It never occurred to me that anything might go wrong.
My partner and I had asked all the big questions as we got ready for the birth of our son. We'd prepared ourselves both physically and spiritually for what we expected to be a smooth, beautiful childbirth assisted by our midwife.
It just never occurred to me that we would need anything besides each other to welcome our child into this world.
Okay, okay, I can hear the knowing chuckling of mothers everywhere. Yes, we should have known better. But we didn't. We were first-timers.
We Adapted to an Unexpected Detour in Our Birth Plan
The day before our son was born, a check-up indicated far less movement in utero than our midwife felt was healthy. Because we knew the baby would be large, she recommended a Cesarean section.
We were disappointed but decided to trust our midwife’s advice to do exactly what we hoped to avoid.
But We Didn't Compromise Rooming-in
I didn't want to sacrifice rooming-in with the baby, however, and the hospital had never tried a rooming-in with a C-section family before. My midwife phoned ahead to let them know of our request. The first nurse we spoke with said she felt it was unwise and that my recovery would be hindered.
We asked my midwife to keep calling. She reached the head nurse for the ward, promised that either my partner or another family member would always be with me, and was given the go-ahead for us to room-in.
From the moment we were admitted to the hospital, we were the knowing subjects of an unusual experiment. One of our nurses was an enthusiastic supporter. Another felt just as strongly that my body would not heal properly if I was under the additional responsibility of caring for my child. Each of us, naysayers and supporters, waited to prove ourselves right.
It Was Not the Quiet Birth We Wanted
On April 22, my son was born in a delivery room crowded with my midwife, the perinatologist performing the surgery, a team from intensive care just in case, the delivery nurses, the recovery nurses, the neonatal nurse, and somewhere in there were my partner and me. Our son weighed 10 pounds 15 ounces and was as healthy as could be.
Not certain of how to combine C-section and non-separation, the hospital had sent everyone from their own departments into surgery with us. So, what we originally hoped would be a quiet birth had turned into a fabulous, well-attended party, complete with a local radio station playing in the background.
My partner was able to be with our son while my surgery was completed; he then brought him to my arms where he lay comfortably sleeping as my stitches were tied.
But Rooming-in Was All That We Had Hoped
From that moment on, our son never left us in the hospital. All the necessary tests were performed in our room. He was bathed, measured, and clothed within my reach.
He breastfed easily and on demand; I had no engorgement or supply issues. I walked unassisted the morning after his birth. I had little pain or discomfort around my incision, which healed beautifully.
I listened to my body, ate when I was hungry, walked when I needed movement, and never noticed myself healing because I was too busy attending to my child.
Mothering is a generative process, but it is just as importantly regenerative. It is very difficult to focus on and perpetuate my own pain when I’m admiring my baby. I did not have time to think about whether it hurt, because I had a new child to care for.
I did not have time to fear mothering, because I had to mother. The overwhelming joy, the pure and incomparable wonder, the love that makes you smile so hard that tears are forced from your eyes overshadowed my discomfort. I don't claim not to have had pain, but I didn't notice it.
I Am at Peace With My Birth Experience
We needed the support of our doctors to welcome our child safely into this world, to overcome the practical limits of my own body, but this experience taught me that, however limited my physical being, my spirit is strong.
When I look down at my happy, little scar smiling up at me from across my belly, I know that we still kept our promise for a smooth, beautiful childbirth assisted by our midwife.
How do you feel about your childbirth experience? In which ways, did your experience help you to bond with your baby?