For the longest time ever, I did not understand what the hullabaloo was about whether a woman gave birth vaginally, or via C-section. Two of my older sisters have had C-sections, my cousin had both of her kids via cesarean section, and even more recently, my mom had an hysterectomy, with a cut that looks exactly like a c-section scar, and it also felt like one, if my mom’s reaction is to be believed.
With all of these people I have mentioned, I have watched them walk gently after giving birth, carrying their babies higher on their bodies, so as not to hurt their surgery wound. It was only last week that my mom carried my one year old niece, who had been clamouring for her grandma’s arms for weeks now. Even then, it was far away from her healing wound.
There is a mom of six, with whom I grew up, who is a reservoir of both good and wisdom regarding womanhood and motherhood especially, depending on what you are looking for, she had always said, they were ‘lazy.’ Not even when she witnessed part of the suffering of one of my older sisters, and was with my mom as they moved from one part of Lagos to another, when my cousin was in labour with her first child, and the doctors had said, she would not be able to give birth, because she was not dilating the way she should be, even though she was having strong contractions, and they were getting worried about the safety of the baby. At the end of the day, all of that was dismissed with a wave of the hand, “She was too weak!” Because I knew she was more bark than bite, I did not give her any attention.
You know what she told me, when I was pregnant? Every time I saw her, she would say, “Don’t cry when you are giving birth o, or you will cry throughout your childbearing years.” She would admonish me to “be strong oh” and not allow them perform any operation on me.” As a first timer, I listened to all she had to say, but by the second time, I became selective of what I picked from her.
While, it might make sense that a woman who had all her children in the 80s might have such an orientation, maybe (just maybe) C-sections were not common then. But when an educated woman, in this day and age, starts spurting nonsense regarding women who underwent a C-section, then I begin to doubt their education.
It was at my usual quiet spot over the weekend, when a woman, who had brought a woman in labour to the hospital, was on the phone in a loud voice talking with the spouse of the pregnant woman, asking him to come over to the hospital immediately, as she had brought his wife to the hospital. She lamented how the doctors had told her the mom in labour needed an emergency cesarean operation.
“She can give birth by herself, these doctors just like to cut people up at the latest opportunity” and on she went about the many evils of doctor wielding surgical knives near her family member. She urged the husband not to sign any papers, when he got there. “Anyway, I will be here” she ended. That was effectively saying, I will be here to make sure you don’t sign off on the operation.
Obviously, I was not the only one listening, as an older woman laid into her. “What do you mean they should not do the operation? Do you want to kill the young girl, or do you like the amount of pain she is in up there? Shebi you left her to come down here, can she even walk now? And you say, they should not operate on her. Wicked human being!”
And that was the start of what turned into a huge altercation between these two women, and the other four women present tried to pacify the women, who kept going back and forth. It was so bad, the security threatened to eject them if they would not keep their voices down.
The woman, who had brought the pregnant woman, whom she later said was her sister, kept asking the older woman, how many of her children she had via C-section. She said none, but would never have given it a second thought, if that was what was required to save both her life and the baby.
“Easy for you to say” was the retort. In the end, everyone went their separate ways when the husband of the woman in labour came, and they went upstairs to see his wife. As it turned out, she too didn’t want a C-section, and some minutes after seeing her husband, she gave birth vaginally.
The other woman, whose grandchild was in the neonatal unit in the clinic, was the one who came to break the news to us downstairs, and that was the end of the quarrel, but from discussions and tufiakwas, even for their children’s children, it was obvious the four women left downstairs were more afraid of being called weak or said to have taken the easy way out, not to mention the pain that comes from such a major operation, than the process itself.
Well, I have never undergone a C-section, but from the people who have gone through it, it is not a walk in the park, and perhaps an even more painful after birth experience than those who give birth vaginally.
Here’s how one mom puts it, when she was told she took the easy way out, “Riiiiiight. Because being strapped to an operating table in a manner similar to being tied to a crucifix, and having one’s entrails taken out of one’s body and placed to the side, while a surgeon risks puncturing the bladder, and permanently damaging the baby maker, as she digs around in one’s abdominal cavity to retrieve a baby safely – the mother mustering every ounce of energy to not throw up during this process, for fear she will move a centimeter in the wrong direction, and internally bleed to death from an errant slip of a surgical tool – is totally easier.
Childbirth is hard no matter which way you slice it (pun definitely intended). Each woman’s birth experience is unique to her. And for many women like me, the only thing easier than enduring a c-section is being slowly eaten alive by insects and rodents. In fact, I’ll take the insects and rodents the next time around. (Just kidding. There won’t be a next time after what I’ve experienced.)”
Need I say more? Do we all experience pain? Do we have babies? I guess that solves it then.
The way through which our babies come into this world does not determine our capability to mother our gifts at all.
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