Jade, is secretary for the group Special Scars - Special Women, told me that it could be either, in her opinion. She told me that through her organization, she had seen several women cut "hip to hip" and relayed that her own scar made it look like she'd "had intestinal surgery, not a cesarean," with a scar that "went halfway down my vagina up past my belly button." She then went on to say she'd just heard of a mom who VBACed with a "plus sign" scar. I wasn't even aware that such a thing existed.
Many women contributing to message boards online have commented they, too, were cut hip to hip, and experience scar tissue adhesions and serious pain. No one ever expects this to happen, and the idea that because cesareans are performed every day that therefore they are "safe" is prevalent. Does this represent the majority of women? No. But does any woman going in for a cesarean ever think, "This might happen to me?" I know I didn't.
Thankfully, no, it didn't happen to me, either. But that doesn't mean I don't still struggle with emotions and feelings based on my experiences, either. These graphics are definitely not designed to make women feel angry about themselves or bad, otherwise I'd be attacking myself, wouldn't I?
Someone felt that the image was "anti-pregnancy" - I'm still not sure why. As someone with three children, who possibly wants to become pregnant with a fourth, I can't think of anything more "anti-pregnancy" than the message that repeat cesareans are always necessary. For the women who want more children, it sends a definite anti-pregnancy message: that you shouldn't have more than two or three children, and if you do, it could pose serious complications. What do you do? Assume the risks, or accept the grief and loss of a pregnancy that never happened, yet was very desired? Many women limit their family size because they do not want to go through that again, and some days I'm not sure I do, either. Yet I don't feel totally prepared to completely let go of the idea of the family size that's perfect for me. It may not be your ideal, but you are not everyone. And if there's one thing I've learned in pregnancy advocacy, that just because things went a particular way for me does not mean they go that way for everyone. Or even that they should.
Perhaps you remember the story of the two teachers - who were friends - that both went in for a cesarean section and both died. Unusual? Yes. Impossible? No. Do you really think these women, or their families, friends and loved ones, expected this to happen? Does anyone, ever? I know I never did.
I used to think that once I knew I was on my last pregnancy, then I'd have a VBAC. Once I knew I wouldn't be using that uterus anymore, just in case there were complications - then'd I have a VBAC. What kind of stupid crap logic is that? It isn't logic. At all. The women I truly feel badly for are those who never saw it as a big deal - until they're about to give birth to their third or fourth child and have already had two or three cesareans. Then it becomes a very big deal, and unfortunately you're surrounded with "I told you so's" and "Just do the cesarean," at a time when it is crucial - but extremely difficult - to find a supportive care giver.
|Photo credit: Meghan S. Rodberg|
Ahh... the "healthy baby" argument. I don't think anyone says, "Screw that cesarean, I don't care if the baby dies!" unless there's seriously something wrong there. I've come to the conclusion, that yes, a healthy baby matters, but the journey to that healthy baby matters, too. And sometimes, the interventions - including cesareans - are necessary for that healthy outcome. And sometimes ... they aren't. I think this is something many, many people are in denial about. I probably was, too, before I knew anything about pregnancy and birth.
I noticed something peculiar when reading comments and stories regarding childbirth and traumatic events. People do not want to hear about it. They don't want to believe that it's possible that, in this day and age, or at any time in our rich history of superior care and knowledge, that there's ever been a time when pregnant women have been mistreated or disrespected. How could a physician do an "unnecessary" cesarean? Those stories about 'hurrying up your birth to go to a golf game' are just myths!" When women open up about horrifying, traumatic births, you hear some of the most bizarre, ugly, nasty remarks - that they deserve it, that they are "selfish" for wanting the "experience," this that and the other. There can be some incredibly chilling, horrific detail and they'll skip right over it and nitpick about something else that has little if anything to do with the main story. Or they'll accuse her of lying.
I noticed, though, that the same thing happens in miscarriage and abortion stories, too. Whenever an outcome is less-than-perfect, a loss occurs - even if it's a lost "experience" - people want to shut you up. If you grieve an abortion, well, "You made this decision and now you're forced to live with it." I wrote a post about miscarriage grief and how no one wanted to talk about it, and several chimed in that when they tried to express their grief and sorrow over pregnancy loss, they were unfriended, blocked, deleted and ignored.
So when a woman does have a "healthy" baby but had to go through absolute living hell to get there, all people see is the baby - not the mother with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, postpartum depression, thoughts or feelings of inadequacy or grief over something that she wished had turned out differently, and maybe could have turned out differently. I think back to my own experiences - when a doctor that I trusted told me that my baby was really head down, even though I insisted it was his head butting me in the ribs - but I trusted my doctor. That should have been enough, right? If something went badly because of a decision you made, you still get blamed for not knowing enough, not trying hard enough, not doing this, not doing that.
When I first posted this, there were, again, mixed feelings. Those idiotic Occupy Wall Street memes were everywhere, and somehow I felt this would fit right in. In my wording, I wanted to be sure not to a) blame the mother, b) not to say "Your cesarean will always be awful and you should definitely! have a VBAC!" I had a sort of wonderful VBAC, which doesn't mean you will - and it doesn't mean you won't, either. I realized somewhere along the way that if Cesarean Awareness is really going to work, it should start before the second birth - in reality, maybe before pregnancy even takes place.
|Image: (c) Brian Creswick, fotalia.com|
Many thanks to Robin Weiss, Lcce for providing the image content.
"Hope has two beautiful daughters: their names are anger and courage; anger at the way things are, and courage to see that they do not remain the way they are." - Saint Augustine