Thursday, November 10, 2011

Birth Story

I am taking a writing course on Momoir writing. One of the writing starts was to write our birth story. It was a bit challenging to write because it seems so long ago. Knowing I will not experience giving birth again saddens me so much. However, I wrote it and got some good feedback, so I thought I would share it here on my blog!

My Birth Story

When I was pregnant, I had a fear that my baby would die while it was growing inside me. I also had a fear that it would be born dead. I had visions of the cord being wrapped around the babies neck, that I would do something wrong and it would just die. When I talked to other moms, I learned that they all had this fear, just maybe not on the same dramatic level I did. I would like to say I got over that fear, but I didn't. Then one day I woke up and I had a new fear - what if I didn't like my baby? I mean, I was never one of those little girls who dreamed of her wedding day, having the white picket fence and I didn't dream of babies. I had cats, two cats that I really loved. I called my mom and asked her "Mom, what if I deliver the baby and I don't like it? What if I don't love it like I love my cats?" She laughed at me first and then she assured me that I would love the baby. She told me she had the same fear when she was pregnant the first time. But as soon as she heard her baby cry, it was instant love. So, like all new moms, as I drafted up my birthing plan, I imagined loving my baby the minute I heard it cry. I thought about the music I would play, I practiced the breathing I was taught, and I imagined the delivery, painful but so rewarding as I held the baby to my chest as she cried for the time.

I am bad at remembering dates, and certain details. I have to write things down. I don't remember what time my daughter was born, how long she was at birth, or any such scores that they gave when she was born. I don't even remember how long I was in actual labour.

What I do remember is that I pushed for five hours, that I was passing out in between contractions near the end, that I broke every blood vessel in my face and eyes. I remember that when they asked me if I had the urge to push, that I said yes. I think I must have lied. I had no idea what the urge to push was really supposed to feel like. All I knew is that I wanted my baby to come out!

I knew this baby was not ready. I knew it the way a woman just knows things. I wanted a doctor to come visit me (it was a teaching hospital and in those five hours an actual doctor never came to examine me, only students). I wanted drugs! I never was going to sign up for natural birth without drugs. I knew childbirth would be painful, so I had planned for drugs. So they had me all hooked up and ready to go, only they could not reach the anaesthesiologist, and then at some point it just became too late.

In that five hours of pushing, the nurses had me try every position they could think of. I was tired, and my husband was worried. Soon, babies somewhere on the floor were being born. I could hear women screaming and babies crying. One, then another, then another. When the third woman let out a large gut wrenching moan, I let out my own tired cry, and asked the nurse, "did she just have her baby". Then some time later, another one, and once again I asked the nurse, "did she just have her baby"? When the next one was born, I was not polite, I was swearing, wondering why my baby wasn't coming out!

When the doctor finally did come, everything was a blur to me. I heard her say episiotomy and I cried. I didn't want an episiotomy. The next thing I knew, I was being taken to an operating room, and the doctor was going to perform an emergency cesarean section. I cried harder and told the nurse adamantly and with such authority that I was absolutely not going to have a c-section. This was not in my birthing plan, I was scared and that doctor, whoever she was, I didn't like her! I did not want to have a c-section. I am sure someone tried to reassure me, comfort me perhaps, explain the reason why this was happening. I was just crying harder. I heard the words "baby is in danger" and "meconium" and "small pelvis".

As I lay on the table, I noticed this doctor was short, she needed a stool to stand on as she examined me. I looked over to my left, and asked the man with the blue surgical mask if it was normal for my arms to be burning. He said that yes, sometimes that can happen. He assured me this was necessary, so the surgery could be performed. Just as I was going to cry again, I heard someone asking if we wanted to watch the surgery as it was happening. I vehemently shook my head and said absolutely not, as I heard my husband saying a bit too enthusiastically, yes! They put up a curtain so I could not see the monitor and I looked at my husband, and told him I NEVER wanted to know any detail about what he was about to see. Then, in what seemed liked only minutes, I was cut open and my baby removed from my body.
I opened my eyes and noticed that I was not in a hospital room. It seemed to me I was in a hallway, or near a nurses station. It was loud, and bustling with activity. As I lay there, I started to remember the events that unfolded before I wound up here in this crazy, noisy area. I wondered what time it was, how much time had passed, where was my baby, was she ok? She, I had a baby girl! I could feel my tear ducts filling up, my face was burning, the tears were streaming down my face, but no sound was coming out. I could feel the wetness on my neck, and on my hospital gown, my hair sticking to my chest, and although I felt like I was sobbing, I could not make a sound. Finally a nurse noticed that I was crying and she said not to cry, she could get me something for the pain. I shook my head and thought to myself, no, no, you can't fix this.
I am not sure how much time passed before they brought me my baby girl. She was in the ICU. I was thinking how nothing went according to my birthing plan, it was all so wrong, it all felt so wrong. I wanted my baby, I wanted to see her. I remembered the call to my mom and my fear of not loving my baby when it was born. Later that day, a nurse came in, asked me if I wanted to meet my daughter. As I was nodding my head yes, she was put on my chest. I looked at her face, and was amazed with the swell in my heart and the emotion and love that overcame me in that moment. I did love her!
It was three years later, while on my break at work, that I picked up a book sitting on my desk. It belonged to one of my employees who was practicing to be a midwife. I flipped through it's pages, not really interested, but curios. It was full of pictures, diagrams, terms I did not understand. I scanned the index quickly and came to the chapter about emergency cesarean sections. It is here, within the pages of this chapter, that I learned there was in fact a real reason why I mourned the way my daughter was born. Many women who had c - sections often went through a grieving process, for the loss of not having a natural child birth. I read on, and learned something new about myself. As I read, I felt my sadness come back in a rush and then slip away just as quickly. I put my head in my hands, and I cried. All this time, I was unknowingly grieving, but no longer had to. I had identified those feelings and it was time to move on from them. After all, I had my daughter and I loved her like nothing else in my world.

 Thanks so much for reading!