It’s been almost 17 months since I had my son. We conceived him via IVF after trying on our own for what felt like forever. By the end of the process, we were all doctored out. We opted for a midwife and a home water birth. I was mentally prepared, I was physically ready, I was at peace with my baby and my body – I knew this was going to be an amazing, life-affirming birth and I feared nothing.
My water broke Monday night, which was 6 days past my EDD. Significant contractions came within ½ hour. I tried to rest through it, but there would be none of that. We finally called for the tub early the next morning. Sweet, sweet bliss! Why hadn’t I done this earlier (like during my 1st trimester!)? The midwife and her student (a doula…bonus two-fer!) came later that afternoon. My contractions were coming one right on top of the other. At one point, I had what was timed as one 5-minute long contraction, which was when the midwife knew that the baby’s position was off. I asked to be checked and after 20 hours of labor, I was only 2 centimeters. The midwife and my husband decided to transfer me to the hospital. I was well beyond being able to make such a decision on my own.
Pushing began around 6 o’clock the next morning. It was Wednesday, for those counting. All of a sudden, I KNEW something was wrong. I can’t explain it, I just knew. I yelled for a C-section, something which horrified even me as it came out of my mouth. I immediately doubted myself, but I couldn’t stop that nagging voice from screaming inside my head. I just knew! The doctor (my home-birth friendly OB who was my midwife’s choice for back-up, so I trusted him) fought me on it, telling me, as is understandable, that I would regret it. He even went outside to call my midwife (who had by then gone home) to get her to convince me to not give up. I tried pushing more, but there was something wrong! I was not going to be silenced again. I put my foot down (hard to do, since they were in the air). I saw the looks of disappointment on everyone’s faces – the doctor, the nurse, even my husband. I felt like an utter failure immediately. How could I go from wanting an all-natural home birth in the water to ASKING for a C-section?? Was I just being a HUGE wimp? Clearly, I sucked at life – everyone thought so, even I thought so.
As I was being wheeled into that room, nobody spoke to me. I had done a bad thing and I was being punished, leastwise that’s how I felt. They talked and joked amongst themselves, but I was just a slab on a table. I shook violently. I could not manage to calm either my body or my mind. I had failed. I had failed my baby, my husband, the doctor, the nurse, the midwife, all my friends and family who said I couldn’t do it, and myself. I let everyone down. I couldn’t get over it. The weight of the world was on my shoulders and then, as if that pressure wasn’t enough, they started slicing, dicing, pulling, and tugging. And I wasn’t an active participant in any of it. My son was being born and I had nothing to do with it. What a loser. Way to bring your son into the world peacefully, Amy. Way to make your first act as a mom a selfish, cowardly one.
Then he was out. I didn’t get to see him first, I didn’t get to help guide him out of my body and up to my breast, my husband didn’t get to help receive him, he was just plucked out of me like something out of Alien. Our whole plan was thrown off. He was supposed to be born at home, instead he was in a cold operating room. The cord clamping was supposed to be delayed, instead his life-blood was cut off from him without regard. There were so many “supposed tos” and so many “insteads” that my head was reeling.
Then it happened. A break in the clouds. The doctor leaned over the curtain, looked at me very gravely, and said, “I am SO sorry, Amy. I am so sorry. There is a deformity in your pelvic bone. There is no way you or anyone else could’ve known. There was no way in the world for a baby to fit through. It could’ve killed the both of you. I am so sorry. Good for you for listening to your body. I should’ve listened to you, too.” Over the next two days, he came and told me this two or three more times. Wow. Maybe I wasn’t such a failure. I mean, I couldn’t help that any more than my husband could help being born with just one kidney. I was born this way.
So why did I still feel such guilt, such remorse? I was wheeled into the recovery room where my husband was waiting with our perfect newborn son who I had only met briefly and in passing and as I took him to my breast for the first time, I cried and apologized profusely. I told him over and over again how sorry I was for his harsh entry into the world. It is 16 months later and I am still apologizing, though less frequently and usually without tears. I have the most perfect son, he is securely attached, we are tightly bound, he still breastfeeds and cosleeps, I am blessed enough to be home with him – our little family of three has a perfect life together. There is just one little blemish and I’m not sure if it will ever heal…I’m not sure what I can do to make it better for us. I’ll keep trying, though. I’ll always keep trying.