A Birth Story

Two weeks ago today, right about now, I called the hospital.

I had felt well and strong pretty much my whole pregnancy. I had trusted my body to birth my baby, trusted so much that I let go and barely considered the alternative. This time, after two csections, I would birth. I would bring my baby into this world myself and lift her onto my chest, and I would gaze into her eyes and think “I did it.”

I imagined that moment so many times it was almost tangible, and whenever I thought of it I would well up with emotion from two births already lost.

But that night, with that phone call, I had to put it aside.

It was my second day of fever, and I was burning up. I was so unwell that I could barely make it to the bathroom and I shook from head to toe with cold then sweated until I was drenched. Everything was fine, my Ob had said without seeing me, but it wasn’t, I wasn’t, so I arranged to go into the hospital.

We know sometimes, but don’t want to admit it. We don’t want to say things out loud in case our words make them true… and that was the car ride. I knew, even as I rubbed my belly and my head throbbed with fever, both that I needed to be going to the hospital at that moment, and that I would not be birthing my baby. There would be no “I did it.”

We were barely on the monitors for fifteen minutes before they ran in with gowns and phoned the on call Ob. We were going to theatre, and the machines cried out in alarm at my pulse and her sky high heart rate that plummeted with each contraction.

They all say “how are you?” when you’re being rushed in to surgery. That never made much sense to me. I wonder if I’m the only one who answered honestly.

In a brightly lit theatre that night my beautiful baby girl was cut from my belly, just like her brothers had been, by a man wearing gumboots.

I shook from fever and the spinal in my back, and surrounded by strange faces I prayed for it to be over even as my blood stained the screen in front of my face.

I thought, when I had imagined my birth, that I would feel so strong bringing this baby into the world. I didn’t feel that at all. But as the weeks have passed I’ve realized that I was strong, perhaps stronger than if I had pushed her out myself.

I was so strong that I said no to gas, because I didn’t want to miss her for a moment, even though I was feeling pain of the cesarean from a spinal that hadn’t quite worked. I was so strong that I breathed through it and didn’t take my eyes off her even as she was whisked away.

Sometimes, I’ve realized, strong doesn’t feel like it at the time. It feels like scared. It feels like sad. But it also feels like digging your heels in and doing it regardless because there’s something bigger than you at stake. That’s birth, no matter how it happens. It’s being faced by something so overwhelming that you realize that you can, no matter what.

Just as fear and strength can be unlikely roommates, so can grief and celebration. Over the days that followed I grieved the birth I’d wanted, even as I celebrated the daughter I had.

I wondered why my body couldn’t do this natural, primal thing. Why not one of my three beautiful babies could have been born without theatre lights and gumboots and that awful needle in my hand. Why I had birth pictures that were best zoomed out, because if you looked too close you could see the cut.

I regretted hoping and trying and every moment of trust, as though the outcome could have been any different without the calm before the storm.

Then the storm eased… because I realized some things.

I’ll never know. I’ll never know what could have happened otherwise. I’ll never know “why”. That’s hard for me to accept, but I can do hard things, and just as I could spend those months trusting my body, I can still do that. I can trust that maybe that messily imperfect birth was the birth my body and baby needed. I can accept that I’ll never know, and that’s ok.

My body does things well – a lot of things. It grows beautiful healthy children, and nurtures them with milk and cuddles. It heals beautifully. It knows how to calm impossible meltdowns and turn bad dreams sweet.

And as I accept that I can’t control how birth happens for my babies, and let go of that “I did it” that I craved, I can plan some truly wonderful things that I can experience. Things I can look forward to with my family. Adventures in life after birth with gumboots.

Like exploring Las Ramblas in Barcelona one day, under the hot Spanish sun. Like buying my kids enormous ripe cherries from European fruit markets, the kind that pop up on street corners, and watching them giggle as the juice stains their chins and shirts.

Like laying in the back yard on a blanket in summer and pretending to find UFOs in amongst the impossibly infinite stars.

Like sipping a hot cup of tea after a long day with a happy heart.

Like high fiving my sons or daughter when they achieve a milestone and I have been blessed enough to witness it.

Like driving through Tuscany with my family, or walking over smooth stones of the pebbled beaches of the south of France.

Like watching my children hold hands as they explore rockpools in summer.

There are so many. So many exquisite moments to come. So many that will surprise me, delight me and make me laugh from the bottom of my soul. And whenever I miss that “I did it” moment that I’d dreamt of, I’m going to dream of them instead, and allow myself to imagine all the adventures ahead, that will be so much sweeter with my babies by my side.

So on that note, I’d like you to meet Aria. Isn’t she beautiful? :)

Aria

Copyright Nirvana Dawson 2014

A Story of Two

This is a story of two. An older one, and a younger one.

The older one was wise, kind and full of knowledge. The younger one loved her very much, and looked up to her.

As the younger one grew she followed the older ones wisdom, was blessed with her gifts of kindness and relied much on her knowledge.

There were times when the younger one doubted her own inner voice, or quietened it against the older ones’, because she trusted so much in that wisdom and knowledge. She would hesitate as the older one did, mirror her fears and pause with her doubts.

The younger one explored the world, laughed much and grew her own wisdom with every passing day. But still she looked up to the older one so very much, always believing the older ones’ wisdom to be more than her own, her inner voice to be more versed in the insights she needed.

The older one frequently shared gifts of things or ideas. They were plentiful and precious, and perhaps this was why the younger one almost missed it.

Then one day, the younger one stumbled across a gift she had been given. Oh it was grand, so grand that it couldn’t be touched or seen. It was wrapped in time.

You see over the years the older one had given the younger one much of herself; she had given her much of her perfection and joy, much of her wisdom and knowledge, much of her advice and her thoughts. But she had also presented her with something else, the gift that the younger one almost hadn’t recognized the value of. She had given her her flaws.

She hadn’t hidden them, for honestly was important to the older one, they had always been there, scattered amoungst the rest, but the younger one had not yet come into her own wisdom, so had missed them, and seen instead her own flaws in their place. She had worried over them, and wished them gone.

But this day, the younger one saw just how precious the older ones flaws were. They were like facets of a diamond that all came together to make the older one sparkle just the right away.

Those flaws were how the older one gifted her things that she couldn’t offer with words or advice.

They contained reassurance; because if she could love the older one so with all her glorious flaws then surely she could be loved with her own. And the younger one relaxed.

They contained a mirror; for it is so much easier to see in others that which we would improve in ourselves. And the younger one became hungrier for her own greatness.

They contained madness; because without it we are never pushed to new ways of thinking, of feeling, of experimenting. And the younger one’s mind expanded.

They contained vulnerability; reminding her the importance of being soft with her strength. And the younger one gave every morsel of this to her own little ones.

And they contained confidence; in her own inner voice, which she had put second because she had thought it unworthy. These perfect flaws had reminded her to embrace her own intuition with every ounce of her being and never second guess it just because she was not perfect.

So it was with this gift that the younger one grew up, just that little more, into someone worthy of being somebody else’s older one, to be wise, kind and full of knowledge. And she hoped so very much that she could give her little ones the same special gift as they grew, and that they too would take such pleasure in unwrapping it when they were ready.