This month is #CaesareanAwarenessMonth and over on my Facebook page I’ve been sharing a few old posts I’ve written that details my experiences under the knife. I’m also working hard on the #MyBirthMyBody campaign for Maternity Matters, which is really exciting too. So naturally I’ve been thinking back to my own experiences in the last 11 years. Two emergency sections, one elective and one planned. I’m often asked why the differentiation between the last two? Aren’t elective sections the same as planned? And according to health care professionals, the answer would be yes. To me, a huge NO.
The difference between a planned and an elective caesarean is simple.
My third pregnancy was amazing. I was well. I was strong. I was determined. I was fighting back against the horror of my second emergency section and I had fire in my heart. I read all that I needed to read about my rights and my choices and I was well informed. I was in control. I was also under the care of an amazing medical team and it was this that determined the fate of this experience. I was listened to. I don’t write enough about how wonderful my care was third time around. Third time lucky indeed. But I was.
My doctor listened to me and when I told him that I wanted an elective c-seciton for emotional reasons, he did not miss a beat. I wasn’t questioned; my choice wasn’t challenged. Instead, I was offered support and guidance towards the best outcome for me, personally. I was given a surgery date at my 20 week scan, and a plan was put into place in case I went into labour before that date. I was more than happy with this plan and I enjoyed my pregnancy.
That was an elective c-section. Elective surgery. I elected to birth my baby this way.
And this is why a planned c-section is so very different.
My fourth pregnancy was ripped from under my feet by four letters. IUGR. A baby who was not growing as well as we hoped she would, and a body that had already been on that table three times previously. A baby who might not survive a vaginal birth, and a body that might not survive an induction. A baby who needed to come a little early, and a body who would not deliver early for anyone. Nothing was in my control. There was nothing I could do to change the situation. I couldn’t make her grow. I couldn’t protect her while she was inside of me. I couldn’t see any alternative.
So my fourth section was planned, but it was not elective.
I didn’t choose for them to cut me open. I didn’t choose to have that scar re-visited, the skin pulled apart and my body a slab on the table. I didn’t choose to be in that situation at all. And yet I was. There was no other option at all. And yet I chose! I chose to to have my last baby on the operating table. Because the other option had very weighty arguments against it. The other option had no guarantees. The other option carried too many risks.
And so when my doctor ticked the ‘elective’ box on the reason for surgery, I felt so defeated. It wasn’t elective. It was planned. A necessity. A means to an end.The only way it could be. Not elective. No choice. Not elective. No control. Not elective. No.