Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Why Did I Write That?

'I saw your article, Shannon.'

Normally these four words would make me swell with pride, but lately they have been making me wince.

Recently I had a story published in Offspring Magazine, a West Australian parenting and lifestyle magazine. It was about having a Caesarian section.

Back in 2007 when I was pregnant with the Bombshell I knew everything about babies. As you do when you are pregnant for the first time. I was going to have a natural labour with minimal intervention. I went to all the pre-natal classes - all of them - except the one about epidurals and c-sections, because there was no way I was ever going to have one of those. Ever.

So after I had been in labour for about 24 hours, and the doctor told me I needed an emergency Caesar my first reaction was 'no thankyou.'

In reality was probably more like, 'no way [sob], you're not cutting me open [wail], I am going to push [argh], Caesars are scary. I won't be able to walk. I won't be able to hold my baby. I will have a massive smiley face scar on my stomach forever [arghhhhh. sob. wail].'

Obviously I wasn't the first women to have this reaction, as he just gently smiled and pushed the consent form at me.

I cried the entire time.

In hindsight it was a necessary and straightforward process, but at the time it was devastating. Not only was there the (completely wrong) impression that I had already failed as a mother, but I had this misguided fear brought about by ignorance. It turns out my knowledge about Caesars were based on information from approximately 1957. A little outdated shall we say.

If I hadn't been so arrogant to assume that 'it would never happen to me', maybe I would have gone to the pre-natal class and discovered that they're really not so bad. Certainly not worth crying over.

I went on to have two more Caesars. And with the experience of the first behind me (and actually attending the class) that bit of knowledge meant that I went into it knowing it wasn't the end of the world.

So I wanted to write an article for women like me, who think (rightly or wrongly) they will never need a Caesar, and so never seek out the information. Because even if only one of those women then end up needing a Caesar, maybe she will not cry the entire time, because they will remember my article, and think 'she survived and it wasn't that bad.'

I should mention that my obstetrician did give me a photocopied page about the possibility of needing an emergency c-section. I did read it at the time, but it focused on the risks and statistics and not the experience of it. I wanted my article to focus on the experience.

Of course, a lot of the experience is terribly undignified and involves complete strangers poking, prodding, shaving, sticking things in and pulling things out of you. Looking, looking, always looking at your lady parts. Like a normal delivery, but with more cutting and tubes. And a lot more witnesses.

So I wrote my story. And in my usual style I over-shared. I talked about pubic hair and watching myself be catheterised. I wrote about the sponge bath and the naked fat bottom.  I wrote about farting.

So this is why I was shuddering when people mentioned they saw my article. Were they looking at me picturing me sweep up a pile of shaved pubic hair. 

Just like you are now.

Sorry about that.


  1. Good on you for writing these articles because someone has to, darn it!

  2. I saw your article and as a 2x caesar gal (first time pre-booked and freaked out, 2nd time natural labour, and much better coping and recovery) I really appreciated your frankness and authenticity. I could see my reflection too of my legs flopped out - I think I even used the word 'spatchcock' ....
    The article reads in quite a 'detached' way, but that was certainly how I felt the first time when I had a booked c-section, and an objective account of a birth story never goes astray amidst all the emotion, both optimistic joy and fear.
    And I think it is great for people to know that even when a baby has to come out the sun-roof it is still a bit uncomfortable and undignified (just like when they come out the baby tunnel) - neither way is necessarily fun, but the end result is worth it (most of the time!).

  3. I'm slow to see this (it was our birthday week when you posted this) but agree so totally that more people need to read an article like this, fantastic idea. I have plenty of friends with really similar experiences to yours - all of whom would have felt a lot better having read something like this first! And big congrats on the publication too. xx

  4. Congratulations on the publication. You write so well :) Love your style and that you make me laugh is an added bonus. Keep on doing what you do - so well.

    1. thanks Jo,
      I love that I can make people laugh. Even about something as undignified as childbirth!


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