A woman, convinced by hospital staff and her obstetrician to permit a cesarean delivery for her first baby, commits herself to natural childbirth in this debut memoir.
When Derich and her husband, Jake, went to the hospital in San Francisco, they anticipated a standard birth. They had read the pregnancy books and were prepared for a normal delivery. But the author’s labor continued long into the evening, and there were still hours to go. Just after 11:30 that night, her doctor declared: “I think it’s time to get this baby out.” Translation: We need to perform a cesarean section. Neither Derich nor the baby was in distress, and since she had been given an epidural, the author was not in pain. But the hour was late. “There’s an OR open right now,’” the physician urged. If they didn’t grab it, she continued, “we’ll have to wait.” Although the surgery was successful and the baby (Luke) was fine, for Derich the experience was traumatic. She found herself overcome with regret, and she decided if she were to become pregnant again, she would make different choices. Three years later, pregnant with her second son, Mikko, she opted for a home delivery with a midwife in attendance, although first she had to be sure, via a 20-week ultrasound, that the placenta was not “growing over the cesarean scar.” That would have required surgical intervention. The author’s memoir is an emotional, cathartic review of her struggle with feelings of anger toward the medical team and guilt over her earlier compliance. It is also a useful advocacy guide for women who are considering a home birth, especially those who have had a C-section. The medical profession’s rule of thumb is that if a woman has had a C-section, she is at greater risk attempting a vaginal delivery the second time around. According to Derich, the statistics don’t really support this assumption. And she notes that in the United States, the “national cesarean rate was 32.2 percent” in 2014, many of which were not emergency procedures. The skillful prose is direct, quite graphic, unsettling, and not for the squeamish.
A cautionary, engaging, and informative medical account.