“Being a mom is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Every challenge seems designed by nature to make you a better person, more empathic, more emotional, more open. There are times when I want to turn it all off, I don’t want to feel anymore but then our son settles into my arms and I feel my edges expand, my heart grow, my mind melt into a deep contentment.”
Having attended three beautiful homebirths between us, my partner Lucas and I were confident that we wanted to try for the same. We found a wonderful homebirth midwife where the care felt luxurious.
It was known during the early stages of my pregnancy that I had a small fibroid, about the size of a pea. We were keeping a close eye on it as they have a tendency to grow in the hormone rich environment of the uterus, and grow it did! By 36 weeks it had reach almost 9cm in diameter, about the size of an orange. Up until this point it hadn’t been causing any problems; hanging by a small stem, it merely swung out of my baby’s way. But now, due to lack of space it slid down into my cervix, effectively blocking my birth canal.
The news was devastating. I spent two tearful weeks oscillating between trying to find a surgeon who would remove it and looking for any care provider who would wait for labor to initiate on it’s own. But time and again, I got the same response, why bother? Just schedule. But to me there was not just a deep emotional need for my body to go through the natural process of working in communion with my baby to prepare for birth, but a dozen well-documented, well-researched, medical reasons why I didn’t want a scheduled cesarean. What we didn’t get was to enjoy the remaining month of our pregnancy.
Our first 36 weeks of pregnancy had been a beautiful experience of self-awakening. I talked to our baby throughout the day, kept my hands on my belly when they were idle. My partner read to us every night and we walked and walked and walked. With our homebirth midwife this closeness was encouraged and my feelings on the baby’s progress were taken into account. I felt secure as my intuition deepened and I felt the bond with our baby grow.
Once we switched providers however; it was all about sonograms, stress tests and machines. The fact that I knew my baby’s position each week was treated like a ‘good guess’ rather than what it was, a long developed relationship with my child. The nurses and doctors didn’t understand why I didn’t want to look at the sonograms and when I explained that they undermined my internal understanding of the baby they ignored me. By 38 weeks the pressure to schedule a cesarean became hostile. At 40 weeks we were having to cancel cesareans our midwife was scheduling without our permission. At 42 weeks, despite only positive test results, we were told that our baby might die and we’d have to sign a waiver if we didn’t undergo a cesarean that day. So we did.
Worn thin and doubting my intuition that our baby needed a few more days, Lucas and I spent the day together walking, cuddling, talking to our baby; explaining what we were doing, why we were doing it, what would happen. And once we had agreed, we let our reservations go. We were excited to meet our baby on the outside.
I was scared having never been admitted to a hospital before but our doula was with us and she helped us feel more comfortable. The surgical experience was exactly as I feared; bright, freezing, filled with people with masks. I felt very scared before Lucas & our doula joined me. The surgery doesn’t hurt but there was nothing gentle as I watched my body get tugged down the table because my little one wouldn’t let go of the umbilical cord. He was STRONG! I was so scared that I forgot to call out to my son to let go, that he was all right and that despite our instincts this had to happen in order for us to be together.
Finally, our son was born; big, lusty, beautiful. He laid across my chest with wide open eyes and a grave silent stare for the next hour while they examined my fibroid and did the repair. Once in the recovery suite he nursed easily, hungrily and continues to this day. I’m grateful that our hospital and surgeon were attentive and fully onboard for our wishes to let our placenta pulse, immediate chest- to-chest contact, hours of delay for newborn exams, a vaginal swab and total immersion for three days in a private suite. They let us leave a day early because our son was in great shape and I was able to get up on my own, shower, have a bowel movement, etc.
And now, almost 13 weeks later; we’re healed, sleeping through the night and growing at a rapid rate while Lucas and I adjust, adjust, and adjust some more. Being a mom is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Every challenge seems designed by nature to make you a better person, more empathic, more emotional, more open. There are times when I want to turn it all off, I don’t want to feel anymore but then our son settles into my arms and I feel my edges expand, my heart grow, my mind melt into a deep contentment. Loving is like walking the razor’s edge between The Great Beauty and The Great Sadness, our son is the full sum of mortality and it breaks my heart everyday while lifting it to the heavens.