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To the Mom who didn’t want a Cesarean Birth

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I am honored to have Betsy of Betsy’s Photography here today to share her journey through an unplanned cesarean birth.  We become mothers in so many different ways: through vaginal or cesarean birth, adoption, foster care, surrogacy — whatever path our lives take is unique to us and our families.  I hope we can embrace one another and look to God as we relinquish control and find peace.


Another Response to the Undesired Cesarean Birth — Letting Go

Let me start by saying that there are a lot of resources for moms who are recovering from c-sections, who had cesarean births… maybe out of necessity, or possibly out of pressure from the hospital staff. But what I haven’t found very frequently is the resource that tells these moms it is okay to find peace and move on.

Most proponents for cesarean awareness are very vocal, and very adamant about the need to feel angry and violated. Maybe it’s just a vocal minority, but when I was seeking information to help me work through the process, the only moms who talked about c-sections were the ones who were still upset — even years later. And so it became natural, it seemed like the appropriate response. It seemed like the only way to reconcile the c-section was to achieve a Vaginal Birth After Ceaserean (VBAC) for their second birth. And wow, what pressure does that put on moms?

To the Mom Who Didn't Want a Cesarean Birth - BPhotoArt at Wildflower Ramblings

My Story

As the birth of my second child approaches, there are a number of things I can tell are different from the first time around. The first time, I was without fear. I had no trepidation about the birth process, I was confident everything would work out. This time, though, it’s different. I have had to assuage my fears of a second cesarean, of being put on drugs that will wreak havoc on my body in the postpartum months. My worries, of course, are founded on past experience. Murphy’s law — what can go wrong, will go wrong… and if it’s gone wrong once, it will go wrong again. Fear hovers underneath the surface of my excitement. It is waiting for an opportunity to taint the joy of of my son’s arrival into this world. Just as it waited for me in the months after my first birth.

My first child arrived into this world two weeks “late” (per the doctors, despite my disagreement on the due date), after an induction, 24 hours of labor, and ultimately a cesarean surgery. I was exhausted, fatigued, and in mourning. My grief, at that time, was not from the loss of the “birth I deserved” — but from losing my grandmother two weeks earlier. Looking back, everything screams to me as a reminder — “you are not in control.” My life is not my own. And I was trying so hard to be in control (aren’t we all?).

In the weeks postpartum, I did also “grieve” over my failure to have a natural birth. I felt like my body had failed me, like I wasn’t good enough — the works. Retrospectively, I think I was giving myself a way out, and escape from having to deal with the loss of my grandmother, the true pain and cause of my sorrows. But I didn’t know that at the time. When people would ask, I’d tell them things were going well, and that everything was great. I was still angry about the surgery, but knew that no one *really* wanted to hear about that, so I gave the desired answer. It’s interesting how we program ourselves to push our true feelings aside and put on a charade of sorts.

Through some of the mom groups I was in, I discovered others in my shoes, others who had been through an unplanned cesarean — and most were not at peace with it. In fact, the more I sought those who “understood,” the more moms I found who were outright angry about their births.

Learning to Let Go

It wasn’t until about a year postpartum that I met a mom who had a cesarean and was at peace with it. It took me by surprise, I have to say.

How could she have missed out on the birth she deserved …and be okay with it?

Why wasn’t she mad like everyone else?

I wanted to be in that place, to be that secure in myself that the circumstances of my birth experience no longer angered me.

I wanted to be able to let go. To live.

I’ve always wanted to thank this mom for opening my eyes to the other side of things, but sadly, we’ve lost touch and I can no longer do so.

But I am grateful to her for giving me another perspective, for helping me realize I did have a choice. Sure, I wasn’t able to choose how my son’s birth played out, but I could choose to be at peace. I could choose to let go. To live in the present. To be content with the blessings I have. To turn to God for peace when I can’t find it on my own.

We always have a choice. We have to choose to live in the present, to let go. Or at least start trying. Because the process of letting go is just that. A process. I’m so glad to have found another response to my undesired cesarean birth. No, it wasn’t what I would have chosen, but that’s beside the point.

Or, maybe, it is the point.

I’m not in control of my life.

No matter how much I plan or try to control my life, it will always play out in unexpected ways. My life is not going to happen according to my plan. And I need to be at peace with that.

Learning to accept the difficulties, the sorrows, the disappointments — those are all a part of life. We find peace, not by getting “our way” — but by giving up the illusion of control. My peace is eternal, unchanging. He is always there. God is my refuge, my peace, if I will but seek Him.

To the Mom Who Didn’t Want A Cesarean Birth

There are so many of us, but most choose not to talk about it. Know that you are not alone. Know that you don’t have to respond according to any status quo. Your response, your reaction, is unique to you. You have the choice to live, forever regretting that moment when a c-section became a reality for you. You have the choice (and the right) to be angry about it. But at some point (trust me), you’ll be happier if you choose to accept what happened and let go of the anger.

Don’t miss out on living in the present because you feel you need to “make it right.” This world is not “right” — it is imperfect. And letting go of our perfect dreams and desires is tough… but when you do, you can find peace, you can accept what happened, let it go, and start living with your full attention on what lies ahead.

Grieve your loss, yes. But rejoice in your blessings! Seek out what joyful moments you can find, look for the silver lining in the storm cloud.

What About My Second Birth?

As the date of my second child’s arrival approaches, I find myself in a unique position.  Yes, I want to have the birth experience I desire, I want a natural VBAC that is free from intervention.  The prospect of drugs or surgery will put me on edge, if I let those thoughts dominate my mind.
Even if everything goes the the same with this birth (and how likely is that, honestly?), I still have the choice to respond differently.  My prayer is that I will birth our second child naturally — and that if I do not, that God will give me the strength to go through whatever may come.  Yes, I know what I want.  But ultimately, it’s not my choice, I have no right to bargain.  It’s about finding peace, looking outside myself, and letting go of what I want so that I can grasp hold of what truly matters.  I choose peace.

About Betsy

A lifelong bookworm and creative soul, Betsy lives in Michigan with her husband, (soon-to-be-two) boys, and two cats (Betsy’s story). You can read more of her thoughts on life and creative musings at BPhotoArt.com. There, Betsy blogs about a hodgepodge of topics including fine art and portrait photography, parenting, capturing memories, and finding contentment in the journey of life. You can also find Betsy on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, and Instagram.


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  1. Melanie Scharping says:

    It makes me so sad when I hear women who had undesired C-sections still angry about it years later. (I’ve had 2 unplanned C-sections myself.) I’m a huge fan of vaginal birth. (I’ve had 3 of those, the last a VBA2C, praise God!) By all means plan to do everything you think will increase your chance of a healthy vaginal delivery.

    But here’s the thing. Proponents of natural delivery focus a lot on being in control–of your medical care, your surroundings, etc. in order to create an ideal environment for birth. This is good, but I think it often encourages mother to approach labor and delivery with the mindset of being in control. In my experience, labor and delivery are mostly an exercise in letting go of control and letting your body do what it needs to do. You can work with your body instead of against it, but you are most definitely not in control. You’re not in control of what’s going on in your body, and you’re not in control of the outcome. It’s a more intense version of the rest of life: you have to trust and obey, and leave the results to God.

  2. I loved your post! And it made me wonder about the cultural differences with regards to the perception of c-sections. I live in Germany and have a few friends who have had an unplanned c-section and everyone seems to be handling it in a very matter-of-fact way: it was necessary, the baby and I are fine, moving on. Also in my birth class the midwife talked us through the process of an unplanned c-section and made it sound like something completely ok.

  3. I really enjoyed this post and find myself like Ilze – in New Zealand, there isn’t as much “hype” {sorry, best word I could think of!} about how birth will happen. Of course, there are some women who are very determined to have natural births etc, but for the most part, women I know go into birth open-minded. Nothing ever seems to go as planned. A friend had a C-section after 40 hours of labour because her pelvis in the end is too small – she’s fine with that. I had a natural birth but I went in open minded to an epidural if I needed it or a C-section…I’m days/weeks away from my second and feel in the same mind set – as long as I have a healthy baby and I’m well, I don’t mind. I’m not sure why it is different in America, from what I’ve read on blogs etc, the maternity system is very different. I feel for mothers who don’t feel like they have control over how their baby comes into the world.

    1. Thanks so much for your response, Sarah!! How would you describe your maternity system in New Zealand? Do you use midwives or doctors and do you know the cesarean rate? Thanks so much for taking the time to read and respond!!

      1. I actually had never looked at statistics but I found an article that said the World Health Organisation said one in four women have a C-section in NZ, half of those who do are elective. I was surprised about the elective side, particularly as the article was about the increase of women choosing so.

        In NZ, all our maternity care is free – appointments, emergency tests, doctors, hospital and postpartum care. Most women choose a midwife who you see monthly til 28 weeks, then fortnightly til 36, and then weekly til birth. Your MW then cares for you for 6 weeks postpartum, until a government agency takes over for the next five years til the child goes to school. Most women choose their MW’s through word of mouth. I LOVE mine, we became such good friends with my son and she was amazing during his birth and my recovery. I couldn’t wait to see her again with this pregnancy {less than a year later} and she has been really good as I have had a few complications and difficulties.

        You can birth at hospital or home, though most women choose the hospital. Your MW is there, with any back-ups she needs and then OB’s come in at the very end for when bubs comes out. Unless there are concerns, women can choose what they want in terms of pain meds etc. Your choices are really respected.

        From what I’ve read on blogs, this is quite different in America?

        It’s so interesting hearing about other countries. I just read a Save the Children report that said NZ is ranked 16th in terms of quality of maternity care and the USA 31st – yikes! Of course, Switzerland and Denmark are top :)

  4. I am so with you! I had a c-section for my twins and honestly, I was so grateful to carry them to 34 weeks and to know that they were healthy that the idea of a c-section never bothered me. Would I have liked it to go differently? Sure. But in those moments, I was able to completely let go and just be grateful for their safe delivery. Thanks so much for linking up with #smallvictoriessundaylinky! You have been pinned to the group board. :)

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