Thursday, November 29, 2012
the fulcrum - francesca's birth story
one month ago this evening, i was up packing my hospital bag. i knew the date she was going to join our family because i had to have a cesarean birth. this was something i really resisted and struggled with since my first birth experience was as intervention free as they get. i started researching and received such amazing encouragement and advice in the days leading up to the birth that i compiled into my birth plan. by the time i laid my head on the pillow for my last night as a mother of one, i felt ready and excited to meet my little girl, knowing that i was making the right decision.
i sang the song "happier than the morning sun" by stevie wonder and read these words from the incredible book hypnobirthing up until the moment i went into the operating room. and then i said them to myself.
"soon it will be time for the baby to become it's own separate person. one cycle is ending and, immediately, another is beginning. what has been called 'labor' is that in-between experience...the fulcrum...that small, short period of time and space between the baby's two worlds.
happy childbirth has much to do with a healthy, joyous, loving anticipation. it is something remarkably beautiful. being a channel of new life is said to be a spiritual experience. with this understanding, total relaxation and serene breathing, all discomfort is lessened and often entirely absent.
with your mind's eye and your inner senses, mentally and emotionally feel yourself joyfully, totally aware and participating. see it as already accomplished. listen with your mind's ear to that first sound of new life.
create a vivid visualization of the exhilaration you feel as you see your baby at the moment of birth. see the three of you bonding for the first time in this life. now mentally see yourself stepping into this joyful scene. become a part of this birthing...fulfilled. feel it...sense it. this is your body, here, now. in your mind's eye, see and feel yourself totally enveloping that body...holding your baby on your breast. these are your arms enfolding your baby; these are your hands embracing this new little being.
the life force of nature is working in harmony with you. now more than at any moment in your life, it is within you and with you. you are a part of the greatest celebration of life."
by the time i came to the hospital on october 30th at 5:30 am, i was 4 cm dilated and 100% effaced. i had been in labor for a week but felt only minor discomfort. francesca was coming one way or another that day. i was so happy that she chose her birthday after all.
i went in to the cold operating room and an election ad was blaring on the radio. i asked them to turn it off which they gladly did. i held the amazingly supportive nurse's hand as the anesthesiologist prepared to administer the spinal block. "like a bee sting," he said. my mind carried me to a warm september day, my 29th birthday, when i was deep in the forest near mount rainier with my husband. we had pulled over to look at a deer that was crossing the road and a bee came in through the passenger window of our car and stung me. i remember laughing and thinking it must be good luck. i was so happy to be in the pine trees on a warm fall day with my love.
i never felt the needle go in.
the doctor came in with my husband's iPhone and jambox, playing bon iver. i didn't choose the album but it was perfect. shortly thereafter my husband joined me.
the doctor told the attending nurses to please keep all conversation related to the surgery. by this time my body was completely warm and euphoric from the drugs (i hate to say that but i felt pretty good!) and the surgery began.
the doctors told us what was going on, the lights were dim, i held my husband's hand. we heard her first cries together, she came up to my chest immediately, warm and wet. it was a moment full of immense love, relief, and bliss. we breast fed right after they brought me into recovery.
i never experienced the shakes or a fever or nausea i was told to prepare for. i don't know if it was because i had asked the anesthesiologist for the bare minimum of drugs so that i would be able to talk and hold her when she came. i also told them if i had those symptoms to not give me more drugs to counteract them as i had heard they make you forgetful and sleepy.
i just felt bliss and so, so grateful that our daughter was finally here. i am happy that i had the perspective that birth is the fulcrum between her two worlds. my heart, which before held so much fear for the experience, has been humbled.
as i celebrate her first month, i must give thanks for this lesson in facing fear. it looks like i'll never stop growing...