Instead of some beautiful birth story here, today you get introspection. As I write this one handedly Micah sleeps peacefully at my beast, warming my body and heart. I wonder at the meaning, or lesson(s) of his birth, not one I planned, one I am sorely disappointed with.
Yes, I know he’s here, he’s healthy, he’s beautiful. More than most women, I am grateful for the up and down heaves of his chest, and the small squawks that reassure me he is alive and thriving. He is rarely put down, usually wrapped snug to mine, or Kyles, chest in a snug wrap to free our hands to parent our other little ones. Micah is a miracle, all babies are, and we are joyful at finally having him join our family as his own presence.
So why is that I can’t talk about his birth story, why is it that I try not to think about in in order not to burst into tears? Because I feel like I failed, I failed my Birth Attendant, my husband, my children, my baby, and mostly because I failed my own expectations.
I believe women are designed to have babies, that medical intervention has in many ways made women to feel as though childbirth shouldn’t be attempted without help, their brand of help. I believe that babies can safely be born at home, that women can overcome labour, and it’s intensity with strength. A strength that has been stolen from us, by the reassurance of drug safety and an easier epidural birth. I believed, because I had birthed beautifully at Natalia’s arrival, that I would be capable.
I collapsed. I prepared for this birth, though not as thoroughly as I had previously. I believed in myself, and although I had been denied midwifery care by my province, I felt capable enough to deliver at home with the help of a Natral Birth Attendant (NBA). I was going to win the Gold medal in birthing as Kyle put it. But I didn’t. In fact I turned into the kind of mess I feel ashamed of.
My water broke at 12:30am on Friday night. That’s never happened before. My water has always broken/been broken in labour. I called my birth attendant, and tried to get some sleep. By 3:00am my contractions were 3 mins apart and fairly strong at about 4:00am my NBA arrived, I took a shower and got into the pool we had set up in the spare room. It was lovely. I had a tray of snacks, and pulled out the good china teapot and cup and saucer, after all this was a special occasion, our baby was about to arrive. I took in each contraction with the kind of deep breaths that I had learned form hyponobirthing classes, everything felt okay. More painful than with Natalia but okay, I chalked it up to the fact that my water had broken and the baby’s head was lower down. I was managing well. By 6:ooam my contractions took a turn for the unexpected, suddenly there was a pain in my back that is hard to explain, but worse than that the pain started to shoot down my legs finally cumulating in the feeling that someone had physically grabbed the tendons and muscles in my thighs and pulled down sharply. The uterine contractions were fine, manageable even. The additional pain, not so much. Finally feeling as though I could bear no more I feared the next contraction. Obviously, the gateway to my failure. Fear. I couldn’t manage the pain in my legs I couldn’t stretch them far enough, or hold them in close enough to stop it. I knew I had yet to experience transition, the contractions, though very close together, never really felt one on top of another. Would I even be capable of no let up feeling this way? Fear did me in, something I felt I could manage, in the end it was too much. My natural gentle birth was torn apart by my own psychological weakness. How could this be? Me? I have faced my share of psychological dragons and won, and this was my down fall? Something I had prepared for? Finally I had my NBA check my dilation, something I has previously requested not to do. I knew if I was only half way, I was done. How low that felt. Asking her not to be generous she said I was likely 6-7cm with 10 needed to birth a baby. With my NBA trying to reassure me that we were past half way, and with Kyles encouragement I got back in the pool, and committed to another half an hour. Two contractions later I had hit my final low. Far to painful.
In checking my cervix it seemed that the baby’s head was flexed and side presenting. I still needed this baby to turn before I would likely progress much more or have the pain ease up. I took two homeopathic remedies to help with relaxation and finally… Gave up. I had Kyle call the midwives to say I was coming in to the hospital for an epidural. I needed a break. I feel like I should tell you how this makes me feel here, but I don’t know if I have the words. Right now as I type, tears roll, I am so full of snot, and there’s this hole in the pit of my stomach or where my heart is. I abandoned my kids with the NBA and took off for the hospital to have exactly the kind of birth I worked so hard to avoid. I gave up.
At the hospital I became the type of woman I never wanted to be. Rolled into the delivery room in a wheelchair moaning in pain, begging for an epidural. During drive to the hospital, the pain was not life ending, thanks to the homeopathics I took, but still far worse that when I was in the pool. Once at the Hospital, they needed me to pee, to check my cervix, have a strip read, put in an IV, and wait to have the paperwork from admitting before they could call the anesthetist. After checking I was only 5 cm dilated and baby seemed to be presenting flexed and sideways. There was also mention that the baby might be compressing the Sacral or Sciatic nerves. I conceded that I may not even be halfway and tried to wait while all the right boxes where checked off before the anesthetist could be called. Finally it was all done, he was called, and he couldn’t come right away because he was with another patient. I had this happen before, I voiced my concern that in waiting I would likely birth my baby with numb ankles and be frozen to my nipples postpartum, just as in the twins birth. Nothing seemed like it was going right at all. Suddenly I felt the need to push, a quick check showed I was ready, and three or four pushes later Micah was born. Too exhausted to reach down and catch him, or lift him to me. I sunk into the bed. Just then the anesthetist came in, too late, thank God. Micah was born in just over twenty minutes from arriving at the hospital. Kyle pulled his shirt off, and scooped him up, I couldn’t even muster enough to hold him to me.
Coming upstairs to write this I can’t help but see the birthpool half deflated between the sunroom an the linen closet, waiting to be put away. It lays crumpled, not having served its intended use, and it makes me feel sad. Micah likely being the last means it wont have the chance to get it right, and likely neither will I.
In telling my disappointment to Kyle, he reminds me to look down at the perfect living baby we have created, he tells me that it no longer matters how he got here, but that he is, to rejoice and celebrate that fact. But it is not the looking down that I am disappointed in, in fact, I do rejoice at Micah arrival, he is perfect, I love him, I hope we get to keep him, but it is the looking back that is so hurtful.