I Insisted on Having an Elective C-Section

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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.  

Me in all my morphine-drip glory, post c-section. Ahhh, yes. Childbirth is indeed beautiful. Some parts of it anyway.

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. 

 

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Raised outside of Orlando, Florida, redheaded Melissa is an avid sunscreen and shade enthusiast. She left Florida in 2007 to serve in the United States Air Force as a radio and television broadcaster. After basic and technical training she was stationed in Illinois, South Korea, Italy, and Alabama with two deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan sprinkled in between. In 2013, she met her husband Gregg and in 2015, they were married. This gave Melissa the new title of Bonus Mom to Gregg's daughter, Isabella. That year also welcomed Melissa back into the civilian world as her eight years of service came to a close due to medical retirement. She has called Birmingham home for the past 3.5 years. Shortly after they were married, Melissa and Gregg found themselves wading through the confusing and emotional world of miscarriage and unexplained infertility. They excitedly welcomed a son in November of 2017 after two years of trying for a little miracle. Melissa dedicates her extra time to spoiling their three rescue dogs Ginger, Typsy, and Bruno. She also fosters dogs before they find their furever homes.

3 COMMENTS

  1. Hi Melissa – Your article is exactly what I needed to read. A friend shared it with me and I, too, have Fabry. I’m 20 weeks pregnant and terrified of the idea of both labor and a pain crisis at the same time. When I experience a Fabry crisis, it’s 10 out of 10 level pain, and since I’m a first-time mom I can only imagine the pain of labor in delivery is probably another 10/10. I’d love to connect if you are open to talking further. Thanks for sharing your story!

  2. Hey there!! First, huge congrats on your little bundle! There’s nothing like motherhood in the world. I guess the same kinda goes for Fabry. I’ve got your e-mail address and I’ll be reaching out soon. Feel free to ask me anything! You’re going to do amazing, no matter what you choose.

  3. Good for you researching what was right for you! I do not care how any one gives birth, but I hope every mother makes an educated decision. I feel too many people are bullied into their decisions or go with what is status quo.

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