Maddie (Donaghy) Francis
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  • Writer's pictureMaddie

ᑕ-SEᑕTIOᑎ ᗩᗯᗩᖇEᑎESS ᗰOᑎTᕼ

Our beautiful boy Ashton being born at 30 weeks by emergency caesarean. Photo: by his father Aaron Francis @afrancisphoto

No one dreams of their birth story being a traumatic frantic rush against time to cut your baby out of your body before it’s too late, but that is the stark reality many mothers face.I know this as it was my birth story for my second child who was delivered 10 weeks early by emergency caesarean, also known as an emergency c-section. Whilst this was shocking to me, as my first born and full-term baby was delivered the “traditional” way, it was in no way less amazing or beautiful because I did not get to push him out, if anything it was more special to us as without that life-saving medical intervention our son would not be with us today. We know this because when my husband arrived at the hospital that day the Doctor said to him “if your wife had waited even one more hour at home your son would have been stillborn, you are very lucky she came in when she did”. This blew our minds as I had actually been told to wait another week before coming back when I was checked out for decreased foetal movements the day before and given the all clear. I did not wait the week I was told to wait, I didn’t even wait 12 hours I went back the very next morning and said “please check again” and this time they saw what I already knew, something was very wrong and he needed to be delivered that same day.Ashton’s rushed entrance into this world although traumatic also inspired me to start NICU Cheer aiming to provide gifts and peer to peer support to other parents going through what we went through.

Ashton immediately following his delivery by emergency c-section; Photo: by his father Aaron Francis @afrancisphoto

Ashton’s birth was not any less special for us because it was by emergency c-section. We didn’t feel less bonded with him because he wasn’t delivered “traditionally”. I am his mother and just like with my first born all I and my husband wanted to hear was his first cry and I can assure you that I did not care at this or any other point in time that I wasn’t able to labour and deliver him vaginally. All I cared about what his safety, his health and if they’d told me pulling him out through my chest would’ve assured his safe arrival you bet I would have said “what are you waiting for get cutting”.Once he was delivered it was even more intense as he needed a lot of medical intervention to breathe, feed, regulate body temperature and more, but he was here, he was ours and his birth story did not define him or our love for him. His birth propelled me headfirst into the world of the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) and whilst I would never wish the trauma and fear of needing the NICU upon any baby or parent it is a truly amazing place and once you join the NICU parents club you find a whole world of parents who have been through the same thing as you. The fact that he had been delivered by c-section actually made this part of our lives even harder to endure as I was confined to a wheelchair for all my visits to the NICU in his first four days of life and for his entire six week stay in the NICU I had to be driven to the hospital by others all because I’d had a c-section and not a vaginal birth.

Proud parents: how he arrived here did not bother us in the slightest. Photo: NICU Cheer As you can probably tell I am passionate about raising awareness of all things related to the NICU journey including c-sections. I think it is vital that we support one another as parents and I think we need to decrease judgment and criticism of those who elect to have them through to those who have no choice, because no matter why you have a c-section it is still a birth, it is still a major event for your body to go through and it still a huge thing for women to have to heal from both physically and sometimes emotionally and psychologically too, not to mention the trauma that is possible attached to the memories if it was an emergency c-section or anything went wrong.... + no one knows the exact journey a woman has taken to get to that point other than her.

Ashton approaching one month old in the NICU. I was not always allowed to hold or even touch him, but I could always sing or read to him and stare at him and wonder in amazement at all he’d already overcome. Photo: by his father Aaron Francis @afrancisphoto

I have delivered a baby both ways and whilst I would have preferred to delivery my son the traditional labour and push way, in my opinion neither is a better option in terms of the physical effects. Neither hurts more - each had their painful recoveries for me. Additionally, the c-section recovery was a lot longer - they do cut through seven layers after all - so a c-section is most definitely not an easy option and I think it is time we bust the myth that it is. Whilst I do understand the arguments against people electing for a caesarean for non-medical reasons let’s support all birth stories, because no matter what someone chooses or is forced by circumstance to do that is their business only, not yours, not mine, not anybody else’s.

Ashton and the many wires and tubes keeping him alive. Picture: Photo: by his father Aaron Francis @afrancisphoto

I am not advocating for one way of giving birth or another, I am not trying to change anyone’s mind about what they should do with their birth I am simply saying please be kind to all mothers regarding the way they chose to or had to give birth. I think all mother’s need our love and support and once that baby is here, I can assure you they are no less loved because of the way they entered this world from the safety of their womb and I personally do not think a woman is less worthy of my support, love, respect if she has had a c-section. So, let’s always support and lift up our fellow Mums and their choices, as that is what the powerful sisterhood of mothers is all about to me – having each other’s backs, always.

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