Why I felt bad about my c-section, but now I don’t

Why I felt bad about my c-section, but now I don’t Featured Image

The belly is a sensitive area for a woman. We have the opportunity go through pregnancy and giving birth – miraculous and amazing and beautiful and blah blah blah. But for many of us it’s not an easy journey. Often made more difficult by the thoughts in our heads and the opinions floating around.

My own experience teaches me this:

You don’t get it until you do.
It will be difficult until it’s not.
But when that insight comes, the transformation is instant.
And your perspective is changed forever.

I don’t discuss this often, but I’m ready now. For almost a year after the birth of my twins, I have in some degree felt shame about my belly and about the fact that one of my twins was born via emergency C-section. There, I said it.

Shame because, I internalized this idea that I’m somehow inadequate if I didn’t give birth naturally. Am I the only one? My C-section scar was like a ringing question “did I not try hard enough?”

My moment of insight came during an episode of Marco Polo. A woman died giving birth. The midwife said to the father “they’ll both die”, as she handed him a knife. The scene ends with the mother’s last words – “do it”, and a piercing scream that made me burst out in tears. C-sections back in the days didn’t save the mother. I cried and I cried and I cried.

I looked up the word natural in the dictionary, it means “based on the state of things in nature.” I equated natural to ease, without impediment, a desirable outcome. But none of that is true. In nature death is often the outcome. And it’s neither graceful nor merciful. I completely lost perspective on how much things have changed in modern times. When women became pregnant in the past, they wrote their wills.

I’m talking about this because there are many things we don’t talk about when it comes to the pregnancy and birth experience. Magazines, articles, books can paint a beautiful picture of what this experience should look like and plant ideas in our heads that were perhaps completely unintentional. But they affect our perception and they affect how we feel about ourselves. And perhaps it causes some of us unnecessary grief at a time when we’re already exhausted and uncomfortable.

I’m so glad I saw that scene in Marco Polo. I’m so glad insight struck me and I’m so glad to be alive. It showed the distortion of my own thoughts and the burden I self-imposed.

I didn’t believe in magic but I most certainly do now. When my perspective changed, the shame (past and present) around the appearance of my belly left. Literally vanished into thin air.

You know, I’ve spent my whole life avoiding my belly being exposed because no matter how it looked it was never good enough. When I was a child my torso was too thin, grown-ups worried about whether I was eating enough. When it was flat it wasn’t good enough because when I sit down I still have rolls. When my skin was smooth and supple it wasn’t good enough because I didn’t have abs. I spent much of my life sucking in and trying to fit into tiny-waisted jeans.

But now, now that it’s saggy, full of stretch marks and wrinkles, I have never felt more at home in my belly. And my C-section scar? It looks like a smile. This doesn’t mean I’ll always feel fantastic, I’m sure I’ll struggle some days, but – I’ll know better.

You don’t get it until you do.
It will be difficult until it’s not.
But when that insight comes, the transformation is instant.
And your perspective is changed forever.

We’re all struggling with something. Maybe your struggle is also related to pregnancy, birth, post-partum, your body… I sincerely hope you trust that whatever you’re going through is not a mistake, and with much ferocity I hope that an insight is on its way to you.

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