By Alexia Saleem
When we found out we were having twins we were told from the get go that would involve having a caesarean. I didn’t question that decision for the first seven months of my pregnancy. My doctor told me I was having a C-section and so of course I was going to have a C-section.
During the seventh month of pregnancy I followed a National Childbirth Trust (NCT), the UK’s largest parent charity supporting countless parents through birth and the first 1,000 days of parenthood. During the course you get to meet lots of other first-time parents due to give brith around the same time as you and who also live near you. It’s great because you effectively make friends with other parents who are in the same boat as you and so you get to share your experiences of early parenthood, including the highs and lows.
While I made firm friends following these classes I also learned about breastfeeding (I had until this point assumed I’d bottle feed because, they were twins, and nor did I know much about breastfeeding) and about having a natural birth. The latter just blew my mind; the process a woman’s body goes through, the stages of labour and the breathing and grunting that takes place in the final stage. I can’t actually remember the details but it just sounded very Mother Earth and I wanted to be a part of it. I could visualise it all in my mind. I thought it would be such fun, albeit painful. But I was up for it. No epidural. Delayed cord clamping. The lot.
I promptly told my doctor that I wanted to have a natural birth because it sounded really cool and I felt it was good for my babies to experience their entry into the world this way. I also liked the idea of the surprise of my waters breaking. The not knowing their due date. They’d come when they were ready to come. It just sounded so magical. And I wanted to experience it. My doctor was unimpressed and disagreed. I was having twins. It was preferable I have a C-section. That was that. I didn’t argue. She put forward a very good case. Nor do I regret my decision to be honest.
Initially though, I felt like a fraud. I hadn’t had a natural birth. I wasn’t experiencing childbirth the ‘natural’ way. I was also giving birth in a very nice private hospital. Again it wasn’t what other mothers were doing. I was different. I felt really uncomfortable to tell people where I was giving birth and how. I look back now and I think it’s really funny that I cared about what people thought or might still think.
What I now know is this. C-sections aren’t comfortable. They hurt. I had no idea but they do. The actual procedure is just weird and there’s lots of shoving and pulling and also it’s pretty scary to think your lower pelvis area has been sliced open – epidural or not. And I’m one of the lucky ones who recovered from the surgery really easily and quickly. There are also lots of doctors during the procedure and a lot of equipment and lights. You also can’t touch anything as it’s all sanitised and you’re kind of removed from the process, which is weird because you’re giving birth and yet it can also feel like something that is happening to you rather than you are making something happen.
But mainly what I know is this. C-section or not, I was still bringing two lives into the world. I was still about to meet two new human beings, I was about to become a mum. A role model. A leader. Wow. If that doesn’t blow your mind, I don’t know what will.
Was I up for the job? Would I love them equally? Would I know what to do? Natural birth or C-section, all new mums face these questions. How or where you give birth doesn’t matter. It doesn’t define you as a mum.
As for surprise about when they come, I got that too. Turns our my daughter’s placenta had stopped functioning and she had stopped growing. Thank God for scans, advances in medicine and yes, c-sections or she’d not have made it. So they came out a week earlier than planned. I even got to delay cord clamping for as long as possible.
The experience wasn’t anything like I’d expected. I don’t actually know what I expected. But I know this, I wouldn’t change anything for the world. Everything happened as it should. C-section or not, I became a mum and delivered two healthy babies into the world. It doesn’t matter how or where. The end result is the same. A miracle. And a complete change of life.