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...


  1. Hello Elizabeth

    I love your blog and I am so glad you've shared such a positive experience here. It's bouyed me as I've been told I'll have to have a caesarean section when it (very hopefully) comes to me having a baby (due to previous and rather awful medical complications). I love the perspective on life you offer especially as I too have so respect for nature and try to do everything as 'naturally' as possible. Having a section can be looked down on, like you missed out on something, like you're less of a woman for needing one. But life is complicated and our babies can be born healthily and naturally this way too! With joy is the natural and best way. We are never all the same and we are doing our best all of the time. Now, I have something and someone's experience to aspire to. Thank you so very much.

  2. Beautiful story. Thank you for sharing!

  3. So beautiful!! Thank you for sharing such an intimate experience. She's simply perfect!

  4. A beautiful name for a beautiful baby! If I have a daughter I will name her Francesca.

  5. This brought tears to my eyes, thank you for sharing.

    My son's birth was a 20-hour intervention free labor followed by a C-section that left me feeling ashamed and disappointed. I don't know if I will try for VBAC in the future, but I am aware that peaceful c-sections do exist, and your story is certainly one of them.

  6. This was so lovely! Congratulations on your beautiful girl!

  7. Hi there!

    Have been reading for a good while—but today's my first comment. My husband and I are a looong way off from having a baby but we've talked about how we'd like to do it and being the overachieving, type A person that I am, I hadn't really given much thought to NOT being able to give birth how I'd like to. Reading your posts as you've come to terms with your change in plans (and how gracefully and joyfully you welcomed the change) has been truly heartwarming and encouraging. Thank you so much for sharing your stories.

    And, welcome to this big, sparkling world, Francesca!

  8. She is so serene and it's no wonder when she came into the world so peacefully. Congratulations.

    P.S. I love Stevie Wonder. Good pick.

  9. I am so glad that you were able to enjoy the birthing experience. Being very much 'there' to meet my daughter was the best part of c-section and I'm so happy that you were able to feel comforted by that. Francesca is a beautiful name, enjoy being four xx

  10. thank you so much for sharing this. I had to have an emergency c-section after preparing for months for a natural birth. It was devastating at the time and made me feel like the worst mom ever, but now that months and months have gone by I realize the most important thing is a healthy happy baby and mom...the rest is just filler.

  11. She's so beautiful and sweet. Congratulations :)

  12. Dear Elizabeth, love your warm inspiring blog, I want a family like yours, so beautiful. Seeing your photos and reading you brings so much peace and add an extra spark of joy to my day. Congratulations on your sweet baby Francesca. XOXO

  13. The baby in the blog is so beautiful.Keep update more things in the blog.

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  14. I wept and wept reading this. What a wonderful Mother you are, thank you for sharing your beautiful perspective on birth with all of us. Francesca could not be sweeter.

  15. What a beautiful experience! Thanks for sharing this unique moment in your life, love your blog.

  16. Hi Elizabeth,

    I just want to thank-you for this post. I am scheduled for C-section tomorrow as I am having twins and they are both breech. It was something I have also resisted and struggled with as I have always imagined and desired a completely natural birth. It is inspiring to see that a C section can be just as beautiful as a passage into this world.