I hesitate to put this into words, given how miserable I was during my last pregnancy, but I really want to maintain a positive outlook this time around. You know, maybe even be that ‘glowing’ pregnant woman who handles the whole ordeal with ease! I’m not gonna put too much pressure on myself to enjoy every minute of it, but I’m going to try to keep in mind that it may very well be the last time I experience pregnancy.
Thinking about the things I want to do differently the next time around brings up some unresolved issues with my birthing process. Please don’t judge me – I’m probably about to sound crazy here for a bit. But I think that part of the reason I experienced such a downward spiral of confusion and sadness after Kenneth was born had to do with how chaotic the whole process felt. I mean, we went to the hospital without a diaper bag, much less a car seat. We were not at all expecting to have him in our arms the very next day, and I just didn’t feel prepared. On top of that, he was severely jaundiced for a week after he was born, and six days later we were still in the hospital because he hadn’t had any bowel movements… Cue the pediatrician telling me I was going to brain damage my child if I didn’t give him formula.
It just wasn’t really a fun time, all-around.
But (and this is a deep dark secret) I think that what bothers me most and doesn’t sit right with me is how the actual birth itself went down. I experienced amnesia after the fact, for whatever reason – exhaustion? Stress? I really don’t know, and I’ve never asked a professional out of embarrassment. But I don’t remember the first few hours after giving birth… I remember the doctor telling me to stop pushing, watching him grab a scalpel and cut me open, and then I remember the doctor holding our baby up by the leg. He let out one little cry and then went silent, and my gut told me that that couldn’t be right. Then he was immediately taken away (somewhere behind me) for what, I don’t know. I kept asking, “Is he okay? Why isn’t he making any noise?” And no one would answer me. Finally, the nurse brought him to me and laid him on my chest. My arms were too weak to wrap around him or hold him, and my legs were so weak that I watched them shake as I kept my knees bent and my doctor stitched me back up.
And that’s where it ends…
At some point, our families came in and joined us, and we were taken to another room. But I don’t remember any of this, or recall how much time had elapsed or what I did to bond with my son. I remember the first nurse coming in once we’d been moved, and asking me how long it had been since our little guy had eaten. I told her that I wasn’t sure, and that it had probably been when we were still in the birthing suite. She was quite upset, as that had apparently been a few hours ago.
The hardest piece for me to stomach fell into place at my eight-week checkup. I told my doctor about the pain I’d experienced around the incision site when my husband and I had sex, and he asked me why he’d given me an episiotomy. I thought to myself, “What do you mean, why?” I had assumed it was related to the fact that I’d been pushing for two hours and his head had reached a point it just wasn’t going to fit through.
“I’m not really sure…” I replied.
“I only do one or two of those a year. And only if there’s an emergent situation,” he said.
My stomach sunk. Suddenly it made sense why, though he’d asked me maybe fifteen minutes earlier in my labor if I wanted baby brought straight to my chest, he was taken away after he made it out. Doc speculated that perhaps the baby’s heart rate was dropping. Whatever happened, I will probably never know…
It took me awhile to acknowledge that this combination of events truly saddened me, but in time I did… And I found peace knowing that if I faced those feelings, I would be able to close the gap between my baby and myself. All of these events supported the voice in my head telling me to be afraid. The one that didn’t believe I would ever be a mother – not after the “uncertainty” of the first trimester had passed, not after finding out his gender, not as I started to show… Not even as I went into labor. It never felt real, and the chaos surrounding his birth fed that fear that I would lose him.
In time, after much struggle and anxiety, it began to feel ‘real.’ I think at some point I realized that if I held my breath waiting for the bottom to drop out, I would miss out on so much. When I look back, that seems to be true for about the first month of his life. But after that, I began to embrace being his mother and sustaining another human life. I began to trust my body and heart and soul to do what they were created to do. And it was amazing… I’m so glad I decided not to let fear keep me from those precious moments.
These are the thoughts that plague my mind as I’m trying to fall asleep tonight. Things I hope are different the second time around. Hopefully this will be a non-issue, as I now have living proof that my body is indeed capable of creating a human being. 😛 Hopefully instead, I rock the entire pregnancy and childbirth with the confidence of someone who’s been there, done that. Hopefully I will have more faith in God’s plan.
But I can’t guarantee I won’t worry my heart out for the little being that will come. ❤