Thoughts and Feels on Being Judged About My CSection

Tomorrow will find me 32 weeks pregnant. Can you believe it? I can’t, but then I get up to pee for the 173rd time each day and and yup, I can believe it. I’m so ready to be done peeing.

This pregnancy has flown by and dragged on simultaneously. One the one hand I feel as though I’ve been expecting this little girl forever, then on the other hand I am completely unprepared to bring her home.

No, my bag is not packed. I actually don’t even have the things I need to pack, my nursing camis from the last two babies disintegrated and the yoga pants I brought to the hospital became rags after being bleach-stained beyond repair.

No, the nursery is NOT ready and it might not be before she arrives. Kel is working two jobs and we don’t see a lot of each other these days. When we do finally have a chance to be in the same room, painting is the last thing on our minds. Usually it’s more like, “hey come sit on the same couch as me, bring the remote. Let’s pass out.”

So I’m not ready, but I know our sweet new daughter will be here soon, just the same.

And if I need to have a friend or family member run to target to buy nursing camis and yoga pants and she sleeps in a pack and play in our room for the first months, so be it.

It’s not even a third baby thing, it’s a life-right-now thing. I’d rather have a sane family, a (sorta) rested husband and space to take it all in than kill ourselves putting together a pinterest-worthy nursery.

The state of our hearts over the look of her room.

However, there is one thing I am extremely ready for.

I’m ready for people to stop judging me about my C-section.

Hi, my name is Leanne Penny. On November 13 I will be having my third C-section and I really don’t want to talk about why you think that’s a bad idea.

At least a couple times a week, this happens:

Person: When are you due?
Me: She is coming on November 13.
Person: Or so you think (wink wink)
Me: Nope, I’m having a C-section so… that’s when she’s coming. Unless she’s coming early, she could. My first one came early, emergency C-section.
Person: Oh…. uh…Really? You aren’t going to try to have a VBAC?
Me: No, She’s breech and my husband and I just can’t get comfortable with a VBAC, we’re not comfortable with the risks.
Person: You could turn her, there is still time for a VBAC! Let me give you the number of my (Doula, Midwife, Chiropractor, Favorite Website.)
Me: No thanks, I’m good with our plan, really, this is the best way to go for us.
Person: Are you sure? Really? I’m just so frustrated that the medical profession pushed you into a C-section in the first place.
Me: It didn’t go like that. My first born’s birth was scary, I did everything to avoid the C-section, she was breech, there were complications and in the end she was still born blue, I’m just glad she’s here all.


Noelle and I, compliments of Brittany Meaders Photography.

Then it moves on from there. But I always walk away feeling sad, angry, defensive, less-than, wussy and stupid.

Not strong enough to do the harder, more natural thing.

I have friends that will post articles about really brave moms who attempted VBACS against all odds because of their passion for their babies
I guess I’m not a brave mom, or that I don’t care about her as much as they do.

Others will post about the links between C-sections and Autism.
Oh, I’m going to give her Autism now too. Did I doom my first two too? They seem to be doing well.

Someone will joke that they could deliver the baby if need be.
And I don’t want tell them she’s breech or that I’ve scheduled a C-section because I truly believe they will think less of me.

Usually I recover from this in a half hour or so and when I do, I vow to make a print out I can use in these situations with all the reasons it was medically necessary for me to start down the C-section path in the first place. How it was the last thing I wanted, how hard I fought it, how much I cried, how I laid upside down on an ironing board trying to get her to turn, how I already felt “less-than” the first time around.

On it I will include, in my defense, the drawer full of cloth diapers in the baby’s dresser, the year of nursing I will have with her, the baby food I will make her from scratch.

Caedmon, compliments of Tina Davis.

Caedmon, compliments of Tina Davis.

Can’t you see? I’m a good mom doing the hard, good work of motherhood! 

But you know what? No.
I don’t owe any of you that, if you know our family, you know our story. If we are having coffee, we can chat about it but I don’t need to go public with my backstory to be a good mom or to earn your respect.

You should extend to me your respect regardless.

You should respect that Kel and I know what we are doing, that we have talked, thought and prayed about this delivery as we did with all our babies.

That we have a doctor we trust, with whom we’ve spoken about our choices and options.

That we didn’t take this step lightly, but that we are confident moving forward.

I promise to extend all of you the same courtesy, to keep my opinions to myself and to respect that the choices you are making for your families.

I have no idea what it’s like to be you, to carry your story, to get through your day.

And you know what? I’m sorry for any time I’ve made a comment to the contrary or said something snarky behind your back, you didn’t deserve that either. I, too am still learning.

Even if we make drastically different choices, I believe that we as parents are, for the most part, doing our level best to bring up our children to the best of our ability.

The best we can with the tools we have.

I’m a good mom who doesn’t need to stand and defend that, neither do you.

Carry on parents, I’ll do the same and soon I’ll have smooshy baby pictures to share so stick around.

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  • Lisa S

    I can’t believe people give you a hard time about the C-Section. I remember the stress it put on you the first time. Plus, EVERY BIRTH IS DIFFERENT. Geez, I don’t have kids and I get that.
    At any rate, just let me know what you need from Target and I am there for you.

    • Leanne Penny

      Yes, thank you and I love you… and you can be my Target standby. I think that’s an area of delivery you would be very comfortable with 😉

  • annevermeulen

    That child will be blessed and happy and loverly whether you have a C-section, or a vaginal delivery, or push the baby out through your left nostril (I do not recommend the latter, however). I feel the weariness from having to defend your choices; I didn’t get a lot of flack about my c-sections (luckily) BUT I felt like I had to defend my decision – both kids – to use formula instead of breast, as if I was feeding them liquid arsenic instead of something nutritious. To this day, I still feel hesitant to share that part of my mothering story.

    • Leanne Penny

      OH man, Nostril birthing? Take my name right OFF that list. I am SO SO sorry you got all the judgment from the breastfeeding community, it’s hard not to be able to share a piece of your story or feel that it needs to remain hidden.

  • Louise Bates

    It shouldn’t shock me that people are so blatantly invasive and rude about other people’s life choices, but honestly, it still does. That’s awful, that anyone would make you feel less-than, when what you’re doing is choosing what is best, safest, and healthiest for you and your daughter. I am a huge fan of natural childbirth *when it’s the right decision*, but I’m also so, so thankful for C-sections when I think of the many people who would not be able to give birth without them. They are a beautiful gift, and whatever a person’s opinion on whether or not they are overused, it’s folly and a shame to overlook that.

    Not to mention that it’s YOUR family, YOUR life, YOUR choice, and nobody else’s business. Why is that so hard for some people to grasp?

    Rock on, Mama-Penney. You’re doing an awesome job.

    • Leanne Penny

      Thank you Louise for the encouragement! You are absolutely right… I will take this lovely comment and keep it my pocket. Makes me smile :)

  • Stephanie B.

    YES. You go, mama. (Can’t wait for the smooshy baby pictures!)

    • Leanne Penny

      Oh I’ll be over the top 😉

  • C-Section Liz

    Hey Leanne, It’s so funny to me how people have one opinion about C-Sections and they lump everyone into the same boat.

    Having a C-section is an individual and personal thing, it’s not one size fits all. Each mom does the best she can with the knowledge and advice at hand. There are also many variables and concerns that dictate the safety of each birth. And I haven’t yet met a mom that doesn’t want their baby to be born safe. It’s what we do as moms.

    There are lots of people who are rude and unkind to women who have C-Sections but I also believe most of that stems from their ignorance about C-Sections and individual health concerns. We just have to deal with it on that level.

    Congratulations and I hope all goes well with your birth. You’re an awesome mom in my book :-)


    • Leanne Penny

      Thank you Elizabeth! You are right on, each story is different and sweeping judgments never serve us well.

  • Kelly W

    Hey Leanne… good for you. You are doing GREAT!

    Here’s a lovely commentary on exactly this stuff:

    • Leanne Penny

      Yes! I totally saw this when it came out, LOVE IT!

  • Rea

    Bravo! I’ve been fortunate in my life to not have a lot of people who make me feel like I need to defend my parenting choices (C-sections, not nursing long enough, etc). Not that it mattered, I beat myself up enough for an entire community of busybodies. Most of my struggle came from comments people made on the internet, and THEN I start reading those attitudes into everything in real life and started defending myself. Now that I’ve completely dropped all mommy boards I feel much less need to defend myself. Plus, the good news is that by the time they get to middle school you’re pretty much done discussing breastfeeding, c-sections and diapering with just about everyone. (Not that that helps you much right now, but there is light a LOOOOONG way down the tunnel!)

    • Leanne Penny

      WooHoo! But middle school, that comes with a different set of crazy things to discuss, right? Stay strong!

  • Stephanie Friant

    You aren’t alone. In the end, every birth where the mom and child(ren) lives, is perfect! Blessings!

    • Leanne Penny

      Thank you friend!

  • KellyELawson

    Thanks for this. I’ve had 2 C-sections and each has come with a very real grieving process – amplified by everyone who judges me for them, and makes me feel less-than.

    • Leanne Penny

      I understand that fully, I grieved deeply with our first one, like I had been robbed of something natural and would forever lack mom badges around the snack table. I am with you in this, let’s keep reminding each other that we are NO less-than.

  • Mimi68826

    Both our boys were C-sections due to both of them having 14-inch circumference heads. (The little newborn stocking caps never fit.) The first one was not a planned C-section, the second one was planned, when it looked like he would be bigger than his brother. Never mind those thoughtless people who think that you’re doing everything wrong, just because you’re not delivering your children they way they did. You do what’s right for YOU.

    And the nursery – sounds about as prepared as ours was. Our firstborn’s nursery was full of boxes, beer signs from hubby’s former bar (some of which made great nursing lights), and the crib wasn’t assembled until we had been home a week. Our second son moved into his brother’s room with him. Both boys spent their first couple of months in the pack-n-play in our room. Now one is a junior in college, the other is a freshman in high school, and they’re both doing fine.

    Blessings on this newest arrival to your family. You have your priorities straight. This child will be welcomed in love, and that’s what’s most important.

    • Leanne Penny

      Thank you so much, and is it okay that I giggled a *tad* at the thought of nursing in the glow of beer lights? Well Done !

  • Jenny Mac Rogers

    Thank you for this. This needs to be said by more of us who deal with this.

  • Teresa

    Choosing to be a mom is brave and wonderful! Choosing to have a C-section to avoid complications due to her being breech is brave and shows your willingness to do everything possible to protect your baby, even if it means giving up natural childbirth. Standing firm in your decision and not letting the naysayers get to you is also brave. A wise person once told me that the only person I had to please was first God, and then my spouse, everybody else’s opinion wasn’t all that important. I only “know” you through reading your blog, but from what I know you are a loving mom and a woman of wisdom. I wish you the best with the new addition to your family and will look forward to rejoicing with you when she arrives! (Teresa Hardymon aka Sadie Grace)

  • ChristyB

    I have also been in your shoes. My firstborn wouldn’t descend at all, we didn’t know why. My doctor (who I adore and trust, but has been blasted by a lot of my friends by being to prone to performing C-sections) said something just didn’t feel right. The baby looked good, but there was no reason that she shouldn’t be dropping after all the pitocin I’d had and contractions that were taking place. She said to me, “Sometimes things just don’t happen for a reason. If you want to go ahead with a section, I think we should.” Well, the reason my precious peanut was not descending was that she was completely tangled in the umbilical cord. Forcing her out, could have caused her to suffocate because it was around her neck three times. Like you, the outcome may have been way worse.
    We decided to go with two planned C-Sections for my next two babies because, for us, the risks outweighed everything else. Like you, I have gotten the looks and the snide comments from “friends” about my C-Sections. The worst was when people were completely trash talking C-Sections and people that have them right in front of me, knowing full well I had had 3 myself.
    We did what was best for our family and our precious babies to bring them in this world safely and without harm. May God bless your little one on the way! And may you have a safe and happy delivery!!

  • Cindy

    I think you ARE doing the brave thing. Every birth is brave.

  • socrwmn

    My dr told me from the get go I would never be able to deliver naturally because my pelvis was too small. I was just under 200 lbs when I got pregnant so I thought he was crazy. My baby never dropped into position and I never dialated I assume this was proof enough my dr was correct. After my first c section I never considered a vbac. I had done my research and it wasn’t worth the risks. I had two more scheduled sections and all went well. My babies are healthy and so am I.

  • Gammakga

    Let me tell you a few things. DONT EVER FEEL BAD OR SAD FOR MAKING THE RIGHT CHOICES FOR YOUR BABY! Now having said that I will give you some back ground of my own. My first child was born after many hours of labor, with a very emergency c-section!!! The risk that was put on him was so great, we had great concern for complications for some time after the birth.
    When we found out we were going to have child number two I knew without a doubt there would be a c-section!!! The Dr. Who was a new one to us. Said so even though you had a c-section you can still have a natural birth.
    I then ask him the most important question is this child bigger then the last. Oh yes he said. I then looked at him and said, ok since you weren’t there for the first one this is how we are going to do things.
    Pick a date and we will have a c-section, I will not risk having this baby harmed!!!!!
    I can say our first child is 35 yrs old and our second is 32 yrs old. Not a second of shame have I ever felt. Nor will I ever define myself for the choices I know we’re right”
    The best of luck to your baby and you?

  • Jesse

    Hi there! This has nothing to do with c-sections, but I’m sharing it anyway. I didn’t have my boys circumcised and the couple of times I mentioned it to friends I got a lecture about teaching strict cleanliness, adult penile cancer, giving future wives chronic urinary tract infections, etc. I realized very early on to just not tell people about it. Even well-meaning people are offensive in situations like this because what they are doing when they give their little shpeel of advice is telling you that you are unintelligent. My advice is to just not tell people about it.

  • Joely

    I think it’s so funny
    because who the hell cares how a child is born if they are born healthy and
    alive for goodness sake! My story isn’t one that there was an emergent need to
    get Jalen out or he’d die or that he was breech or any issues except my own
    small, non-birthing hips never expanded and he would not fit even at his 6 lb
    size. at 40 weeks and 2 days, non-dilated even with being induced for hours and
    going through labor, nothing! The fact is my story may have looked like an
    emergency C-section in which there were complications and Jalen suffered health
    risks from it OR it could have been that my hips would dislocate (I know women
    this has truly happened to) considering my past history of issues within my
    small framed hips and I would end up being unable to walk on my own while
    trying to raise a new baby OR it could have worked out perfectly, but the fact
    is we have the medical knowledge and capabilities now to prevent some of the
    scary “what could be’s” and I am more than fine with that. After
    being induced, laboring, nothing happening, I was prepped, had a not so
    pleasant spinal block, and in a few minutes had the anesthesiologist giving me
    a play by play of what was going on and pop, he was out, crying, healthy and
    perfect apgar scores. He was nursed for over a year and hit every gross and
    fine motor milestone and currently is a very high functioning, smart little
    kindergartner who is amazing at all sports and activities. You CANNOT give
    autism and if anyone speaks that to you, send them my way and this doctor of
    physical therapy will educate them more than the googling they did to learn
    that CRAP! The 50+ children I have worked with, with autism…. c-sections were
    not a common denominator, believe me, I ask the birth history of every child I
    evaluate! So with all of that my love, you are great, your children have a
    great life, are healthy and are better off because of having you as a mom
    regardless of the opening they popped out of to enter this world :) xoxo
    everyone else can mind their business…as soon as they want to talk about
    birthing I would start asking their thoughts on nursing, pumping, homemade
    food, disciplining, religion, homeschool vs public, etc…and just see where
    you can try to change their minds on something they may be passionate about and
    have a family belief and plan on :)

  • pastordt

    Good grief. Tell ’em to take a flyin’ leap! It’s nobody’s business. Sheesh. YOU are the only one who has a say in this. I had 3 babies, easy peasy. Not one of my kids has. We have 8 grandkids, six of them C-sections, all of them life-saving. My eldest was able to have 2 VBACS – that’s it. Big, breech babies are tough. She will be lovely and so well-loved and you are a marvelous mom. Period.

  • Heather

    Thanks so much for this reminder. I did not have a C-section, and my birth went mostly the way I had hoped. But my worth does not rest in my birth going the way I hoped, and there’s no guarantee of another one going the way I plan. It’s so helpful to be reminded that there’s no place for pride in our parenting experiences or parenting decisions. It’s also a great to be reminded that others have usually though through their decisions carefully and researched their options. Thank you for your honesty.