“He has not dropped because he just has so much room. He is very small because I was small and so was his dad.”
I said that a lot. I said it on overdue day 1, 2, 3, 4, 5…I took perverse pleasure in believing that the lush, lovely environment that my body had created for the wee man had made staying quite irresistible. But eventually, he had to come out, right? The prenatal class I had taken was based on the book Birthing from Within. One tenet was how to experience caesarian as a birth, not as a medical procedure–how to make it your own. As a class we also were supported to identify our individual terror; Down’s, death, stillborn, caesarian, failure to be able to breast feed were examples. Once we identified these, we talked through the ‘what ifs’ to initiate a process to make peace with our fears.
On the 9th day I sculled a brew that included apricot nectar, gelato and castor oil to induce labor. Result? Not ripe. My cervix didn’t open, but I did had a wicked case of the shits. I wasn’t upset, just stumped, really. “He has to come out, through the door or a window,” stated a girlfriend. I was starting to wonder.
Day 10. I talked to my belly, I jumped around, I took stairs two at a time. I ate a few pineapples. I drank a pear mimosa. And still, nothing. I could feel him moving, squish-stretching around in there.
On day 11, I started rounds of Cervidil. This hormone gets tucked back behind the cervix to help make it soft to kick-start things. I went to the hospital for round one. The midwives had told me that the nurses would hook me up to the stress testing devices and that they would be along after to do the rest. The nurse retorted, “Oh. Is that what they said we would do?” And then they left me waiting in a room until the midwives showed up. An attendant came in to take my blood. I asked “What is it for?” “It is routine” was the flat reply. “Yes, but for what?” then she explained that if I needed blood, then they would have it for me.
A caesarian is a powerful birth unto itself, without need for apology, and with only reason to celebrate.
I returned to the hospital on day 12 to check progress. Those nurses were helpful. When the midwives arrived, they attempted their “stretch and sweep” and–no dice. The cervix was a little riper, but not open, and he had not dropped. Round two of Cervidil was sent up my river. Day 13? Still the same. The midwives had to call in the doctor, who would make the call on a caesarian or a full day of Oxytocin. The latter causes contractions that would hopefully help the cervix open, and then either things would progress naturally, or the docs/midwives would break the water with a hooked instrument (ugh) up my cervix which would force the baby down, and then possibly things would start to start. The doctor was supportive of the Oxytocin.
I was hooked up to a drip on day 14, dosages increasing on the half hour to produce, ultimately, “meaningful” contractions. We arrived at the hospital prepared to stay and to leave with our baby. Battery operated candles, cribbage, ipod with portable speakers, charcuterie, chocolate, “labour aid,” camera, extra batteries, even our team shirts. Bebe papa’s said “That’s crazy” on the front, and mine was a very threadbare XXL t-shirt with “From Russia with Love” on the front.
I was ready for my experience of child birth, though the shrieks and guttural moans from the adjacent room did not boost my confidence much. I spent the hours playing a bit of cribbage, interspersed by my tiny earthquakes, willing them to hurt more. By the end of the day, I was checked; no change. My thighs puffy, arms swollen, tits engorged, all saturated with drugs – and – lest we forget, very pregnant. I looked in the mirror and recognized my eyes alone. I was a bloated vessel for this being, who seemed to be quite at home within the barracks that my body had become.
Two options now. The first? A caesarian.
- Insert a blunt forecep up my cerivix
- Inflate small balloon on the inside of my womb to mimic the baby’s head on that side of my cervix, which might cause it to open
- Insert hooked instrument up inside to break my water, forcing the baby down
- All this might induce labour
- If not? caesarian
The doctor then performed a very assertive, i.e. painful, search of my inner bits, and left us to mull over the options. My doula, midwives, bebe papa and I were in the room. I was stumped, tired, thick and numb.
My entire self was not raging with ‘oh no! my mother-club-initiation might not be possible’…the only thing rattling and screaming in that entire infinite few minutes was, ‘Get him out. Get him out. He can not die. No way. Not now.
My doula came over to give me a hug but was interrupted by the midwife, who noticed that the bebe’s heart rate had slammed from 140 down to 70. Suddenly the room filled with people, an oxygen mask was clamped onto my face and nitroglygerin was being sprayed into my mouth. My body was in a fierce contraction that would not release. The baby was not well. My entire self was not raging with ‘oh no! my mother-club-initiation might not be possible’…the only thing rattling and screaming in that entire infinite few minutes was, ‘Get him out. Get him out. He can not die. No way. Not now. Out,’ my oxygen masked face eyes blazing alternately into le bebe’s soon-to-be-father and the doula’s eyes, both extending their ferocious and magnificent support. Because this was no longer about my precious experience. It was about le bebe getting the hell out of my body now to survive.
They stabilized the baby and the room emptied. The doctor told me that she would come back in a little while to see what the decision was.
My midwife assured me that whatever I chose was fine with her, but my thoughts were not needing that support. My mind and body required no back up, apart from the bebe papa–I was no longer in this equation. It was time to get the baby out. It is this moment I recall when people throw around what a birth is and is not, what I need to grieve and grieve not, what I need to believe and believe not. For me, the only thing to regret or grieve or feel sad about or not realized about is that I did not make a selfish decision, I did not make more of this than need be, I did not overanalyze the simple fact that the bebe was not going to come out the door, and so–he would need a window. As such, and thank goodness for modern technology, I would provide, for my son, with the help of midwives and doctors and more, a custom window by which he would enter this lovely world.
We spent the night at the hospital. In the morning, I went outside and stretched. Once back in my room, I got kitted up for my 8:20am birth. I had asked the midwives that everyone in the operating room introduce themselves, to personalize the event. The doctors and nurses and anethesist were all jovial and relaxed and welcoming. I was given epidural, warmth spreading from my bum down my legs. And then they put up the sheet. “Can you feel anything?” the anesthetist said, leaning over me, “Why? Are you cutting me open?” “Yes” “Are you fucking with me?” He laughed, “No, I am not fucking with you.” “Okay.” I had been walked through the procedure from the prenatal class and so it was fluid. I would meet him soon. I knew this. And this room of kind people would be there with me.
My mind and body required no back up, apart from the bebe papa–I was no longer in this equation. It was time to get the baby out.
Bebe papa tells me when they first cut into me a tight spray of fluid flew over someone’s shoulder. Bebe papa tells me that when they cut open my stomach, a flood erupted from my body. And then the doctor dug into my body to plucked out my large son from my small frame. He howled. As they checked him over and swaddled him, my entire self was consumed by searing yearning. And then bebe papa brought my baby to me. My little man. Once they sewed me up, he was placed at my breast, whereupon he sucked without hesitation, snuffling and grubbing about. A perfect birth.
I carried and grew Boeuf for over ten months. I don’t feel any less like a woman because I did not push him out. I was looking forward to the experience, yes. Maybe that is not quite the accurate choice of words, but I did want to endure this rite of passage. But the point is the birth of the child and the child was birthed. I pride myself on appreciating and respecting other people’s perspectives and beliefs, but on this matter, I am unwavering. A caesarian is a powerful birth unto itself, without need for apology, and with only reason to celebrate. Those who do not agree are grappling with expectations and not reality.