***I give you fair warning, this is a birth stories rant and i make no apology for it. Those of a delicate disposition should look away now. This rant is not at a single person i know, but its boiled over in me with the anger i felt at some list conversations i read today. I’m putting it here because i really hope someone who needs to will read it***
One of the many things that Victoria Beckham and i have in common is that we have both had 3 caesareans. Admittedly, the more obvious things about VB are NOT the things we have in common, fame, fortune and fabulous figure being three of them, but the things are there.
If there is one thing i’ve felt sorry for VB because of, its that she has had to live out her births in the media spotlight and there is nothing like an elective section for bringing out the oh-so-perfect-fanatic in some people it seems. Damn VB for having a section for a first breech baby, damn her for having them at The Portland, damn her for not being brave/better informed/perfect/ a role model/ an earth mother; damn her for taking Doctors Orders and Doctors Advice. Just lets damn her everywhere, in the press, on websites, on, i’m ashamed to say, support groups that are supposed to be “with woman.” If she had a just passable reason for her first section, a breech, she had no excuse for going with elective the second time. She should have stood up and demanded a vbac for number 2, how DARE she have an on demand elective this time, how dare she go out of her way to want privacy in hospital, when the world can’t wait to hear her milk come in, how dare she just want to do it her way. HOW dare SHE?????
Well, i’ll tell people something about elective sections and any other sort of section. I’ll tell them something about only finding out too late you were uninformed and not ready for it all. I wasn’t. I thought i was well informed when i was expecting Fran. I had a book, i read it. I was terrified. I didn’t think much about anything except how scared i was of all that degradation and pain. Birth didn’t sound like anything to be enjoyed to me, it sounded like something to get through and endure – and my god i endured. I only found out i’d been uninformed afterwards, when the reality of the moment when i screamed “yes” to the offer of a section really hit me. When i realized that i hadn’t been prepared and i hadn’t known what i was doing and that having no peer group to discuss it with and no inofrmation i understood had let me down badly. Yes if i ‘d known that a homebirth was possible, maybe i wouldn’t have been in this mess now – but i didn’t. I believed what i was told. How stupid of me. How stupid of VB to believe the people who are supposed to help her.
And it wasn’t much better for Maddy, i didn’t know i was planning a VBAC, i didn’t know it had a name, i didn’t know the risks, i didn’t know to be afraid or excited or gung-ho or anything else. I didn’t even have a book for that one, no email lists, no supportive midwife, not even a leaflet. I didn’t even know if it could be done without dying. I clung to a loony need to give birth and luckily it went well – more luckily than anything because i daresay i uttered “I’ll give birth if it kills me” without realizing what i was saying. I went for that VBAC without giving Max or Fran a second thought. It wasn’t a considered decision. It was self-preservation.
But if i’d been paying people, if i’d thought i was in the best place money could buy, if more than anything i had wanted privacy and quiet and a chance to be “just a new mum” – if my carers had made my first section a good one, would i have gone after it? Would i have deserved to be pilloried for NOT wanting a VBAC? Where does a VB go for VBAC support these days anyway? An email list? A website, an IM? and hope to god you can trust them?
I’m all for VBACs, of course i am. I know every feeling i’ve felt backwards and forwards and inside out. I know i don’t actually feel that positive about the one i had, i feel more positive about the labour i finally got with Josie where i finally got to be in control. I feel more positive about that because i chose to hang on to feeling that experience just for what it was. But i don’t go around belittling people who don’t want/ didn’t try/ didn’t know. Lack of information is just that, lack of information. Choices and decisions are another thing. I’m not a lesser person because i only did it once, i’m not a lesser person because when it came to it, my courage gave out before my body did. I’ve got better things to worry about now than exactly how or why or via what route. I’m a mum. And so is VB. And it makes me sick to my stomach to see someone laughed at because of the decisions she made in giving birth. Especially by people who should know better. Stupid columnists who write “too posh to push,” which imho only serves to show they know fuck all about it, people who make remarks that they’ve heard she wanted to keep herself nice “down there” for DB, people who say she didn’t want to risk having a contraction. People who would empathise and sympathise and support anyone else, but when it’s a celebrity its okay to trash them.
Well maybe she was just scared. Maybe she got so frightened the first time that the breech thing was the perfect way out. Maybe she went with the flow the second time because she didn’t know what to do and a million things pushed her this way and that. Maybe they opened her up that time and found a hole and that killed it for her forever in her head. Maybe she hasn’t stopped crying since, this time. Maybe she would have loved a vbac this time but she’s had a hell of a year and her marriage is a bit rocky and she was terrified of doing a labour in front of someone she isn’t totally together with at the moment but was frightened to push him away too. Maybe she really didn’t fancy it and doesn’t give a monkeys. Maybe DB feels a bit like Max and more than anything can’t bear to see stress and strain and feel all the fear that he and i felt in the two weeks before Josie was born. Its the type of mother we are that should matter to everyone else, not the type of birther.
Maybe people should shut up and leave her alone, let the births of her children be the one thing she doesn’t have to have on show or be looked at for. Yes she made her lifestyle choices, she lives her life in view but somethings ought to be sacred. Because if its all right to snigger at VB, maybe its all right to snigger at me.
Caesareans are not an easy way out – if you are too posh to push, are you too posh to lie around unable to change your own pad, while your wee drains into a bag, a drain hauls out moisture from a weepy, oozy wound and makes you scream when its removed? Shall i slice a few people across the abdomen and then hand them a newborn to look after? Shall i take away an experience and say “you cannot EVER have that and neither money or begging will get it for you?” If people think they wanted a labour to end because it hurt, you want to try discovering your baby is out in the air and you didn’t even feel it. You want to try hearing a baby cry and not realizing its yours. Or never seeing a cord still connected to your body, or being the first to hold the child you grew. You might like to try having your husbands terrified face as the only thing to focus on while you feel the worst you have ever felt in your whole life. You might like to try actually being envious of a splash of blood on a wall that is left over from someone else’s homebirth. Yep, i’m that pathetic. If VB went into her first section uninformed, you can bet your life she didn’t go into the other ones quite so naive.
And yes, today was the day i got upset about it.