One year ago on August 2, 2013, I had the honor and privilege of assisting my sister during her 24 hour natural birth to my beautiful (first) niece. This was a privilege to partake in for many reasons. First, that I made it! My sister and I live about 7 hours apart so the fact that I got my family of four packed up and there with enough time to be a part of the labor and delivery was a miracle! More than that the blessing of watching my niece come into this world was an experience I will always cherish and one that I hope will give us a special bond as she grows. The largest honor though was to be at my sister and brother-in-law’s side and watch them manage the contractions pain and pushing together. I was just the gap filler, I helped by fixing her hair, giving her sips of water and held a leg when needed, and I was also the photographer. What a JOY the entire experience was!
What I didn’t expect from the experience was what it would do for my soul…the healing it would bring me. I was unable to experience natural births when I had my two kids. I had planned for natural births and I tried both times, but to no avail, complications arose with both and I had cesareans. I had almost come to terms with this fact before experiencing my nieces birth. I had two beautiful healthy children. What a blessing! But I still couldn’t help feeling like I missed out on something or that I had been robbed of something. Going through the natural birth experience with my sister allowed me to not only experience it first hand but to also find the true beauty in my own birthing experiences.
First, I feel blessed that I was able to experience going into labor naturally and laboring, even though this resulted in a harder recovery, I am still grateful to have experienced the rush of emotions and excitement and elation of having the “THIS IS IT” moment before my deliveries resulted in cesareans.
With all of that said, here is a breakdown of I had to have a C-section let’s find some shiny list:
The Calm During the Storm. The O.R. is a very calm place, at least in both of my experiences. My situations weren’t super urgent so once I was in the O.R. everything was nice calm and sterile. Controlled. The Dr.’s and nurses make conversation with each other and with you and your spouse. It’s usually pretty light and many times comical. Once the baby is out they make sure you can hear their cry and then they move them into the area to be cleaned and weighed, all of which I could see and observe. For the circumstances it was quite a relaxed atmosphere. Not what I expected. This calm and controlled atmosphere really allowed me to soak it all in. I have the images of both of my babies being weighed, measured, cleaned up and wrapped up like a burrito BURNED into my brain. I am so incredibly grateful to have those memories, I realized now that in a natural birth it may not be possible to “witness” this process as Momma is still VERY busy with final labor stuff and isn’t out of the battle field yet. Being able to just watch in awe as my children took their first gasps of air and entered this world is a gift I cherish.
Precious Moments with Daddy. Due to the fact that our children came into this world via surgery the process of it all happens a little differently. VERY Shortly after the baby is born the father takes the baby to triage while the DR’s finish the surgery with Momma. This precious and small sliver of time allows those new Daddy’s an opportunity to bond with their new child that they might not get otherwise. It gave my husband the opportunity to take ownership of this new life, HIS CHILD! For Father’s this can be challenging as they haven’t just cooked that baby. One day they don’t have a child and the next day they do. For the Momma’s we start feeling and bonding with that baby even before it’s the size of a grain of rice! Big difference. When a baby is delivered via C-section the Momma is literally strapped to a table so once the baby is out, cleaned up, weighed and Momma gets to give the little one a few smooches Daddy is holding and snuggling the baby from the minute they are out and then….. Dad is on his OWN! He gets to STEP UP and take sole-responsibility for HIS CHILD and head to triage while Mom is in the O.R. with the DR’s finishing the rest of the surgery. Dad must answer questions during this time and be the provider. Even though it is only 10 minutes in my experience it is a very powerful 10 minutes for the new Daddy to have.This empowerment continues for the entire first day as Momma can’t get out of bed for a bit after the surgery so Daddy gets to bond with baby through all the meconium blow outs, talk about on the job training! With a natural delivery those 10 minutes with Daddy don’t exist. I feel so blessed and grateful that my husband had these special first moments to bond with our children.
Nursing. I always thought with natural birth the baby would be pulled out put on your chest and would nurse within minutes of being born. I learned that many times this isn’t possible. The baby needs to be cleaned up and cared for, Momma needs to be tended to, cleaned up and cared for and it can be all a little chaotic as this is all happening at the same time and there is only one Daddy to hold Mommies or babies hand. I can see how in natural birth nursing may take longer than with a cesarean. I feel so so so incredibly blessed I was able to nurse both my babies about 20 minutes after they were delivered.
Six Weeks. So for all you Mommies out there, you know what six weeks means…..du dun duuuuunnn!!! It is the clearance (most of the time) the DR’s give the ok for normal marital relations to commence. After our kids were born and six weeks rolled around , I honestly didn’t think about it much, and I know I would have if my babies came out the OTHER way. Don’t get me wrong things were different but now having seen a natural birth and experienced it first hand I know that feeling this way at six weeks is a luxury most natural birth Mom’s probably don’t experience. As new parents we have a LOT of adjusting to do and it was a nice luxury to have that department relatively unscathed.
The Recovery. Now the cesarean recovery is NOT a walk in the park, don’t get me wrong. There are parts of it though I think I would prefer to healing in the other region. I could see my battle wound easily, care for it and keep it clean. There is a lot that goes on in the other region and it’s not easily seen. So caring for that battle wound and keeping it clean would probably be a bit more of a task.
There is still obviously a whole list of negatives that come with a C-section that I haven’t forgotten about like the major surgery, the lengthened time it takes for belly swelling to go down, the added meds, every pair of pants and undies sitting RIGHT on top of the incision, the scar, the risk of complications, being stuck in the hospital bed for the ENTIRE first day, the catheter, the extra night at the hospital, the tremendous pain a sneeze causes (for months), the simple task of getting out of bed to nurse your baby at night is NOT a simple task and is often times the most painful part of the day (for weeks), the possible delay of milk coming in. I have not forgotten these negatives but I now know that natural birth has it’s own list of negatives and isn’t all moon beams and rainbows, I can now see the shiny in my own experiences even though it is not what I planned.
This also made me look closely at what happened during my labor experiences and realize now that there was no other way for my kids to be born. I didn’t miss out, I was blessed with the gift of healthy and successful deliveries and children. I was told by my midwife and DR that there just wasn’t enough room, I need to accept that fact and be so grateful that surgery is an option we have in this country and realize that there are women TODAY who do not have this option. I am grateful.
Watching my niece enter into this world was an experience that was so wonderful and provided some totally awesome acceptance and healing regarding my own birthing experiences. I couldn’t be more humbled or grateful that my sister and her husband allowed me to be apart of such a miracle. I’ve told her this several times since, that she did enough PUSHING for the both of us!
My own enemy is how I picture things in my head when in reality, true life happens so much differently and most of the time more beautifully than we could have ever imagined ourselves!
Happy Birthday to my beautiful niece! I am so excited to watch you grow. I want you to know that from your first moments in this world you were already teaching your Auntie something. Thank you for delivering me sweet little cousin 3!
That’s my shiny ~