Not The Birth I Wanted, But The Birth I Needed

10 months ago I had an emergency C-section.

I didn’t want a C-section. At all.

I know that will make some people angry to hear because, “a healthy mom and a healthy baby is the most important thing.”

YES. It is the most important thing, but it’s not the only thing.

When you talk to a mom whose birth did not go as planned or was perhaps a bit traumatic (or a LOT traumatic), I ask that you keep this in mind.

My birth wasn’t the birth I planned for.

It was, however, the birth that changed how I connect with women and my clients in the To Pregnancy & Beyond program about pregnancy, their birth experiences, and being moms.

This is why I’ll be forever grateful I went through it. Even though I hated it, initially.

My C-section completely changed how I view birth and what the “best” way might be to birth your baby.

It turns out, the best way for my baby to be born was not the natural, home-birth I hoped for.

It was hard to admit that to myself in those early days and weeks postpartum, but I needed this experience to see that.

I did all the things to prepare for my baby’s ‘as-natural-as-safe’ birth. To be honest, all the things to avoid a C-section.

I did these things to lower the risk of interventions. I did everything I could to let labor and birth happen naturally to give our baby good outcomes.

I exercised regularly. I walked. I squatted. I had the best birth team with low C-section rates. I was in the care of midwives and we hired a doula. My husband was fully supportive of a home birth.

I read Ina May and Hypnobirthing books. I’ve heard 100s of varied birth stories (seriously) from moms around the world. The birthing pool was set up in our living room. The tens machine was ready to go. I went to a wonderful chiro and physio. Baby was in the best position.

I did all the things you’re “supposed to do”.

I thought if I did those things than how could the birth NOT happen how I wanted it to happen?

I prepared as best I could mentally. I felt calm, comfortable, supported, strong.

I felt like I did everything.

And then, after 37 hours of (challenging and empowering) labor, 30+ of those hours at home, our sweet little bub was born via C-section, by the most incredible team in hospital.

Steele with doctors

It was hard after and not just the physical recovery. And, for the record, the physical recovery from a C-ection is damn hard.

I asked myself  WHY a lot.

Why did it happen that way? Why was baby Steele under so much distress towards the end? Why didn’t my body do what it “was made to do”?

There were a lot of  WHAT IFs, too.

What if we had gone to the hospital earlier? And, the one that still haunts me sometimes, what if we had gone to the hospital later?

It’s not that those things aren’t important to think through – they are. But, they’re not hard to talk about now. It doesn’t consume my thoughts like it did the first 6 weeks. It’s not a story I want to avoid or hide from.

I know that it all happened the way it did because it needed to.

It needed to, to change my mindset.

If I can be totally honest with you, I needed a change in my mindset about the natural birthing community.

While I was and am so incredibly proud of my friends and clients however their births happen, for myself, I had set these standards of a natural birth being the best birth.

Going through my C-section and recovery has allowed me to release those standards for myself.

In fact, I’ve turned it into such a positive experience for me, that I’m glad it happened the way it did. It’s taken work to be in this place.

Last week my husband told me that if we have another baby he thinks I will have another C-section.

Here’s what I loved about that: it doesn’t hit me as bad, negative, or as any sort of “my body failed at birth” feelings.

He told me, “You raised a baby in your body. That’s birth.” How true that is?

If we ever have another baby, I’m sure I’ll plan for a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean). I’ll be with midwives again. But, if we were to end up in a C-section again, it would be ok. I don’t feel that my body has anything to prove or to live up to.

I would be at peace with that.

I wouldn’t have been able to say and mean that a year ago. Now, I can.

Jessie and Randy Labor Tuesday AM Black and White

Literally, was falling asleep between contractions at this point! The body is incredible.

There’s lots of ways to birth a baby. C-sections are one way. A really wonderful way. A way I’m so grateful for.

C-sections aren’t bad. They’re not a lesser birth. They are not worse than a natural birth and a natural birth is not better than a C-section.

It’s ok that things didn’t go as planned. And, it’s ok to not feel ok about it, too.

One of the best side effects of my C-section is *getting* that physical, mental, and emotional experience.

The stuff of birth and motherhood is universal, and then layer on top of that an emergency C-section? That’ll bond you verrrrry quickly.

Experiencing that physical recovery. Starting to exercise again. Being able to lift weights. Being able to run up the stairs two at a time to get my daughter when she wakes up from a nap – literally, the only running I do 😉
It’s the little things that are the big things.

I needed to go through the tough stuff to better coach moms through their recoveries and to help them feel strong and capable in their bodies again.

I had been coaching moms for years prior, but there’s nothing like FEELING that physical recovery to make you *get* what it’s like and what the body really needs.

More than that? It made me a mom.

And, that has been so powerful in creating stronger bonds with my mama clients, too.

The work I do with the moms in the To Pregnancy & Beyond online fitness program is some of the most rewarding of my life. I don’t take it for granted for one second. It’s such a powerful opportunity to connect with moms around the world through fitness, food, and friendship.

The experiences I’ve had and the experiences they’ve had, and are going through right now, tie us together. Life stuff that goes way beyond some squats and lunges – although plenty of those happen too 😉

Jess

For an example of the safe strength training I coach pregnant women and moms through, see here