In her digital series, This is Birth, Ling, 43, examines the “high-tech, high-cost, high-stakes ways” people choose to give birth in the United States — and includes her own pregnancy stories along the way.
The first part of the series features cesarean sections, and Ling opens up about her own experience with two c-sections, one non-elective and the other elective.
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During her last ultrasound while pregnant with her firstborn, Ling learned that the umbilical cord was wrapped around her baby’s neck, and she and husband Dr. Paul Song were told a c-section was needed to deliver their daughter Jett, now 3.
“I can’t say I was disappointed by the news,” she writes. “My life was so hectic that the idea of scheduling my delivery was actually kind of nice … I’m admittedly a type-A personality who has always been used to being in control of my life. Before I became pregnant with Jett I had suffered two miscarriages. After each one I thought, ‘What did I do wrong? How did I cause this?’ It was demoralizing.”
Jett’s birth went according to plan and Ling writes that her baby girl “completely changed and brought new meaning to our lives.” But for the journalist, balancing work and a growing family encouraged her to opt for a scheduled c-section when she found out she was expecting her second daughter, Ray.
This time, however, things did not go as planned.
“Unlike my first c-section incision, this one didn’t seem to be healing as quickly,” she writes about her June delivery. “In fact, I was experiencing a lot more pain than I did with my first and at one point, fluid began leaking from the incision. I had developed an extremely painful infection and it was awful … My husband, who is a doctor himself, suspects that I may have picked up the infection in the hospital.”
Ling concludes that she wishes she had known more about the potential health risks involved in c-sections, and encourages other expecting mothers to do their research.
“In all honesty, I regret it,” she writes. “I’m grateful that my baby’s OK, and that I’m OK now, but it was not easy.”
— Blake Bakkila