(Note: The language at the end of the Facebook post may not be appropriate for all readers.)
After 38 hours of labor, Raye Lee's baby was in distress. Every contraction was stopping his heart, and doctors decided that an emergency cesarean section was the only way to save his life.
The surgery was a success, and Lee's son arrived healthily, but Lee is still recovering. "Having a shrieking infant pulled out of an incision only five inches long [with your] organs [...] on the table next to your body [...] is a completely different experience than I had imagined my son's birth to be," Lee wrote in an August 19 Facebook post that was shared more than 25,000 times in six days.
In the post, Lee is reacting to comments from other people that she "didn't actually give birth" and took the "easy way out" by delivering via cesarean. She writes of the "ripping pain of a body cut apart and stitched back together" and the minimum six-week recovery period, and wonders at the irony of anyone calling that the easy way out.
Lee is right. Cesarean delivery is major abdominal surgery, with all of the accompanying life-threatening risks. A 2006 study conducted in France found that women are three times more likely to die in cesarean childbirth than during vaginal deliveries, most often from complications due to anesthesia, infections, and blood clots.
The insensitive remarks that Lee is dealing with reflect ignorance of details and risks associated with the surgery and implies that delivering by cesarean is a choice made by the woman for convenience -- convenience of choosing the date, time and physician for the delivery. Yet only about three percent of cesareans performed in the US are completely elective, Dr. George Macones told CNN. Macones is head of Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine's department of obstetrics and gynecology.
"This was the most painful experience of my life," Lee wrote. "I now belong to a badass tribe of mamas with the scar to prove that I had a baby cut out of me and lived to tell the tale."