Living Life As A C-Section Mommy: Dealing With Judgment, Criticism, And Competition

Many c-section mommies would probably agree with me that having their babies via c-section was far from their desired delivery method. I, like many other women, dreamed of having my daughter the old fashioned way, getting that instant gratification of pushing her out and seeing her beautiful little self placed on top of my chest to share her first few minutes of life together. Unfortunately for me, this version of child birth just wasn’t in the cards for me and God had a much different plan.

As some of you might remember from my daughter’s birth story post, my reasons for having to have a c-section were far from the norm which took me even more by surprise. For nearly 8 months I had prayed for an easy delivery and it seemed as if the stars had aligned when each appointment as delivery drew near our little one was head down and ready to go. Sadly, just before Thanksgiving my doctor delivered the news that I would have to have a scheduled c-section. And with quite a few tears shed and a lot of useless begging later, we had chosen our delivery date and we were in countdown mode until baby girl would arrive.

Countdown To Our Little Girl’s Birth Day:

From the day our fate was decided for us, my world changed in more ways than I could have ever imagined. You see in my entire family and sector of friends I would become the only one to have c-section. It’s already a scary path to walk down but without friends and family who can empathize and understand what you’re feeling, it becomes even more scary and lonely. For the weeks leading up to our little girl’s birthday, in their attempts to be supportive, I had heard so many comments from friends and family trying to ease a mommy-to-be’s fears of her upcoming surgery. Unfortunately, since most of these comments came from people who hadn’t actually had a c-section before, the context didn’t hold much value for me nor the delivery hold much sincerity. 

Some of the most memorable pre-c-section comments that I can recall include:

  • “A c-section is so much easier.”
  • “It’s not as painful.”
  • “I wish I had had a c-section.”
  • “I know tons of people who have had c-sections, and it’s no big deal.”
  • “I was up and walking around the same day after I had my c-section.”

Trust me, I totally understand and believe in positive thinking, however anyone that knows me knows that I am a realist. Although I think positively constantly, I also like to know all of the facts, risks, and potential ways something can go wrong, from the good stories to the bad stories too, I want to hear them all. Unfortunately, my pool of mommy stories mostly did not include c-sections, so leading up to the day of my daughter’s birth I felt just as much fear and anxiety as I had only 3 weeks before when my doctor had delivered the news. 

And The Day Had Arrived:

When the day had finally arrived, with barely any sleep, me and baby, Daddy, my parents, and my sister were headed up bright and early to the hospital. I just remember it being a really mild December day, cool and crisp and as I approached the brand new hospital in front of me I just took a deep breath, squeezed my husbands hand a little tighter, and rubbed my belly to tell my little girl that we’d be okay. As many of you probably know from my birth story, from there things didn’t quite go as planned, which you can check out more about in my birth story post, but nonetheless by lunch time our little one had arrived. 

While the first few days of being Mommy were beautiful in every way imaginable, I also remember being extremely overwhelmed with emotion and in an extraordinary amounts of pain. Long story short, turns out that I wasn’t given the right kind of medicine for a c-section causing me to be in excruciating amounts of pain only hours after having our little girl. It was a horrible way to spend my first few days as a new mommy but thankfully just one look at my little girl made all of it seem to get better.

Because of the extra complications that I had during and after my c-section, my recovery as a whole was really tough physically not to mention the emotional toll that it took on me. I remember lying there one night in the hospital when baby and Daddy were sleeping and just feeling so angry about my situation. I just kept crying and asking God why I had to go through all that I did to become a mommy and why I was still suffering in so much pain. While I never got my answers to those questions, I am firm believer in the idea that everything happens for a reason. I truly believe that for some reason my c-section had to go the way it did, if for nothing else it made me so much stronger and prepared me for the challenges that we’d face down the road but also remind me just how lucky we were to have our precious our little girl.

My Recovery While Battling Postpartum Emotions:

Thanks to the c-section, we had an extended stay in the hospital, another downer of having a c-section. I wanted to so badly to take our little girl home immediately but I was by no stretch well enough to be on my own at home yet, so the extra few days were much needed. While we were there we had tons of visitors stopping in to meet our little one, each one hearing about our scary adventure. And while their presence was so supportive, they all expressed the same sentiment on our experience, “at least you’re both here and healthy.” This was incredibly true and I too felt enormously grateful that that was the case, but I couldn’t help but feel like it diminished my feelings at the same time. I was already so overwhelmed with my emotions postpartum as it was, the added stressor of dealing with the c-section, recovery complications, and now filtering my emotions with family and friends just took the stress to another level.

I remember during one of our days, the lactation consultant stopped by to check in on the breastfeeding and was just chatting with me about how I was doing. That single question was all I needed to unload all of my emotion on this poor stranger standing in front of me. I realized that up until that point, that even though plenty of family and friends stopped in to see how we were doing, I hadn’t been able to unload everything that I had been feeling on anyone. This woman, I must say, was the most supportive, understanding, and influential person that I ran into during my recovery. I remember telling her how upset I was that I didn’t get to do any of the things that I hoped or planned on doing before my little one was born. Even aside from having the c-section I hadn’t wanted, nothing beyond that had gone as planned either, from being unable to do skin to skin with our baby to not seeing or holding her until a good hour after she was born. Because of the extraordinary amount of pain that I was experiencing during my recovery I couldn’t even take care of my daughter the way that I had wanted to. I just felt so deprived and cheated of the experience as a whole. I felt like I had missed out on so many of the beautiful parts of giving birth that I’d heard so many others tell me about. I was so angry and frustrated about what had happened to me. And with all of the venting, the consultant said very simply that I was allowed to feel that way and that what I had gone through was traumatic.

That was all I needed that whole time, an understanding voice who validated my feelings without turning the glass half full. And while my feelings of frustration and sadness didn’t go away for quite awhile afterwards, this one conversation stuck with me and reminded me that I was entitled to feel however I felt. I had been through a traumatic experience that left me feeling a boatload of different emotions that I needed to talk about and work through in anyway I could. I’m incredibly thankful that I’d had this 15 minute conversation, that although it didn’t speed up the physical recovery, it helped me heal emotionally in ways that I was incredibly grateful for.

Welcome Home Family Of Three:

Finally after four days in the hospital, I was packed up and ready to go home to enjoy my family of three. As the days ticked by during my recovery, I felt myself getting stronger and stronger as a new mommy. My new role came so naturally to me and I truly had fallen in love with our little girl which made the process of recuperating, at least my body, a little bit easier.

But all while I was enjoying motherhood, I was dealing with constant waves of postpartum emotions. I felt horrible feeling sad as I looked at this beautiful little baby that God blessed us with but I just couldn’t erase the moments of her birth day out of my mind. Unlike my family and friends who constantly regaled me with the beautiful moments of their births, I felt so bad for myself and my daughter that I wouldn’t be able to share a similar story with her one day. Our story would be a scary one that didn’t include my embrace right after she entered this world or her daddy cutting her cord or even us sharing a blissful first family picture moment together. None of those things were part of our birth experience and that’s a very difficult realty to accept and move on with. 

With time, the freshness of the events of that day, along with the emotions, subsided some allowing me to move on a little. By no stretch though would I say that my recovery was anything but easy. I had to deal with a level of physical pain that many others could only admit that they’d never felt before, along with an emotional struggle that kept flashing through my mind over the next few months. It took a long time physically to resemble my former self and take care of my little girl on my own. And as my scar began to fade, so did the ever so present feelings of anger and sadness that I had about that day. They had begun to be pushed aside by new feelings and memories of all of my little girl’s first, from her smiles and giggles to her first holiday experiences too.

Moving On & Living Life As A C-Section Mommy:

Even though it’s been almost two years since my little girl’s birthday, I still find myself getting sad from time to time when I think about the events of that day. But along with the sadness and even a little anger too is this tremendous feeling of pride now. The fear, pain, and anger that I had fought through and overcome has made me the amazing mommy that I am today, and I truly am so proud of myself for conquering that.  

This however doesn’t mean that being the only c-section mommy in my circle of friends and family is easy. In fact, since having a baby, many of my friends and family have added more babies to the mix, but none via c-section. And even though I feel like I’ve come so far in dealing with the events of my daughter’s birth, I feel like I’m sent right back to that day each time a new baby enters this world around me. When I hear each and every birth story it brings back lots of those feelings of anger and sadness, no matter how long the labor or how difficult the pushing was, I still wish that I could’ve experienced that too. As you can see, even though it’s been a long two years since that day, thanks to the baby boom that’s been taking place around us, it feels like just yesterday sometimes, and becomes even fresher as more and more mothers pop up around me wanting to share their birth story.

One of the hardest things to do now as a c-section mommy is to participate in conversations with the new moms around me. Since I’ve been bitten by the baby bug again, every time we stop by to meet a new little baby I feel tears well up inside reminding how much I want to experience that again but also in fear of the conversation that will be had. I’ll surely be hearing about the delivery reminding me of the moments that we missed out on in our family and that’s the tough part that never seems to go away no matter how far out from my daughter’s birth we get. I’m so excited and happy for the new mommies and daddies around us of course, but I can’t help but reminded of the experience that we were deprived of. 

On many occasions, I’ve taken part in a number of conversations where other mothers are sharing their birth stories with one another. Sadly, during these conversations, even though I too am a mother who gave birth to my daughter, I find myself sinking back in my chair and feeling like I have nothing to contribute, tossing out the obligatory “I know how you feel” or “I experienced the same thing” comment here and there, even though everyone around me knows that I didn’t. And even sadder, many of the mothers haven’t hesitated to remind me that I don’t belong in the group because of my c-section. I’ve heard many a judgmental comment about my experience that have just crushed me down farther as a c-section mommy:

  • “You’re lucky that you had a c-section.”
  • When discussing push presents, “Well you didn’t push so you didn’t really deserve a push present.”
  • “You don’t know what labor feels like.”
  • “You don’t know what contractions feel like.” 
  • “Your recovery wasn’t as bad as mine.”
  • “At least you’ll be able to get your tubes tied at the same time as your last delivery That would be a big deal for me.”

And after hearing all of these comments, I can’t help but feel the judgement and almost competitiveness between other mothers and myself. Even though neither one of us knows exactly what each other felt during their birth, each of our experiences were different and should be valued as just that. I feel as though other mothers look at c-sections, especially, as the easy way out to becoming a mom and that you didn’t truly earn your stripes to be a mom if your baby arrived that way. The scrutiny and criticism that I’ve heard as a c-section mother has torn me down on many an occasion, and each time a comment like this is made I turn to my husband who stood by me on that day and experienced the fear, pain, and sheer terror along with me and he just reminds me that I am just as much a mommy as they are, if not an even stronger one. 

As time has passed, I’ve grown alongside my daughter and have realized the value in sharing my experience with others. While I had my husband who stood by me and let me cry on his shoulder on more than one occasion, it’s just not the same as having another mother who went through exactly what I had and could share in every fear, ache, pain, or anxiety that I experienced. In a world where judgement and competition seems to surround us everyday, it’s so important to find others that you can share an experience as important as a birth, without needing to validate it or without feeling judged. So here’s our opportunity. Open up and share with myself and any other mother out there about your birth experience. Find some solidarity and comfort from others without a feeling of competition or being made to feel like you’re not being grateful for your precious gift.

For me, becoming Mommy was one heck of a journey but it was a journey that I’ll never forget. I’ve learned a tremendous amount about myself and the strength that I have as a new Mommy, about my husband who stood by me and always does despite the emotional or physical obstacle that stands in our way, and about life itself. I’m a firm believer in the mantras that everything happens for a reason and whatever was meant to be will be. I know that there was a reason for my little girl having to enter the world this way and for whatever reason that was I need to accept it and reach out and help others do the same. How we become mothers is a different story for everyone but becoming a mom is the thing we all have in common. By sharing our stories with each other we can provide much needed support and comfort to heal and move on to enjoy motherhood and all the joys it has to offer. Because after all, being Mommy is so much more than just having your baby, it’s a lifetime of love, laughter, and sheer happiness that you’ll share with that little one. 

Sincerely,

Lindsay

4 Comments on Living Life As A C-Section Mommy: Dealing With Judgment, Criticism, And Competition

  1. Mari
    October 23, 2014 at 1:07 pm (3 years ago)

    Appreciate the honest share, I can imagine it must have been a roller coaster of emotions for sure. I had a normal delivery but had been around friends and family who went through C-Section births and I woukd never consider that easy. Those who chose those words obviously have no clue what a C-Section requires. I saw some of my friends really go through some difficult and painful moments, weeks even months. I know women that even years after had some issues. Just before I had my daughter they sent me home with a video of different types of births and let me say when it came to the C-Section I was terrified. The cutting of the layers of skin to get to the baby! I don’t know how someone would find that easier smh. Thanks again for share hope it teaches someone something and is helpful, much blessings 🙂

    Reply
    • Lindsay
      October 24, 2014 at 4:12 pm (3 years ago)

      I hope so too! It’s a hard path and hopefully this can help others too!

      Reply
  2. Jenny
    March 21, 2015 at 3:19 pm (3 years ago)

    Appreciate your brave and honest post. I can imagine others can be judging. I hate that whether its the csection or the breastfeeding competition between mothers I just wish we would all support each other no matter what. We all just want what is best for our children. Great post you have done amazing. Thanks for linking up to Share With Me. #sharewithme

    Reply
    • Lindsay
      March 23, 2015 at 7:40 am (3 years ago)

      I one hundred percent agree on the competition, no matter what the mothering issue is it just shouldn’t exist. Thanks so much for the opportunity!

      Reply

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