It’s not fair…

08Dec07

I have a rule about not coming upstairs to use the computer after my kids (parrot, turtles, rat, chinchilla) are asleep. I’m breaking it tonight. I should be downstairs getting ready to sleep, but instead I’m up here, having woken up my kidlets, blogging. Not very nice of me. I know.

We don’t subscribe to cable television. We don’t watch TV. We do however, watch dvd’s of our favorite shows. Tonight I was watching disk one of the third season of Grey’s Anatomy. This is why I’m now upstairs blogging.

In episode four of season three one of the story lines involves a woman, in labor. She has a natural birth plan, and is determined to stick to it despite things not going as well as would be hoped. Sound familiar? Like myself, she ignored the advice of doctors, and kept pressing onward. Determined to do everything in her power to have her baby naturally. As women our bodies are built specifically to create and birth these miracles called babies. This character couldn’t do that, nor could I. Despite her failure, come the end of the episode, still within the O.R. after an emergency C-section, she thanks the surgeon, and lavishes love and affection upon her new baby.

What a load of bull.

So now I sit here, crying on my keyboard. I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t bring Lily into this world the way it was meant to happen. I failed her. My body failed me. And now I’m crying to a world of strangers because I don’t feel I can confide in anyone who actually knows me.

I’ve done everything I can to avoid facing the emotional pain surrounding the non-birth of my wonderful, amazing, incredible little girl. I can’t believe that it was a stupid, melodramatic TV show that brought it past the point that I could ignore it.

Lily is phenomenal. I fall more in love with her every day. As I confided in a friend, I sometimes feel I could get lost and drown in the oceans of her eyes. I love her with every fiber of my being. But the process of bringing her into this world was my worst failing… and the worst experience of my life.

I was so determined to have a natural birth. No medications, no interventions. No directed pushing, warm compresses. No syntocinon. Cord to stop pulsing prior to cutting. Baby, uncleaned, on my chest to breast feed immediately. No maternal/newborn separation. But nothing went according to plan.

In my birth plan there was a brief section in case of a Cesarean Section. Honestly I hadn’t even thought much about it… but specified that both my husband and my doula were to be present, and that I was to watch the birth. Even that failed.

The one fear I’d shared with my doula, and that was actually written down in the formal birth plan that we provided the hospital with, was this: “Loss of control. Doctors taking over.” That was the one thing that happened.

I know I should allow myself time to mourn, to grieve. I know it’s the healthy thing to do. I just don’t have the time. I don’t want Lily to ever think that I’m grieving because of her. She’s the most wonderful thing I’ve ever done. She’s the most wonderful thing in my life. How does one separate her birth from her?

I was denied everything I hoped for. Not only that… the surgery itself was so traumatic that I’ve blocked a great deal of it from my memory. I have huge lapses in time that I can’t account for. I remember finally giving up. Saying fine, agreeing to the surgery – several hours after the doctors advised me that it was necessary. Then I don’t remember anything until I was actually in the operating room. I remember that Damon and Carly (my doula) weren’t there with me. I was alone with a bunch of doctors in a blaringly bright white room. People were rushing around me, but no one was talking to me.

I remember being strapped to a table. I remember convulsing. I remember someone saying “that’s normal”. Then I remember Damon being brought in – but knowing that I was already open.

I remember vomiting, and then choking on it. Not being able to breathe. I remember someone holding a tray beside my head and somehow I coughed up however much vomit was caught in my airway. I remember vomiting a second time, and still strapped on my back almost choking on it a second time. I remember it falling on my face, my hair, my neck.

At some point I heard a cry. Logically I knew it had to be my baby… but there was no connection. Suddenly there was just a baby there. Damon left me alone.

I didn’t know what was going on. I was numb. After a while the crying stopped, but I had no sense of time. I couldn’t tell you if it lasted 30 seconds or two hours.

I heard someone ask if I’d like them to take a picture, and then there was a baby being held above my face. One of us (Damon or I) must have said yes.

Another lapse in time.

I remember at some point someone said “we’re at layer eight”. They weren’t talking to me. I don’t know if it was while they were cutting me or sewing me back together.

I remember being in the recovery room. Nurses kept running ice on me asking “is it cold?” “Does it feel cold?” All I wanted to say was “I don’t know”… but they kept pressing. “Does it feel cold yet?” “Can you feel this?”

Suddenly my mom and Riki (one of my little sisters) were there in the recovery room. I think they were there for some of the ice questions. I’m not sure though. I remember my mom crying. I think I said that the baby looks like Riki, but I can’t remember for sure. I heard Damon’s voice, so he must have been there, talking to them.

The next thing I recall is being wheeled to another room. We paid for a private room, but I remember someone saying that there wasn’t one available yet, that it would be a few hours. I was brought into a room with several beds. I remember transferring from the bed I was in to one of the beds in that room… lots of beds, but no other people. Transferring hurt an enormous amount. i remember seeing the baby being wheeled in. Then Damon, baby, and I were left alone.

Damon took a little bit of video. I know some time passed, but it wasn’t much. I don’t know what we talked about or what happened there. I just remember being there.

Nurses brought back another bed with wheels and told me my room was ready. I really don’t think it was more than a few minutes later. I remember crying with pain and exhaustion when they told me I had to transfer beds again. I heard someone say that I’d be moving to a nicer bed.

I remember being wheeled down a hallway and crashing into a wall or a doorway, or something… or maybe that happened earlier. I think we might have crashed a few times. I had a lot of huge welts and bruises.

I remember transferring into the bed in my private room. It was a nicer bed.

I remember feeling numb. I remember having no feelings towards Lily. I remember wishing I could just go back in time. I remember being tired. I remember just wanting to sleep.

So that’s Lily’s birth story… well… her “un-birth” story I suppose. Someone on an email list mentioned the term birth rape – and that’s what it felt like.

I suppose I feel some sort of relief finally sharing my experience of the actual event. The time leading up to it was joyous, despite the pain. With every contraction, every breath, I felt I was closer to bringing my baby into the world. My pain had purpose, and I was happy for it. The surgery robbed me of that. Robbed me of any purpose.

I know that there was a span of several hours that I’ve completely blocked. Lily-Ann’s recorded arrival was 7:19 (7:20 would have been perfect… it would have been 7:20, on the 20th day of the 7th month in the year 2007, or 7:20, 20-07-2007) and the next recorded time was a digital time stamp on some photographs my mom took. She was in the recovery room with me at 10:00. I remember hearing someone say it was 4:00 (roughly) shortly before being taken for surgery. So 4:00, 7:19, and 10:00… Damon said the surgery didn’t last long – so what was happening during that time. I’m a little bothered by that.

It’s 2:15… I’ve been typing for almost an hour. Wow. I guess I really did need to just let go. To be honest I’m still blocking things. Only a few lines into relaying the actual events I shut off the emotions. If I’d kept crying I’d still be crying, I wouldn’t be writing… and I really just needed to get this out.

Parents sometimes talk about their child being the best thing they ever did… but I don’t feel that I was a part of Lily’s birth. My worst nightmares couldn’t have imagined a worse birth experience. I felt so cut off from her. I saw pictures my mother took of her that first day, and she was so beautiful. So amazing. So incredible. Yet I missed it. I was too in shock to notice. I don’t even remember her beyond the plastic bucket she was in. I missed it all. The most incredible experience a mother can ever have… and I missed it.

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