On not bonding with strangers

I do a couple of fitness classes avec baby a week – mainly for the exercise, but the chatting after class is nice too.  After one of the land-based classes, I was talking to another mother, whose son was the only other baby in the class who had learned to crawl.  (Which, by the way, make these classes much more disruptive than what my baby just lay or sat on the mat.)  After class, I went over and asked how old her son was – ten and a half months at that point.  I said that Jess too was that age!  And then we compared birthdays, and the babies were born on the same day!  And at the same hospital, as it turned out!  What a coincidence!  I said that Jess had been born around 4 in the morning, and turns out that her son was born right before midnight.

I said something along the lines of “maybe I saw you there – we were in the hospital for a couple of days.”  She looked down her nose at me and stated flatly.  “I had a midwife.  We were out of the hospital very fast.”  I sputtered slightly, and said something about how after 55 hours of labour, I’d had a c-section.  I swear that she looked at me and sniffed disapprovingly.  I muttered something about being pretty sure that it wouldn’t have mattered what kind of assistance I had, that J wouldn’t have come out any other way.  She sniffed again, and I slunk away from her and her placid, stolid baby.

You guys, it’s been 11 months and I’m still defensive as fuck about my birth experience.  And you know why?  It’s because PEOPLE ARE ACTUALLY JUDGING ME TO MY FACE ABOUT IT.  Sure, not people I like, or people who matter, but it’s true – there is shaming out there for c-sections.  I get it!  I desperately, frantically didn’t want one.  I laboured for two and a half days because of how much I didn’t want one.

But I didn’t have a choice.

I mean, I made every choice possible to have a natural birth.  I did my readings, I hired a doula, I gave birth in a natural-birth friendly hospital with nurses who were fully supportive of my intentions, I went as long as I could without the drugs (pitocin contractions are not the same as normal ones – they are way, way more painful).  When the doctors announced that I needed a c-section, I refused and got another hour to try and make things progress.  It didn’t work.  The baby was unable to come out the normal way, and that sucked.

But I didn’t have a choice.

And yet, I still feel so judged for it.  By virtual strangers who have no idea.  And that sucks.

Having the section sucked.  The fact that the morphine didn’t work sucked.  The fact that my feelings of failure fed my PPD sucked.  The fact that 11 months later I still have abdominal pain sucks.

But the fact that my baby was born healthy and alive and that I am healthy and alive?  Does not suck.  Sure, it was less than ideal, but the end result was positive, so good enough.  Fuck the haters, and all.


As you can imagine, this woman and I have NOT become friends.


9 responses to “On not bonding with strangers

  1. Oh man, the judging. I’m so sorry. I still feel defensive about my c-section and especially about all the trouble I had breastfeeding too. It stinks.

  2. Ack! I’m 3 weeks the other side of a birth story that sounds pretty much like yours. I’m protected by the fact that I’m house bound and only see family and friends. I am not prepared for c-section judgement. Would you recommend just not bringing it up? I’m sorry to say that had I not had a c-section, I may well have been a judger myself.

  3. I will never understand women who verbally attack our choices as mothers or comment in things that we cannot change.
    You’d think we would be a much more accepting community since we share similar experiences but we aren’t. We are very insecure as moms and therefore, turn our decisions on what we think is right into a universal idea of what is right, because if its not, what does that say about ourselves?
    I wish I could say it gets better by it doesn’t.
    You know what helps? Hanging out with moms who have more than one kid. The 3-kid moms are the best. They don’t compare how many words their youngest knows. They’re just happy they can find feed themself (from the food they did on the floor).

  4. What’s so crazy about the judgment, which should never happen anyway, is that the way your baby was born is in no way related to the way her baby was born. You did what was necessary for your baby to be born healthy and in the end that’s all that matters.

    A perfect stranger being so perfectly judgy about this does not deserve your time or friendship.

  5. I haven’t experienced that kind of judgement so far, but.. what the hell, man? Who does that? I had a very similar experience to you – three days (starting off in an independent birth center too, I really didn’t want the hospital stuff at all), ending with a c-section because that’s just what had to happen. I judge myself plenty; coming to terms with that experience is going to take years (if its even possible).

    If I’ve learned anything from coming-on-9-months of this mommyhood business, it’s that preconceived opinions and judgements are a waste of time and energy.

  6. I would just like to say a big “fuck off” to all the haters/judgers for you. I remember when I was trying to not have a c-section with baby #2 that so many women were trying to get me to go to a support group for women who had c-sections so that we could cry about how we didn’t have the perfect birth story to tell and I just couldn’t do it. Sure I didn’t want a c-section with #1 but she wasn’t going to come out any other way. And I tried with #2 and that didn’t work either (after 28 hours of trying). Now I’m one-month on the far side of c-section #3 (which was a planned c-section that turned into a rather scary emergency c-section) and I really just don’t care what anyone else thinks because I have too many children now to be able to think straight about anything. Yes, there are too many c-sections given these days but the other side of that is that many are very necessary and who cares how someone elses baby is born anyway? (Unless you were standing outside smoking and drinking a beer while in labour because that just seems wrong to me.) At the end of the day all that matters is having a healthy baby and mama – how the baby comes into the world is a miniscule portion of that baby’s life, it’s what you do with that baby once it is on the outside that counts.

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