November 6, 2006

My Cesarean Experience

After deciding I would rather try experiencing birth without having my water broken for me, an IV inserted, an epidural administered, I found myself experiencing all of the above. Next thing I knew I was being wheeled down to the operating room for a cesarean section. My body would not respond to the epidural or the nerve block, so I underwent general anesthetic.

Early on in my pregnancy, I decided that I would like to have my baby naturally, or as naturally as possible. I had educated myself as well as I could, but if you’ve ever had a baby, you know that all the research in the world cannot prepare you for the actual experience and no matter how much planning you do, the way it all pans out will not be predicted.

Choking on the breathing tube that had been removed, I woke up in a daze. The nurses in recovery were talking about my baby girl. While my eyes were barely open, I heard them ask me if I knew how much my baby weighed and if it was a boy or a girl. Once I had groggily answered them correctly, and they quickly wheeled me upstairs to the maternity ward to greet my daughter. Once I arrived in my hospital room I saw the two of them out of the corner of my eye. Her father was holding her. I heard Faith’s newborn cry and he said softly, “She wants to eat, mommy.” The emotions that overwhelmed me shortly after meeting her and nursing her for the very first time were a mixture of happiness and sadness, triumph and failure, bravery and fear.

Of course, I was happy. Here we were. My beautiful newborn baby in my arms; as perfect as human life can possibly be; un-tainted by anything this world represents. Her soft pink skin and feather-like brown hair felt so good against me. She even smelled perfect. When she slept, she displayed absolute peace. When I saw her father cradle her in his big arms and stroke her face with his rough finger, I knew that we had a long road ahead of us. A road filled with wonderful happy memories, and countless challenges we would be tested on. Even though happiness overwhelmed me, I felt a deep sadness. This experience of pregnancy was over for now. Feeling the baby swim and squirm inside was done with. She was out. Starting now, we were responsible for her, and what her young life would experience in the world. No longer safe in the confinement and security of mommy’s womb.

Whatever sadness was felt, I couldn’t help having a sense of triumph over the situation. Another bridge crossed; another stone turned over; a chapter finished. I had been through pregnancy and birthed a child. I was now really what I had always grown up wanting to be: wife and mother. That goal was now attained. Why was my sense of triumph tainted by failure? Well, the process of her birth, of course. No matter how many people said, “You birthed your baby,” “Your body didn’t fail you,” “At least you and your baby are healthy,” or “Interventions are here to save lives,” nothing could really make me feel as though I had not failed at this. My body was supposed to be able to birth a child without being sliced open, right? As ridiculous as it may sound, I felt as though cesarean was the ‘weaker’ woman’s way of having a child. I wasn’t as tough as those who had given birth vaginally. I hadn’t conquered that part of child-birth. Yes, I could grow a baby, but could I actually push it out the way nature meant it to be?

Hoping to overcome this fear of the unknown by going through childbirth, I hadn’t felt more fearful now. Questions and thoughts about my next birthing experience plagued me during the recovery in the hospital and even at home for the first while. I wanted to have a large family. Faith needs brothers and sisters. Again I found myself asking if I can do this. No matter the fear I felt, bravery did slip in every once in a while. Pregnancy and birth is a scary and risky miracle. God walked us through the entire experience and allowed these events to happen. Whatever failure I felt, He allowed both me and my daughter to be safe and healthy at the end. Even though things weren’t the way we had expected, God gave me the strength and courage to go through the scary and disappointing situations. My midwife said it best: Birth is the very first lesson you get in parenting. It’s not always, and very rarely, the way you plan.

1 comment:

Bonnie Leon said...

I agree with all you've said, but the last line is perfect -- "Birth is the very first lesson you get in parenting. It’s not always, and very rarely, the way you plan."

My children are grown and are parents themselves, but they still surprise me and sometimes even disappoint me, but the love -- it never goes away or grows weak -- it's just as strong as it was at our first meeting.

I've had a full and happy life, but the best thing I ever got to do was be a mom.

Cherish every moment.