It has been only a few months since my beautiful baby daughter was born and I’ve finally managed to squeeze in some breathing space into my day as she slowly gets used to life outside the womb. As any new mother will tell you, the first few weeks after the delivery went by in a haze; a painful and exhausting one at that, thanks to the fact that I had to undergo a C-section after about 14 hours of labour.
During the first weeks when we had a constant stream of visitors dropping by to have a look at the new arrival, one had to face the inevitable questions regarding my labour and delivery. One thing I noticed was that people always asked, “Normal delivery, right?” And when the answer was in the negative, immediately their lips world droop and they would give me a pitiful look while nodding their heads slowly in commiseration.
And in that moment, you felt like such a failure! You could almost read their minds thinking what a delicate sissy you must be to not have the forbearance and strength to go through a normal delivery.
I ask you, why this judgement?
In my case, a C-section was unavoidable due to medical reasons. However, even if someone had had an elective C-section, it is absolutely their choice and their right, isn’t it? Everyone’s pain threshold varies and what seems bearable to one person might not necessarily be so for another. Why must the normal delivery brigade come judging promptly?
In fact, if only I had known what a long and arduous process normal labour would be, who knows, perhaps I too might have opted for a C-section beforehand. For now though I have no regrets really, because I have experienced both sides of the coin and hence have an idea of both. I wouldn’t be forever wondering how the other might be.
Even before delivery, one gets bombarded by a plethora of advice all aimed at making sure that the woman has a normal delivery. Go for long, brisk walks, do squats every day, bend and sweep or swab the house, do this, do that, eat this, don’t eat that – only then will you have a normal delivery… as though having a C-section is a big taboo!
Hence, in the end when it turns out that the mother needs a C-section, she is filled with guilt; perhaps I didn’t walk enough, maybe I didn’t exercise correctly, perhaps a normal delivery would have been healthier for the baby…the list goes on. As it is, motherhood throws up enough opportunities that make mothers feel guilty; do we really need to add one more item to that list?
Of course I understand that a normal delivery is preferred for various reasons, ranging from quicker recovery to aesthetic purposes. However, in this day and age with today’s medical advancements, I do think that it is safe to assume that a C-section is not really a huge deal anymore, unlike in earlier times.
If anything, it seemed to me that, at the very least, one could be fairly confident that everything was under control and the surgery was progressing according to plan in a C-section delivery. Compare that to a normal delivery where the entire process is somehow shrouded by an aura of mystery, one is left to the whims of nature and everyone is essentially waiting and waiting endlessly having no idea as to when the whole thing would come to a smooth end.
Also, it is not as though normal deliveries are totally risk-free. After all, haven’t we all heard of complications that arose during or after a normal delivery as well?
No doubt both normal deliveries and C-sections are demanding and challenging. At the end of the tiring journey, we are granted the gift of our precious little bundle of joy. Instead of sending the new mother on an unnecessary guilt trip, could we all just please hang up our judging shoes and let her rest and enjoy her baby in peace?
Anne John has donned several different hats at various points in life but lately one of them seems to have dwarfed the rest, namely, motherhood. She’s a relatively new mommy who is still getting used to being known as someone’s mom. She describes herself as an explicit caricature of the new mommy – sleep deprived, scatter-brained, in crumpled pyjamas bearing tell-tale signs of baby’s spit-up and other unmentionables! After torturing friends and family with my endless mommy tales, Anne has decided to move on to the internet to share her so-called nuggets of motherly wisdom! I try to keep up an online presence over @annejwrites.