I posted this article on my personal Facebook yesterday, with this statement, "Such a healing article. I have a difficult time in allowing myself any credit, but this was so validating to read. The mere minutes I had to make the decision, I was the bravest I have ever been. Since then, I have had to become the strongest I have ever been. And I can also say that I am now the most blessed I have ever been. Happy 10 months, Bean!"
A distant friend, who is/was a nurse (and who I don't think knows my story), responded with this, "It doesn't matter how a baby is born. My rule is always healthy mom healthy baby. I love birth plan mamas. They just have to remember I'm not the enemy!"
At first, it hurt and I jumped on the defensive. Of course it matters! I was absolutely not healthy! I was in excruciating pain and drugged so hard I barely remember the first week of my son's life! I have PTSD and post-partum anxiety!
But then, I thought... She has a point. I can see her side. Her job is to make sure that both mom and baby stay alive. Her, and the other nurses and doctors, have that responsibility to the mothers and babies. The issue that I am trying to work against is when their convenience becomes a hindrance to birthing mothers, such has restricted movement, birthing on the back, unnecessarily scheduled inductions/cesareans etc. But OBs and nurses are not automatically evil. In fact, I’ve met the OB that I plan to have a hospital birth with once I’m pregnant with #2. She is incredibly supportive of VBaCs (vaginal birth after cesarean), and even gave me statistics supporting VBACs at our initial meeting! Several of my mama friends have or are planning to birth with her, and have given her the highest praise. I feel comfortable with the thought of her providing my prenatal care and assisting me in the birth of my next child.
To me, it did matter how Bean was born. Imagine telling a girl who has planned her dream wedding all her life, has all the vendors paid for, and is getting ready to walk down the aisle, that she has to go to the courthouse and give up everything she has dreamed of, planned on, and paid for. In the end, she is still marrying the love of her life, but what was planned to be a pivotal day in her life has been reduced to almost nothing, comparatively, with none of the memories that she hoped for. For anyone who has not had a similar experience, this is the closest analogy I was able to come up with. In the end, though, we did both come out alive, and for that I am eternally grateful for.
Her statement, “I love birth plan mamas,” got me thinking a lot, though. I was a birth plan mama. Most of my friends are birth plan mamas. In fact, I sat on a pretty high horse with my birth plan. I was literally so set in my birth plan that I scoffed and rolled my eyes while filling out the paperwork required in case of a transfer. I whined to Bear about having to fill it out, and put it off as long as possible. I had a healthy pregnancy, why shouldn’t I have a healthy, normal, natural birth, like women have been having for eons? Isn’t that what the natural birth community preaches, that we were made for this? My mantra, like so many others, was, “I grew this baby, I can birth this baby.” Until I couldn’t.
Coming off of my high horse, the fall was hard. It left me breathless, bruised, and sore. I am grateful, in a way, though, because it opened my eyes. Namely, if I had not been so set on having a home birth, if my mind and heart had been more open to the possibility of something ending up differently, maybe I wouldn’t have suffered so much when plans did change. Perhaps my PTSD/anxiety would have been less, or even non-existent. If the Natural Birthing Community was more open to necessary medical interventions (as my midwife was), perhaps my friends who have had to have them in order to birth vaginally would not be so ashamed to admit so. Is there a chance that the natural birth community and modern medicine could live in harmony, rather than pitted against each other? Working together, maybe an outcome of “healthy mama, healthy baby” would become more often a reality, rather than a distant dream, as it is for so many. To the doctors and nurses and midwives and doulas who really do care about that, thank you. I appreciate you beyond what words can express.
On Facebook, my response was that I was not healthy, I had PTSD and anxiety due to my birth experience, which was met kindly by my nurse friend, but spurred another response which nearly broke my heart and has left me crying all morning.
A distant family member, who I doubt knows the story of Bean’s birth, made the joke that knowing birth could bring on “the same PTSD that soldiers come home from war with” was good birth control.
Oh. My. Heart.
I have PTSD, not because of birth, and, I think, even very little has to do with it ending in a c-section over a vaginal birth. It is from the situation surrounding Bean’s birth. To quote a previous blog post,
"In a matter of minutes, we went from our midwife telling Bear to get ready to catch his baby to our baby being born in a room full of strangers, with the only person in the room who loved him out cold on the table. If that is not traumatic, I don't know what is.”
My experience is rare, and shared in the hopes of 1) finding and offering solidarity with and to other women who have been through similar experiences and 2) to educate people who have not been. The last thing I want is for my experience to be used as something to scare women away from having children. Even though it was said in jest, I have been in tears over that statement since I logged into Facebook this morning. I will be honest and say that statements like these are what make me not want to share anything about my experience, but also spur me to do it. I would not change what I have been through for the world, and I am grateful every day that such a great blessing as Bean came out of what occurred. Despite this “joke”, I will continue to share and be vulnerable, even if I only reach one other person for the good with my experience.
Last week, I with dealing with almost constant anxiety, as several women I knew were being induced or having c-sections scheduled to get babies here before Christmas, and I was reminded every time I logged onto Facebook. This article was the catalyst for a very serious thinking session. Then I realized something very important for myself.
It was my choice to have a cesarean.
Absolutely my choice. Just like it was my choice to labor at home, to limit the number of tests run, to limit the number of ultrasounds done. Just like it is my choice (and Bear’s) to have Bean on a selective/delayed vaccination schedule, to take him everywhere with us instead of having a babysitter, to use homeopathic and natural remedies for ourselves and Bean unless we need something more, to cloth diaper.
I had (and have) complete faith and trust in our midwife, but I could have told her, “no,” when she told her assistant to call 9-1-1. I could have refused to allow the paramedics to take me into the ambulance. I could have denied consent to the operation by not signing the papers presented to me at the hospital. I could have said, “no,” until the very moment the anesthesiologist injected the stuff to knock me out.
I am one of the very lucky women in this country to have an emergency cesarean section without being bullied or forced into it. I agreed to this decision because it was the best choice for my baby and me. I made the choice based on the sound advice of my trusted practitioner, who actually had nearly the same exact thing happen to her.
While the whole experience was very surreal and seemed to happen in both an instant and an eternity, I was still completely aware of what was going on. Even though I wasn’t in control of how my baby acted during the birthing process, I was in control of my reaction to his actions.
I have known this, to an extent, since it happened. I guess the PTSD is blinding in a way, and that this is another step in my healing process. I still hate that I had to have a c-section, but I’m hating it less. My scar is less of a painful reminder and more of a source of amazement (my kid came out of that?!). I even managed a trip the other day to the maternity ward we lived on for a week after his birth, to bring cookies to a friend who just had her baby, and left without a panic attack.
I’m still dealing with a lot of “what-if”s and anxiety, panic attacks, hard feelings against the OB who performed the c-section for threatening me afterwards, and frustration at memory loss from moments I was hoping to cherish forever. I still have a long way to go, but I’m so grateful to have gotten this far.
My dear, sweet Bean,
Right now, you are asleep in my arms. You are the picture of perfection, with those chubby cheeks and eyelashes the ladies would all die for.
I want to always remember this, the way your hand rests on my chest and your little feet dangle off my lap. It's hard to believe that just 6 months ago you were placed in my arms. I can't imagine life before you, without you. Yet, 6 months have flown too quickly. The first time I held you, you curled up perfectly on my chest. I try to hold you that way now, and your head rests on my shoulder and your feet reach my lap. The baby swing you used to drown in barely contains you anymore.
You light my days with smiles and my nights with cuddles. I get a (not so) secret thrill when you only want me or daddy.
I'm so blessed to get to watch you grow, though sometimes it gets frustrating for both of us. Not just cutting teeth - though mama hates to see you in that pain, too - but in learning how to do things yourself. Rolling over, sitting up, now crawling. You're so close, and you get so angry when you've almost reached your toy but it is still out of reach. I hope we both learn from this; you, to not give up when you set your mind on something, and me, to encourage you and support you but not do it for you.
In one short week, we will celebrate our first Christmas together. A year ago, papa was laughing at me for staring at the lights. Now he's so excited to have them up so you can stare, and stare you do. I hope you never lose that joy of innocence and wonder (and staring at a lit Christmas tree).
If I could pause time, I'd almost want to right now. But not quite. I look forward to coming Christmases, to teaching you about the birth of Christ, to seeing your eyes light up at the presents under the tree, to listening to your little voice sing carols and hymns, and hearing your little feet patter around way too early.
But, for this moment, I will wonder and awe over you the way you wonder and awe over the Christmas lights.
With all the love in my heart, and all that overflows from it,
“They” say a lot of things about breastfeeding. “Breast is best,” and “You won’t get your period as long as you breastfeed!” I’ll be honest, the one that made me the happiest was, “You’ll lose so much weight breastfeeding!”
See, I’ve had this thing since I was young. It’s not a very nice thing. But it’s a thing that has made me obsess about my body, specifically my weight. This is a thing that has sent me to the hospital. A thing that has turned me to skin and bones, and at other times a blimp. A thing that, after years of therapy, still creeps into the back of my mind and whispers terrible things in my ear. A thing that I’ll never conquer, and can barely control. A thing that made me hate myself and how I look. A thing that can make me cry or rage when I look in a mirror or see a picture of myself.
This thing? Eating disorders. Anorexia and Bulimia and Body Dysmorphic Disorder, all wrapped up together in a Monster I seem to have caged most of the time, but manages to escape on occasion. My own mental bully that has grown up with me from age 10, when my thyroid (unbeknownst to myself or my doctors) stopped working like it was supposed to.
I’ve been “overweight” most of my life, “obese” according to the BMI charts, which I try to tell myself is bull shit because my mom says I have an “athletic build” and I don’t look good at what they consider a “healthy weight.” Sheesh, that’s a lot of quotation marks.
Last summer, I finally figured out everything that was wrong with me. I found an exercise routine that worked, ate healthy, cut out gluten, and finally got on the right thyroid medication. In just over a month, I dropped 25 lbs, and was only 25 lbs away from my goal weight. I would have kept going, but I found out that I was pregnant with Bean.
Pregnancy has been the only time I have been truly happy with my body. I managed to continue eating healthy for the most part, and it didn’t bother me to gain the 35 or so lbs I did. I did not keep a vigorous exercise routine, but Bear and I took walks all the time. I loved watching my baby bump grow in the mirror. I was grateful that I didn’t seem to gain much anywhere else. I didn’t always feel great, but I felt great about my body. I would have walked around without a shirt on at all times, if it were socially acceptable.
I did miss exercising like I used to, though. I was looking forward to Bean being born and getting back into it a few weeks later, as soon as I had the go-ahead from my midwife. I imagined hitting it hard with Jillian Michael’s while Bean watched from his swing or bouncer. I wanted to be at my previous goal weight by Christmas of this year, and I just knew between breastfeeding and exercising, I’d get there.
So much for that. I’m currently 4 ½ months postpartum and I still can’t even walk for too long. And I’m not talking fast-paced, supercharged power walking. I’m talking about an evening stroll through town like Bear and I used to do while I was pregnant. It hurts too much to walk for long, much less even thinking about real exercise. I can’t even do yoga for more than a few minutes. I look in the mirror and all I can see is that c-section shelf, something that I will probably always have, a flab of skin to hang over the top of my mom jeans (jk, I’ll NEVER wear mom jeans…). And the numbers on the scale, they haven’t gone down since a week after Bean’s birth.
The pain, the physical pain, is still excruciating some days. Some days, it’s all I can do to cart Bean around. Chunker. It’s also frustrating. This isn’t the way it was supposed to be. It’s another thing that didn’t go according to plan. And the physical pain is a constant reminder, something that I carry with my constantly, making it feel like nothing went right. It translates into emotional pain, which is excruciating, too.
So, on top of the postpartum anxiety and PTSD that I am working through, the Monster comes back. Taunts me. Makes me obsessed with the numbers on the scale. Makes me justify when Bean doesn’t want to be put down so that I don’t have to make something for myself to eat. Makes me angry when I look in the mirror. Makes me avoid having my picture taken (we still don’t have a real family picture).
I know I can’t live like this. I can’t keep stepping on the scale multiple times a day. I can’t keep skipping meals. I cannot obsess about my now-matronly body. And I need your help.
I’m sharing this to make myself accountable to you, my reader. I’m putting away the scale. I am making an effort to plan my meals and have healthy snacks available for myself. I will tell myself, out loud, affirmations any time I look in the mirror. I will do my best to live a healthy lifestyle without obsessing about my weight or shape.
This is hard. This is very, very hard. But I know that I am not the only one out there who feels like this. If you feel the same in any way, I would like to invite you to join me. Let’s take this journey together, to learn to love our bodies, stretch marks and scars and all.
I have been asked by several people why I have not yet shared photos of Bean on Facebook/this blog/other social media. I have several reasons, and would like to share them with you.
In this day and age, we are inundated with pictures and 140 character blurbs about our family, friends, and acquaintances' every thought, action, and meal.
As shallow as it may sound, I do NOT care to see the wedding photos, ultrasound pics, or baby videos of every person I've ever met. Aside from the dramatically vague status updates and pictures of food, I feel like these things are highly private, meant to be shared with the people who love you and care most about you in celebration of these things. Not to say I'm not happy for each and every person in these great life events, but when 20 people from my college freshman classes (which took place 7 years ago) all post sonograms back-to-back, they all begin to look the same. Especially if the most communication we've had since our study group has been liking each other's posts.
For me, the over-sharing of my life seems to devalue and depersonalize these events. Not everyone feels that way, and that is fine. Through text, email, and even snail mail, I am able to share pictures with those closest to my family. Mailing or personally handing prints to people of importance was how our parents and grandparents shared school and Christmas pictures, and that method works just fine for me. However, I am grateful for the ability to save on the stamps!
Additionally, the Internet never forgets. And, unfortunately, there are unsavory characters out there who enjoy stealing pictures for their own use. In various mother's groups I am a part of, moms have shared horror stories of anyone from complete strangers to vindictive exes to well-meaning family members stealing pictures off of social media sites and sharing them as their own. How easy is it for someone to see a Facebook account with hundreds of pictures, videos, and anecdotal status updates about a child, and know the child without KNOWING the child? And if their intentions are not honorable, how easy would it be to use that information to find and do bad things to the child? I'm probably being way overly protective here (hey, first time mom, I get a little slack here, right?), but I'd rather be cautious and safe than have something bad happen to my son because I shared a little too much.
My third and biggest reason is my son's autonomy. He is his own person and I want to respect him as such. In several years, when he is able to understand that his picture can be shared with a few or a lot, I will ask him which he wants. If he wants them posted to Facebook, I will then happily share. If not, they will remain private family treasures.
Don't worry, I'm saving all of his naked baby pictures to show his first girlfriend :P
I decided immediately after Bean's birth that I would not be a "milestone checker". You know, one of those moms obsessed with their child reaching specific milestones by a certain age? I refuse to look at baby books. I don't remember the day his umbilical cord fell off or the first time I cut his nails. I do, however, remember the first time he slept for 4 hours straight instead of his normal 2 hours, because that was 3 weeks ago and I woke up with boobs as hard as rocks!
As a type A personality, it's actually been a relief to me to not have milestones to stress over. Instead, I take in my son as he takes in the world! He is such a bright, alert little man, and I try to enjoy him as much as I can in these sometimes-long-but-always-quickly-passing days.
The two things that have thrilled me the most in the past few weeks are: his discovery of his smile and laugh, and his discovery of his hands.
His first laugh was at our two-week post-partum visit with our midwife. We were discussing how he planned such a grand entrance at 40 weeks and 4 days - despite his mama's pleas that he get here just a leeeeettle sooner - and as confirmation that he did, indeed, plan it, he smiled and gave a giggle. Since then, I have waited with bated breath until he started doing this voluntarily. This started happening just a few weeks ago! Now I'm becoming a morning person again, because he is genuinely happy to see me and I get to bask in the glow of that gummy grin! His nursing takes longer than normal, too, because he keeps popping off just to grin at me before he resumes his eating. *heartmelts* His giggle is contagious, and when I laugh, he laughs, which is the best thing ever!
In the past couple weeks, another amazing thing has happened. His hands, and what he can with them, fascinate Bean. He will sit in Bear’s lap or mine and examine them for minutes. He has finally figured out how to get his thumb in his mouth, but still needs both hands to hold it in there. Best of all, he has started reaching for things! For a while, he has "talked" to the mobile toys hanging above him in his swing and bouncy seat, but he is just now actually reaching for them and trying to grab them! Bear says that, this weekend at my sister's wedding, Bean reached for him while my dad held Bean!
My friend told me that for the first few months after babies are born, they are potatoes. Eating, crying, sleeping, peeing, pooping potatoes. Cute potatoes, but still potatoes because they don't really do anything. And while we are not keeping to any particular milestone guideline, I'm so proud (and a little sad) to say that my Bean is a potato no more!
Preface: I understand that these comments are well-meant and designed to bring comfort. I hear the heart of the speaker. And I am thankful for their love and caring. This post is meant to inform, not to make anyone feel bad for anything they may or may not have said.
"Birth is empowering."
I keep seeing this all over Facebook right now. Being friends with midwives and doulas and mamas who support mom's voice during birth, it's inevitable, this seeing. And I'm sure it's true.
But I don't feel it.
I mean, what makes a birth empowering? Is it the labor? Is it the actual pushing out of the baby? Is it the moment you reach for your baby and he/she is on your chest and the umbilical cord is still pumping life into that little body? Is it all of the above? None of it?
I've been called brave. Not really. I did what I was told to do. What I really feel like, in this moment, is robbed. Robbed of whatever part of birthing is supposed to be empowering.
I wish I had someone or something to blame, to label "thief". But I don't. It just happened. It wasn't Bean's fault, or my midwife's, or Bear's or mine or God's. It would be so much easier to point the finger, but there's nowhere to point it.
If I point it at all, of course it's at myself. I remember my midwife telling me that I was 8cm and could push if I wanted, she would just have to push back the cervical lip over Bean's head. I can't count the number of times I've wondered if things had been different if I had let her, instead of wanting to wait till I was fully dilated.
And, yes, I realize I am immensely blessed with my beautiful son, who turned 2 months yesterday. Blessed to have my health and body almost back to normal. Blessed to be able to exclusively breastfeed my child. Blessed that we are both alive. Blessed to have a partner who has continued to be my rock in my lowest times, as well as my highest. Blessed to have a partner who loves us both so fully and unconditionally, and who never complains about the 3 a.m. diaper change. Believe me, I count my blessings every day.
Tell me, what is it about birth that is empowering? Because, right now, I feel so powerless.
My cloth diaper journey began when I was just a baby. My mother tells me that I was terribly allergic to disposable diapers and had awful rashes until she switched to cloth. Of course, back then, it was still the giant square folded and held together with a big pin.
Tuesday, June 10th, was my little man’s due date. I had been hoping that he would come a little early, though not too early, but he was content to stay in for the allotted 40 weeks. Our midwife said early on that we would go full term like most first time moms, but I was just convinced that he would come a week or two early!
The day before, Bear and I drove the 6 hour round trip to see our midwife. I had been having Braxton Hicks contractions for a few weeks, and they had been getting stronger and more frequent. The morning we went to see our midwife, however, they disappeared almost completely, and I was very disappointed. Both Bean and I did great at our check-up; all of my vitals were fantastic, and Bean’s head was engaged and he was in perfect position. I was happy, but still a little disappointed when our midwife informed me that we could easily go another week or two, as I did not look like a woman about to give birth! On our trip home, I had 7-8 contractions, but they petered off again once I went to bed.
The next day, they were stronger and more regular than they had been to that date, and by the evening I was having 4-5 contractions an hour, most lasting about a minute or so. I waited a couple hours before calling my midwife; I didn’t want them to calm down again if she was going to make the 3-hour trip. She told me to take some Benadryl and go to bed, and she was going to take a shower and then get on the road. She got to our house at about 1am, checked my vitals, and went to sleep in the guest room. My contractions weren’t picking up any, and she told us to wake her if they did.
Wednesday morning, Bear had to fill out some paperwork at work and run some errands, which he hadn’t felt comfortable doing before someone was home with me. The contractions had slowed down again, so we just chilled and waited it out. Once Bear got back, we went for a nice long walk with the puppies, and the contractions picked up again. Our midwife suggested I see the Chiropractor to see if that would help move things along. While we were waiting for the Chiropractor to see us, I started doing squats in the adjustment room. Bear laughed at me and told me that it would be at least another week before Bean got here, because there’s no way I’d be able to do that if it was time! The Chiropractor was surprised to see us, said I was about as good as I could be at 40 weeks along, and even felt the baby’s placement and said it couldn’t be better for the home birth we wanted. That night, the contractions still weren’t getting any closer than 10 minutes apart, so another night of Benadryl and sleeping as much as possible before labor started.
Thursday, our midwife offered to strip my membranes. I had heard about this, but really had no idea what that entailed. It was far more uncomfortable than I had anticipated, but I was so ready for labor to start that I was willing to do pretty much anything she suggested or offered. I rested for a while, and then Bear and I took a walk down the road to see the Chiropractor in his local office. If he was surprised the day before, he was nearly in shock to see us again! That night the contractions were still no closer than 10 minutes apart, so we went to sleep. Midwife offered to go to stay with a local friend for the night, since “a watched pot never boils,” but I honestly did not feel watched at all and was completely comfortable with her being there, so she stayed.
Friday morning the three of us watched the History Channel and had interesting discussions on religion and other theories. Midwife decided to go out to get a few things she needed, as well as some food. I think she brought me back some flan, but I never had a chance to eat it!
By late afternoon, the contractions were getting stronger than ever and I was getting uncomfortable. We went to bed about 9, and the contractions were only 4-5 minutes apart. Midwife checked my vitals every hour or so, and I tried to sleep between contractions. About 3:15am, I was in the middle of a contraction and felt a little “pop” in my pelvic region. At first, I thought my water had broken, and waited for the typically talked about “gush”, but never felt it, so I figured it must have been something else. I waited through 2 more contractions before I got up to go to the bathroom. When I stood up, I realized that my water had broken! I made it to the doorway of the bedroom before another contraction hit me and I called Bear over. I told him that he might want to get the midwife up, since my water had broken! Within an hour, the birth pool had been set up and filled, both of the midwife’s assistants were at the house, and the contractions were coming faster.
Everyone was very quiet, except for the mocking bird that still doesn’t know the difference between night and day, and the house was calm and peaceful. I labored in bed as long as I could, kneeling with pillows under my chest, listening to the song I had picked as my labor song. After about 30 minutes, I got sick of the song and turned it off! Shortly after, I asked midwife, “Can I pleeeease get in the pool now?” She told me that I could do anything that I wanted, and I almost jumped in! The warm water was such a relief. Bear held my hands, fed me ice chips, and kept a cool cloth on my neck and face for hours. He was (and is) my rock, my partner, and the best support I could ever hope for. Midwife checked my vitals and baby’s heartbeat regularly, and around 9am she announced that I was at 6cm and that I was progressing beautifully. Bean’s heartbeat was steadily in the 120-140 BPM range, both during and between contractions.
My labor was like nothing I could have imagined. The contractions felt like they came from the deepest part of my being. I did my best to keep my moans and groans in the lowest register possible. I quickly learned the progression of the contractions, and started coaching myself through them. "Another is starting... and it's getting stronger... I can do this. It's peaking and it hurts so bad, but that means it will be over soon." Eventually, the pain became too much for me to talk myself through, and I asked Bear to do it for me. Through each contraction, as I squeezed his hands, he kept his head close to mine, telling me quietly that I could do this, I was strong, it was almost over, that I was doing wonderfully. In all honesty, I felt like a huge baby, especially with the number of times I whined, "Can you just get it out of me?" and, "Is it over yet?" Between contractions, Bear encouraged me to drink my water and even eat a few grapes. I counted time by the sky as it grew bright through the window by the pool.
A little after 11am, my contractions were stacking on top of each other, and the midwife told me we were heading into transition. She said that I was at 8cm, and that my cervix had a bit of a lip that she could slide back to let Bean’s head come through. I decided I wanted to let my cervix dilate completely on it’s own. Midwife checked baby’s heartbeat again, and it was beautiful. She told Bear to get ready to get into the pool, since he wanted to catch the baby, and she stepped out of the room for a minute. At that point, I was reclining in the pool with Bear behind me. Suddenly, I felt a jerk in my stomach. Bear saw it, and said the whole pool moved. I guess my moaning changed, because the midwife was back by my side asking how I felt. I said, “It burns, it hurts so bad.” Labor had certainly been painful to that point, but this was a completely different pain.
She checked for baby’s heartbeat and couldn’t find it. She had me flip over in the pool to all fours and still couldn’t find his heartbeat. She checked my cervix again and found that it had swollen back down to 6cm. Calmly but firmly, she told me to get out of the pool now. I struggled, as the contractions were right on top of each other at that point. Bear and Midwife got me onto the birth stool, which was right next to the pool. She finally found baby’s heart rate, which during contractions was dropping dangerously low into the 50’s. She immediately turned to her assistants and told one to call 911, and then had the other put the oxygen mask on me. As soon as she said that, I prayed out loud, “God, just give me my baby.”
My whole labor to that point had been surreal, on a different plane, primal and grounding. As soon as I said my prayer, I was in a completely different space. Part of me was vaguely aware that I could be panicking, but I wasn’t. I was enveloped in God’s peace and love, which continued through Bean’s birth. I could hear the fear in Bear’s voice (his mother had almost lost her life during her cesarean section with him), and I wanted so bad to comfort him, but I had to concentrate all of my energy on Bean.
As soon as she had given her instructions to her assistants, the midwife and Robert got me onto the couch and on my side to try to slow the contractions. Thankfully, Bean’s heart rate was recovering into the 130’s between contractions. Midwife coached me to breathe through the contractions, to breathe for my baby. The paramedics arrived within minutes, and everything was a whirlwind from there. Midwife rode in the ambulance with me, tracking Bean’s heart rate the whole time, and Bear drove the car right behind us. Midwife kept eye contact with me, constantly reminding me to breathe, and I could feel love and strength emanate from her and fill me. Bean’s heart rate was recovering faster by this point, so that’s what I focused my energy on. Contractions that had moments ago had me near screaming, I was now breathing through with barely a moan or two. Thinking back, God was extremely present with me. I didn't flinch, and was even able to watch, as the paramedic flawlessly placed two IVs in my left arm (I have a terrible fear of needles).
We quickly arrived at the hospital, and I was immediately taken to Labor and Delivery. Midwife stayed by my side, and Bear was there shortly after we arrived. I was informed that they would need to perform an emergency cesarean section, and right away. I was presented with a handful of papers that I was instructed to sign, and was whisked away to the OR. The OB on call, along with a nurse or two, helped me onto the operating table. While the anesthesiologist informed me of the medications she was already beginning to give me, a nurse inserted the catheter while another nurse prepped my stomach for the surgery. I vaguely remember feeling a burning sensation around my IV site, and then nothing.
Bean was born at 12:14pm on June 14, 2014, less than an hour after he decided to flip. His protests on being removed from the womb were heard in the waiting room. It breaks my heart that neither Bear nor I were able to see him being born, but I am so thankful that he was healthy! Bear got to see and hold Bean while I was in recovery, and took some pictures for me so that I could see my beautiful baby boy.
When I woke up, Bear and Midwife were both there. Since we had waited until birth to learn the gender of our child, Bear was super excited to tell me we had a boy! At first I was shocked (I come from a family of 6 girls, no brothers, and have 2 nieces), and then overwhelmed with joy. Shortly after, they wheeled me into our hospital room (hitting every corner and wall on the way, haha!), and I requested a breast pump, as I had been informed that Bean was not to be brought to me for several hours yet. Within a few minutes, Midwife entered the room and announced, “Well, we weren’t able to find a breast pump, but we found the next best thing.” And Bean was brought into the room in his bassinet!
People say that you don’t know real love until you have a child. I already loved him so immensely, so beyond measure, from the moment I knew I was pregnant, but even that love paled in comparison to what I felt when I held him for the first time. My beautiful son.
I am so happy and blessed to have my sweet boy with me, healthy and growing like a weed. But, his birth was not my ideal. In fact, it ended in almost the least anticipated or desired way possible. My heart still breaks 5 weeks later when I think about Bear not being able to be in the room when Bean was born, not being able to see him arrive earthside, not being the first to hold him. I feel guilty when I see the pictures of him with all the wires and IV, when I remember the multiple IV sites, when I think of our 1-week hospital stay because he caught an infection in the nursery. I get frustrated because I am still unable to do things physically that I should have been able to do weeks ago. “At least he is healthy!” Yes, but that is only part of it. Sometimes, even a mother forgets that she was a huge part of the birth experience, and she has a right to feel good about the process.
I have been so blessed with family and friends coming and helping with the baby, with the chores, with food. Bear has been my rock, he always knows when I’m upset and helps me work through it instead of bottling it up. My midwife continues to check on and encourage me. I’m healing physically and getting more active. I am hurting, I am grieving, but it gets a little easier every day.
Mama Bear of one Baby Bear, Bean, who both love Papa Bear, and live in a crafty, gluten-free cozy den.