When my doctor told me toward the end of my second pregnancy that she strongly recommended having a C-section, my first reaction was utter disappointment. It wasn’t so much the idea of having surgery that upset me; it was the thought that I wouldn’t be the one bringing my baby into the world. Sure, I’d nurtured and grown the little life for nine months, but it seemed so impersonal and clinical to have it all end on an operating table.
In addition, my first birth involved inducing labor, so I’d been looking forward to a more textbook experience. Now I’d never know the excitement of feeling those first labor pains at 3:00 AM and saying, “Honey, it’s time…” I felt somehow cheated.
Happily, the procedure was a success, and the baby is now a giggly, healthy girl about to finish first grade. But when I see the little scar, I still remember the emotions I felt about her birth, and I used to wonder whether other women felt the same way.
Thank you, Jenna von Oy.
In her new blog post for People, the former star of Blossom and The Parkers courageously shares her own birth story. She became a first-time mom to daughter Gray Audrey on May 21, but, like me, she had to come to terms with the reality that her childbirth experience wasn’t what she’d hoped it would be.Jenna’s due date was June 11, “and I had my birth plans laid out WELL in advance,” she recalls. “(Somewhere, I’m fairly sure God is chuckling at my ignorance!)” She hired a doula and planned a natural birth (though she allowed for the possibility of an epidural), looking forward to holding her daughter immediately after delivery.
All that changed when, at 33 weeks, an ultrasound revealed that Jenna’s amniotic fluid levels were dangerously low. To complicate matters, Gray was in the breech position, and the lack of fluid made it impossible for her to turn around on her own. A C-section was the only safe option. The news threw Jenna for a loop. “The idea of being helpless as my baby was taken from my belly left me with some feelings of inadequacy and disassociation,” she recalls. “I was very concerned that I wouldn’t feel as bonded to my child because I couldn’t watch her pass through my birth canal, or do my part in helping her into the world.”
After four weeks of careful monitoring, Gray was delivered three weeks ahead of her due date and sent to the transition nursery for observation because of her elevated breathing rate. Jenna’s husband, Brad Bratcher, stayed with the baby, but it was 17 hours before Jenna could finally hold her little girl. When she did, “I was so relieved to find that both the love and the bond were immediate and overwhelming,” says the new mom.
As she approaches her one-month birthday, Gray is healthy and gorgeous (as the pictures on the blog prove). Jenna’s doing great, too – her Twitter posts are as witty as ever. She has nothing but respect for moms who choose C-sections as their preferred birth plan – “I think far too much time is spent condemning other moms for how they give birth or raise their children” – but she also knows other women may feel the same way she did when told that they need a caesarean they didn’t expect to have.
“For those of you going through a similar ordeal, I hope my story gives you some comfort,” she says. “Your feelings are valid, so please remember to be gentle on your heart!”
[Photo: via PRPhotos.com]
Read more of Shana’s writing at Momsperiments.
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