So, I was chatting with a new Mum this week and she was telling me about her baby’s birth. After a long labour, she had an epidural, but the labour failed to progress quickly enough and my friend ended up having a c-section to deliver her little boy.
Of course, I immediately told my friend that she is a complete loser.
She looked a bit shocked, and it was a bit embarrassing the way she started to cry in the street like that. But you know what? Just because you’re the vicar’s wife doesn’t mean you don’t deserve the truth.
The truth – as I explained to her loudly enough for passers-by to hear – is that she probably won’t bond with her baby. He’ll likely struggle to breastfeed, which of course means he’ll fail his 11+ and go to a second-rate comprehensive school, where he’ll be bullied, and end up under-achieving and passing only two GCSEs, probably in subjects that don’t really count, like Art and General Studies.
Because I care enough to be honest, I explained that, sadly, I am only in a position to remain friends with women who give birth on all fours, in a water pool, surrounded by candles. Then I kicked her in the shins and walked away, taking her wallet with me. Well, she’s just had a c-section, it’s not like she’s going to run after me, is it?
Why do so many women still trot out the line about being failures because we had c-sections?
I struggled to stay pregnant so it wasn’t a surprise to me when labour didn’t proceed in the textbook manner our NCT leader had laid out for us.
So there were four days of attempted inductions and hormone drips and finding the doctor with the longest fingers (I kid you not) to break my waters and then, finally, an epidural that didn’t work. Then there was the decision to do a c-section, then a spinal block that didn’t work. Then there was a general anaesthetic. That one worked.
It was a really horrible four days. But it was a week out of my life. And nobody died.
It did make me laugh when the NCT teacher said I wasn’t the right person to come and talk to her next group about the birth, because I hadn’t had the “right” sort of experience. I think this idea that birth is some sort of “experience” that you prepare for and then do “right” or “wrong” is just laughable.
As far as I can see, if giving birth is a test for women, there are only three questions:
- Did a human baby come out?
- Was the baby alive?
- Are you alive?
Answer all three of those, and you’ve passed with flying colours. I don’t care if you were on all fours, or flat on your back with a doctor rocking you from side to side to try and spread the anaesthetic to your left side (true story), you’ve done something amazing.
By all means be upset if you feel a clinician treated you badly or made the wrong choice for you, but I don’t think that you, or your body, failed.