You may have noticed that I grew very quiet over the last several days. The reason? My daughter decided to come early! Not too early; she’s still considered full term, but we really didn’t expect it! We thought we had more time to unpack, prepare the nursery… Life has been quite chaotic! It just goes to show that, despite our best efforts to plan and create order in our lives, Mama Nature often does what she wants!
It all started first thing Saturday morning. And I do mean first thing. I woke to a sudden gushing sensation and realized right away that my water had broke. After some phone calls with our midwife, hubby and I gathered our things. I had packed a suitcase weeks before just in case, but we had to throw in a few last minute additions. All the while, my contractions (which seemed to have come out of nowhere) were hard and fast. Since this is my first pregnancy, I really didn’t know what I was waiting for aside from pain. I had been experiencing Braxton Hicks which, while uncomfortable, never really prepared me for the amount of pain I would feel. I’d also been feeling back pain for a few days and it had been quite obnoxious all Friday. I didn’t really think much of it! I thought it was just an increase in discomfort. Honestly, I felt quite miserable all that week. I was so tired, so achey, so huge, and so bitchy. I was at that point. I was done. Little did I know that, actually, yes, I was! At 37 weeks too…
So we went to the hospital where my midwife checked my dilation and, to everyone’s dismay, we discovered that the baby was breech! My midwife was very surprised since she had felt otherwise at my previous two appointments. My life had been so hectic that week, though, with a lot of health issues and stress. Perhaps something happened and the baby moved? My contractions were coming harder and harder. I was nearly fully dilated by the time we arrived at the hospital and it was recommended to me that I have a cesarian section because everything was happening so fast. Our midwife was very worried about my safety and the baby’s.
I felt defeated at that point. I spent my entire pregnancy pumping myself up for a natural, vaginal delivery. My midwife knew this, took my hand as I burst into tears, and consoled me. My husband calmed me down as best he could and reminded me that we had to do what was best for the baby and my health. At this point, my contractions were coming on top of each other and I started to feel incoherent. My midwife helped me breathe through the horrendous contractions. My husband rubbed my back. The anesthesiologist came in to explain the process and risks involved with the spinal I was about to get. Next thing I knew, I was wheeled away from my husband and into the sterile white room I had hoped to avoid. I was moved to the operating table where the anesthesiologist struggled to give me my spinal as I writhed and moaned through contraction after contraction. I felt myself panic as my body started to push on its own. In my head, I visualized the image of Brighid from my crane bag. I called to her, prayed to her, tried not to fixate on the pain. Suddenly I was on my back, a blue barrier was erected, tubes inserted into my arms and nose… The anesthesiologist was at my head, trying to calm me down, assuring me that the pain would vanish soon.
It did, and I’m not too proud to admit I was beyond relieved. I was able to focus on conversation a little better. The anesthesiologist continued to offer comforting words, assuring me that my husband would be in soon and that the baby would be safe. The surgeon arrived with my midwife and gently explained the procedure. My toes went numb, then my legs felt heavy, and then I realized I couldn’t move them. My husband appeared in scrubs and he held one of my hands – both of which had started to shake but I was strapped down for my safety. A small part of me worried, “What if I have to run away? What will I do?”
Although I couldn’t feel pain, I was aware of movement, of pressure. I heard suctioning. A part of me wished I could have seen, but it’s probably for the best that I didn’t. I held Weretoad’s hand and prayed to Brighid over and over again… I just wanted my baby to be healthy. Nothing else mattered to me.
I remember the doctors and nurses congratulating us on a girl. I remember my husband’s eyes shining and the pressure of his hand. I remember hearing my daughter cry for the first time and my incredible urge to see and hold her right away. My midwife appeared briefly to show us our purple baby covered in white vernix. Baby was weighed, cleaned, etc. Then she was back and gently laid on my chest for a few moments. Everything felt better then. The cesarian, the pain I had endured previously, the stress – here was my beautiful little daughter. I remember laughing a bit because she was making bubbles with her lips! She whimpered a little. I wanted to breastfeed her then, but the surgeons were still putting me back together. I would have to wait. Instead, I softly sang “Irish Lullaby” to her.
Having a cesarian birth was unexpected, but I always knew there was a possibility for it. My mother required one to have my sister, after all, so I grew up knowing about them. I had desired a natural birth of course, but I tried not to attach myself to the idea so fully that I wouldn’t be able to emotionally bounce back if complications arose. I don’t blame my body, my baby, my husband, or my midwife for what happened. Sometimes, life throws challenges at us. Rather than wallowing in feelings of inadequacy or failure, I found strength in what I had gone through. My surgeon expressed admiration – I had experienced active labor and a cesarean. I never yelled at anyone, swore at anyone, or blamed anyone – I embraced my inner strength and took comfort from Brighid. Although I did not push my baby into this world, I endured a different kind of hardship. I’m still enduring it as I recover from major surgery while learning how to care for my baby girl. Although she is too little to understand what happened, I have been working to be an example of feminine strength for her. Look baby girl – mama can get up after surgery. She can walk to the bathroom by herself. She can do it! You can do it too. Women have to be strong.
So even though I didn’t have the natural birth I desired, I do have a beautiful child who is healthy! Once more, the Rolling Stones seem to explain it best! I’m starting to think this is my theme song!