Before the birth story

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One afternoon during my sister Abby’s visit, she asked me if I could talk about Job’s birth, or if it still upset me too much.  I never wrote his birth story down, and don’t plan to.  Actually, I’m not one for writing them down anyway.  I think Silas’ is the only one I’ve ever recordedJob’s birth story is one that I think I’ll always carry deep inside.  I don’t feel upset anymore when I think about it, but involuntary sobs still surface unexpectedly when the topic is broached.

I do want to write Mabel’s birth story, and hers is tied to Job’s.  Making the decision that led to her scheduled c-section birth was one of the most difficult I have ever made.  It was a decision that led to intense sobbing relief even in the face of many of my biggest fears. Bigger than my fear of surgery, of blood, stitches, and drugs, was my fear of another shoulder dystocia birth, another baby stuck before being born looking blue and lifeless.

I said I could never have another baby after that birth experience.  An experience that came at the end of a very physically difficult and painful pregnancy.  Two years postpartum, and my body was still not recovered.  I remember the day last fall when I realized that I was indeed probably pregnant.  I was sitting at a desk at the back of the room during Keats’ violin lesson and the reality hit me.  I was overcome with fear and the urge to cry.  I laid my head down on the desk, hoping Keats’ instructor wouldn’t notice my distress.  I asked myself, “How could you let this happen?”  In that moment I forgot my faith, forgot to trust.

The reality was that I truly wanted another baby, and more than that desire, I wanted God’s will for my life even if I was afraid of what His will might be.  Deep in my heart I knew all along that Job wouldn’t be our last, and it was easy to get excited about another baby.  An early blood test confirmed what I believed from the start, that we were expecting a little girl.  Despite my happiness, I dreaded the pregnancy ahead.  I experienced a lot of physical pain in the early months because of problems that I have with my pelvis and lower back, problems that were exacerbated by my previous pregnancy and birth.  But worse than that was the reality that this baby would have to exit my body somehow.  I would wake up in the middle of the night sweating, terrified at the thought, and not be able to go back to sleep.  From my very first prenatal appointment, I joked with my midwife and doctor about wanting to just be knocked out.  “Just give me those twilight drugs.”  I casually mentioned c-section as well, but no one really believed that I wanted to go that route, including myself.  My ob is known for being very low intervention as far as birth goes.  People call him the male midwife.  He never suggested c-section to me, but around the seven month mark, with the end of the pregnancy looming close, I realized that I was absolutely not comfortable with the thought of another vaginal birth of any fashion.  This was despite the fact that the pregnancy was going well, and I felt far better than I had at this point in the pregnancy with Job.  I discussed all my fears with Dr. J, and the fact that they were grounded in reality, not my imagination.  I wanted the safest choice for my baby.  And while he never said that my only safe choice was a c-section, in my mind it was, and after a previous shoulder dystocia birth I was a legitimate candidate.  This was the choice that made me feel safe, and sometimes that is what is most important.  I also thought that while the initial recovery would be more difficult than what I was used to after an uncomplicated vaginal birth, that this might be easier on my body in the long run.  The day that I scheduled the surgery, I cried the whole way home out of sheer relief.

I kept the decision pretty close, only discussing it with family and a few close friends.  Most everyone understood, though some voiced concerns.  As you know, there are abundant opinions out there about c-section and birth in general.  But I am 38 years old, and have had quite a few babies, so other people’s opinions didn’t really bother me.  I felt confident about my decision, and still do.  Of course I had my own concerns.  Beyond fear of the surgery itself, I was worried about healing, bonding, and how I would feel about a birth so different from my previous ones.

My first birth was an induced, medicated hospital birth.  My next five were homebirths.  We “birthed” one precious child through adoption.  The memory of Mabel’s birth isn’t any less dear to me than any of my others, because it wasn’t “natural” as some might say.  There are many ways for children to join a family, and whatever the way it is always life-changing.  Sometimes we get to plan things, and sometimes nothing goes according to plan.  Ultimately we aren’t in control.  We make the best decisions we can with the information we have, and then we must let go and trust.  Mabel’s birth did go according to my plan, though in a perfect world I wouldn’t have chosen surgery.  But having made that choice based on my past experience, I honestly treasure the memory of everything that happened in that operating room.  It was the fragile and perfect beginning of her life with us.  I had a beautiful, healthy baby and for that I am so thankful.  I plan to write her birth story down as soon as I can, but this needed to come first.

p.s.  Mabel is six weeks old today!


  1. I find that I often skip over reading birth stories because I end up feeling bad about my own. Four of mine were regular old hospital births, quick, easy, no problems. Sometimes birth is made to be so darn magical the those of us who just went in a did it feel like we did it “wrong”. Really in the end we all have beautiful babies. The last one was also, quick, easy, in the hospital, but he was stillborn. When a mother loses her child I think that is the only “bad” birth. I feel that each time a mother is able to hold her child and look into their eyes it is a victory. A good birth.

    One type of birth is not “better” than another. There are difficult, traumatic, painful, and exhausting births, to be sure. But any time a child is born alive it is a good birth. I echo the sentiments above, grateful you shared your story and reasons. People respect you and your voice is good and soothing for other mamas.

    Peace and love to your whole family.

  2. I applaud you for this, for making the decision that was best for you and your baby. Love the pics of Mabel!

  3. You made the best decision, I am sure. Such a good and loving mother!

  4. Beautiful! We moms can be so hard on each other. There is no perfect way to give birth or to feed your baby across the board. It is different with each baby and we have to trust in God’s plans.

    So happy for you!

  5. I am so sorry to hear Job’s birth was traumatic and am so very thankful that you spoke up for yourself and your baby. I am sad that there are so many voices in our heads, as mothers–so many things we listen to and let steal little pieces of our worth and joy. You are a wonderful mother and writer and believer. May God bless you and yours and fill your hearts with peace and assurance.

  6. Beautiful, ginny. Thanks for having the courage to open this window to your soul. My son was a natural birth. Went well till the end when his head would not come out. Well, that and the back labor! Cord was wrapped twice around his neck! He was fine luckily. I felt this post deeply. Hugs.

  7. Thank you your story seems a mirror to mine. I have had two sholder dystocia deliveries. One in where it took me alittle over a year to heal and the second where my sons collar bone was broke. This time around with baby number seven I will be doing the c-section and feeling more at peace with my decision everday. My feelings where the same as yours.. How could I let this happen agian!! My faith has been shaken! But my husband and I are open to life and Gods blessing are more then we can ever comprehend! Thank you agian for sharing. May God bless you and your family. JMJ Tarah

  8. Hey Ginny, I just wanted to say I’m glad you wrote this! I facilitate our local Positive Birth movement group and so many people make the mistake of thinking positive=natural. You don’t have to explain your reasons for choosing a section, but I think by doing so you will help some others to find their ways to positive birth experiences. Much love, E

  9. Cindy in NC says:

    Your story really touched my heart, Ginny. I know what it is like to want the baby but to dread the birth experience. In my case, it was fear of a cesarean rather than a vaginal birth. My eldest was born by emergency c-section, and my subsequent cesareans (I could never convince a doctor to try a v-bac) were all horrible in one way or another. By the time I was pregnant with my last (surprise) baby I felt I simply could not be cut open again. Of course, that wasn’t an option, so I made a list of non negotiables to make the experience a bit less inhumane. Some of my requests were big (no amnio) and some were small (to tape rather than remove my wedding ring). My doctor’s response was to fire me from the practice. At seven months pregnant I was forced to find another doctor. I was fortunate that pregnancy was physically easy for me because mentally and emotionally it it was terribly difficult. I ended up being accepted, on my terms, by the faculty practice at a “rival” university (something my daughter has been kidded about her entire life).

    Three months ago my oldest daughter was put on hospital bed rest after her water broke at 32 weeks. She managed to hold out until 34 weeks, the point at which the hospital allowed her midwife, rather than a staff doctor, to direct the birth. One day while she was napping I was tidying the room and ran across a paper that listed all the ob/gyns on staff. When I saw the name of the doctor who had fired me all the sadness and anger flooded back (along with a fierce determination that she would not come near my child) even though 25 years had passed, so I can relate to how you feel about Job’s birth after less than three years.

    I’m glad you got to direct the kind of birth that you both wanted and felt was best for your child. Hopefully there were enough of us c-section mothers who questioned the practices of the past to make this type of birth a bit better for your generation. May birth (by whatever method) be even easier for Mabel’s generation.

  10. Ginny, you made the right choice. And the little girl is so adorable. Take care.

  11. Never having birthed a child – having adopted our son – I have no preconceived opinions about birthing. As with anything, I believe that each of us has the wisdom and opportunity to make choices that are right for us and our family. Just wanted to mention how beautiful you look in the photos, Ginny! Motherhood really becomes you!

  12. I love your attitude about this. It is so refreshing. I’ve heard so many moms both homebirth and scheduled c-section moms talk about feeling shamed. I think sometimes we unintentionally make other moms feel shamed just by sharing our own experiences. I’m proud of my homebirth experience. It was positive and empowering. But I have several friends who chose scheduled c-sections–and I totally understand and support it! However, sometimes when I share my experience I worry that they will misinterpret it as judgement on their choice. It is a tricky mom culture to navigate these days. Personally, I can respect and understand the decisions made by other moms to make different choices. I think we should champion each other and realize that what makes each woman feel safe and taken care of can vary drastically from one to another. Love and blessings on you and Mabel! 🙂

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