To All My Fellow C-Section Mamas

What do I remember about that moment? I still ask myself, nearly five years later.

I remember a deep sense of sadness.

I remember a disappointment so acute it left me without words.

I remember wanting to scream–actually wanting to cry first, then scream.

I remember feeling like a failure.

We’re going to have to do a C-section, the doctor said.

It’s that moment where, after laboring for 32 hours, I tilt my head upward, confused and deliriously tired, to look at my husband, who’s at my side. I want confirmation that I heard the doctor correctly. He nods.

In those hours, I had gone from progressing to pushing… all to wind up here. In the very spot I didn’t want to be. The only place, I told myself, where if I worked hard enough, I wouldn’t be.

And yet…

I wanted to beg the doctor for one more hour—one more minute, even—of pushing. I wanted this to turn out in the way I wanted.

But all I did was force myself to calm down, gather my thoughts, and say, “Okay.”

I chose to let it be okay, even though every part of my soul wanted to fight it.

I thought about all the times in my life I used my words to get what I wanted—the times I flung words out of frustration; the times I debated and devil’s advocate-d my way through discussions to end up in the exact spot I wanted to be in; the times I cajoled and convinced and verbal-ninja’d my way into or out of any given outcome. But one thing was clear in this instance; no number of words were going to change what was best for me and my baby.

So I put on my damn big girl pants and trusted my wonderful doctor. And I made the choice to be okay.

Now that I look back, I realize I learned the Cardinal Rule of Motherhood that I actually before my child was even born: What we want sometimes doesn’t matter.

It took me a long time to admit to myself that I actually had to mourn my first delivery. I didn’t want to seem shallow and I thought admitting that disappointment made me so. But when I reflected on my labor and delivery in those first few weeks postpartum, I felt angry.

Over and over again, I played a fictional loop in my mind of a labor and delivery that never was. In my mind’s eye, I watched myself take my new baby—still bloody and wailing—from my waist to lay on my chest, and cried.

I asked myself questions–so many questions–about how I ended up “there.” Having a baby “the easy way.”

What could I have done differently?

What went wrong?

Then came the stage where I turned outward for answers. I reached out to other women I knew who had emergency c-sections. And I pelted them with questions:

Were you disappointed?

How long did it take you to heal? No, I don’t mean physically.

Are you upset you had to have one?

And then–as lessons of this sort go–I moved on. Eventually I accepted the very beautiful, very unique, way my son was born. I owned my story, my struggle, and today I take more pride than I ever thought I would in our birth story. And here’s what I took away: I’m proud.

I was strong–physically and emotionally. I adapted. I asked more of my body than I ever thought it could do, and my body and I made it through. And after all of that, I listened to the person who knew best, the person whose goal it was to get my baby into this world safely, and I trusted her–my doctor. And she delivered–literally and figuratively.

And now that I have the benefit of hindsight, I see that what I thought at the time was a massive disappointment was actually a major victory, because of one simple thing: I made a choice to be okay.

It was that simple: Being okay was a choice.

And I’ve made that same choice in other difficult circumstances many times since then.

When my son is old enough to understand, I will tell him that I fought to get him here. That I spent 34 hours of laboring, pushing and pain to get him safely into the world. And I will tell him that even though my plan didn’t go as planned, it still turned out perfectly–exactly the way it should have been, dare I say.

And I will always be grateful to my son for the lesson he never intended to teach me–a lesson I’m certain countless mamas get every day, against their will, too.

So let me tell you this, fellow C-section moms: You are strong. You looked difficulty in the face, faced it, and you marched on. Silently, fighting, however you did it? You did it. And you have your beautiful baby to show for all your work, and to thank for making you someone stronger than you ever thought you could be.


Every birth story is special. I’d love to hear more about yours, too. Please chime in in Comments below!

P.S. Now you probably understand why I gave up on birth plans, and 5 things “they” don’t tell you about childbirth.

Sonni Abatta runs this Orlando lifestyle and mom blog, and she hates writing in third person yet somehow finds herself doing it every time she writes one of these little mini bio things. Anyhow, want to work together? Let’s! Reach out here.

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11 thoughts on “To All My Fellow C-Section Mamas

  1. So very timely since my daughter had an emergency C section on Saturday, All are fine now, but as a mother sitting in the waiting room and not knowing what is happening and why- it was the scariest feeling in the world.. This is one of you articles I will make sure she reads.

  2. I too am a c-section momma. I always https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/a304463f3d834946d71ebc804881fa2cf4cbbc81d55356c8ba50e811dc28bc01.jpg pictured how “that day” would go and never imagined that’s how it would turn out. I watched a baby story and those mommas labored for hours and walked the halls. I never had that opportunity.
    My water ruptured at 1:42am and never went into true labor until they started Pitocin at 7am. I labored until about 8:30pm and then the doctor did and ultrasound and decided it was time to start thinking about a c-section because I wasn’t progressing and he decided now was not the time to make an entrance! Everything was happening so fast.
    After the surgery, I too found myself questioning what could have been done differently, could we have waited longer or tried a different position, but in the end the doctor did what he felt was right for both of us. I later learned that once the water breaks the doctor only has roughly 12 hours to deliver the baby before infection begins to set in. Again, I thought I had all the time in world to labor! I’ve seen a baby story and I’m an expert! Ha…ya right!
    I felt as though I had let my family down. My sister had to have two c-sections as well and I thought was going to “rock” this labor and delivery thing! My mother was going to be so proud that she had a grandchild born naturally. I now know I didn’t let my family down. I did what was best for my child. I feel like I tried really hard to bring him into this world naturally, but he had other plans! I labored for hours; I went through the motions of delivery and still wound up wearing the scar of c-section.
    I am not ashamed. I am strong! I tried my best and every time I see my scar I am reminded of how strong I am.

    • I too am a c-section momma. I always pictured how “that day” would go and never imagined that’s how it would turn out. I watched a baby story and those mommas labored for hours and walked the halls. I never had that opportunity.
      My water ruptured at 1:42am and never went into true labor until they started Pitocin at 7am. I labored until about 8:30pm and then the doctor did and ultrasound and decided it was time to start thinking about a c-section because I wasn’t progressing and he (the baby) decided now was not the time to make an entrance! Everything was happening so fast.
      After the surgery, I too found myself questioning what could have been done differently.? Could we have waited longer or tried a different position, but in the end the doctor did what he felt was right for both of us. I later learned that once the water breaks the doctor only has roughly 12 hours to deliver the baby before infection begins to set in. Again, I thought I had all the time in world to labor! I’ve seen a baby story and I’m an expert! Ha…ya right!
      I felt as though I had let my family down. My sister had to have two c-sections as well and I thought was going to “rock” this labor and delivery thing! My mother was going to be so proud that she had a grandchild born naturally. I now know I didn’t let my family down. I did what was best for my child. I feel like I tried really hard to bring him into this world naturally, but he had other plans! I labored for hours; I went through the motions of delivery and still wound up wearing the scar of c-section.
      I am not ashamed. I am strong! I tried my best and every time I see my scar I am reminded of how strong I am.

      • Amen, sister. You *are* strong, and you *did* rock that delivery. It’s hard to reconcile our expectations with reality when it comes to this subject in particular, because as you know, when we become moms what we want moves down on the list. 😀 I’m so, so glad you shared your story. The more we all can share our experiences, the better I hope we can make other mamas feel! xo

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