4.07.2015

Scars



So...I'm going to take it back a bit. Almost a year, actually. I've gone back and forth on sharing my thoughts on this issue, and contemplating on just how I wanted to go about doing it. If I'm going to tell you that I'm using this space as a platform to speak freely and honestly, then I'm going to tell you what has inspired me to do so.

I had our first child last June. I was 40 wks + 1 day pregnant on the day I had her. She came via a scheduled c-section at 3:16 pm, after a quick 15 min procedure that was painless and effortless on my part. At least physically. A procedure that I had never in a million years even thought twice about experiencing. A procedure that very literally broke my heart and my spirits.

I contemplated going into detail on the circumstances and reasons that led up to our decision, but it doesn't matter at this point. On my due date, sonograms were predicting her to be nearly 11 lbs, and if we waited longer, she would just continue to get bigger than that. That's BIG, y'all. My body wasn't showing any signs of giving way and my narrow hips weren't adjusting enough to make space for her to drop. Our doctors looked at every scenario and gave us candid, professional, wise advice. We had to be smart. There. That's the gist of it.

I shed countless tears when we scheduled the procedure and more came in the weeks to follow. I never planned on having a c-section. The thought never once crossed my mind. I had a perfectly healthy pregnancy, so why would I have anything but a perfect delivery, too? Right? But, here I was. At 27, my first child was coming via cesarean, ruining all chances I had to experience child birth in my lifetime. The right given to me as a woman. Call me crazy, but it was something I truly longed to experience.

She was born healthy and happily. About as big as they predicted she would be! We were over the moon with our new addition and so thrilled to meet her, but my recovery was hard. The immense physical pain just fueled the fragile mental state that I was in. I truly felt broken. My body felt like it was quite literally torn apart and my spirit was totally shattered. I was exhausted as we transitioned into our new life as parents and the responsibility of tending to a baby 24/7 overwhelmed me. I had a flood of new worries and concerns that had never phased me before. I was responsible to keep her alive. How could I pretend to be so joyful when I felt so bitter inside?

I can't really explain my feelings in a way that makes a lot of sense. I can tell you that I was sad and angry, but from an outsider's prospective it can seem silly. Selfish, even. I was having a perfectly healthy baby. Why does it matter so much as to HOW I was having her? So many people struggle with infertility, how could I possibly be angry? I have a child that I was able to carry! But I couldn't shake my bitterness. I couldn't shake my anger at my body for not cooperating. I couldn't shake the sadness knowing that I was never going to get to experience childbirth in the way that a woman was created for. Oh, and the people that want to comment and say things like, "You got the easy way out!"  or, "At least you didn't have to go through labor and all the pain!"......Don't get me started. Clearly those statements are untrue.

It was a long first couple of months for me. It took a toll on my body in numerous ways. I lost a LOT of weight. One month post-baby, I was already 10 lbs lighter than I was BEFORE I was pregnant. I was unhealthy and drained to a pulp. Gracen was big and hungry and uninterested in being patient and nursing. So breastfeeding presented its own exhausting, disappointing battle. For eight weeks, I was confined to a pump and pumping all day everyday to get her the milk she needed since she wouldn't nurse. I also came to a point where I avoided even looking at my scar because it just made me angry. It was a reminder of what I couldn't do. It made me feel like a failure. My struggles with nursing made me feel like a failure. I felt like damaged goods.

As time passed and prayers were lifted (my mom had them coming from everyone she knew...I know she did) I slowly was able to find some peace as the newness of motherhood settled in. My body healed, and that lifted my spirits some. I found a way to get in the swing of my new life. Gracen meeting milestones each day brought me joy and gave me glimmers of hope and understanding that this bright young baby was worth my decision that brought me so much inner turmoil.

I've realized now that the decision on June 11, 2014, to schedule a c-section was the first of many selfless acts I will do in the name of love and safety for my sweet girl. I put my desires as a woman, my plan & my wants aside to ensure that our baby could come into this world safely. It was a decision that was made solely to protect her. And it won't be the last one of its kind.

The funny thing about making plans of our own is that ultimately, it's not up to us. We can try to control our situation and try to make sense of our circumstances, but it undoubtedly ends up in disappointment. As soon as I quit focusing on the fact that my story didn't pan out the way I wanted it to, I was able to find joy in the sheer fact that I even had a story to tell. I had a healthy baby. A new family. A true miracle and the ultimate blessing.

I no longer look at that six-inch scar that sits low across my pelvis with disappointment or embarassment. I look at it with an appreciation for modern medicine and the wisdom of the doctor that put it there. I look at it with thankfulness that it provided a safe avenue for my baby to come into this world. I look at it as a symbol of selfless love. It's a reminder that I am strong. It's a reminder that I am a mother. It's a reminder that when it comes to protecting our children, we put ourselves aside. It's an incision that is nearly invisible at this point, but the blessing that it brought me is visible everyday. I'm listening to that blessing talk and giggle with her toys in the living room right now.

I'm sharing my story because I've found that sometimes it's nice to know that there are people who maybe sharing the shame struggles as you. I'm so tired of seeing women shaming other women. I'm tired of seeing recent trends of know-it-all "I saw this article on the Internet" graduates of Google University tell the world that certain ways of parenting are better than another. That however you had your baby is better than how I had mine. That your breastfed child will succeed over my formula-fed baby. That you are somehow righteous because your story unfolded differently. You don't know my story. You don't know my reasons. And you don't have to. We are all mothers. We all love our children. We all want to be our best and do our best for them. I made my decision in an effort to protect my child. It doesn't make me less of a mother, it just makes me a brave one. I have nothing to be ashamed of.

Our next baby will come into the world the same way that our first one did. Via the same scar that I'm marked with today. Except I will have a different attitude and appreciation for my situation the second time around, if we are so lucky. It will be another reminder that I have been given a body that is strong enough to house a human being. It'll be another reminder that there is nothing like the blessing of a child. It'll be another reminder that there is beauty in surrendering control and finding joy in whatever the story is that our God has written for us.

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