Flashback To Uganda
By Keisha Graziadei-Shup
Photo by Jon Shup Photography
Disclaimer: This personal birth narrative was written by Keisha Graziadei-Shup. Opinions expressed here are hers and do not necessarily represent New Life Birth Center.
After over an hour of pushing, this baby had not budged whatsoever. There should have been some kind of progress if there were going to be any. The c-section appeared to be my only and last resort.
In the coming moments I tried hard to not think about when I lived in Uganda. (Obviously, that didn’t work.) My fear of caesareans started there. I observed woman after woman rolled into the surgical theater, naked and unconscious. The doctor would make an incision in the lower abdomen, and then with the help of another, they would insert their gloved fingers into either side of the incision and rip open her abdomen like it was a bag of chicken, pull out a baby, cut the cord, and stitch her back up.
I asked a couple of assisting American doctors one day, “It’s barbaric like this because we’re in Africa and don’t have the same resources, right?”
“No,” one replied. “It’s pretty much exactly the same in the U.S.” The other nodded in agreement.
In Uganda, if a woman already had nine children or something like that, Dr. Sabiiti would pull her uterus out and set it on her stomach, tie the tubes, and shove it back in her body like a factory worker at a meat-packing plant.
Efficiency was the priority. There were a lot of women waiting to get their c-section.
I already had my fears about motherhood. It took me eight years of my marriage to warm up to the idea. But I’m pretty sure my time in Uganda as an observer cemented some of those fears.
At least if I could help it, I decided, I was never going to have a caesarean. I did not want people doing that to my body.
Beyond that, I didn’t want the dominos of problems that would or could come with it: a long recovery, temporarily disabled and unable to care for my newborn as well, becoming high risk for my next pregnancy, becoming higher risk in general for future reproductive issues, permanently compromised abdominals, problems breastfeeding, and risk of peripheral complications due to very high amounts of antibiotics afterward, to name a few things.
I didn’t want this c-section, but now they were rolling me into the surgical suite.