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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

My Response, or Why I Choose Vaginal Birth

I frequent a local mom's forum and was recently "called out" in a post by a cesarean-loving mother. In her post she said something like, "I don't care what people like vbacwarrior think. I've signed up for my repeat c-section and I don't feel guilty!" I feel so bad for her. She obviously does feel guilty or she wouldn't have felt the need for that qualifier. I worked very hard on a response-several days. I just poured my heart out to her, and I hope she feels my sincerity.

Since I’m in town for a bit and my “name” was mentioned, I thought I’d attempt a reply.

When I was planning my HBAC (home birth after cesarean) with baby #2 I was looking at songs for my birth video. Lately, some of the words of Jewel’s “Life Uncommon” have moved me

Lend your voices only to sounds of freedom
No longer lend your strength to that which you wish to be free from
Fill your lives with love and bravery
And you shall lead a life uncommon
Let your words enslave no one and the heavens will hush themselves
To hear our voices ring out clear
With sounds of freedom

So, then, I’ve decided that instead of raging against my section I will revel in the excruciating beauty of my vaginal births. Please don’t take this to mean that I don’t love my cesarean-born daughter. The Bible says, “greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” John 15:13 and when a mother consents to a section she truly, literally lays down her life. Cesareans aren’t 100% safe and the number of women dying from cesarean complications is on the rise. I took a Bradley Method class in preparation for an un-medicated hospital birth so when I consented to the section I was fully aware of the risks. I only say all of this because I have been accused here a number of times of not loving my daughter.

When I think of Caleb’s birth I think of hands and rocks. That’s what my birth attendants and family were. They were rocks to support me and hands to hold me. Though you could call Caleb’s birth a “failed homebirth attempt”, I don’t view it as such. I gave him a beautiful 40 hours of stress-free, peaceful, and intervention-free labor at home. Caleb and I walked together, rocked on the swing outside, and I prayed over him in the warmth of my birth tub. My doula encouraged me, my midwife watched over me, my husband supported me and my mother and all my sisters were witnesses to my hard, loving work. I even had sex!

Then there was Anna’s birth. I got to the hospital not knowing I was in labor, having just gone up to be “checked” because it was 3a.m. and my insomniac sister and I were awake and bored. Not only was I in labor, but I was about to give birth! I don’t even know how to describe Anna’s birth. I arrived at the hospital at 7cm and didn’t feel anything in the way of pain or intensity until 9cm. I had a birth ball put onto the bed and leaned and rocked over it until it got uncomfortable. Then I climbed up onto the bed and got on my hands and knees. It felt good and right. I felt led by…something. It was as if there was an instruction guide in my head and my body was following it and leading me along. The way my senses came alive, it was overwhelming! I could hear the tick, tick, ticking of the second hand on the clock behind me. I was intensely focused on the vein in my right hand pulsing with the same rhythm as my uterus. I cold smell the acrid, metallic bitterness of John’s glasses as he stood by (don’t touch me, just watch. Watch what’s going to happen!). I could feel Anna moving, turning, pushing her way out. She was ready, and I was ready, and it was as if she was saying to me, “quiet your mind and I’ll show you the way,” and I responded, “I’ll follow you”. My body and my mind were laid bare that morning; open wide and accepting of forces beyond their control. I wasn’t hooked up to machines. No one told me what to do or instructed me. Everyone in the room was simply a witness, as in a wedding ceremony. Do you, Becky Taylor, accept the solemn duty to birth and mother this baby, leading and following in turn, as necessary? I do…and then she was born, behind me. She was quiet for a moment and then she called out to me and I turned to face her for the first time. Those are the only moments from her conception that we’ve been emotionally separated; those few seconds before she breathed life.

As much as I adore, admire, respect and love my Sarah, my cesarean-born child, I cannot describe her birth the way I can Caleb’s and Anna’s, and that’s why I choose vaginal birth.

And P.S. I pooped. No one cared. When you’re witnessing such a painfully beautiful birth and exquisite baby girl, poop doesn’t even compare ;)
[In her post the mother had used not wanting to "poop" in labor as one of her most valid reasons for having a cesarean]


  1. Because the possibility of pooping during labor is somehow worse than the possibility of being incontinent for the rest of your life because the surgeon screws up during a section?

  2. I love the descriptions of your births! We had a woman on our VBAC board recently return with her RCS story, after an attempted VBAC. It was a little heartbreaking, there were at least 8 different times in the birth story where she said that she had NO REGRETS!, often in all capitals. She even threw in some one liner about not further endangering her baby with a VBAC. I really had nothing to add to that. :/ (Well, someone had already countered her "dangerous VBAC" quip, but all the rest was just so obvious she was trying to convince herself. I believe there can be good RCS's but that was not one of them. I hope one day she is able to face what happened.)

  3. Hi Becky - I just found your site and love it.
    I've got a question and I'm hoping you can steer me to a good resourse. I've had 7 babies, all uncomplicated vaginal deliveries in hospitals with a doc, nurse, or pediatrician who doesn't see things the way we do. While we're not pregnant now, I know it is only a matter of time. I'd like to discuss a homebirth with my husband but we've been assured by a previous doctor that post partum hemorage is a huge possibility because of all the babies I've birthed - and they always put me on pitocin right after delivery to ensure my uterus contracts. Do you know of any resources to get honest information on this possibility? I'm 35, not overweight, no health issues, and have normal deliveries and babies.
    Any help or advice would be greatly appreciated.
    Love your blog - you're such an inspiration!
    you can email me at mel (at) crazyreinvented (dot) com

  4. That is an awesome response! I feel the same way about my VBAC birth of my daughter. My c-section with my son was a planned section for breech and it was a very positive experience, but not the same. After my daughter was born so easily and powerfully, I shuddered at the thought of being cut open again.

    Also, people don't seem to get it that everyone should be able to make their own choices and if someone is happier with a repeat c-section, then great for them. However, most people don't get the full the facts to make an informed decision and many women who do want a VBAC don't have proper support. And that is what we fight for, not to make someone else feel guilty.