Six months ago, I gave birth to a healthy baby. He was delivered by Cesarean section two weeks early, and it was my second such operation.
At 8 pounds, 12 ounces, he was perfectly formed. And now he’s a happy, pudgy baby.
I, on the other hand, look like a railroad track. I have two scars running across my belly, and although they represent each of my children, I’m not happy about them.
I’m sharing this story not for your sympathy nor for your judgment. It happens to be the most personal example I can give of my passionate belief that everyone needs to speak up for themselves when they’re involved with their own health care.
My first child was born by emergency C-section. The doctor who operated left me a beautiful scar — not too long, quite thin, and low down enough that even the skimpiest bikini wouldn’t reveal it. But for reasons that are still unclear, my second child wasn’t removed through this same “door.” And the scar left from his removal is more than an inch higher than the other.
Why am I unhappy? As I told the doctor, if I’d been cut open from my nose to my toes to get the baby out, it wouldn’t have mattered — as long as there was a sufficiently good reason. And as long as I had been in on the decision-making process. Neither of these two happened.
I’m not pointing fingers here — just passing on an important message.
We women really do get the short shrift every now and again. And when it comes to childbirth, we sometimes don’t receive the attention, care and respect that we deserve, as if giving birth is such an everyday occurrence that we’re treated as only the vessels.
Of course, the baby’s health and welfare is of the utmost importance — but so, too, is the mother’s physical and emotional well-being. And that’s why it’s so important that pregnant women ask for what they want and don’t take procedures for granted.
My second son’s arrival was not an emergency. There was ample time to discuss any need for a second incision.
But I was never informed. Nor was it ever mentioned during any of the doctor’s many visits to me during my hospital stay. And, consequently, when two weeks later I discovered that I had a new scar, I was shocked.
That’s why I’m so adamant in my message: All patients have the right to know what’s going on, as long as they’re conscious. And all doctors should be responsible for giving out as much information as possible.
My doctor may have felt that the first scar was too low to safely perform this second Cesarean. And that would have been fine — had I been told. However, I was left with a feeling of helplessness about my own body — and unnecessary guilt that I could have changed the outcome — and that’s just not right.