Stepping into the Ring...with Trepidation

There's a long long thread over at 2Peas NSBR regarding the CDC's release of 2004 statistics for women who gave birth via C-Section. The magic number is 29.1 percent. In 2004, 29.1 percent of live American births were surgical.

I think of 2Peas as a microcosm of America in many respects, with some international influences as well. If you are looking for something to get you thinking, it's a good place to hang out on ocassion. With that in mind, the thread has spanned on for several days and three full pages at last count. I confess I didn't read past the first page--it just got too bogged down. I knew better than to bother posting because I bring my own baggage to the table on this topic--it's very personal for me.

I was surprised at how many peas found it disturbing and bothersome that this number is so high. I was surprised that so many peas feel it's OK to question and in some cases even doubt a woman's right to choose what's best for her body in her own birthing situation...when on the same board, a woman's right to choose abortion "because it's her body" is heralded as a basic human right by so many. Seems a little backwards to me. If we are giving a woman a right to choose abortion because she should be in control of her own body then shouldn't she also be in charge of deciding how to give birth? Where's the difference?

Whenever abortion comes up on 2Peas things always turn ugly. Always. I have never participated in a thread about abortion there and I've certainly never blogged about it. I have very strong feelings about it but those personal feelings are counterbalanced with the knowledge that it is a very personal thing. I hate that abortion and the c-section rate have become political fodder for those with an adgenda. In both cases (abortion and c-section), there are women behind those numbers. Real live women making real-life choices. Abortion is something I have never faced and seems so intensely personal that I wouldn't presume to write about it casually. I have faced (and come thru) 2 c-sections and still find it difficult to write about.

29.1 percent is just a number. There are so many things we don't know about that number. How many mothers and babies were saved because a surgeon was able to get a baby delivered inside four minutes? Suppose that surgeon had taken a minute to consider whether or not one more c-section was going to negitively impact his natural birth/c-section ratio? Yes, it sounds rediculous now...but if people are going to start looking critically at these numbers, isn't that where we will be heading?

Many peas also seemed concerned that c-sections were occurring for "convenience". Convenience of the mother or the doctor...and other non-medically necessary reasons. I've never actually known anyone who chose to have a c-section for her own convenience or that of her doctor. I have my doubts that it really happens that often, but again, do you really think we should be more closely monitoring "acceptable" reasons for choosing a c-section? I know for a fact that I don't want my life-and-death health decisions being impacted by what some government official in a cubicle in Atlanta deems "appropriate" and "permissable". Mother, father, doctor. The rest can wait outside.

Having a c-section saved my life almost ten years ago. That is not an exageration. There was no alternative to stopping my climbing blood pressure and saving my life without immediate delivery. My son was born in an emergency situation...less than one hour after I arrived at the emergency room with Eclampsia (preganancy induced hypertension and multiple seizures). My sweet husband could not sign that consent form fast enough. My son has a mother because God's grace was near and this option was available. I have no memory of the situation but I can tell you that it changed my family forever. It was not ideal but it saved my life. Forgive me if I just don't have a problem with a family and a doctor being able to make their own decisions together in the light of the scenario at hand.

I have read the medical report that accounted for everything I faced that night. From first cut to baby out was seven minutes. Seven very long minutes for my husband. I do not remember much of the first week of my child's life but I am grateful. It could have turned out very differently.

There are so many scenarios surrounding birth choices. We (peas) don't generally question a woman who wants to give birth at home, in a pool or with a midwife or in another alternative situation. Who are we to collectively question a nameless, faceless number?


Nicole said...

In my opinion there are personal things (religion, abortion, politics) that should just not be discussed casually because people are too opinionated and most people are too closed minded to DISCUSS it.. most people see that what they think is the right way and there is no other way. I never thought to place C-sections in the same category but.. you never know.

Christy B said...

Great post Sarah. My Emilee was a c-section baby, weighing in at 9.4, she was stuck.... I just don't have the pelvic structure to deliver big babies. My doctor was great and we had discussed c-section before the birth (which happened naturally). He held out for a LONG time, probably too long for most.

I also agree with the post above, some things are just to personal to be discussed on a message board ...

TracieClaiborne said...

It amazes me that anyone would have the gall to criticize someone for having a C-section! My mind wouldn't even ever have gone there! I always feel sorry for the women who had to do that. Who wants to be cut open? Ouch! Thank God that it is an option available.

People have such strong opinions these days. Where is the love?

BeckyD said...

Ohhhh, this sort of thing makes my bllod boil! My oldest was a c-section baby. Like you it was an emergency and saved both our lives. My second was VBAC. He shouldn't have been!!!!!!!! He was to big and ripped me from here to there. The recovery was HORRID. I even had to have repairs done on scar tissue when he was a year old. I just found out I am pregnant with #3. The whole c-section/VBAC thing is weighing heavily on me already and I'm not due until July!

It totally amazes me when I encounter people who are anti c-section. IMHO a baby is a blessing no matter how they are delivered.