Literally split open
There’s a quote I saw going around Facebook a while back. I don’t know who said it, but am grateful to whoever did for articulating this profound truth.
“For a seed to achieve its greatest expression, it must come completely undone. The shell cracks, its insides come out and everything changes. To someone who doesn’t understand growth, it would look like complete destruction.”
If anyone knows who this quote is attributed to let me know.
When I first read this I interpreted it the way I think most people would. As a metaphor for personal growth; for those days and experiences that seem to figuratively destroy us, but are in reality making way for our greatest expressions.
But recently I came across this quote again, and as I read it it held new meaning for me. This time literal.
Many people know that my pelvis is too small to deliver a baby through my birth canal. As my OB put it, “even if you had a 5lb baby, you could push for days and days and nothing would ever happen.” So my 9 pound 1 ouncer boy had no chance.
Many people also know that while I was pregnant with my son, I used to say I was prepared for any complication, and ready for any changes to my birth plan that were deemed necessary. I just really really didn’t want a c section.
It’s not that I had anything against c sections per say, I just knew the kind of effect surgery can have on your body. I also knew that one c section put you at higher risk for more c sections. And I really wanted the birth experience I had dreamed of. I wanted to push and work that baby out. I wanted it so badly.
The day I found out surgical birth would be my only option for having kids I was heart broken. I was already grieving for the birth I had wanted but didn’t have with my son, not to mention dealing with the PTSD I didn’t yet know I had, and then I was told my body was incapable of having babies the “normal” and “natural” way.
I felt like a freak. Like less of a woman. Like my body wasn’t built to even have children. Like I had to cheat to bring life into the world.
Eventually I developed a gratitude for c sections. After all, the progress we’ve made medically makes it possible for me to have kids without dying, so it’s a pretty incredible thing. If I had lived in a different time I would either be dead or unable to have more kids because it wouldn’t be safe to have a repeat c section.
But that doesn’t take away the twinges of sadness I feel in the back of my mind as I approach my second, this time scheduled, c section. As the reality of my situation becomes more real –that even trying for a vbac would be dangerous and traumatic and would only end up in another emergency c section, it’s sinking in more deeply that I never will experience birth the way most women get to.
And don’t tell me, “well at least you can have kids. And all that matters is that you and baby are safe and healthy.” Yes, these things are true. And the people who say them are well meaning. But saying that also disrespects the very real grief a woman can have for not getting the birth experience she dreamed about and wanted. It’s also insensitive to the women who do struggle with infertility or have lost babies/have babies with complications. There’s no reason to compare my experience with theirs. It’s apples and oranges.
When I again stumbled on the quote above, I saw something new in it. To bring my son into the world I was literally undone. I was literally cracked open, and my insides taken out. And literally everything changed. My body became something I did not even recognize anymore. And for a long time, I did not understand. It felt like complete destruction. A literal destruction of my body. My body as a once knew it, pre childbirth, had essentially been destroyed.
But it is because of that seemed destruction that I can achieve my greatest expression: my children. This child climbing on the furniture in front of me right now literally grew inside of me, and literally burst out of me. I was split open and changed, but it was all in the name of delivering this sweet boy into the world.
And now, unlike real seeds, I have a chance to do it all over again.
And in this sense, my surgical birth is no different from other women’s vaginal ones. We all were split. We all changed, some temporarily and some permanently, and to those who don’t understand, what happened to our bodies would sound and look like complete destruction.
So are my surgical births really all that different than “normal” and “natural” ones? I hope someday I will truly see them as fundamentally the same. In the meantime, please be patient with me as I grieve.