I'm a woman of small stature. I've never been in the "above average" category for anything really - except during pregnancy, and possibly my aptitude for food consumption.
You see, I'm one of those anomalies, one of those women that somehow manages to grow babies that are too large for their bodies. No matter how many times someone says to me "Your body won't grow a baby bigger than it can handle", it doesn't change the fact for me, I just do.
Now to be fair, I'm not yet at the end of my third pregnancy, so time will tell. However, all the usual indicators are there. The ones that point towards another gigantic offspring growing in my ever-stretching uterus. The growth scans are on par with the OB's best guess, and the fundal height is off the charts, as per usual.
Up until this point, everything was smooth sailing, and we had a plan. Together with my OB, we were confident that it could still be done, and we would work on an early induction. We were hoping to ensure a slightly smaller baby, and a somewhat natural delivery (just to clarify, my second was born suffering mild should dystocia at 39 weeks).
Except suddenly, all of that changed. Suddenly the "C" word was being thrown around. Suddenly I was faced with the prospect of a caesarean delivery.
I'm not sure what it is about that word that instills such fear in me, and I don't just mean fear for the physical. I also mean fear of judgment, shame, and guilt.
But why do I feel this way? Why does the idea of birthing a baby this way bring up such negative feelings? Given the facts, and the risk factors I could be facing, why should I even be giving it a second thought? Why is birth shame even a thing in this day and age?
Isn't safely bringing a baby into the world enough, without having to worry about the "how"?
I come from a family of "birthing machines", women who pride themselves on the fact that they can have quick, relatively uncomplicated labours, without the use of, or need for, pain relief. Yet somehow my body missed the memo. I didn't get the quick, uncomplicated labours, and I certainly haven't made it through them without the use of pain relief. I wear the badge of two induced, heavily managed, drugged up labours. Certainly not what many might think of as the "ideal labour".
I feel like there's such a pressure on women to be birthing pros. We're constantly being told things like, "Women have been doing this for thousands of years", "Women don't know how to deal with pain anymore", "We're losing the ability to give birth naturally".
And many of those may in fact be true. But the more I think about it, the more I realise how lucky I am to be living in 2017, with the options I have in front of me. Even though I have these underlying fears relating to how a caesarean birth is perceived, I'm glad I have an option that doesn't leave my baby at the kind of risk it could potentially face.
Decisions are yet to be made. I still have a number of weeks to go, so we'll just see what cards we've been dealt when the time comes. But I feel like I should be able to face this decision without fear of any kind of emotional backlash. We all should. We should all be able to birth our babies in whichever way we can, safely.
The mummas who have the drug-free water births should be able to tell their stories without fear of sounding smug to others. The mummas who don't want to feel a thing, and opt for that blissful epidural, I salute you (and totally feel your pain ... or lack there of) - you should be able to enjoy that pain-free labour. To the caesarean mummas who may have given up a dream of that empowering drug free birth because things didn't quite go to plan, you're so much braver than you're given credit for and I praise you.
I'm working on a plan to own whichever route we choose. After all, there are many things worse than ending up with a beautiful baby and a healthy mum at the end.