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Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Scar

First of all, be forewarned - this post has pictures of my actual scar, but I don't think it will be a problem for two reasons 1) I happen to have an external vertical scar, and 2) I think most women who are a part of ICAN are open and sensitive enough to view these types of images.

I've been thinking a lot lately about my external scar - mostly because next week I am going on a trip to Aruba with my husband and brother and sister-in-law (yea me!). And to be honest, I'm kind of excited to wear a bikini (yep, I'm going to) and proud to as a matter of fact. You see, there was a time when I was quite embarrassed by this scar. Not so much because of how it looked, but because of how it got there.

My son's birth was an emergency cesarean under general anesthesia. Apparently you can save time doing the section by making a vertical incision on the outside of your body, yet still making the low-horizontal cut on your actual uterus. I didn't have to have that vertical incision if people weren't putzing around at my hospital. I remember that the doctor came in and told me at 2:45pm that we were going to do a c-section because my son was having repeated late decelerations of his heartrate during my medically necessary induction (and I do feel my induction was medically necessary). Ok, fine, section me. But who knows what was going on, and all of a sudden it's 3:30pm, and instead of a somewhat planned and calm c-section, it is mad chaos - thus my vertical scar. Apparently my son's heartrate went to 60 beats/minute and stayed there. It took the physician 2 minutes from that first cut to get him out.

How I wish I had an initial picture with my 25 staples covering my incision.

My scar used to conjure the emotion of embarrassment. Who has a vertical c-section incision? No one I know. And who has one THIS thick??!! And at the time of my c-section, I didn't know anyone who had a failed induction such as I. I didn't know anyone who was so helpless after birth and who had struggled - and again - failed - to get their child to breastfeed. This scar represented for so long, all of the failures of that birth and the consequences that came with having a cesarean birth.

While I do give that OB credit as she made statements afterwards such as "I had to give you a chance at a vaginal birth", and "Oh, yes, you can have a VBAC next time, I cut your uterus the right way" (one of my first thoughts upon viewing my incision was that I was doomed for future vaginal births due to the vertical incision), however, she did say one thing that I totally disagree with. She said, "Actually with a vertical incision your stomach will be flatter than those who've had a horizontal incision" (I'm not seeing that difference) and "You will never be able to wear a bikini again" - well, stuff it, because I am! Because, I am not embarrassed by its external appearance.

And not only am I not embarrassed by how it looks, I no longer have this feeling about the experience that gave me that scar. In fact, I actually embrace that scar. Had it not been for that cut, I would not be who I am today. Even if I had not gone on to have a successful VBAC, I still believe that I would be grateful for my cesarean for all it has taught me about birth, women, and myself. It is no longer a painful reminder of a traumatic birth, but more of a revelation of who I've become and what I've learned.

In fact, I love what this scar has done to my life. And whether I like it or not, it is how my lovely son came into the world.

I know that some people will never be able to feel like I do about my scar, and that's ok. This is just my story - and I cannot believe it's my story. 4 years ago, I never would have imagined that I'd be feeling this way. Hopefully someday we can all embrace our scars: physical, emotional, spirtual, intellectual - in one way or another.

Here it is again, while I was 37 weeks pregnant with my VBAC baby (who came at 38 weeks).
*Photo credit to Studio Laguna photography,


Desiree said...

Good for you! I had an emergency c-section in April and I can't say that I have yet come to accept it quite as well as you have, but you do give me hope that one day I will.

And rock that bikini! :)

Erin said...

That's beautiful! I love the scar. It was a representation of something terrible... and now it is a reminder of that beautiful malfunction that eventually encouraged growth and empowerment. You are a such a wonderful and strong being for sticking to your guns and following your heart.

50% of inductions go to cesarean. You are not alone, but furthermore, you are no longer defeated! Much love sweets!

Rebecca said...

I'll take your scar and raise you some stretch marks!

Seriously though, not to trivialize, you have an important story to tell and I appreciate you telling it!

heather d said...

Jessica--thank you for posting this. It cross-posts to FB and people think I wrote it and are really touched and moved. I have clarified that I didn't write it and wanted to let you know how many people it has touched.

Nadia said...

Wow nice post:) I also have a vertical scar which was a representation of all the things that went wrong with my 1st pregnancy. You're a strong woman. Hope I get a VBAC for my 2nd pregnancy.

Terry said...

I'm glad you were able to get past your issues about the scar. In my opinion, it's not as bad as you thought; I've definitely seen worst. There are really wounds that don't heal; they heal physically but will leave a scar physically and emotionally. This is why I understand those who are undergo through an intense skin drafting or any surgeries just to eliminate their scar, as it will help them rebuild their confidence and heal their wounds physically and emotionally.

Terry Bayer

Laurie Warren said...

Your post reminds me of my cousin who’s really annoyed with the scar she developed after giving birth to her first born. She also had a vertical C-section incision like you. It’s definitely one of the many consequences of cesarean birth, which most women want to avoid. Thanks to the technology of plastic and laser surgeries, we can now get rid of those scars and regain our confidence. :)

Laurie Warren