I wrote the following almost 7 years ago. I doubt it’s going to make it into the book, but I have been wanting to post about Cesarean Awareness Month. I wrote this on my old blog…yes, I wrote a different blog an eon ago, and I had cute little nicknames for all of us. I was mamajama, Tommy was papajama, and Grace was babyjama. Here you have it.
I ordered some Cesarean and VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) goddesses from my friend Molly Remer and they arrived yesterday. What a long way I’ve come. I now feel proud of every one of my births, and I wouldn’t change a thing even if I could.
June 4, 2008
Friday will be the anniversary of one of the happiest, scariest, saddest days of my life. In the run-up to this anniversary, life is going on around me, and I’m a lot nostalgic, and a little preoccupied. The anniversary that I’m speaking of is the date of my child’s birth, but it was also the day of my c-section, and the day that she was whisked up to the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit).
Everyday this week, I wake up, and the house smells the same as it did that week. Something about the smell of the trees in full leaf, the humidity, and our musty basement mingles together, and it reminds me of the last week of my pregnancy and the first few days of babyjama’s life. Don’t get me wrong, there’s unbelievable happiness as papajama and I recount those events to babyjama each morning. “Good morning sweetie, one year ago today was the day that we learned that you might be breach”.
And as I write this post, this is the exact time that we were hearing that news. My care provider had been worried about my blood pressure for weeks, and on this particular night she told me that if she didn’t strip my membranes then we would need to make other plans (beyond the lovely water birth that I had envisioned). With what felt like her entire arm reaching in to separate the amniotic sac from my cervix, she uttered the words that I didn’t want to hear “This feels like a butt”. Of course we confirmed this news the next day, and quickly put a plan of action into place.
But the truth was that the damage was done. In hindsight, I can think of a thousand things that I could have done differently, that may or may not have changed the outcome, but nonetheless this week is a constant reminder. Tonight I was having a conversation with my parents about the subject, and Papa-G abruptly had to leave the room. Mama-G and I had a moment where I could tell that the memory of the fear was not so distant for her either. Her baby was cut open a year ago Friday. She then chose to acompany me back to my room while my husband and father accompanied the then nameless and helpless babyjama to her chamber of tubes and wires. She told me that as she waited for news during my surgery, that she kept saying “Why is this happening to my baby?”
We are non-medical people. All of my sisters and I were born at home. The hospital was the scary place for us. None of us had ever had major surgery, in fact it was my very first time in a hospital as a patient. There is no way for me to put into words the trauma that it was for this to be our experience. I’m not trying to be overly dramatic. We were very calm outwardly, and honestly it was a matter of being in crisis mode…stay placid to insure that you are able to deal with the next problem.
When I saw Gracie for the first time, she was being held out to me by some faceless nurse. She was winking and sticking her tongue out. I had been waiting so long for that moment, but I’d never pictured it that way. I had pictured getting to cuddle her immediately, knowing that I HAD DONE IT. I’ve heard that many women feel invincible after their birth, like superwoman. That is what I had wanted, how I wanted my daughter to see me for the first time. But there I was instead, at my most vulnerable, naked, organs exposed, shaved, with sterile people around me discussing what they would do for dinner, and congratulating each other.
They say that when a baby is born so is a mother, but they never had a c-section. By the time they finished stitching me up, babyjama was already on her way to the NICU. They wheeled me, my empty belly, and my shaking body back to my room. The minutes ticked into hours as I asked over and over to be taken to see her. “Soon” was the answer. Always “soon”. Never “now”. Finally, I was taken to be at her side. I held her and kissed her and nursed her. Everything was going to be just fine, but wait “You’re doing it wrong…you need to leave…get some sleep…we’ll let you know how she is”.
How is it possible to rest when your second heart, the heart that began it’s beating inside you is not within reach? How will she get better without the sound of my heart? Why am I not good enough? Why don’t I work? Why don’t they get it? The looks I receive tell me I’m silly, naive, and just maybe had a little too much of those drugs.
You may be saying that it all worked out. You may be thinking that I’m a whiner, with no business feeling sorry for herself. You wouldn’t be the first to think (or say) so. I allowed details of the birth story to be written and posted by a dear friend. I thought it would be therapeutic. It was not.
Maybe there is something naive about me. I wanted to have that huge superwoman surge at the end. As the days go by, more and more of them make me feel super, but every battle has been hard fought. I was hoping to start out with a boost of confidence after hours of labour, but instead I had to pool all my strength after babyjama’s emergence, because the mother bear in me took some time to emerge herself. There is obviously a happy ending to this tale, but there were some sad parts too, and I’m giving myself permission to feel both the joy and the pain.
As always, thank you for reading. If you had difficulty coping with your birth experience, how did you process that?
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