I had an ultrasound a couple of weeks ago. Baby is looking good. But the ultrasound also showed that my placenta is anterior and very low. This means something to me.
You see, at the very bottom of this picture - barely visible anymore due to genetics, self-care and time, is my cesarean scar.
This scar matters. Not so much the one here on the skin, but the one inside, the one left behind when the surgeon cut into my uterus after 54 hours of laboring with my son.
A placenta that grows over a scar can become a placenta that grows INTO the uterus, known as placenta accreta, which is much more common in pregnancies following a cesarean and can result in myriad dangerous complications during birthing, including the need for a hysterectomy.
I'm not particularly concerned for myself: It's been nearly 7 years since my son was born and so my scar should be rock solid and there was no evidence that the uterus had been invaded by the placenta. In fact, I expect that as I get further along, we'll see that the scar and placenta are further apart than we're able to tell now.
But my lack of concern for this pregnancy doesn't mean I won't still hold a torch for other women.
It's Cesarean Awareness Month and cesareans are a big deal, no matter what your doctor tells you or your partner or the media. They impact mother and baby at the time of birth and they ripple throughout the lives of both following the birth. In the case of the mother, a cesarean can forever impact her reproductive health, too.
When I go to give birth this time, I'll have signed a waiver that says I understand the risks of vaginal birth after cesarean or, more specifically, of a trial of labor after cesarean. The waiver will make it seem like I am putting my and my baby's life in great danger, even though the increase in risk is miniscule. This is despite the ease with which doctors prescribe cesareans, as though they are "no big deal."
I want women to be ever reminded that how you birth matters, not because cesareans are wrong but because they MEAN something to your health. But I don't just want to stop there. I want to be a part of the solution to the cesarean epidemic and to the path of healing after a difficult birth or before a next birth.
We use our bodies differently than the long line of women who have come before us and this difference means that vaginal birth is getting harder and harder. We can no longer say, "She believed she could, so she did." We can no longer tell ourselves it will be possible because it is natural. We can no longer pretend that the shoes we wear and the fitness we pursue and the chairs we sit in and the ways we are sedentary are natural.
I am profoundly grateful for skilled surgeons and timely cesareans. They save lives.
But I am not grateful that women all over the world are coerced and misled into unnecessary ones. I am not grateful that we have forgotten our roots, have lost track of what it means to live in the body, to move in the body, to be given environments that actually promote women's health.
I do not know if I will birth vaginally with this child I carry in my womb or if I will again need the aid of a surgeons scalpel. I only know that I have shown up to myself, to my body, to my life in ways so profoundly different than I was able to 7 years ago, that I can expect this birth will be radically different. I am radically different.
If you are looking to learn what I have learned in these years, I encourage you to start with your body. Learn about its physiology. Learn about how it's been impacted by your culture. Learn about how it's been written in your past. And learn about what it means to get present to this body that you live in today.
If you want to do that in the company of the most amazing, loving, consciousness-seeking women, won't you come join me at HeartBody Santa Fe from May 18-20? You'll not only learn how to use your body in ways that support ALL of your biological functions, including birthing, but I'll take you on an inner journey, too, one that brings you back into your heart and body so that you can access your own inner wisdom. So that you know what you need in your body and how to move forward in your life.
I celebrate all birth. The miracle of it. The pain and loss, too. And yet I will continue to seek out and advocate for that which is truly centered in the health of a woman's entire being. I will always seek more. For myself, for you, for the next generation.