Guest post by Kim Opitz
I am not normal.
I don’t know if it’s something about my DNA, my destiny, or just a stubborn and persistent abhorrence of being called “typical”, but I can confidently say that my reproductive history has a delightful track record of bucking the norm. That film we saw in fourth grade, and the box of maxi-pads they sent home with us? It was another six years before I ever needed to draw on that complimentary supply of data and napkins.
The training bras I stashed in the back of my closet in grade school? Put to better use as cleaning rags for the same period of time.
I have never been normal.
Oh, don’t get me wrong. Early in my first pregnancy I was diagnosed with a heart-shaped uterus and told I might never carry to term (POINT! – awarded to the reproductive system!). But the miscarriage that sometimes happens with a first pregnancy? That didn’t pass me by.
Pregnant a second time, I had visions of my belly swelling out grotesquely to one side of my body (since the pregnancy was in the ‘right’ side, as they told me). Thankfully, that didn’t happen.
The other thing that didn’t happen was the early labor, long walk in the mountains with my beloved. Pausing to lean against his mighty embrace with each contraction. At least, that’s what I expected after the video we saw in childbirth preparation class. Instead, my body – overachiever it is – had to one-up me by starting contractions 6 minutes apart. [POINT! Reproductive system!]
After 22 hours of labor, and a baby who basically peeked her little head out, waved, winked and darted back inside, the unplanned c-section was a blessing and a relief. My daughter arrived wailing, healthy and happy. And all was right in the world.
My c-section recovery was a breeze and I never regretted that it happened.
By the time I was in my third pregnancy, I adopted the attitude of “Be ready for anything.” Yeah, right.
My second child came screaming into our lives and ran headfirst into a shut door. Well, kind of. The exact terms would be “precipitous birth” and “shoulder dystocia”. Other terms that accompanied her “firemen in my bathroom”, “ambulance-riding”, “our doula will never get here in time” birth included “retained placenta” and “manual removal”.
And when the quiet, purple baby girl was carried away from me and put on a table to be slowly pinked up…
I didn’t care.
Something in me was torn apart, and I’m not just talking about my crotch.
My VBAC was terrifying, and the recovery was incredibly long and agonizing. I looked back at the c-section with envy.
I’ve never looked at my baby girl with resentment because of our birth experience, but I’ve sometimes looked at her with sorrow because we had such a rough introduction. (Okay, peeing my pants when I laugh also reminds me of her birth, but you didn’t want to know that, did you?)
Just like my unpredictable reproductive cycle, motherhood has been equally surprising—and rewarding.
I am educated. I am informed. I believe in and support natural birth.
I am also planning a c-section.
When I tell you that yes, I am planning a natural, woman-centered caesarean section to welcome our third child this summer, I say it with hope. Hope for reclaiming a sense of peace, comfort, and trust with my body. Hope for something that heals the exhaustion and terror of the other two births
Hope that you will recognize me as a capable, intelligent, and informed woman
A woman with the right to choose how and where she gives birth, just like the woman who chooses a midwife and delivery at a birth center. Just like the woman who chooses a natural birth, with no medication. Or the one who gives birth in a tub, in her living room
I am just like them, because I have made this choice for myself and my baby. And even though this birth will most likely NOT include a walk on the mountain, I’m quite positive that the experience will be just as spectacular.
I will have my mountain.