Yesterday, I was directed to a post on Life as 5 about birth wars. Lindsay wrote a fantastic post regarding the birth wars that happen between a lot of Moms. I agreed with her whole heartedly. Why does it matter how you gave birth? You still have your child to love and cherish at the end of the day.
Someone came in and said that, to her, it did matter. And in her mind, there is a different outcome when a woman puts the time and effort into the birth. She was very respectful of it, and she did state that it was her opinion. I have no problems with how she presented it, or the fact that it was presented. Everyone has opinions. But the comment about there being a different outcome when a woman puts time and effort into the birth really did bother me.
I commented. I tried to be just as respectful in my reply as she had been in her original comment. But it did bother me and I had to speak up. Because I don't think that my understanding of how important a responsibility is different because I had c-sections than if I had both boys naturally with no epidural, or water birthed, or any other way in which they were pushed through the canal.
With Teddy, I had planned to give birth vaginally. I waited until my water broke at 2 in the morning. I was feeling the contractions. We went to the hospital through light snow and got set up in the LDR room. They put in the epidural while Rich was setting up the laptop with my "Music to Give Birth By" playlist that I'd created. Then I laid down in the hospital bed and held his hand to help me through some of the worst of the contractions.
At one point, my epidural ran out and the pain was incredible. I had an anesthesiologist in my room for the remainder of my stay there. And for six hours, I was dilated at 9 cm. I would not progress past that. The contractions were getting worse, but my body wasn't letting me do what was needed to have the baby. They gave me a different pain med through my IV, and a short time later, my doctor came in and suggested that we do a C-Section. I said yes.
I don't remember much of the C-Section. The drug they gave me made me incredibly loopy. I know more from what Rich told me - like Teddy looked like a cream cheese covered grape when Dr. Rush showed him to us. Like Dr. Rush's comment that Teddy wasn't a baby, he was a 2 year old (8 lbs, 2 oz, 21 in.) Like Rich continually moving his chair so he could check on both me and Teddy. Like the fact that my bleeding wasn't stopping and they had to give me another shot to try to get my blood to clot a little better. But I do remember being wheeled back to recovery, getting a little sick, and eventually being wheeled to my room. And I remember the first time I held Teddy, and how we both had to figure out how this nursing thing went. I remember holding him and looking at him with complete wonder. Here was the life that came into being because of Rich and I. Here was the life that I'd felt grow inside of me for the previous 9 months. And here was the life that I, somehow, had to guide to adulthood. I was ready for the challenge, but Gods, was I scared!
We found out later that the reason I wasn't dilating further was that I have a small amount of scar tissue on my cervix. When I was younger, I had several abnormal paps come back and I went through colpo, cryo and LEEP. There wasn't a lot of scar tissue there, but there was enough that it probably wouldn't work if I tried vaginal birth again.
So when I was pregnant with Pete, I scheduled my C-Section. I knew that it was going to be the best way to get him into this world. Even if he came early, he would be delivered by C-Section. He waited until the day of the scheduled C-Section, and even then was pretty secure inside of me. Rich and I arrived at the hospital and got ready. Rich was putting on his gown while they wheeled me into the OR. There, they tried to put the epidural in. But, thanks to back surgery 4 years previous (yes, before Teddy), there was too much scar tissue in my back to allow them to get it placed correctly. I don't know if they got lucky with Teddy or if I'd had more scar tissue build up in the intervening 2 1/2 years, but it wasn't working. Even the attempt to put it in was painful. I finally realized that I needed to be fully sedated.
It wasn't too long after I woke up and was back in my room that they brought Peter to me. He was a little tomato - face bright red from screaming. He hated being out in this world and he let everyone know it! He wasn't the same happy baby that Teddy had been. But it didn't matter. He was mine and he was special. I snuggled him close to me, bared my breast and let him start eating.
The only regrets that I have were that I don't remember either child's birth. I would have liked to remember seeing them within seconds of them entering the world. But I don't. And I don't think that makes me feel any less responsible for them. Because they are my boys and I brought them into this world - even if it was with the help of pain meds and out through my abdomen rather than my vagina.
On top of that, there are all the things that they taught me before they ever took their first birth.
I learned joy with both of them. I remember the first time I felt Teddy kick inside of me. I remember seeing the ultra sound and finding out we were having a boy. I remember placing my hand on my stomach with Pete, feeling him moving around. It was a wonder.
I learned frustration with both of them. Teddy would kick any time I even thought the word "kick". It was cute the first couple of times, but when I was thinking, "Baby, please stop kicking. Mommy needs some sleep!" and he kicked harder, it wasn't so cute. Peter would put his feet up between my ribs. Gods, it was THE most uncomfortable feeling in the world. I wanted to be able to reach in and move him a bit so I could be comfortable. But knowing my headstrong child, he would have moved right back into the position that was least comfortable for me.
I learned fear with both of them.
With Teddy, there had been one day, in my 7th month, when I didn't feel him kicking. It scared me to death. I called the doctor and was told to drink something sugary and count the kicks. She'd call back in a couple hours. So I went to the store, bought a Diet Cherry Vanilla Dr Pepper (yeah, that was my mistake.... but I wasn't thinking), drank it while running some errands and became more and more afraid as the kicks didn't increase in frequency. They set me up for an ultra sound and Rich came rushing home to drive me there.
Teddy had been fine. Between drinking something without sugar (stupid diet drink) and the fact that I had a lot of fluid, it was more that I wasn't feeling them than he wasn't kicking. He was still fine. And so was I.
With Peter, there were worried from the beginning. I didn't even know I was pregnant with him when I was pregnant with him. I'd had my period for a week, which was odd for me because I usually went for 3 or 4 days. And then I was starting to have back pain. Some friends worried that I may have had an ectopic pregnancy, so I called the doctor on call (it was a Saturday) and was told to go to the ER. They drew blood, did an ultra sound, and everything else to see what the problem was. And found out that I was either very newly pregnant or had just miscarried. My HCG levels were that low. It started a round of trips to the doctor for blood draws so they could monitor my HCG levels. I know it was early days, but I did NOT want to lose this baby. I was already attached to him.
For the first several months of my pregnancy, we had to keep a close eye on me and the baby. Eventually, we didn't have to be as vigilant. But I was always worried with him that something was going to happen and I'd lose him, because of those first few weeks.
Those incidents, more so than any way I could have given birth, taught me what I needed to know to be a mom. Because that's where I first learned unconditional love, continuing frustration, and mortal fear. And those three emotions, more than any others, are the ones I feel regularly with my boys.