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Dealing With Cesarean Scars

Dealing With Cesarean Scars

Rebecca shares a beautiful reflection on her c-section scarring.

I don’t actively go out of my way to look at my scar. I don’t hide its existence, but I just don’t fuss over it either. It is there, under a little flap on my tummy, hiding until I straighten myself out to peer at it in the mirror.

I didn’t always look this way. My tummy was once flat, though anyone who had only just met me in the last 4 years would be forgiven for thinking otherwise.

I recently enjoyed reading some stories of old friends experiencing success in their careers, unhindered by children and able to progress to the peak of their industries. I get more time to read about these things on Facebook while I feed my 4-month old as I put her to sleep, lying on my side and stroking her hair as she drifts off.

I wouldn’t exchange her, or my son, for any success in the world; and so I can say confidently and clearly that I have only happiness for these people. There are no “what ifs” or “maybes”. There is only joy and excitement.

Are you waiting for the “But…”? It’s not there. If I learned anything from having children, it’s that comparing success is a dangerous road, which inevitably leads to hurt for one or both parties.

So I stood up tonight and actively looked at my scar for the first time after having my daughter. It’s been four months. It’s still red, and is joined by the little skin flap and array of stretch marks that appeared three years ago after having my son through the same scar.

Both of my children were born by “elective cesarean”, though to say it was an elective choice is a lie. My son was born through a cut in my stomach after 36 hours of labor with no progression. I was given the option to continue labor, but after being told the safest option was to wheel into surgery, I agreed with the doctor’s suggestion and jumped on the trolley towards the surgery room.

People like to tell you when swapping birth stories (sometimes dangerous ground to tread) that they always have a friend who pushed through 36-hour labors, and against the odds had a vaginal birth that was “the most amazing experience a person could have”. Every time I hear these stories I have to remind myself that I chose what was right for me. My son’s birth involved me lying paralyzed on a surgery table, discussing kindergarten options with the surgery nurse whose son was about to enter school. Then my body started thrashing in what I later found out was shock from blood loss. Then the doctors did some stuff, and then I held my son. Then they weighed him, and I held him again while my husband cried with joy and I just made gulping sounds of joy in a greyish state. It’s not the almighty experience that vaginal birth stories have led me to believe.

My son is now 3. He is witty, cheeky, clever and naughty. I have never been more euphoric than when we sit and talk about his day for the single minute that he can stand to sit before running off again to play or explore everything in his environment. He is simply everything and all I could ever dream he could be.

He likes my tummy. He thinks the stretch marks make an excellent road for his mini trains and seems to assume they are ‘”pretty” before he will become socially programmed to be repulsed by them (I dread the day and work with everything in my power to prevent it).

He was recently diagnosed with asthma. My friend, who loves and is loved by my children, let me in on some medical facts she learned from her midwife mama: “Did you know cesarean babies are 90% more likely to get asthma due to not getting their lungs squeezed in the birth canal?” She asked. She didn’t mean for it to hurt; and if she knew, she would have been devastated. But it’s not uncommon for people to assume you were just totally cool to have a c-section and that it was all sweet.

Did my birth decision cause my son to end up hospitalized and struggling to breathe because I chose to be wheeled into that surgery?

My daughter came out of the same scar. They reopened it for her. She was breech and I had an “incompetent pelvis” (what a name!), which made it hard for her to engage and come down the canal naturally. So again, I “chose” to get on the trolley. I “chose” to get a syringe in my spine. I “chose” to risk going into shock again and needing a blood transfusion, and I chose what was medically deemed the safest way to bring my daughter into the world with the extenuating circumstances. If the doctor said that my leg was in the way and could risk my child’s safety during childbirth, you could bet your bottom dollar I would be hopping out of that hospital with my kids.

So tonight I stared at my scar. I took a photo of it. I marveled that this little cut bought my children into the world and made my life complete. I called in my husband to look too. He said what I was thinking without me saying a word – “Can you believe you bought our children into the world through that scar? It’s one of my favorite parts of you.”

I started going to the gym. I would like my tummy to be less wide and a little flatter. No matter how many crunches, sit-ups or planks I do, those stretch marks will stay. No amount of shea oil will wipe away my scar. I love it and I wouldn’t change it for anything in the world, because it made my world complete.

My Postpartum Body {A Poem}

My Postpartum Body {A Poem}

Once upon a time,
My skin was smooth.post partum belly
Unscarred.
It stretched trimly
Over firm muscles
And created soft dips down between bones.
My hips were tight and narrow.
My breasts were small and neat.

But with the energy of new life,
Every cell in my body was changed
And forgot the old ways of being.

Things became displaced…
My skin stretched over growing life.
It tore under the power and energy of my baby.
My hips moved apart to enable birth,
Creating a passage to travel.
My breasts grew, and the skin tore there too.

I birthed twice.

My body was scarred from two knivespost partum belly and babyThat created new passages for my baby to travel.
Once across my abdomen.
Once across my perineum.

I birthed twice.
And now I am a mother.
And I am softer. And I have more give,
In my mind and in my body.

My skin is loose,
As it reaches over my body.
Marks from stretching create
Deep crevices and silvery trails.
Like a road map showing the journey
My baby and I trekked to get to where we are today.

My breasts continue the work of my body.
Protecting.
Full of life. Full of love.
Flowing with energy.
Creating a bond impossible to replicate.

I have two scars.
Two marks from when I birthed; my birthmarks.
They were touched by new life.
Within them is a memory:
Those scars tell of the final times my babies were within me.
They tell the story of birth,
and the moments my babies existed in two worlds.

My hips are wider.
They have held the weight of my children.
They have held my whole world.

I created life.
If I was a scientist, I’d get a nobel prize.
But I am a woman, which is infinitely better.
My prize knowing that I made my girls
From two single cells.
I grew them.
My body grew them.
And for that, my body deserves grace.
Respect. Admiration.
Love.
It created life.
It created pure perfection.
And because of that
My body is perfect.
And my body deserves to be loved.

My body deserves to be loved.

My body deserves my love.

candj

Cesarean Birth Matters

Cesarean Birth Matters

You know, I have see this picture of an apple shredded up and the statement about how only a healthy baby matters. It’s making the point that it’s not OK when people say that your birth and your body don’t matter. I AGREE with that statement. Birth DOES matter. HOWEVER, I completely disagree with the picture (related to cesarean birth only). I have seen it passed around to try and make cesarean moms feel bad that they did not have natural birth.

Having had 2 cesareans and 3 VBA2Cs (two of them at home, unassisted), I do not find a picture regarding a cesarean mom ripped to shreds, appropriate. I understand the point trying to be made, but this approach can be seen as offensive to many cesarean mamas.

I DO think birth matters, but with that, cesarean birth matters too and they are not all horrible experiences.

That would be the same as someone making a picture like this regarding women who have vaginal births and what it does to their vaginas.

All types of birth *can* be informed and empowering experiences. Birth Matters, Healthy Baby Matters, YOU Matter…regardless of how you birth.

Now, here are some REAL examples of cesarean scars from BWF mothers.

Here are some lovely BWF moms (and dads) with their babies after their cesareans.

So please, be supportive and thoughtful to our cesarean mamas and babies, too.

All photos belong to the parents. Do not copy or use. Last picture captured by Mae Burke Photography.

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