This is the second of five posts as part of Momalom’s Five for Ten. All participants are writing about the same topics in an honest effort to get to know one another better and make more online connections. If you are already a regular reader of Coffees & Commutes, I hope you enjoy the series and consider visiting other participants. If you are finding your way here for the first time as part of Five for Ten, welcome! I can’t wait to get to know you too. I’m hoping to make it around to everyone as much as I can.
Happiness From Trying Again
Almost 15 months ago I had the pleasure of enjoying the happiest day. I’ve tried to permanently etch it into my mind because I simply can’t imagine anything more perfect. It was the day after the birth of my second son and it was so completely different than I had with my first son. While it didn’t completely take away the pain of my first birth experience, it did help to heal a heart that had been full of resentment and anger.
My first son was born by emergency c-section. I tried so very hard to avoid it. In fact, I’d never even considered the possibility. In hindsight I know that not taking the time to consider it made all the difference. I did everything “right.” I had a midwife for my prenatal care and took a moderately holistic approach to my first birth experience. Though I wanted a hospital birth, felt more at ease doing it that way, I was committed to keeping it as natural as I could. I was keen to avoid medical iinterventions. I’d fully considered my options for pain relief,and was prepared to make those choices as my labour progressed. I never imagined things to go as they did. I suppose the same is true for many.
I was only a day over due when my water broke. It broke before I had a single contraction. In fact, it was a couple of hours before they did start, but when they did, they came quick. If I knew then, what I know now, I would have had some idea of what was to come. You see, even though my labour started on it’s own, only 12 hours in it just as easily to decided to stop on it’s own. My midwife very delicately told me I would need my first intervention: oxytocin to get the labour going.
This intervention was the beginning of the end. It started a rapidly spiralling, negative, heart breaking, loss of control over my experience birthing my child. I suffered through 30 hours of labour including two hours of pushing, only to end up on a surgical table.
I write this only for it to stand in contrast to the birth experience of my second son. Hi birth ushered in the most amazing feeling of happiness.
I knew even before my second pregnancy that I would try for VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean). I had a desperate need to get it right, to experience the beauty of child birth the way I believed it should be. I was obsessed with it. But it was bigger than that. I felt that the early moments with my first son had been stolen from me. After his lengthy, arduous birth, I was exhausted. I barely remember those early moments. They exist only in a fog of painful memories that to this day conjure tears of pain.
I wanted them back. I needed those moments back.
But I was under no illusions this time. The expectations that I had for my first birth and their utter fall from grace had rocked my core. This time I went in prepared, ready and completely comfortable with the idea that it might not go as planned. That no matter my intentions, the strength of my resolve, that this baby too could end up entering the world into the arms of a surgeon. But I would try. I had nothing to lose.
My second labour progressed in intensity much faster than my first. When I arrived at the hospital, my midwife was convinced that based on the length and severity of my contractions that I had to at least be in transition, if not almost 10 centimetres and ready to push. You can imagine the depth of my disappointment when she checked and discovered I was only 3 centimetres dilated. The look of surprise on her face literally dashed all of my hopes.
I knew where this was going.
She assured me there was no reason to worry, yet. I knew the clock was ticking and every hour the labour continued increased the risk to both me and the baby. At hour 15 we called in the obstetrician. I held a shred of hope, but knew the truth was going to hurt. I saw it in the eyes of everyone in the labour room. And indeed, I soon learned that my second son would be born, like his brother, under the bright surgical light, on the hard metal surface of a table in a room full of distracted strangers.
But I was okay. I was prepared this time. The people around me were prepared to support me in a different way than they did the first time. And most of all, I was far less exhausted. My perspective was better.
And so he was born.
And our greeting was so much more this time. I was ready for how he would be presented to me. It was less of a violation to have others hold him before me. And yes, that hurts, even now all these months later, I still feel it, the pain of both my sons meeting others before me. THAT will never leave me. But this time, I expected it and so I made my peace with it and enjoyed him in other ways.
And then we had our first day together. My husband and I shared it with our second born son. We had no visitors until late in the day. We were blissfully alone. The snow was softly falling outside our hospital window. We were nestled into the corner of the room. We hugged, we kissed, we cuddled, we looked and touched. We got to know this beautiful baby boy. I savoured every moment. I drank him in. I was not overcome with despair like with my first. Even now, as I write this post, I conjure up the magic of it.
It was, quite simply, the happiest moment of my life.