I was 21 when I gave birth to my daughter, Olivia. For me, pregnancy was brutal. I stand 4’11” and have never weighed over 100lb. Not only was I nauseous all day every day for my entire pregnancy, but I gained over 60lb, which was really hard on my body. I was constantly told, “There’s no way you’re going to make it to your due date.” “You look like you could pop any second now.” I was also repeatedly asked if my doctor had mentioned the possibility of a c-section. She hadn’t, and because I am incredibly stubborn and prideful (I’m working on it), I couldn’t stand these questions. I felt like everyone was doubting my ability to do the one thing my body was built to do. Yes, I am small. But I am not incapable. I was so determined to have an all natural, vaginal birth. I wanted it so badly. My mother had a c-section with my youngest brother when I was 16, but I still new very little about the operation other than the fact that I just straight up, did not want to have one.
July 12th came (4 days past my due date), and I woke up around 3am with contractions. I laid in bed for 4 hours, breathing through them, timing them, and trusting my body to do what God built it to do. I called the nurse when they were 7 minutes apart and got the green light to come in, so my husband and I grabbed the bags I packed weeks before and headed for the hospital. Everything was going like I imagined it would, just like in the movies (minus the dramatic water breaking scene), and according to plan. When I arrived at the hospital, my contractions were 2 minutes apart and I expected to go straight to the delivery room. HA, I was wrong. I waited for 45 minutes to be taken back…and then came somewhere around 16 hours of laying in a hospital bed, just waiting. I caved and got the epidural, but I laid in that bed for so long that the contractions eventually got so strong that I could feel them anyway. I just kept thinking, “okay, surely this girl will come any second now, right?” The doctor came in to check my progress every hour or so which was wild to me, because I thought the baby was coming. Suddenly the tables had turned and nothing was going the way I had planned. Nothing. Finally, the doctor came in and told me that I wasn’t making any progress and that she highly recommended I be taken back for a c-section. I was exhausted. I was numb. I was scared. I said yes, and they rolled me in to the OR. My husband stood next to me, holding my hand and I just stared at him, trying so hard to hide the fact that I was terrified. The room was freezing and though my body was mostly numb, I could feel my body shaking uncontrollably on the table. They gave me another shot, but not soon enough because I felt them slicing me open. I’ll never forget the look of horror I saw on the anesthesiologist’s face when I said “OW??” and he said, “You feel that?!” (The one funny moment during all the mess). Once that shot kicked in, I was so drugged up that everything was mostly blurry. My eyes were so heavy and my body wanted to fall asleep but I had to fight to stay awake just long enough to see my baby. I just kept my eyes on my husband as he stood up to look over the curtain and suddenly it felt like the doctor had taken a plunger to my stomach as my baby girl emerged and I heard her first cry – her scream into the world: “I’m here!” I could finally breathe and my husband carried her over to me so that I could see her. I couldn’t hold her because my body was so numb that I couldn’t control my limbs, but at the time, seeing her was enough, and so I drifted off to sleep and woke up later in my hospital room.
This is my birthing story. It wasn’t perfect. It wasn’t ideal. It wasn’t planned. I spent a lot of time wondering if I should’ve told the doctor, “No, let me try a little longer.” I felt ashamed because I wanted to come out having survived some glorious, beautiful and natural labor. I felt cheated because I didn’t get the delivery that I wanted and planned for. It’s taken me almost 2 years to fully accept and embrace that even though my story wasn’t ideal or according to plan, it was still beautiful. It was still glorious. It was still magical because it’s the story of how my sweet and tiny Olivia Mae made her entrance into the world. I am a stronger woman because of the surgery I endured. I survived a hard and scary thing and I will never let anyone, including myself, make me feel anything less than a badass, brave, STRONG and worthy mother.
For several weeks after she was born, I thought a lot about my c-section and I asked my husband question and after question, letting him fill in the blurry gaps that I had because of the drugs. I was scared and honestly mind blown that I had survived it all. Some people don’t see c-sections as a big deal, but for someone who had never experienced any kind of procedure greater than getting stitches, it was more than a big deal. But now that I have found confidence in my birthing story and am more educated when it comes to the procedure itself, I plan to opt for a c-section with my next baby. My one piece of advice to an expecting mama, is to make your plans, talk to your doctor about what YOU want for your birthing experience, but also educate yourself on the alternate possibilities that could arise. Try to prepare yourself for any and all outcomes and remember that no matter what happens, you are amazing. Carry your baby with pride and deliver your baby with pride, even if doesn’t all happen the way that you hope or plan for. Right now, I’ve got a 2 year old wild child nursing on my left side while poking me in the right nipple with a Slim Jim, and I’m not thinking about the negative parts of how she was brought into the world. I’m mostly thinking about how I wish she would put the Slim Jim down, but I’m also thinking about how thankful I am that she’s here at all. My story is HER story, and I’d be foolish to be anything but grateful.
Written with love by: Shailea Wilhite (@ollieandmama)