Saturday, November 7, 2009

A New Life and Old Hurts

My dear friends welcomed their very first baby into the world yesterday morning, their own little bundle of pink. I couldn't wait to get to the hospital to see her. R (the new mama) and I planned and planned during her pregnancy. I haven't talked about it much here, but childbirth education is my passion. I lucked into a wonderful doctor when I was pregnant with Princess #1 and his love of childbirth and the natural process guided my experience and changed my view of the whole thing. I went on to have 3 unmedicated births those experiences inspired me to someday become certified as a childbirth educator and share my love with others.

Anyway, due to my experience, R and I spent alot of time talking and planning. She was curious about going unmedicated and I was thrilled to share my stories and knowledge. Over time, she and her husband decided that they too wanted to attempt an unmedicated birth and began to prepare for it. They hired a doula and invited me to shadow her and be an additional support for R during her labor. I was beyond thrilled. First, what an honor. Second, I've never been on THAT side of the delivery, and was excited to see it from a different angle.

So of course, as luck would have it, R's water broke at home 4 weeks early. And of course, my phone was no where near me when they called to tell me they were on their way to the hospital. And of course, by the time I got the message, sweet baby E was here. She decided in addition to coming 4 weeks early, she also wanted to come butt first. So R didn't even have a chance. As soon as they discovered the breech presentation, all hopes for an unmedicated birth went out the window and the OR was prepped for a section.

Baby E is beautiful, and healthy. 7 pounds, no sign of being early at all. R is recovering well. I haven't had a chance to really talk with her yet, so I don't know where her mind is in regards to the birth. But their experience has brought to the front of my mind my OWN experience with unexpected circumstances during birth, and it's brought back with it my own regret, pain and sadness.

With my first 3 births, I wrote extensive birth stories following the event. I wanted to remember every detail, every moment. I was so proud of myself, for accomplishing such a great feat - sustaining a child within me for 9 months and bringing her into the world by my own efforts. There is nothing like the high following childbirth and I dare say the high I experienced following my natural births was astronomical. I felt like I could take on the world in that moment. So of course, when I discovered I was pregnant with Princess #4, I planned again for another empowering experience.

But this birth was not like my other 3. I have never written about it because I'm not sure I can put into words exactly my thoughts. Some days I'm not even sure what my thoughts are. Princess #4 did not tolerate labor. The cord was wrapped around her head. She would not descend into the birth canal. Her heartrate kept dropping with contractions and not rebounding. I pushed for 45 minutes. I knew in my heart, though my mind was fuzzy with the pain of labor, that something was wrong. I began begging my doctor to just take her. It happened so fast then. One minute I was pushing in vain, the next I was being wheeled through the hallway on the verge of near hysteria and into the bright white of the OR. I remember very little after that. I remember not feeling anything. I remember being very scared. I remember being alone. I remember after she was born hearing someone in the room say "oh boy!" and I about had a heart attack right there - until someone finally confirmed that she was in fact, a girl. I remember asking how big she was and someone telling me that they'd get around to that, but that there were other things to worry about right now. I remember that's when I realized she hadn't cried yet.

6 minutes is what they tell me. 6 minutes from decision to baby. 6 minutes that changed me. I never, ever dreamed that after 3 uneventful, unmedicated births that left me feeling like Superwoman that I would experience a C-section. I rarely ever talk about it, rarely mention it to anyone other than my husband. Because I know the thoughts people must have: but you have a perfectly healthy baby! She's safe, that's all that matters. It doesn't matter how she gets here. And that's all true. But I believe that at the same time, it DOES matter. To me. Everytime I allow myself to think about it, I wonder what I did wrong. What could I have done to change things. Even now, after re-reading my rundown here of the events leading to her birth - it's clear in my head that the outcome would not have been good if we had tried to continue. My head knows it. But my heart still hurts. Is it normal to know and believe that the C-section saved your baby's life, and yet still wonder if there was something else you could have done?

I'm hoping time will heal. It's been 9 months, and my heart could not be more full when I look at my sweet Princess #4. She's discovering her world, exploring and learning. Her precious smile melts my heart. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that it was all worth it and I'd do it again exactly the same over and over again if I had to. Hopefully someday I'll no longer have that nagging little catch at the back of my head that says "what if..." And even if it never completely goes away, hopefully I'll be able to use my experiences to better educate and prepare women who are on their own unique journeys into childbirth.

R, your new baby is beautiful. What a precious gift from God! I know that He will bless you and S as you begin your new life. Never doubt yourself, when you run into inevitable bumps in the road. You are not on this journey alone. Memorize each moment in these early days, for they are gone too quickly. Relish in the changing of control in your home - it's not about you anymore! And that's wonderful, and exhilarating and right. I'm so happy for you both and look forward to watching little Miss E. grow.


  1. I testify that time does heal it, T. It does. Time won't answer those questions you still torture yourself with, but in time you will simply stop asking them.
    I think of you a lot in this regard. And I am always glad to be an ear to you.

  2. Just offering you hugs right now. We all have our own birth stories - the good ones and bad, and no one can tell us what is right or wrong with how we feel about them. Maybe I was "lucky" that my first birth did not go as planned, so my others I had no expectations going in and knew that a birth plan really meant nothing. Much love, t.

  3. First of all - very eloquently put! Second - the whys will beat you up. For the longest time, I knew I caused my pre-eclampsia. I just knew that I was working too hard, not drinking enough water - stupid stuff like that. But to me - I couldn't get it out of my head that I did something wrong. That I was being a good mommy when my son needed me the most. Time will heal and help. But they are your memories. You won't forget...and that can be a good you can encourage other women down the road. Would love to meet your expanded family someday! :)


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