Even with all the reading and research I had done regarding what “medicalized” birth might lead to, I never thought it would be me. Yes, I was two weeks late. Sure, I wasn’t dilating and my “big” baby wasn’t dropping. I had accepted that my planned water birth was swirling down the drain, and had altered my Hypnobabies practice to deal with an induced labor. But it simply could not end this way. Not for me. Not for my baby.
“This is not MY birth story,” I thought.
A sob escaped before the tears had a chance to start flowing in reaction to what my midwife was telling me. My wife, Kate, held my right hand and the nurse held my left while my midwife gave my leg a sympathetic squeeze. I cried bitter tears, agonizing over the hard work I’d done the past 26 hours — intense, induced, pain-med-free labor. As they streamed down my hot cheeks and onto the cool bed sheets, so fell my hopes for The Perfect Birth. The one I’d been envisioning since before the test screamed “Pregnant!” The one that ended with my slippery baby peacefully swimming out into the world and up onto my chest. In single moment, it was gone.
I continued to sob as my midwife expressed her concern that the baby was just so big, and my uterus stretched so much from the quantity of fluid it had contracted against yesterday before my water was broken. She gently told me what an incredible job I had done, that it was time to meet our precious baby girl.
I sighed with a shudder, simultaneously grieving and trying to accept what was about to happen. I trusted my midwife. I changed into a hospital gown, and Kate into scrubs. I donned my funny mesh hat and Kate her booties. When I was escorted into the Operating Room, I reminded myself that Kate would be by my side in no time. I sat on the table, rounding my back and giving the baby in my belly a final hug. A spinal block was administered, and it was time.
After what seemed like hours measured in minutes, Kate’s masked face appeared. Seeing her familiar bridge of nose, pair of eyes, and forehead calmed me. As the surgery began, Kate’s gaze never left mine; I tried to escape deep inside her eyes, away from what was happening. As long as I was swimming in those blue-gray pools of love and concern, I knew my head was still above water. There was slurping, suctioning and pressure. My body shook and rocked as gloved hands pressed on me, urging our daughter through her exit, taking my breath away.
Suddenly, the pressure released and an excited “Here she is!” was declared by voices beyond the curtain. We heard a hearty cry, and a sob escaped my throat for the second time that night. I cried right along with our baby, in new mama-daughter harmony. Cadence James — all ten pounds, nine ounces, and twenty-two inches of her — had finally arrived, at 8:43 on the evening of October 15.
Immediately following her delivery, I felt woozy and confused. The voices below the curtain took on a concerned tone, and I begged Kate not to leave me. She stayed by my side as blood splashed to the floor and the surgeon slapped and manually contracted my uterus, trying to stop the hemorrhaging.
Thinking maybe some Hypnobabies relaxation techniques might help calm me, I moaned “peace” and “relax” over and over.
Kate lovingly held my hand, assuring me I was okay as the surgical team began reassembling my insides. I started to feel pain. Thinking maybe some Hypnobabies relaxation techniques might help calm me, I moaned “peace” and “relax” over and over. As soon as she was convinced I was going to be okay (and after I received a sedative) Kate was called away to approve some medical interventions for our newborn Cady while I was stitched together again.
All I could think about as I was cleaned up, stuck with a fresh IV, and receiving a blood transfusion was Cady. I needed to feed her, to bond with her, to get to know her. Finally, beautiful Kate — a proud new mommy still in her scrubs — walked our daughter in to meet her mama. As her wide and alert eyes locked with mine, we instantly knew each other. Although I was in pain, I held her.
I couldn’t possibly know if anyone else in the room fell as instantly and deeply in love as I did, but our parents, a dear friend, and the hospital staff marveled over Cady, exclaiming at her size and beauty and overall perfection. They told me what an amazing job I did, and how proud they were.
I didn’t realize it until it was all over, but it WAS The Perfect Birth. No longer MY story, but the story of Cadence; one that I will tell her, beaming, of The Happiest Day of my Life.