To all those people who’ve said that a C-section is “easy,” I have one thing to say in response: sure, I may not have pushed a baby out of my birth canal, but getting a C-section has undoubtedly been one of the most surreal and hardest experiences of my life.
People would ask me about my C-section, if I felt any pain, if I were conscious, how the surgery progressed and felt. And all I could say in response was: it felt sterile and all too medical.
But, before I talk about my operation, I think it’s important to share how I felt in the few days leading up to Tadashi’s birth…
This past Saturday, Reggie and I took Tadashi* on a day trip to Monterey and Carmel. Reggie had a beachside engagement shoot scheduled with a couple of clients that evening, so he asked if Tadashi and I wanted to spend some time together on the beach while he worked.
I happily obliged: I can never pass up an opportunity to walk barefoot in the sand.
When Reggie and I separated so he could get to work, I strapped Tadashi to my belly, took off my shoes and socks, and paced the shoreline as the sun slowly but surely dipped toward the horizon. I savored the coarse sand on my soles, the biting ocean water lapping over my toes, the cool breeze on my face.
And, after much longer than I probably should have realized, something dawned on me: this is the very first time Tadashi has seen the ocean.
And I immediately shifted my focus from the distant horizon to my wide-eyed son. And I smiled at the pure wonder and curiosity on his face. “That’s the ocean,” I told Tadashi. I explained to him that this was the home of all the creatures we saw earlier at the aquarium. I pointed out the waves, coming and going in a steady rhythm; the kelp scattered around the shoreline; the seagulls gliding overhead.
But, mostly, I tried my best to simply observe him. How, as I walked along the shore, he turned his head from side to side in order to keep a close eye on the water. How he kicked his feet in joy as dogs raced past us in the sand. How he craned his neck and reached his chubby little fingers toward the trees above us. How he blinked rapidly and stuck his tongue out at the ocean breeze, maybe to feel the wind on his tongue, maybe to taste the salty air.
This is the first time Tadashi has seen the ocean, I realized. And I am so grateful that I am with him right now.
Because, in the midst of all the chaos of first-time parenthood, I sometimes forget that I have the privilege of witnessing a little human being experience the world for the first time. And that is an awe-inspiring thing.
“Still breech,” my OB-GYN exclaimed, as she glided the ultrasound probe over my belly.
It’s been two weeks since my standard 32-week prenatal checkup, where — in addition to analyzing my urine, asking about my exercise and diet, and addressing any concerns about the quickly approaching birth — my doctor checked the baby’s position. If the baby were head down, then he’d be in perfect position for childbirth. If not, then we would have to make some decisions.
During that appointment, after rubbing my rapidly growing belly with ultrasound gel, my doctor also proclaimed that my baby was in breech (feet down, head up, and an unsafe position for a vaginal birth). We had some time to explore next steps at that point, so my doctor reviewed some options.
I woke up last Thursday morning to an Instagram direct message from my mom: an illustration of a woman cradling a newborn and sporting a slightly crescent-shaped scar across her lower belly. April is Cesarean Awareness Month, the message read.
As her daughter who delivered via cesarean section over half a year ago, my mom obviously wanted to send me a little acknowledgment and a little love.
And that message warmed my heart.
Firstly, because I didn’t even know Cesarean Awareness Month was a thing — and I thought that was freakin’ awesome. And, secondly, because cesarean sections (more commonly known as C-sections) are traumatic medical procedures that are fairly common yet still frighteningly misunderstood. And the women who undergo them — who have to endure ignorance, misconceptions, and judgment, in addition to lengthy recovery periods — need some acknowledgment and some love every once in a while.
I apologize for being MIA for the past couple of months. Once Tadashi got sick with the flu, Reggie and I, unfortunately, couldn’t get back into a life rhythm. So, understandably, my writing fell by the wayside.
And that’s what I want to focus on in today’s blog post: that struggle for new parents to find a rhythm. More specifically, a rhythm for self-care and self-love.
I wrote on my 28th birthday that taking time for myself and for my (physical, emotional, and mental) well-being was one of my top priorities this year. And that still stands. It’s just been so difficult for a multitude of reasons: