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The wounds of a bad birth eperience

She called me when she first became pregnant. Her voice was jubilant - full of hope and joy and surprise all mixed together. The pregnancy test was positive and a new baby would be with us in the spring. Her enthusiasm was infectious. I tried to give a response that was equally enthusiastic. 

I remember what it felt like to get a negative response. I remember my own mother actually saying, "Oh no," when I announced my last pregnancy.
 It wasn't that Mom didn't want another grandchild; she did. But I had already lost one pregnancy and my deliveries were always difficult at best. My Mom didn't want to see her own child in pain, hurting or grieving. I understood that then, but it was still hard to hear that she was less than happy about my pregnancy. She wanted to protect me. 
I'm at a point in life now where many of the friends of my children are having babies. When I hear this news, in my mind I want to protect them. I envision enrolling all of them in my own personal childbirth class and teach them about hiring a doula, how to labor naturally for as long as possible at home, and the signs of a true medical emergency that really warrant an emergency C-section. 
But I don't. I don't want to be THAT lady - the busy, body, pushy, know-it-all old woman. 

Read a few millennial web sites and message boards and it's pretty clear that those moms-to-be want to do everything on their own terms, in their own way. They want to reinvent the wheel. 

Instead, I smile and offer to be of any assistance if they need me, or have any questions. A couple of them have asked some great questions and I was happy to answer them as best I could. Most just thank me and then I never hear from the again until I get a baby shower invitation. 

And then I see the newborn announcements on Facebook or Instagram. Always a happy event, but more times than I should, I see a mom lying on her back in a scrub cap, and someone else is holding the baby close to her face so she can see it. Because this baby too was delivered surgically. 

Mom's first glance
Ben McLeod via Flickr, licensed cc. 

When I had my first baby in 1989, the C-section rate was a little over 23% - almost a quarter of the moms delivered surgically. I got caught in that net.  And now I see it was a setup. In fact, I had been set up most of my life. My grandmother talked about her son's delivery and how if things had just been different, he would have been different. Life would have been different.  I made a deep note of that - don't botch the delivery.  Have a healthy baby. So I did everything I was told to do because surely that was the best thing to do. I didn't ask questions. 

I walked into that hospital a confident, healthy young pregnant woman excited for the birth of her first child, and was wheeled out a surgical patient in a lot of postoperative pain, with an infant I couldn't bond with and a husband who kept telling everyone, "She's fine, " while the little voice in me was screaming, "I'm NOT FINE!" 

But we don't say that.  Even now with a Cesarean rate over 30% and an increasing mortality rate, we are all happy about the delivery. A generation of mothers tells their birthing daughters that they will be fine - just fine.  We got over it; you will too. As long as mom is alive and functioning - she's fine. and we don't say anything else about that. We don't say, "I'm sorry if your birth experience was rough. "  
But I think I see it in the pictures. I certainly see it in my own picture. A smile plastered on my face but an expression of, "What the hell just happened to me," in my eyes. 
But I don't say anything because we just don't do that in this culture. 
And I don't want to be that crazy old woman. 
Because, even after all this time I need everyone to think, I'm fine.