©Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama 2011. Jennifer shares her journey from preparing for a peaceful homebirth to experiencing a c-section for footling breech presentation and how we can transform our thoughts and heal from unexpected changes in life.
“Life has a funny way of handing me the exact opposite of what I plan for and desire. It always has and so I try very hard to keep my attitude in the “half full” side of the glass. I am a good person. I do a lot for others. I am extremely selfless. I can handle a lot and I guess that is why I am blessed with more challenges in life than others receive. You are only given what you can handle right? This is what I try to tell myself anyways.
But, my daughter’s birth crushed that positive spirit ever so slightly. Ok – a lot.
When I found out I was pregnant I went into hyper-natural birth overdrive. I interviewed and hired an amazing doula. I drove my husband crazy regurgitating facts and figures about what hospitals force women giving birth to do against their will. I did everything “right” to prepare for the most medically unassisted birth a hospital setting could offer. My husband and I went on a weekend natural birth retreat. EPIC! I was pumped. My daughter was coming into a gentle world that would embrace her with love, warmth, and peace.
And then my world turned upside down.
My baby was a mover and shaker in the womb from day one. She swam around in circles constantly. My husband and I loved seeing her head go ‘round and ‘round. She would punch or kick occasionally but she was partial to flipping and circling. So, it was no surprise to me that at 36 weeks she had not settled into the “proper” position. She was content to rest feet first. She’d always done that though. When she would finish her somersaults she would nestle in under my heart, deep into my lungs and sleep. I wasn’t concerned. Why should she crowd herself? She’d move head down when she was good and ready.
Let me back up a second.
I selected my OB because he delivered my friend’s baby after a long labor in which said baby truly got stuck. An emergency C-section ensued but baby was fine and mama was happy. The OB seemed to be a decent guy and he was affiliated with the hospital I liked most in our area. It is also a pretty good hospital insofar as “allowing” the birthing mothers to have a voice.
But towards the end of my pregnancy my OB showed his true colors. And I panicked.
At 38 weeks my doctor was pissed off at me and not hiding it. He could not fathom why I wouldn’t just schedule a C-section already. He tried everything, even scheduling the actual C-section but I would not budge. It was at this point in time that I got panicky and started trying everything known to human kind to turn this baby and get her to stick a landing.
I had taken time off work so all day, every day you could find me doing the hula on my birth ball, laying backwards on an ironing board propped against the couch, doing a downward dog yoga pose off the couch, going to the chiropractor, taking baths, taking natural supplements, and just being a contortionist in an effort to encourage baby to enjoy locking and loading into a head first position. My husband feared for my safety. My doula egged encouraged me.
By week 39, Dr. Evil had stripped my membranes without my consent then lied to me about it. I was horrified and stressed beyond belief. He also was trying his damndest to convince me that my baby’s leg was about to slip out and said it would kill us both.
By week 40, baby was still swimming away. She had plenty of room and no interest in finding her birth position. Dr. Evil was threatening to have me arrested for not having the C-section yet. He said that I was committing acts of child abuse by putting my baby in a compromised situation. He accused my husband of being neglectful. Oh it was a hot mess. I held firm. Darn it, I was getting this baby to turn!
At 6:00am, on the first day of week 41, I finally accepted (with much hesitation) that my daughter was stuck in a foot breech position. She had not moved in two days. I felt defeated in a sense. I would not be able to safely give her the birth experience I had hoped. My peaceful, gentle birth plan would be a mere memory. She was going to come into this world in the one way I abhorred. I was angry. I was disappointed. I was deflated. I was miserable. And I was jealous of the moms who got to have a completely natural, beautiful birth. However, I was also realistic. I believed there was only one way to get my baby here at that point so two hours later, I became “mama.”
The surgery was the polar opposite of peaceful, gentle and beautiful. It was bright, loud, messy, and impersonal. My baby was pulled from the depths of my womb by her ankles as Dr. Evil talked about his kids’ soccer game and how the coach was an ass. I got the briefest, bloodiest glimpse of my baby and for what seemed like an eternity in a foggy world, I was separated from the piece of me that I carried under my heart for 287 days.
I desperately wanted to hold her, to see her, to smell her, to CONNECT outside of the womb. I needed that so deeply since I could not bring her into the world gently. I got another glance at my baby as her daddy brought her to my face and after sneaking in a small kiss, my little angel was whisked off yet again.
I lay on that uninviting, harsh table getting put back together for what seemed like hours. Dr. Evil kept chatting with the other surgeon about good restaurants, hiking, and a host of other topics. Not once did he ask how I was. No one asked how I was doing. No one answered my questions. No one would tell me where my baby was at. She was no longer in the operating room and I just hoped that her daddy was with her.
I was transferred to recovery after another 30 minutes. My baby was under a warming light, apparently because she was one degree too cold. I didn’t get to hold her for two hours. I was like a lion in a cage. I was ferocious in my mind but drugged in my speech. I could not seem to make the nurses understand that my baby needed me and I needed her and that they were depriving us of a critical opportunity to bond, all because supposedly her temperature was low. I knew that the warmth of my body and the warmth of my love for her would warm her faster than any heat lamp. Finally, some nurse decided that my baby needed to eat and at long last she was placed in my arms.
I immediately threw open my gown, unwrapped the tiny form from the uninviting blanket and placed MY daughter on my chest. Despite our separation, she knew that she was with mama. The love that washed over me is something that words will never be able to describe. That first moment of touching my baby, snuggling her close, and feeling our souls connect will be forever etched as a private feeling in my mind. It was bliss. I was literally in my heaven. That was certainly the best life would ever offer.
My birth story is not beautiful. It is not kind. It is not warm. It is not something I want to repeat. It wounded me. It made me resentful. It made me despise the medical institution. But after 25 months, I have done the best that I can to work through all of those negative feelings. I have accepted that somehow my body was just not meant to give birth the way nature intended. It was not my fault. It was not Tiny’s fault. What was meant to be happened. I will not be having more children so I will never get the opportunity to experience a beautiful, natural, serene birth. It does not matter. I have a beautiful child who has rooted herself so firmly inside my heart, soul, and mind that it does not matter how she got here. She is here and my life is complete. And beautiful.”