What do you remember about your child’s birth story? Was there calming music? Did it take place in an operating room? Were the lights dimmed? Did it go according to what you had planned?
My first pregnancy resulted in a 34-week unplanned c-section followed by an IV of magnesium and a two week NICU stay for the baby. Definitely not how I thought it would go! I quickly learned that birth plans don’t always pan out. While it took me a long time to accept, I eventually saw our daughter’s birth story as magnificent and remarkable.
Getting ready to give birth to our second daughter, I was armed with a scheduled c-section date and a feeling of ease that I knew when and how our daughter would enter the world. I had plans to use a clear drape and was feeling thankful for a doctor who was supportive in our decisions. And as always, I was hooked on Grey’s Anatomy.
Shortly after finding out I was pregnant, season 15 of Grey’s Anatomy aired. Teddy was pregnant, and so was I. It was exciting to be pregnant at the same time as a character on one of my favorite shows. I felt a little more connected to the show and its story lines as I watched Teddy navigate her pregnancy while I experienced mine.
Each week I’d think, “Gosh, when is she going to have her baby?!” and sort of laugh because there I was, also waiting to have my baby. She’d go to doctor’s appointments and ultrasounds; I’d do the same. We would have the same pregnancy aches and pains. I felt so “seen.”
After years of realizing how often the NICU is portrayed on the show (once you have a baby in the NICU, you notice it in shows everywhere), I finally felt a positive, happy connection to the show instead of one that left me in tears. Then Teddy’s water broke when she went to see Amelia and profess her love for Owen. And, I found myself in tears.
A Distant Stranger
An instant feeling of sadness washed over me that wasn’t related to pregnancy hormones. After everything Teddy and I had been through together with our pregnancies, this was something I probably wouldn’t experience. My water probably wouldn’t break unless I went into labor before my scheduled c-section date.
Suddenly the character who I identified with the most became a distant stranger. Though I was confident with my decision to have a repeat c-section, it didn’t change the fact that I no longer felt connected to Teddy and her pregnancy. I didn’t recognize what I was seeing, and it shocked me a bit that I reacted so emotionally. After all, this was a fictional character on a fictional show. Why was I so upset?
What was difficult for me, and perhaps you can relate to this, too, was the fact that planned c-sections seem to be so underrepresented in the media. I felt like I was on the same journey as this character on my favorite show, and then her water broke. It was a reminder that I probably wasn’t about to watch a birth story like I was expecting to have for my own child. That positive, happy connection to the show was gone. I no longer felt “seen”.
Owning My Child’s Birth Story
C-sections are generally portrayed in the media as scary, emergency, and sometimes not by choice. I mean, look at Grey’s Anatomy—April Kepner had an emergency c-section on a kitchen table. I understand that, in some situations, things don’t always go the way you think they will. That episode of Grey’s where Teddy’s water broke was a reminder of that. What happened to Teddy wasn’t necessarily going to happen to me—and that was perfectly okay.
Teddy gave birth in the next episode, and a few weeks later, I did, too. I was overjoyed, I cried, and I watched through a clear drape as our daughter was born. Our daughter’s birth was every bit as magnificent and remarkable as I thought it would be and it looked nothing like what I saw on TV. But how great is that? It was my experience, and mine alone. The things that made it unique were the things that made it memorable. Looking back, I wouldn’t want it to look like what I see on TV.
C-sections can be scary, stem from emergency situations, and sometimes happen not by choice. But, they can also be beautiful, somewhat planned out, and almost exactly how you choose them to be. That episode of Grey’s taught me something so important: it is okay if your situation is different from someone else’s. The magic of your child’s birth story is still there. It is your experience, and yours alone.
For every mama who’s birth story didn’t go according to plan, every c-section mama who feels unseen, every mother…you have the power of your voice. You hold the magic in your memories. Your baby and their birth has its own story. Share it out loud. This is what makes it magnificent and remarkable.