Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The First Time I Was a Mother

When I first became pregnant, I knew what I wanted.  I knew I wanted a natural birth with no drugs.  I knew I wanted to be in the hospital, just in case. I knew I wanted a midwife who would support me in my desires for a natural birth.
My husband and I took Bradley Method classes for 12 weeks.  I ate right, I exercised as much as I could, I practiced laboring, I visualized my baby being born.
When the teacher went over what to do in case of a c-section, I ignored her. I knew that wouldn't happen to me.  C-Sections only happened to Moms who "gave in" and had an epidural.  They only happened to those Moms who weren't as determined or educated as I was. Or so I thought.
So, when my water broke at 37 weeks and my baby was footling breech, I was taken off guard.
I had known she was footling breech, but I also knew she would turn.  There was no doubt in my mind. I visualized her turning, I did moxibustion – a Chinese herb – by my little toe to help her to turn.  I found a chiropractor who was educated in the Webster Technique to turn babies.  Nothing worked. Not laying inverted on an ironing board with light and music and heat down low and an ice pack on her head.  Not swimming in the community pool and doing head stands.  Talking to her, praying, pleading, begging…nothing worked.
I was devastated. I felt like a failure as a mother before I had even had a chance to start.
When I arrived at the hospital, the nurse checked me in and did a vaginal exam. I was dilated to 3 cm., with a foot presenting.  They called in the doctor on call, and the midwife on call, and I was taken to the Operating Room to meet my baby.
We were short on time, it was late on a Sunday night and no one wanted to be there for long, so I was given a Spinal.  I remember the pressure of them trying to get her out.  Pushing on my stomach that caused me to become queasy and then vomit.
I remember hearing her cry and the nurse telling me how pink she was. They held her up for me to see and just as I went to touch my vernix covered baby, they whisked her away.
I didn’t get to hold her for over an hour after her birth. I didn’t get to smell her fresh out of my womb. She didn’t get to smell me, have skin to skin contact right away, or nurse right away as I had planned.
I got to watch nurses hold her, bathe her, and cuddle her.  I couldn’t get a good look at her because there were too many people in the way.
Finally, I was able to hold my baby girl.  This little person who made me a mom.  I was flat on my back in recovery.  I couldn’t sit up for 12 hours after her birth for fear I would get a spinal headache.  Our first touch was her swaddled up and me flat on my back.
With the help of my husband, I was able to roll over to my side and get her latched on for her first nursing.  This was such an amazing experience, but I still didn’t get to get a good look at her.
The rest of the night was somewhat of a blur. I was stuck in my bed, flat on my back.  My husband changed the baby’s diapers, snuggled her, and brought her to me when she needed to nurse.
Finally, the next morning I lied to the nurses and told them I’d passed gas, as that was the requirement for me to be able to sit up.  I sat up and finally got a good look at my baby.
Her birth was not at all what I had anticipated or expected. It was traumatic for me in many ways. However, it changed me for the better. It prompted me to learn more about birth and to go on to have 4 more children vaginally, at home, with a midwife.
Finally I was sitting up.  I held my baby and looked into her eyes. As I did, I felt something I’d never felt before. I felt whole. I felt home. I felt at peace. I felt as if I were looking into the future and past all at once. I was complete.

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