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Ode To My Scar (Colleen)

January 11, 2010

I posted when I was 3 weeks postpartum about my feelings following a cesarean, and I wasn’t planning on posting again until I’d made some progress on my body, but I have had some thoughts that I would like to share (especially considering I’ve read several dissatisfied Cesarean mommy posts lately).

As much as I hated the necessity of a cesarean, I am somewhat fond of my scar. It’s very smooth (though still red), and aside from some numbness, doesn’t bother me at all—no stiffness or pulling. Sometimes I like to run my fingers over the smoother skin along the scar and remember the day I got it, the day I got to meet my sweet baby girl.

Anyhow, this is what I thought about: C-section scars are very unique. They are the only type of scar that is instantly recognizable (no other surgery causes an incision in the same place, same size, every person, every time). They are the only scar whose creation saved two lives instead of one. And they are a physical sign of a mother’s willingness to do anything for her children—even go under the knife.

A cesarean scar is a reminder that all of the planning in the world can’t make things go the way you want it to. It is a reminder that children will do what they want, when they want it, and how they want it. For those who avoided stretch marks, it can be a physical reminder of how your body sheltered and grew a baby all those months. And it is a souvenir of one of the happiest days of a mother’s life.

It occurred to me that a cesarean scar is kind of like a badge of membership in an exclusive club. Sure, we might not all have stories about where we felt that first contraction, or how long labor lasted, or how long we pushed (though some do), but we have birth stories of a different type. We did what we had to to make sure our children got here safely, and that’s what really matters. So, yes, I like my scar quite a bit, and I’m glad I’ll always have it to remind me of all of these things.

(As a follow-up to my last post, I’m doing much better with my feelings about the cesarean. I am very positive I can have a VBAC next time—unless #2 is also breech!—and that confidence has helped to dispel any lingering feelings of loss. The only time I’ve felt bad about it in the last month or two was when a friend had a 10 lb. baby vaginally, and I thought “why is that she can do that, and I couldn’t even deliver my 6 ½ pounder?” But I got over it quickly because I know my time will come. Now my only problem is waiting 3 years to find out if I can actually do it!)

My age: 25
One pregnancy, one birth
4 months +1 week postpartum (19 weeks)

Pictures (sorry they’re awkward close-ups, but I figured if I was going to write all about my scar, I needed to include pictures of it!):
My incision 1 day post-partum (for comparison–sorry it’s kind of blurry)
My scar today (19 weeks post-partum)
My little girl, because I love sharing pictures of her!

Updated here and here.

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29 Responses to “Ode To My Scar (Colleen)”

  1. Southern Mama Says:
    January 11th, 2010 at 11:51 am

    Thank you so much for this post. I labored with my firstborn for 32 hours, dialated to 10, pushed and he wouldnt budge. He was 9 lbs. We experienced a 7 day NICU stay, etc, etc. My 2nd baby was a scheduled c-section due to aforementioned. Sometimes I do feel like I missed out. Not getting to hold them right away, easier recovery, etc. Sometimes Im happy my girly parts didnt go through pushing my son’s big head out, lol. I love my scars! I have two small,close lines that intertwine. Initially, I was upset that my 2nd DR didnt cut me in the same spot, but I now love that I have 2 scars that remind me of those seperate, special days! But again, thank you for making us c-section girls feel good about our children’s births and ourselves.

  2. Denise Says:
    January 11th, 2010 at 4:16 pm

    I like your positive attitude. Thanks for sharing.

  3. scs Says:
    January 11th, 2010 at 4:58 pm

    thank you. that made me cry. I might not have wanted the csection but I also do love my scar. thank u

  4. Samantha Says:
    January 11th, 2010 at 10:13 pm

    I love your attitude and your little girl is so precious! Thanks for sharing!

  5. Heather Says:
    January 11th, 2010 at 10:17 pm

    I can’t thank you enough for this post. I have been struggling with accepting my own c-section for 2 years and a little over 2 months ago I had to have another done for my son. My daughter was discovered to be breech too late for anything to be done about it, so the surgery was inevitable. My son’s breech presentation was found early, but because of my previous c-section, my doctor refused to turn him. I have been unable to say that I ever gave birth because I have felt like I never really did…I didn’t have to do anything but lay there and I didn’t even get to hold my babies until over 2 hours after they were born. On top of that I had to spend weeks without lifting or carrying my daughter after my son’s birth because she was too heavy. I have carried a lot of guilt over something I really had no control over. Reading your post made me feel like a weight has been lifted from my shoulders. I did as much as I could to carry and birth healthy and happy children, and healthy and happy they are. This entry is being bookmarked and I will definitely return over and over to remind myself to be proud of what was done. Thank you again.

  6. babyno2 Says:
    January 12th, 2010 at 12:57 am

    thankyou, if i could cut and paste your words onto my desktop i would. after 15 hours of labour with my son i too ended up with an emergency csect, wich was so unexpected after a 12 hour vaginal birth with my daughter.

    i have felt inadequate and lost over the experience. But after reading this post I hope I can repeat these words to the next person who looks at me sideways when I say I had a csection. and remember how we deserve to feel good about our experience too. :)

    thanks

  7. Sarah Says:
    January 12th, 2010 at 4:29 pm

    Wow! It’s amazing how well it healed! Your scar looks great! Thanks for the amazing post! I’m cooing over your sweet little baby! :) Good luck on your future VBAC! My DD is 3… waiting can get hard after a few years. :)

  8. Tricia Says:
    January 13th, 2010 at 5:46 am

    What a great post…i too had an unplanned c-section and then a planned one with my 2nd child. The scar really is a nice reminder of the 2 of the best days of my life! Thanks for posting this! Brought tears to my eyes!

  9. TracyKM Says:
    January 13th, 2010 at 9:32 am

    There is a growing trend to deliver breech babies vaginally again. Not sure about breech as a VBAC, but check out http://www.spinningbabies.com to find out more. It’s rarely too late to try to turn a breech (external version is not the only method), unless part of the baby is already in the birth canal. There are things you can do to encourage a good pre-delivery position of your baby next time :)

  10. Echoia Says:
    January 17th, 2010 at 1:24 pm

    [...] Colleen has an upbeat attitude about hers, at least now, and reading her perspective last night made me acknowledge the good feelings in myself. There should be pride for those of us who had that surgery and didn’t want to. I didn’t have any weird fantasies about what birth would be like, and I don’t feel cheated that I didn’t get to suffer for 30 hours and exhaust myself pushing a stubborn boy out, but there are all the weird feelings of not knowing what labor is, the resentment toward the staff for the way I was treated (really, please don’t tell a woman that doesn’t think she is less of a mother that she isn’t less of a mother… that just means you were thinking it). There’s the horror of being strapped down and cut open when you are begging not to be, there is the maddening insistence of everyone around you that you were so lucky that you were at the hospital, where you could be saved from the stuff the hospital put into you (? logic? they’re lucky I was there, some do the start of induction as out-patient procedure… my son likely wouldn’t’ve made it out ok and they would have paid out the ass). [...]

  11. musicoholic Says:
    January 20th, 2010 at 11:21 pm

    This is just what I needed – although I wish I’d found it 5 years ago! My son is now 5, and was delivered via an emergency c-section after a 60 hour labour (yes, you read it right!). I went through just over 8 months of denial – I mean denial that I had a child… I kept waiting for his mother to come and collect him. I finally realised I had PPD… and amazingly, once I realised it, it seemed to vanish. A lot of it was caused by the c-section… but as bad as it was at the time, I wouldn’t change it for the world! Yes it was traumatic, yes it was difficult – but that little scar reminds me every day of the amazing ability of my body (and mind) to heal, and I know now, that I would cope better should it happen again… and I have a gorgeous little man!

    Now… what to do about a sibling… ;)

  12. newdawnnewday Says:
    January 20th, 2010 at 11:23 pm

    this brought tears to my eyes. i have never thought of my own scar that way. i have my own c-section story and it usually leaves me so bitter that the only positive i’ve drawn from the experience is that i believe it turned me into the kind of mother i might not have been with a different birth. because of you, i will now embrace my scar. this was truly a beautiful way to make peace with your c-sec, thank you for sharing!

    and you CAN vbac in the future! since my c-sec 7 1/2 years ago, i’ve had a vbac in 2008 and another just two weeks ago!

    peace, light and love to you!

  13. julie Barown Says:
    January 21st, 2010 at 6:04 am

    I love this piece. I had a c-section with my first and just had a successful VBAC. I was devastated by my c-section. I wish I had been able to read this 2 years ago. Bravo!

  14. Lucy Swash Says:
    January 24th, 2010 at 4:59 pm

    Hello Colleeen – Well done you for putting this all on facebook….Childbirth is such an amazing thing…however it turns out. I have 2 kids Charley (girl 13) and Leo (11). Charley was a very difficult and long birth (at 42 weeks) and after a ‘suction’ delivery I had just under 200 internal and external stitches. I recovered perfectly (I think!) and 10 months later fell pregnant again. At no point during my 2nd pregnancy did I worry about the ‘birth’….my midwife assured me that no 2 births are ever the same and I believed her. She was right! At 36 weeks she came to see me – ‘Oh..you seem to have a breech baby in there…we’ll need to send you for a scan to make sure’….at exactly 38 weeks my beautiful baby boy Leo was delivered (he was ‘extented breech’ so there was no other option) by the dreaded ‘C’ Section. I have never in any way felt sad that he was a ‘c-section’ birth and I know this may be because I had a different experience with my first….BUT at the end of the day, I just feel incredibly lucky to have 2 (in my eyes!) beautiful kids! I am still very at ease with my scar and have been very open about it…..Leo is fully aware that he ‘came out’ in a different place to his sister as I have shown him and Charley and explained it in detail to them both. I can’t express enough how great it is at 42 to stand on the local beach in my bikini (holding my tummy in!) watching my kids surfing in the waves and feel incredibly proud to be a Mum……… whatever way they got here! I can really only say…hand on my heart……when they start growing up into little ‘big’ people the actual way they got here pales into significance. x

  15. Svea Vikander Says:
    January 25th, 2010 at 11:17 am

    Colleen, this is such an inspiring post… With your permission, I’d like to link to it/repost it on my blog. Life Lines is a collaborative project in which people of all walks of life submit their scar photos and stories. We need alternatives to images of flawless beauty — ‘perfection’ as we normally think about it, lacks truth and narrative.

    http://www.onlinelifelines.blogspot.com

    Thanks for sharing this… the number of comments in response to your post is an indicator of just how beautiful (and necessary!) your story is. :)

  16. Kim Says:
    January 26th, 2010 at 5:23 pm

    Thanks for sharing. I had my C-section almost 4 years ago and sometimes it still itches and I can no longer wear bikini underwear anymore because it irritates the scar. It is one of the many badges of motherhood. My C-section was after 12 hours of labor and (I found out later) it wasn’t necessary. I went on to VBAC #2. You can do it too!

  17. Helen Mullen Says:
    January 29th, 2010 at 6:42 am

    What a beautifully written blog. This should be shown to every woman who has a section voluntarily or otherwise x

  18. Christine Says:
    February 3rd, 2010 at 12:03 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing. I am still trying to come to terms with the way my son (22 months)was born. It was a very long traumatic 47 hours ending in an emergency c-section for failure to progress (after 3 hours of pushing!) and because his poor little head was starting to swell. My son also had a stroke within 72 hours of being born, and I can’t help but think our long labor had something to do with it.

    I am thankful the procedure exists, but feel that things could have been changed prior to it possibly preventing it all together. I think I will come back and read this to remind me of the strength both my son and I have, as well as all of the other mama’s out there who have gone through similar circumstances.

    Thank you again. Sharing your story with me has made a difference.

  19. Amazing Says:
    February 15th, 2010 at 8:14 pm

    I have read this poem a few different times. And every time it makes me cry. Thank you for making me see my scar as a honor and not a defect. I too had a c/s for a breech baby and was instantly filled with sadness that affected bonding with my son. It took five months before I figured out just why I was so sad. Eventually, things got better. proudly, 2.5 months ago I gave birth to my daughter vaginally, very quickly! I am amazed still. No meds, few interventions. Very healing.And I cherish my first birth as equally, now.
    I hope you can have the birth you desire- and no you cannot plan it- but you can dream it! Good luck with your future vbac!

  20. Kate Says:
    February 22nd, 2010 at 8:00 am

    I had 3 c-sections. Didn’t want any of them but that was just the way it had to go with me. My scars (they overlap a little, so you can see I’ve had more than 1 section) have never bothered me at all but reading this has made me see them in a new light. Instead of being indifferent to them, I can be proud of them!

  21. H Says:
    February 26th, 2010 at 6:31 am

    What an incredible attitude. You are an inspiration and have made me look at my own scar in a new light. I never thought of it that way :o )

    Thank you.

  22. anonymous.. Says:
    March 6th, 2010 at 1:26 pm

    i totally admire every women who posts on this site, you included.. because scars are scars and are daily reminders of our struggles, or on a more positive note, c-sections..
    i will myself soon take pics and add my story to the site..
    i’ve read a couple of stories today, yours included.. and yours made me cry so much because of how you described your scar…
    it’s actually not the only scar you can have in that “spot”.. i have the “c-section” scar..but had my daughter naturally 6 years ago.. my scar is an ectopic scar.. a daily reminder of the little angel i lost 7 years ago..so i had the scar before even having a baby..
    and to make it worst, the dr who operated on my in 2002 didn’t do his job properly, which caused me to have another ectopic, on the same side, last month.. had surgery, laparoscopic this time, on feb 11th..(dr i 2002 said he removed my tube, but obviously not all of it!)…
    so now, 5 scars on my belly , including the large c-section incision, that remind me daily of the little angels that could have been..
    sorry so long, but just wanted to shed some light that not every scar down there is c-section, or positive..
    but glad for you that that the way you see yourself and your scar is improving!! my pregnancy changed my body big time also, it’s been 6 years and i’m still getting used to where some ‘things” chose to settle…lol

  23. M's Mama Says:
    March 9th, 2010 at 10:42 am

    Thank you for your post! It brought tears to my eyes reading your words because I too have a scar from an emergency c-section. I have not been particularly fond of my scar because it reminds me of the disappointment that I felt for myself not being able to get all the way to my goal (giving birth naturally). I labored without pain medication and got to 9cm when my son turned slightly and got stuck then began having heart decelerations. It’s such a scary thing to know that your child is in trouble. In that moment the only thing that mattered was making the decision to go under the knife for my son. As much as I missed having the opportunity to give birth to my son, I am glad that he came into this world safely. He is a blessing such in my life. I am looking to try a VBAC myself. Who knows maybe next time things will go as planned, but as you said sometimes things just go as they will. Thank you for sharing your words and helping me to reframe my thoughts on what my scar can mean. Your post is truly inspiring. Thank you.

  24. Sally Says:
    March 17th, 2010 at 8:21 am

    It is amazing to me that the naked honor badged mother picture is more comforting and the much more seen young toned hot girl (which I used to be) is awkward. It almost seems this young hot girl’s perfect body is missing something, and incomplete.
    I am so happy to hear positivity of a c-section scar, and even though I sport mine with honor and pride, I have never thought of it quite in the way of “saving my child.” Before I would just think of it as doing what had to be done, and that was it. Your post was extremely inspirational for me, and I am 15 months pp with my second child, both c-sections. I am just now getting over my anxieties of my pp baby body.
    I also wanted a v-bac with my son, and was extremely disappointed when at 9months (after a diagnostic ultrasound) my OB told me he also was going to be too big to push out. (24 hours of labor, 10cm, and pushed for 2 hours with my first, then had to have an emergency c-section) But after I scheduled my c-section and went into the hospital, things were wonderfully relaxed, and everything went smooth as butter. Having my second c-section made me forget all the negatives about not being able to push my child into the world. I was well rested, and happy, and was even able to hold my son 30 minutes after delivery!!! The second planned c-section was the birth plan I wish I could have had with my first child! Absolutely no stress, and full of love and calm happiness. I wish you all the luck in the world with whichever birth plan you get with the second child, the only advice I can give you is to 1- be prepared for anything, and 2- get a diagnostic ultrasound close to delivery. It could save you a tons of undue stress.
    Thank You! and Good Luck!!

  25. carolyne Says:
    March 25th, 2010 at 10:26 am

    I will think about my scar in a whole new way because of your story. Thank you.

  26. Lisa Says:
    May 20th, 2010 at 11:36 am

    Thank you for posting. I labored for 23 hours when the specialist on call told me my baby was too big and transverse. I had hoped to have a medication free labor and ended up with a-typical preclampsia and an emergency c-section. Since they had to get her out quickly I’ve got a vertical scar extending all the way up to my belly button. My princess was 12 lbs and 23 inches…a week early. I’m only 7 weeks PP and although I only have 15 pounds left to loose I still can’t button pants over the scar. It is so uncomfortable for anything to to push on it. Your post gives me hope that in time I’ll feel like a normal person again. Although I believe my beautiful girl was worth every stretch mark and the scar, the people around us aren’t always so accepting. It’s comforting to know there are others like me out there wearing their scars with pride.

  27. Mary Says:
    June 8th, 2010 at 11:29 am

    i had to have a c-section too. i SO did not want one. i even went through 18 hours of a non-productive induction (i mean ZERO cms dilated) before i finally said ok.
    he was not even 6 lbs.
    then 3 months later, my cousin delivered a baby as big as my then 3 month old. vaginally.
    i was like, “WHAT THE HELL??”
    I felt so robbed. i was looking forward to going through labor (with an epidural of course)
    I wanted the experience i see everyday on TLC’s A Baby Story.
    i thought it was going to be a breeze.
    and bc of all the blood pressure meds i was on, i can barely remember any of it.
    here’s to hoping for a VBAC next time.
    but like you, i’m waiting 3 years as well.
    i’m almost counting the days.

  28. Mary Says:
    June 8th, 2010 at 11:30 am

    PS: you have such a flat stomach! i have to lift up my belly to see my scar.

  29. Seeing Hidden Things (Colleen) | This Is A Woman Says:
    October 5th, 2011 at 7:15 am

    [...] I have written about my scar before, on SOAM. [...]

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