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Shamed For a C-Section Birth

The Nurse Present at My Son's Birth Shamed Me For Choosing a C-Section

Around the beginning of my third trimester, the questions from friends, doctors, and strangers noticeably changed from, "is it a boy or a girl?" and "are you having twins?" to "what's your birth plan?" Up until that point I hadn't thought much about how I wanted my son to break out of his belly prison. Truthfully, I didn't really care. As long as I was left relatively unscathed and he was healthy, I was good.

Still, I started to fantasize about my water breaking in a super hilarious moment like at a baseball game or while mowing the lawn, only to have to be carted off to the hospital. My due date flew by and a week later I knew that this crazy, rom-com birth story was not going to happen. I had been having extreme Braxton Hicks contractions that registered at every minute for about three weeks. At that point I was so tired and sore that I honestly would have cut him out myself, if it hadn't been for my complete lack of understanding how to do that and not die. I was done, emotionally and physically, and I hadn't expected to have to battle with a nurse during the induction.

The irony is that I had been warned by various people to not have too crazy of a birth plan, because most hospitals will roll their collective eye and do what they want. Late in the evening and a week overdue, my husband and I got checked into the hospital to be induced. It was cold, sterile, and overwhelming. After many painful dilation checks, 20 hours of starvation and ice chips, nothing was going on in the cervix region.

My wonderful doctor, accompanied by two nurses, came in to talk about my options. We could do a third round of the drugs and essentially try again to induce, or we could schedule a C-section. I knew he was going to be a large baby based off previous ultrasounds, and with my small frame I was concerned about vaginal tearing. Coupled with the doctor telling me that there was a 50-75 percent chance of it needing to go be a C-section anyways, and being just generally over the whole inducing process, I was ready to meet my son.

While the doctor and I were talking, I could see the nurses exchanging strange looks to each other as the muddled away some task. As soon as my doctor left my room, the nurses came over to check my stats and I don't think the door had finished swinging before one of them started her plea.

She urged me to consider not having a C-section and she said I was quitting. Quitting. She kept repeating that word, over and over. "Don't be a quitter," she urged. "You don't want to do that. That's not a good way to deliver." I can still feel her words ringing in my ear, even two years later.

She urged me to not consider having a C-section and she said I was quitting.

It felt sharp and the tears began to pool in my eyes. It had been a difficult enough day without having to explain to two women who were supposed to help me why I didn't want a vaginal delivery. The other nurse agreed with her colleague and despite my attempts to explain how large I thought my baby was, she began to tell me about how some relative had a natural birth. I found out later that it was all my mother-in-law, who was in the room with us, could do to not tell her where to stick her stethoscope.

Nothing that they ever said was mean-spirited or with malice in their voice. On the contrary, they were trying to be kind and genuinely believed that they were doing what was best. For that, I don't blame them. However, it didn't make it any less uncomfortable to hear your nurse tell you she thought you were a quitter. Unbeknownst to her, even in my exhausted state, I have no problem being direct. I told her essentially, "thanks but no thanks," though, of course, later I came up with about a dozen remarks that were a lot more salty. It's a good thing I am who I am, because her insistence on a vaginal delivery could have killed my son.

It became immediately apparent during the C-section that my calculations had been correct and that he was a large baby. My solid chocolate-bunny weighed in at well north of 9 pounds and is in general just a big kid. The doctor exclaimed that he had the biggest hands she's ever seen and his adorable perfect noggin was off the charts in size. At some point the umbilical cord had become wrapped around his neck. My doctor would tell me later that if we had done a vaginal birth it would have ended in a C-section anyway, but with a lot more risk and the possibility of my son not surviving.

The nurses must have realized their mistake because as one of them was putting in my catheter, she purposefully avoided any eye contact. Sheepishly on her way out she near-whispered an apology. I didn't need an apology, though I'm glad she felt some sense of remorse. Had I been more on the fence, or had I been less confident, it could have been a very different outcome. I hope that she learned to not voice personal concerns about medical decisions unless asked for, because all it could take is one family to have to pay the price thanks to cruel and unsolicited opinions.

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