When photographer Helen Aller recently took a striking image of Mother and Child, she didn't expect it to go viral. The placement of the baby on its Mothers pelvis poignantly showing the cesarean scar has caused a stir. Why, I don't understand, when it's such a beautiful emotive piece of photography.
You can be sure that if the baby was positioned on the Mother's breast, or if it was a graphic image of 'natural childbirth' or if it was an intimate breastfeeding picture, you wouldn't be allowed to criticise it. I can only deduce that since cesareans are not deemed 'natural' it is therefore 'ok' to judge them. Well my friends, it's not.
Quite often women who have cesareans have no choice in the matter. Or in some cases like mine, women are so disturbed by the thought of childbirth, that they pay for the privilege of being ripped open. Yes I did.
Surely, whatever way a Mother gives birth is superfluous to the fact that she has just brought a life into the world. And that is to be celebrated, just like Helen Aller's photo.
For it tells a story. A simple black and white image showing the wonder and vulnerability of a new life set against its Mum's sacrificial scar. And yes, maybe the baby is on its Mother's crotch, but lets not beat around the 'bush', so to speak, we all know where babies come from!
Natural birth is wonderful, yes we know. But so is a cesarean birth actually. I became pregnant at 35, which means I had a lot of time to see my friends suffer before me. And boy did they. Some diced with death, a few were left temporarily paraylsed and most were left traumatised. Only a small few had been lucky to find it empowering and beautiful.
I had convinced myself I would never have children if it meant undergoing such trauma. Until my boss Fee had a cesarean.
Fee was one of those glamorous media types who in her own words was 'too posh to push' or as I now like to call it ' too hip to rip'! She described her experience less as an ordeal, more of a weekend away at a posh hotel, checking out with a new baby.
It was a game changer for me, so when my time came I did the same.
My decision was met by curiosity to many who couldn't understand why I'd volunteer myself for surgery. But as I liked to remind them - if you're gonna be cut (and lets face it, chances are high), I know where I'd rather be sliced!
Being operated on was scary, but not frightful and before during and after surgery I had been given amazing care and attention. In the days after surgery I was amazed at how mobile I was, and in all honesty, I was back to normal within two weeks, and completely back to myself in a month. I cannot put a price on the peace of mind my cesarean bought (although if you're thinking about it, get saving, it will set you back £10-15k!)
At the risk of sounding flippant, I'd like to add that opting for a cesarean was not a lighthearted decision and was also recommended by my consultant. If you're interested to read about it more, see my full story here.
And yes I have a scar, and yes I am pretty much numb around it. But it's a small price to pay for the positive experience I had.
I still look at my scar and it reminds me of the journey I've been on. It's my tattoo, my story, my reminder to be grateful. The lady photographed in Helen's picture has this and a beautiful photo to commemorate her triumph. I hope one day we can all look at it this way.