Updated: Jun 1
I've had so many people reach out with the most lovely, positive messages about c-sections over the past week, for which I can't thank you enough. However, I feel like I didn't explain myself very well as a few got in touch to say they are sorry I'm feeling so bad about it. I should say, I don't feel particularly strongly either way about how I give birth. As far as I can see neither a vaginal birth or a c-section is the 'easy' option. For me, childbirth has always been about working out the most safe, calm and positive way for my baby to be delivered.
Looking back though, my reaction to the c-section news definitely came across as it not being what I wanted, so I spent some time try to work out exactly why I felt so emotional about the news. At first it was definitely fear of the unknown. While I know no two labours are the same, with a vaginal birth I would have an idea of what to expect - the process your body goes through and what happens in hospital. That familiarity, for want of a better word, felt reassuring. My body has done it once, and I knew it could do it again.
Trigger: Baby loss
But more so than not knowing what to expect, I realised the main reason I feel so apprehensive about a c-section is the being in theatre bit. The last time I was in theatre was for a surgical miscarriage in the summer of 2019, and now every time I hear the word or see a picture of a theatre, I am transported back to the moments before the general anaesthetic kicked in and our baby's remains were surgically removed from my body.
This was in the very same hospital, in the very same maternity department that our baby girl will soon be born in. And I'm struggling to break my mind's vivid memories of being wheeled past parents leaving hospital with their newborns, heartbroken and sobbing as I entered theatre.
I realise this outcome of this surgery will be very, very different. The polar opposite, in fact, and that's what I need to focus on. But I'm also very aware that just the environment might trigger some of those baby loss memories, and remind me of just how badly things can go, at any stage of pregnancy, which is 100 per cent why I feel more apprehensive about it.
It took me a long time to even think about trying for another baby after the trauma of losing one. With miscarriage came a grief that eases with time but never leaves, but it became ever present when I fell pregnant again. With every scan and every midwife appointment there was always an added anxiety that something might have gone wrong again, and while it got easier to manage the further the pregnancy progressed, there's still a sense of apprehension that will never fully go away.
Anxiety reframed as excitement (well, trying to)
Eamo asked me last night if I'm excited about the baby being born and I felt awful because I hesitated for a second. While I can't wait to meet her, I have so many other things swimming around in my head that often anxiety outweighs the excitement. Will recovery go ok? Will Rex be affected and when will I be able to be 'normal' mum for him again? Will mine and Rex's relationship change? Will mine and Eamo's relationship change? Will I suffer with postnatal depression again? How will a new baby affects the dynamics in the household? Honestly, the list goes on...
However as I write all of the above down, I'm reminded that there is so much there that I cannot control, and worrying about it now makes no difference to what the outcome might be. The best thing about all of this is how much more aware I am of what I'm feeling and how I can use my own experiences and coping techniques I've learnt along the way to help adjust my mindset before the birth. For example, working to reframe any anxiety and fear I feel about my upcoming c-section as excitement at meeting my little girl and the privilege of getting to spend some real quality time with her in those first few days is already working wonders.
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