For years, HuffPost Parents has shared the beauty of the birth experience through the lens of talented photographers. In this new series, we’re focusing on one story at a time, honoring the many different ways babies come into the world and the beauty of every family’s story.
This week, we are hearing from Rebekah Begly, 31, an acute care nurse practitioner. She gave birth in February, and hired Columbus, Georgia-based birth and family photographer Neely Ker-Fox to photograph her first baby’s birth.
Here, Begly describes the overwhelming emotions she felt before and during her planned cesarean section, and why she wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.
I had a really wonderful pregnancy, and I worked a lot the whole time. When I was around 36 weeks, I started having more Braxton Hicks contractions than I was used to. My back was killing me. But I’d also been working long hours. I was exhausted.
Fast forward a few days later, and I could barely move. I went to work, but I was contracting pretty heavily. Luckily, I already had an OB follow-up scheduled for that day.
When I went in, my cervix was already pretty thinned. I was a bit dilated, so they sent me to triage in the hospital to make sure I wasn’t going into labor. They checked me in and monitored my contractions for a little over an hour. I was so upset with my husband, because I had asked him to not go on any work trips and, of course, he was out of town that day. Luckily, nothing happened and he met me at the hospital an hour later.
Once, I got home, I started losing parts of my mucus plug — probably from being checked twice — and my contractions seemed a little worse after that. I took a hot shower to tried and get myself to relax. I’d been at work since 6 a.m. and we didn’t get home until 8 p.m. or so, so I was exhausted. I was like, “Screw it. I’m going to sleep. If my back pain comes back again, I’ll go to the hospital.” The following morning, my contractions had slowed way down and I stopped bleeding.
The following week, we set our C-section date for 39 weeks. I was already going to have a planned C-section, for medical reasons. In college, I had a high diving accident that required an episiotomy from the trauma of hitting the water. It healed perfectly, but because of my scar tissue — and the possibility of tearing from a vaginal delivery — my OB and I decided I was a good candidate for a C-section.
I did have some anxiety about it. I’m a medical professional, so I know everything that can go wrong. My mind naturally just ran through all of the worst-case scenarios.
People also have so many opinions about C-sections versus vaginal deliveries, like it’s not really giving birth. Looking at people’s faces before I delivered, I certainly felt like they were judging me. Being a new mom, I felt some guilt about it.
We went in early in the morning, maybe 7 or 8. I felt so scared. My husband, who is so supportive, was holding me, and he kept telling me, “Everything is going to be perfect.” He was right. It was.
The operating room was so cold, which I knew it would be, because of the work I do. But to be there on the other side as a patient … let’s just say that I have a lot more respect for my patients now that I know what it feels like to lie there like that.
My OB was also letting me know where she was in the procedure. Like, “Now I’m making an incision. Now I’m getting into your uterus. Now I’m about to pull the baby out.”
It sounds kind of crazy, but I also felt like I re-fell in love again with my husband in that moment, in the OR. We were talking to each other. He told me he loved me, that I was doing great, and that he was right there.
They started shaking to get the baby out, and that was such a weird feeling. But because of the clear drape, I was able to see everything. I was totally in the moment. I was participating. I was seeing the birth of my son just as I would have with a vaginal delivery.
The moment goes by so fast, and you feel so much: Fear, love, anxiety, excitement and happiness all at once. They kept telling me, “Look up! Look up!” It was incredible to see your child be pulled into the world right in front of you.
What I love about these photos is being able to see those emotions. When I saw my son, I just cried and cried.
When they pulled Hudson out, I can remember my husband tearing up, too. He kept saying how perfect he was.
It was an incredible experience. And I’ll tell you: Whenever we do have another child, I will not be scared at all about having another C-section.
My husband did really well in the OR, too. Although he had to sit down after cutting the umbilical cord, because he felt dizzy. Ha!
When people talk about C-sections, they’ll sometimes say really judgmental stuff. But I loved my birth experience. Nothing was stolen from me.
This conversation has been edited and condensed.