|Robin Leach Photography|
Note to the Reader: I invite you not to read this post. This is one of those posts that I have to write to purge it from my head. It has nothing to do with the reader and everything to do with the writer. Besides, it's really long.
Danielle came over to visit.
She's had two cesareans. She gets it.
We talked about how hard it was to walk after surgery, air bubbles in our shoulders, and baby blues.
It always feels good when you hear your own deepest thoughts coming out of someone else's mouth.
I have been a doula for 13 years. Helping women to have a good birth experience is so important to me, and I have dedicated hundreds of hours, maybe thousands, to that end. But most of my time has been spent in helping women who already had traumatic or disappointing births to feel normal again. As doulas our mantra is "Protect her memory"; do all that can be done to make those memories sweet, and empowering. You never forget your birth, good or bad.
That is, you never forget if you are conscious.
I feel like there is a little gallery in my head
with a pedestal for the memory of each of my births.
One remains empty.
So it has been a bitter-sweet thing to welcome Natalie into our family the way she came. After all of the miraculous turn-arounds in our situation with the blood clots, Rh problems, and diabetes, it felt like God was just carrying this whole thing in the palm of His hand, like there was no detail He was not considering, no feeling He was not aware of. Even in the last few days before her birth my blood pressure had shot up, and upon entering the hospital we watched as it dropped quickly down to a normal range. We were blessed in ways we had asked for, and in many other ways we had not even thought of requesting. So when it came to the birth, I was sure that we would have the beautiful birth we hoped for, despite the trials that had preceded it. Birth was something I had no fear about. I was planning to just walk in there and do what I do best.
Why would it be any other way?
So, having Natalie turn to a poor birth position, having her cord present first, having my water break early, and having been late with my blood thinner (putting me at risk of paralysis if I were to have had an epidural for the cesarean), all have seemed as though heaven suddenly shut its fountains for us. God, it would seem, had disregarded something that mattered more to me than it would for most other woman. We were kept safe, but in the end something intangible and yet very important to me was lost.
I don't have an explanation for why things went the way they did. I don't know why God answers some prayers and not others. Or maybe He answers them all in His way, and it's up to us to learn to understand those answers.
So for now, this is how I talk myself through it:
This is a baby I never planned on having...
So I need to accept God's plan; what ever that is.
There are so many moments, hours and days I will get to have with her, and though we tend to place a high value on that first hour, I might have to find my sweetest moments in her hundred-and-first hour, or day, or some other moment instead. I have a friend who adopted her baby, and wasn't there for that first hour either. And, as my sister reminded me, "You may not remember her birth,
but if it's any consolation, neither will she."
We put that same weight on many first's and last's... first baby, last baby... But why does the order of the events in our lives have such significance? What if we ordered those events differently? Would it change how we felt if one came at a different time in the sequence of our lives? So, though it has been pointed out many times to me that it is sad that my last birth had to be so scary, or what a shame that after 4 beautiful homebirths, I had to have another cesarean, if I relinquish the significance of the order of events of my life, I can objectively view each birth and related experiences singularly, in isolation. When I do that, I can see that my experiences are each uniquely important to me,
and their order does not diminish that.
Though I emphasize to women that I work with that their experience is a separate thing from their feelings about their healthy baby, I can recognize the balm that Natalie's presence has brought. I cannot think of my friend Ruth and the loss of little Rhys and not be grateful that I was spared walking that path.
Recently an online friend suffered the tragic loss of her son in a sudden accident. I think of her everyday. I know that she would give anything to have had a moment to warn her son, a head's up, a chance to extend her hand and to protect him from the accident. There is no way of knowing if the only safe way Natalie could have come to us was the way she came, but I was given the opportunity to keep her safe. I wish my friend could have been given that.
Our lives were preserved, more than once. Though it is not obvious to me that the cesarean was undeniably one of those times, I cannot assume it wasn't, either.
If I believe, as I do, that God has held each event in our journey in his hand, then I must accept that though the path was certainly different
from what I would have chosen,
it leads me to God's will for me.
God creates us, one day, one event, one blessing and challenge at a time. If I trust him, if I believe He knows what is best for me, if I accept that He will make more out of my life than I ever could, I must not just accept, but embrace this event as one that will make me
the woman who God wants me to be someday.