Vaginal Births and Breastfeeding: A Few Things I Don't Care About Anymore

Linda Sharps
Healthy Living

My first birth didn't go quite how I expected. I was 37 weeks along and feeling as fine as it's possible to feel during those final elephantine weeks when a routine prenatal exam turned into a flurry of blood-pressure-related events that can be quickly described as Go Directly to Hospital, Do Not Pass Go, Do Not Collect Vaginal Birth.

For a while I had some lingering issues about the whole scenario. Should I have done this, should I have asked for that. The planned C-section I had for my second son's birth helped smooth over some of those prickly feelings (it somehow helped to go through everything again, but without the scary unexpectedness or that hateful IV drip of magnesium sulfate), but I still had regrets. I sometimes felt like I'd missed a critical parenting experience. Like there would eventually be a test, and I had skipped the chapter on Labor and Delivery altogether.

I couldn't really identify with women who had home births and stuck placentas in their freezer. Not that I'd planned on giving birth in my tub and saving my placenta next to the Budget Gourmet Mac & Cheese, mind you, but I sometimes felt judged for my C-sections. Feeling judged usually has a lot more to do with the person on the feeling end than the person who's theoretically doing the judging, and I was no exception—convinced, at times, that every throwaway comment about "medically unnecessary" C-sections was aimed directly at me.

Oh, and breastfeeding. Yeah, that was an issue too. I couldn't breastfeed my babies, and I was constantly torn between feeling protective of my privacy and wanting to shove my personal medical details down the throat of everyone who had something unpleasant to say about formula feeding because hey angry lactivist lady, guess what, some of us just don't get a CHOICE in the matter.

How the babies came out of my body, and what they ate afterwards. Man, those two things took up some headspace for a while.

You know what I'm noticing, though? The older they get, the sillier it seems to me that I was ever so focused on those details in the first place. My thriving, galloping, happy boys—did I really ever fret about whether or not I got to experience their entrance into the world in the way that I wanted? What a ridiculous luxury, to have wished for an even better outcome than the one I had. I watch them run and laugh and wrestle and think how their world is so much larger than what the contents of their baby bottle once were.

I would never tell someone that these things don't matter, because of course they do. But when I see the inevitable heated debates breaking out over how babies are born or how they're fed, I think, Someday this topic just won't mean as much to you. Maybe in some cases that's a good thing. I know it was for me.

How about you—have you found that you care less about certain hot-button issues as your kids get older?

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