Thursday, February 23, 2012

Baby Removal Surgery - Part I

A few days ago, and 2 weeks before it was scheduled, I wrote down my thoughts about my planned C-section.  2 hours after I finished it, I went into labor.   That should teach me who’s really in control.
I’m all set.  Next Friday at noon.  I’m going “in” to have a large but benign (and I’m guessing quite cute) parasite removed.  It’s just been growing continually for the last 9 months, and something has to be done about it.
I know that’s sounds flip, but I have to laugh about it.  Or I’ll cry. 
I’m outing myself here: I’m having a planned C-section.  You can now throw your dashikis and lemongrass tea at the screen in disgust and protest.
Truly, I feel utterly sheepish about the whole endeavor.  I’ve avoided telling people when they ask about the due date and even falsely make it sound as if “hey, it could happen anytime.”  
Last time around we tried to have our baby as naturally as possible.  We read all the books, watched that Ricky Lake movie and were swayed by the humanistic logic of it all: we have WAY too many C-sections in the US, mainly for the convenience of doctors and because of the escalation of non-essential interventions to help “move the baby along.”  And mothers are denied that most core of feminine rites – birthing their child.
But we were balanced about the whole thing.  We also knew how lucky we were to be in a part of the planet where, because of medical interventions, maternal and child death are really a thing of the past. Not so everywhere. Not so where we live now.
So, we used midwives that worked in a hospital, and ended up needing an emergency C-section anyway.  I feel confident it was not done for anyone’s “convenience” and I shudder to think what could have happened were I living in a place without access to the needed surgical intervention.
But this time, I have done the unthinkable and actually opted for a C-section.  It makes sense for me given my history, the uncertainty of being another country and what the doctor and others recommend, but I can’t help but feel I’ve sold myself out -- that I’m one of those women who are “too posh to push” too easily swayed by the mother-hating medical industrial complex. 
The thing is, they do do V-BACs (Vaginal Birth After C-section) here.  But instead of calling them an oddly hip sounding acronym (Please welcome to the stage MC V-BAC!), the procedure here is cringingly called “trial of the scar” which does little to put me at ease. 
And I am surrounded by supportive non-ideological people who are certainly not judging me for my decision. 
But, then why do I feel so self-conscious about it?
Because I know the judgment that goes around about nearly every child-birthing/rearing decision a person makes today.  And I’ve been made to feel that a planned C-section is right up there with refusing to try to breast feed and leaving your child to forage for his own food.
And it’s funny to think that I won’t really have a “birth story” – one of those hallmarks of motherhood, like making an elaborate first year birthday cake from scratch, that women use to simultaneously bond with and one-up each other.  I could write my “birth story” today: I went into the hospital at 8, got an epidural at 9 and heard my sweet baby’s first cries at 10.  There is nothing gripping or heroic about it.  Nothing worth repeating.
But soon enough it will be over.  All things going well, I’ll have a healthy baby in my arms and it won’t matter at all how he got there.  
Turns out I do have a birth story of sorts.  That’ll be Part II. But more importantly mama and baby are healthy, thriving and one of is us quite adorable indeed.  Emmet is pretty cute too.
Emmet Daniel Christensen - hour 10 (or so)


  1. tears of joy for you, sweet mama (et al.)

  2. Being a mother changes us to our core--we do things that we previously shunned because they are good for our children. It is humbling, and ultimately freeing. Congratulations to you and your beautiful family!

  3. Congratulations, Kim! So happy for you and thank you for sharing your feelings so openly, I fully relate! He is beautiful!

  4. Congratulations! You look radiant, and Emmet Is a cutie pie. Enjoy your time adjusting to being a family of four!

  5. Dear Kim,
    Congratulations on the new arrival. Sorry I did not see your reply to my previous comments until now. I imagine you have been very busy with the new arrival.
    Will and I would very much like to meet up - maybe in Kisumu when things have settled down for you.
    Please send me an SMS when you have time. 0736530454
    Best wishes,

  6. Childbirth stories are for the mother, yes, but also for the baby as he grows and asks "where did I come from" and by this, he really means, "tell me how I got here." And for that question, you have a fascinating answer for Emmet: "You were born in a faraway land called Kenya, and it was an exciting time for Daddy, Caleb and me as we waited for you to join our family! Let me tell you about..."

    much love

  7. The most important thing is the line you wrote - it doesn't matter how he got here. And, even if it is a planned C-section, there is always a story - what you did that day (like talk to your sister and mother) what Caleb did - and the rest of the story that I know you will share.

  8. Kim -

    Another thought - Ceasaren has been around a long time - since Ceasar as a matter of fact (and probably earlier). There is nothing to be ashamed about because what was first and foremost in your mind was your safety and the health of your child. Nothing more noble than that.

  9. OH OH OH! Great news! Well done, whichever way it happened. Welcome Emmet!

  10. This little story brought tears to my eyes. 9 months of carrying another person around inside your body, plus a pretty invasive surgery to have said person removed sounds pretty heroic to me! Congratulations on your gorgeous little boy. Love the name Emmet.

  11. Congratulations for your beautiful adorable baby.

    And I'll just repeat what you already know. You made the absolute wisest decision to have a planned C-section. I know what the medical system is like in Nairobi! You want to avoid anything relating to emergency.

  12. Hello from Seoul! Just talked to Karen the other day for the first time since we left Nairobi, and I asked how all of you are doing. She told me about your blog, so I thought I'd read for myself. Congratulations to you, Colin, Caleb and Emmet! He is a little cutie. Thor and Nadya still talk about Caleb all the time. Please give him a hug from us! Hope to see you this summer and meet Emmet.
    Love, Kristina

  13. Your post hits home with me. I had my son by an emergency c-section (long story) and chances are IF I should ever have another child in the future, because of my medical history with the first pregnancy, I'd have to do the VBAC. He's so handsome and precious btw :D