I am a mother, step-mother, wife, health economist, birth trauma survivor, blogger, women’s health advocate and founder of the Cesarean by Choice Awareness Network who lives and works in Victoria, British Columbia. I started this blog when I was pregnant with my daughter who was born in July 2010 at Victoria General Hospital. Unfortunately the delivery was traumatic, as it was planned to be a cesarean delivery and ultimately was an unplanned and unwanted vaginal delivery without access to epidural pain relief. Largely as a way of coping with the aftermath of the traumatic delivery of my daughter, I began to blog more regularly in 2011. Since that time, I have made contact (through this blog and other online communities) with a wonderful community of women and care providers; I have started litigation with respect to the delivery of my daughter – in the hopes of preventing what happened to me from happening to others and getting retribution and closure for what happened to me; gave birth via elective cesarean to my son; and started a Facebook group – the Cesarean by Choice Awareness Network, for women and care-providers who support maternal choice cesarean delivery as a supportive place for women to connect and discuss maternal choice cesarean. I remain committed to improving maternity care for mothers and babies by raising awareness and understanding for the issues related to birth trauma and quality care during pregnancy, labour and delivery.
I first heard about Janice’s writing from a fellow mom during the No More Mommy Wars photo shoot. Her work has opened my mind to the need for elective caesarean sections. Thank you so much to Janice for sharing with us!
“We’re planning on a caesarean delivery.”
It’s a simple sentence, but, because of the culture of birth – it is not a sentence that is greeted with acceptance and support. First, people assume that there is some medical reason for the caesarean birth plan – and often times there is (the child is breech, it’s a multiple pregnancy, the placenta is in a position that makes birth absolutely dangerous…etc.). It is assumed, that the caesarean is unwanted – that it is a function of necessity and that it imposes a hardship on the woman. This might be true in many cases, but sometimes a caesarean is actually wanted.
Sometimes a caesarean is wanted even when there are no medical reasons for it, rather the woman has considered both planned vaginal delivery and planned caesarean delivery and has decided that for whatever reasons, a planned caesarean delivery better meets her needs and those of her baby. I am one of those mothers – a mother for whom vaginal delivery was not preferred, and rarer still, a mother who has been rather open about that preference.
Being “that mother” has been an eye-opening experience. It has meant truly being in the minority on an issue that many people hold strong opinions about. It has meant understanding what it is like to have intimate decisions, medical decisions, criticized and debated – and having to defend, not only the choice itself, but the very right of a woman to make it in the first place.
Unfortunately being “that mother” – also meant having to cope with an unplanned and under-medicated vaginal delivery because, when it mattered most – when I went into labour, rather than doing what could be done to facilitate the birth plan – what was agreed to with my doctors, I was denied access to both an epidural and the caesarean I had planned on. The day that was supposed to be one of the happiest of my life – had left me numb and reeling, with overwhelmingly negative feelings. On one hand, I had a much-wanted healthy daughter for whom I was incredibly grateful and on the other hand I was left grappling with the experience and trying to understand it and come to terms with it. I knew having a baby would be disruptive – but I was not expecting it to be traumatic.
That experience has had a tremendous impact on my life. As a result of that experience, I found it difficult to “fit in” with other mothers . As a result of that experience, I have a certain trepidation around those who are expecting – I sincerely hope for the best for them, regardless of their plans, but I worry, knowing the profound impact of the unplanned. As a result of that experience, my second pregnancy meant travelling to access care, meant seeing a therapist on a regular basis, and meant being incredibly relieved when things unfolded the way they were planned to unfold. As a result of that experience, I have come to a better understanding of what “a good birth” is – and have grown to hate the ideology that seems so entrenched in maternity care. I have worked to increase awareness and respect for caesarean by choice – in the hopes that other women who have similar preferences won’t have the same experience and that those around them, even if they wouldn’t make the same choice for themselves -can hopefully better understand and respect the choice that is made by many women.
What matters is that all women are supported in their pregnancy and childbearing journeys with a focus on achieving emotionally and physically healthy outcomes for women and their children. A critical part of that is supporting and respecting a woman’s right to make informed choices.
Janice Williams, desires to make pregnancy, child-birth and the year post-partum better for women – she blogs at Awaiting Juno, founded the facebook group Cesarean by Choice Awareness Network, has worked with Birth Trauma Canada to create the Maternity Legal Action Fund, and is currently working to establish Moms Forward CCC a Community Contribution Company that will seek to raise and direct funds to undertake and support projects that will take action to improve the lives of women with a focus on improving pregnancy, childbirth and the post-partum year. She is a mother to two – Juno (age 3) and Wyatt (age 1), a step-mother to two more Isaac (age 16) and Georgia (age 12) and married to Darren Williams. She has spent the majority of her career working as a health economist. She no longer has spare time.
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