I declined the labor of childbirth. Or that’s what my medical reasoning states as to why I chose a cesarean section, according to my obstetrician. It has bothered me since the day I saw her jot down those words on my paperwork for surgery. I could feel my blood pressure rise while my eyebrows began to furrow in their “I’m judging you” position. I declined that explanation! How about that?! I didn’t simply wave my hand and dismiss the thought of childbirth because I wanted my son to magically appear (although it would be nice if that’s how it worked). I thought about how I wanted to give birth long before the day I found out I was pregnant. I weighed the risks, the pros and cons, and came to the conclusion through sincere reflection about what would be best for me, or really, what would be best for my situation.
I have this pesky little genetic disorder that gets in the way of life sometimes. It’s like dealing with flies. You don’t think about them when they’re not around, but the moment one shows up, it just consistently annoys the ever-living crap out of you. Yeah, that describes it well. It’s called Fabry Disease and whether I liked it or not, I knew it would fly into my birth plans if I left the door open for it do so.
I discussed this with my doctor, but I don’t think she took my concerns as seriously as I did. I can’t blame her too much, as not many doctors know about this disease. I find myself educating them 95% of the time. Anyway, my OB said we’d make the final decision closer to my 39th week and she also let me know that an epidural would help me not to feel anything during birth with one big caveat: if I were to go into labor before the scheduled c-section, they expected me to push a tiny human out of my body, with the help of an epidural.
While little research has been done on pregnancies and Fabry, something told me that I needed to take the reigns and seriously plan what I wanted, how I wanted it, and hope for that child to stay put until my c-section date. I knew that if I went into labor, I would probably also go into what’s called a Fabry Crisis. This crisis entails feeling an intense, excruciating burning sensation in the hands and feet, otherwise known as neuropathy. It goes away when it feels like it, sometimes after minutes and sometimes after days; however, it can be brought on by becoming overheated due to the body’s limited ability to sweat. Any type of physical activity can cause this or just simply having a fever can bring it on.
So, you might see why going into labor, most likely overheating and then experiencing a potential days-long Fabry Crisis on top of that, wasn’t exactly what I wanted to do. It would also save the doctors, nurses and my husband from being verbally attacked by me with every bad word in the book (and probably a few made up ones, if we’re being honest).
I wanted to completely cover all my bases and felt that a c-section was the best option for that. Who wants to be in so much pain that holding your new baby is torture, when the pain could’ve been prevented?
The day of my scheduled c-section came, and I began the surgery preparation process at the hospital. Everything was going well, until the anesthesiologist came in to talk to me. She wasn’t familiar with Fabry Disease, but based on her quick research, she didn’t feel as though an epidural would be the best option. She didn’t know how the temporarily paralyzing injection would settle in my spine and she didn’t want to find out the hard way.
At that moment, it hit me. If I hadn’t insisted on a c-section and I went into labor, there would absolutely be no emergency-c-section-with-an-epidural option. I would’ve possibly had to experience a natural childbirth with no pain relief! Just elect me as the mayor of the city of Nopeville, in the state of That Ain’t Happenin’! My realization was justification for my gut instinct about wanting to have a planned c-section to deliver my child in the first place.
Thankfully, general anesthesia was an option and I took it. Was it exactly what I wanted? No, but it was much better than the alternative. And wouldn’t you know it? My son magically appeared after I woke up from anesthesia and no one was verbally assaulted by me. It was a win-win for everyone.
This might garner a few gasps, but even if I didn’t have this genetic disorder, I probably would’ve insisted on an elective c-section anyway. Giving birth is freakin’ scary! A number of things can go wrong in any circumstance. It’s up to the mother to decide what she’s most comfortable with, and that includes the option of having a c-section. Research it, ask your friends their birth stories (be prepared to get some strong opinions on this), talk to your doctor about all of your options, but mostly don’t get pigeonholed into thinking that you have to deliver vaginally.
In the end, no one else is entitled to care about your choice except you. My doctor’s explanation of my choice on paper didn’t matter either, because I did what worked for me and the world was none the wiser. I’ve got a beautiful, healthy son and a barely noticeable scar to show for it. You know which one is more important to me? Not the scar.