10 December 2005

Damn the Primary Cesarean

Today was the funeral for Amanda's Noah. I lit my yahrzeit candle this morning. And I damn, damn, damn the primary cesarean. So many doctors, motivated only by greed and by hurry, and not at all by any oath to first do no harm, play the dead baby card, and make that first cut. It's so much easier than educating women to not fear birth, to be strong, to see birth as their initiation into the bigger mystery that is motherhood. Nah. Let's drug em and slice em, let's increase our profit margin, let's free up beds in the hospital for the catastrophes we've created. It's a really slick system. First, fail to adequately prepare women for their first pregnancy. Then, cut them open without true informed consent. Then, once they're cut, inform them that they can never have a vaginal birth, due to the policies imposed by ACOG, which is nothing but a trade union. Women are required to sign up to have each subsequent child cut out of them, with the trite and hideous phrase, "once a cesarean, always a cesarean." You know, we arrest drug pushers for using the same tactics; the first hit's free. And the OB and hospital's profits just keep going up, should that woman manage to have more children (because of course, miscarriage and secondary infertility are also effects of a cesarean). Many of us, who have the scar, wonder what we could have said to the women we were before, to prevent this from happening, to protect them from the experiences we had. And despite hampstering this question, in all the dark hours of the night and day for three and a half years, I have no answer. I don't know how to impart the information I've gained in a way that makes sense to the woman I was then. I dwell on this personal variation of Susan Griffin's question,

"I have been asked if I had the choice again, would I have a child? This is an absurd question. I am not the same person I was before I had a child. That young woman would not understand me."
I must make that young woman understand me. How to start the conversation, though? If she was a woman with a head for finance, I could tell her that past performance is no guarantee of future results. Just because your mother popped you out like a champagne cork doesn't mean your birth won't take days and days. Just because you have "birthing hips" doesn't mean that the baby's going to slide out without you so much as breaking a sweat. Just maybe, it's going to be more work and more pain and more effort than you've ever put into anything in your entire life. If she was a woman who believed in better living through chemistry, I might tell her that the endorphins released by a nonmedicated vaginal birth are nothing like the ones generated by the fear put into you at a hospital, and the baby birthed gently with love at home is nothing like the baby whose trust is broken from the moment he is touched first by someone who is not his family. If she was a woman who valued unhindered living, I might try to get her to listen to me about some of the incredible benefits of gestating in peace, unharassed by a medical system whose goals are not the same as yours, despite their marketing spin. An entire nine months to fall in love with your baby, without anyone pushing the agenda that you should be tentative about the pregnancy, babbling their constant dire warnings about "but what if? But what if? But what if?" and charging perfectly healthy women and babies thousands of dollars per pregnancy for nothing more than to make them uncomfortable and needlessly concerned. If she was the sort of girl who rebelled against authority, I might start out with my crusade against pregnancy tests. Who needs em? You're either pregnant, in which case your body will tell you, or you aren't, in which case, your body will tell you. The idea that you have to pee on a stick to confirm your pregnancy, is just the first in a series of little pseudocultural rituals designed to distance a woman from her body, when it's sending the strongest signals it ever will. But really, I'm just one voice. And if she's an independent girl like me, she's not going to listen until she gets there herself. And by then, it's too late.


At 2/21/2006 08:39:00 PM, Blogger s-hooks said...

Maybe I would have told her that she has rights, and just because a doctor says so doesn't make it right. That no one can force you to have surgery you know you don't need. When your doctor says we need to go ahead with a c-section because it's late and the anesthesiologist is ready to go home, it's time to call another doctor or better yet, go home and have the birth you were made to have.

I wish I could tell her, but I can't. I suppose that just like the trials I've been through before, this too will make me stronger. I have the correct information to give my daughter one day should I be so lucky to have one. Maybe one day I'll attend her homebirth and help welcome my sweet peaceful grandbaby into the family's loving arms.


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