Born, But Not Given Birth

There have been lots of struggles in these first weeks of parenthood. Breastfeeding, Nappies. Sleep. All the obvious contenders.

But right now the thing that I’m still struggling with above all else is coming to terms with how Thomas came in to the world.

I’m both proud and endlessly grateful that he made it here safe and sound and healthy and normally sized, unscathed by his exposure to my chronic health problems and medication whilst in utero. Of course I am. A healthy baby is obviously the most important outcome of any pregnancy. I would not trade that for anything, and especially not just an “ideal” birth experience. But perhaps I feel so let down because there is nothing to suggest that a trade off would have had to be made. I did not have an “emergency” caesarean, where mine or Thomas’s lives or health was at risk. There were no signs that he was unhappy in there. I simply had an uncooperative cervix and a baby who was not yet ready to make his way in to the world.

The issue was forced. Because modern medicine said it was the best thing to do. Because modern medicine can interfere.

And who am I to argue with modern medicine, when it’s the only reason I‘m here at all, never mind able to have a child. It’s easy to forget that less than a century ago, diabetes was not the incurable chronic condition it is today, but an acute, fatal illness. Almost my entire life has been borrowed time that nature did not intend me to have.

I know all these things. I am suitably thankful. But it does not change the fact that Thomas was born, but I did not give birth to him. I did not bring him in to the world myself.

I’m dependent on modern medicine for my very survival. I wanted to be able to do this thing on my own. Quite aside from all the fear and anxiety about spinal anaesthesia and caesareans that I felt before the experience, in addition to all of that, I simply wanted to give birth vaginally – actually give, like a gift, birth to my son – and the fact that I couldn’t feels like yet another failing on my part and the part of my broken body.

I’m not usually let down by my strength of character though. I don’t take ‘no’ for an answer and when someone tells me I can’t do something, I usually do everything in my power to prove them wrong. Do it anyway.

This time, though, I failed myself and, by extension, my son. I agonised for weeks about accepting induction. I wish I had held out. The way things ended up, I could have had frequent monitoring and an emergency c-section at the first sign of trouble. Trouble that may not have come. And at least I would have known that caesarean was completely necessary and my only option.

I know that I can’t know for sure that it would have been OK to wait. But I do know that induction was not OK either.

I caught sight of the scar across my lower abdomen today. It neat and tidy, fading already. It represents the start of motherhood. Thomas’s entrance in to the world. From that point of view, it should make me smile. But every time I find myself fighting tears. It’s a visible reminder of all my failings.

I think I’ll regret this until the day I die.


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