It seems April is the national awareness month for Cesarean Sections. My first thought upon reading this tidbit was that we have an awareness month for just about everything. I must admit, I wrote it off- threw the trivia to the far corners to my mind. But it keeps popping up. In my Facebook and Instagram feeds. In my mind.
My son was delivered via C-Section. This is not an abnormal occurrence. Many babies are delivered via C-Section. This is the mantra I tell myself when I get sad about that fact. Because I do get sad. And then I judge myself for it.
Though I was a high risk pregnancy, my son developed properly. The constant monitoring never revealing any facts that added to my near constant worry. There were never discussions about anything but a traditional delivery. I asked a million questions about epidurals, pain medications, skin to skin contact, pacifiers, and anything else my mind could conjure. I had absolutely no memory when I was pregnant- the joys of a convergence of my son taking all of my thyroid medication and pregnancy brain. I would enter my doctors office armed with a list of questions that I wrote during the time between appointments. Thank God she is a patient woman that has known me for over a decade.
At my 40 week appointment, I shuffled into her office with yet another list of questions. One I wouldn’t ever need. Because that fateful Wednesday- two days past my delivery date- she greeted me with concern. I looked too big. Now, when you feel like you are the size of a building, and your child has dropped-not once, but twice- you do not ever want to be told that you look too big. She was concerned about the cause of this sudden growth, for at this point in the pregnancy I was waddling into her office weekly and had sized properly, until now. I was ordered down the hall to receive an ultrasound. A necessity in assessing the situation to best plan our next steps.
Cold jelly on my enormous belly and an ultrasound machine revealed that the sudden increase in size was not a health issue- a relief- but that my son had experienced a large growth spurt. Their estimations calculated his birth weight to be between 8 pounds 6 ounces and 9 pounds 4 ounces. But I was assured that he probably would be closer to the lower birth rate. A fact that was untrue in my case.
I shuffled my way back to my doctor’s office- eventually being escorted to her office, not an exam room. My heart racing- my anxiety rising. As I settled into one of the chairs facing opposite her, she began to explain to me the circumstances that she was concerned with and her preferred course of action.
You see, I had yet to begin labor. My body- two days post due date- had just begun dilating. For those not versed in this process (as I wasn’t prior to all of the research I did during my pregnancy) a woman begins dilating a week to two weeks before her body goes into labor. My body- though my son had assumed all of the correct positions, making me tremendously uncomfortable- was giving me the finger. In addition to my body’s reluctance to assist my son in entering the world, he had outgrown his habitat. I had two options, induce labor or schedule a c-section. My emotional decision would have been to induce. I had an idea of how this was all going to go. How he would enter the world. My first moments laying eyes on his beautiful face. Feeling his weight on my chest. I didn’t want to relinquish that idea- that dream. My experience with pregnancy already contrasting how I had pictured it, I couldn’t surrender more of that dream.
Instead of making an emotional decision- something I try my very best not to do- I asked questions. A lot of questions. She couldn’t make the decision for me. She repeated that sentiment often. She couldn’t dictate which path was better. I was paralyzed- the opposition of my emotions and logic immobilizing my ability to find an answer. So I pushed. The comfort of a very long relationship sustaining my words.
If it was her baby, her body, what would she do?
She would choose a c-section. Her words tumbling out with sincerity. She was ultimately concerned for his safety- and mine. Induction of labor would most likely conclude in an emergency c-section- or worse, fetal distress. My dream be damned, I needed my son healthy. That was the new dream. The ultimate dream.
I remember filling out the entrance paperwork that afternoon at the hospital. Completing the administrative tasks in preparation for his birth two days later. Moose’s father looked over at me, as we were waiting to complete blood work, and asked me if I wanted to cry. I couldn’t form the words, they would betray me. I nodded in confirmation. I was trying to be strong. I was trying to be thoughtful. My son was going to be born. Why did it matter how? I chastised myself for being upset. Instead, I made jokes. I entertained the staff- Laughter as my defense mechanism. I swallowed my tears.
I entered the hospital Friday April 15, starving and prepared to meet my son. I had mostly wrapped my brain around the turn of events. I knew my family would gather in the waiting room, anxiously awaiting the news that we were both healthy. The reality that motherhood was only hours away settling into my spirit. The narrative adjusting, yet again. My platelets were too low to receive an epidural. A second blood test performed to confirm. I would be put under general anesthesia. The final threads pulled from my heart. I would not hold my son post birth. I would not remember his birth. His father would not be permitted into the room. The tears washed down my face unbidden. I could not longer contain them within my serene facade.
I eventually composed myself. The fact still remaining, the new dream of a healthy baby boy was priority.
Pre-op was completed. I clutched my IV as I shuffled to the operating room in my socks. I mounted the operating table, my arms strapped down, another IV inserted. My final memories- the chatter of the kind nurses, the efficiency and light touch of the anesthesiologist, the chill to the room that caused me to shiver.
I was brought out of sedation approximately 30 minutes later. My identity forever changed. I had not set eyes on my son, but I knew in my soul I was a mother. My intubation tube removed, my brain pushing past the pain of my body, the first question to be permitted speech- Is he ok?
We had survived. The ultimate dream realized.
Sunday will mark two years since this life altering experience. The recollection still evoking a lump in my throat. Moisture touching the corners of my eyes. I still feel like I failed my son. Condemn my body. Mourn the beautiful memories other mothers are blessed with that I didn’t get. That is the impetus to pushing the importance of April as a month of awareness out of my mind. My own inability to accept our story- our experience. One day I hope to describe it as miraculous. For when I step back- removing the filter of disappointment and unfair evaluation- I realize the masterpiece my body created. A feat it wouldn’t have been able to perform without modern medicine.
This April- the joyous month I celebrate the life I am in an awe of daily- I will also take one step closer to celebrating how he came into this world. Shifting my perspective from one of loss to one of appreciation. I may not have experienced the birth I hoped for, but I am blessed to have had skilled doctors working on my behalf. A kind, gentle staff that ushered me into the identity I was made for. The beautiful, willful soul that entered the world in complete opposition to my plans. A path he continues through his life, constantly challenging my view of the world- of my life. For a brief time in my life, I made magic, and I am lucky enough to be surrounded by it daily.