years after my cesarean I'm still working through the aftermath.

I like to tell myself that my cesarean was necessary. I like to think that it saved my baby. I want to be one of those rare women who needed a cesarean to protect her baby. I'm having a hard time convincing myself of it though.

It's not just because most cesareans are unnecessary. It's not just because most women claim (and want to believe) that they needed their cesarean even when it was unnecessary or was caused by intervention in the birth process. It's not just so I can avoid accepting responsibility for my decisions. It's not just because I want to believe that my midwife actually had my best interests at heart. It's also not just because I want to believe that God would have given me the sign I so desperately prayed for when I was waiting for labor to begin.

No, the reason I want to believe that my cesarean was necessary is because I don't want to feel that the pain I went through was for nothing. Yes, my ultimate goal was to have a healthy baby but my baby also needed a healthy mother. I don't want to think that my son could have been born at home (as planned) and had the peaceful birth that he deserved. I don't want to remember the battle that I endured during my last pregnancy as I fought to get the birth that I wanted-and needed.

My conflict arises from my beliefs about normal birth. I honestly and completely believe that there are few cases where intervention in the birth process is truly needed. I believe that a mother instinctively knows how to birth her baby and that God designed our bodies perfectly.

With few exceptions, complications such as macrosomia, malposition, compound presentation, cord issues, etc. have a way of working themselves out. When birth is left alone it finds a way. I really believe this with all of my heart.

The problem here is that it leaves me to admit that my own cesarean likely was unnecessary. I had a large baby with a tight nuchal cord. No reason for concern, right? Why then, at 42 weeks, had labor not begun? Why was my baby having decelerations? Was his cord compressed? Was there something else going on? Was there something we didn't know that led us to the hospital when everything in me was screaming not to go?

If a mother I was working with came to me with the same issues as her birth approached, I would tell her that it would all work out during labor. The uterus would follow the baby down so that the cord would not be compromised. The mother's labor would allow the baby time to get into an optimal position and she would be guided by her instincts that would tell her what position she need to be in to push the baby out. The baby's head would mold perfectly as she birthed him.

Where does this leave me? I guess it leaves me wondering why my midwife abandoned me. Why was my baby having decels? What would have happened if I'd stayed home as planned? Was the nuchal cord an issue at all? Was there some other unseen reason that led to my cesarean? Was God really telling me that I needed to be in the hospital?

I do not believe that my son's size was the reason for my cesarean. I was a big baby, as was my husband and all of our siblings. My son's unmolded head was 16 inches around and he weighed 11 lbs, 1 oz. He had a benign heart murmur at birth but he was perfectly healthy in every way.

If nothing else, my cesarean has opened my eyes. It has shown me that there is a huge epidemic of unnecessary (and yes, some necessary) cesareans. It gave me the passion to want to help other women avoid surgical births and led me to start an ICAN chapter and become involved in the birth community. It gave me the ability to understand so much that you just can't understand until you have experienced it yourself. It made my next birth just a little more special and has given me the ability to use my story to reach out to so many other women.

I guess you could say that it molded me into who I am today and who I desire to become. It does little to help answer my questions about my cesarean or to comfort me in the mourning of my lost birth. My son missed out on the gentle birth that we had planned for him and for that I will always be sorry. I am eternally grateful for his health although I question whether the cesarean deserves any credit for that.
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