Figures released by the ESRI last week said that Caesarean sections accounted for 27 per cent of all births last year – rising to 36 per cent among mothers in the private system. One mother, now living in Dubai, writes about why she made the choice to have a C-section.
“SO WHEN CAN I mark the delivery date in my diary?” I smiled purposefully, pen hovering, ready to commit the date. “You see my mother is flying out for ten days to give me a hand and she wants to book her flight.” My new doctor raised her thick eyebrows, and fixed me with a steely glare. “Well, you are due in early August my dear– and there might be a two-week margin either way,” she said firmly. “Your mother can adjust her flight nearer the time.”
“Erm, how does that work?” I replied, trying to prevent the alarm from creeping in. Stay in control. Keep calm. “After all, I’m having a planned C-section. Remember?” My doctor flapped her papers about disapprovingly, harrumphed as she read my notes on the computer screen and raised her steely glare to mine once more. “We don’t finalise a date until mid-way through your eighth month,’” she replied eventually, with a non-negotiable twitch of her impressive tash. “Fine. No problem. Just as long as you know that as I’m paying for it, I’m having a C-section,’” I finished, rather firmly for me, I thought.
Now it’s not that I have anything against the ‘natural-birth brigade’. In fact, I am thoroughly respectful and downright awestruck by anyone who can happily push a 3.5kg baby through a hole the size of a tiddlywink and then gush that it was an ‘amazing’ experience that they’d happily repeat. I even gamely tried it once, but found it such absolute hell on earth, that I vowed never – unless I found myself in a post apocalypse – to do such a dreadful thing again.
Yes, the mammoth 50-hour-plus labour, resulting in a broken coccyx, more stitches than a fleet of Olympic sprinters and a poor, battered baby rendered so grumpy by the process that he cried almost non-stop for a year, made me realise that au naturelle is not for me.
Furthermore, most fellow mothers I know when they delivered their precious firstborns, are presented with wonderful, ‘push presents’ – exclusive jewellery pieces given by doting husbands to mark the occasion. Fashionista Mum received a dazzling diamond Tiffany solitaire for her one and only stab at motherhood, while Alpha Mum has a huge, Harry Winston, four-row ‘traffic’ ring, that her rich husband embellishes with yet another astoundingly expensive stone, every time she squeezes an annoyingly perfect child out.
Meanwhile, old muggins here was in such a sorry state after being practically torn in two that the only ring my partner thought to buy me was a blow-up one I could sit on. Admittedly at the time, being able to sit felt even more precious and luxurious than the Cartier emerald eternity ring I’d admired so hopefully in Emirates Towers Boulevard prior to delivery. But still.
Via the sunroof
So youngest son was born via the sunroof (C-section). And the whole process was an absolute revelation. From the business of checking in to my 7am surgical slot, to the vast amounts of pethidine and wonderful aftercare I received in the luxurious private hospital room, I barely felt as though I’d given birth at all. It really was more like I’d been on one of those intensive spa breaks at an exclusive retreat in the Swiss Alps, where you go through a few gruelling, beautifying processes that aren’t very comfortable and then end up with the most spectacular results – in my case, an angelic and contented bouncing baby boy.
And having a baby the way you want to (especially if it’s surgical) is positively encouraged in the UAE. Why? Because expats have to maintain private medical insurance, so our doctors are (usually) sympathetic to requirements. You need to time baby’s arrival to coincide with your husband’s business trip itinerary? Sure thing honey! No problem! Need the delivery to fit in with the school holidays – of course madam! If you want a water birth with accompanying whale-music, Morris dancers and a troupe from New Zealand performing the Haka, there’s a hospital offering that too.
Of course, both my mother and mother-in-law, who are made of sterner stuff (well, they were in the olden days – it was all that carbolic soap) think I’m rather pathetic. ’Your oldest brother was breech, so he came out sideways. I delivered him with zero pain relief after a 600 hour labour and almost lost a leg in the process. But I still cycled the 50-mile London to Brighton annual jaunt a week later with him strapped to my back,’ declared my mother (a matriarch of seven naturally born children). ‘You girls these days are such a bunch of softies.’
Too posh to push?
Mother-in-law is just as bad. Five natural births, the last one with twin boys, has her convinced that the bigger the baby, the less childbirth actually hurts. Of course, it completely defies the laws of physics! But women like this are so damn tough, it’s best not to argue. My point is, I’m not actually too posh to push, I’m just too scared and I’m not afraid to admit it. And neither am I alone. Let’s face it girls, stitches where the sun don’t shine are a real bummer.
Why just this morning, a friend who is due to deliver imminently and had been spewing forth about the virtues of natural birth, did a turn around and confided that she was actually extremely relieved to be requiring a Caesarean. ‘I really didn’t want to go through all that again,’ she muttered, in relieved tones, ‘especially as I’ve only just had my haemorrhoids fixed from the last time!’
So I say, each to their own and no judging! And let’s have a bit more honesty too, when it comes to the exiting of babies. We all have to live with the consequences of our decisions – both financially and physically. And personally, I don’t want another broken under-carriage, new piles or sneeze-wee. Plus, as the best ‘push present’ I’d get out of my partner would probably be another haemorrhoid ring, so I might as well get him to fork out for the more expensive surgical delivery package. At least I’ll get to lie in bed and watch cable TV for four days. Now that really can’t be bad.
The author of this article wished to remain anonymous. She lives in Dubai and writes a blog called Housewife in Dubai.