So God Made a Mother Collection ➔

Michael and I leave for the hospital at five in the morning. I’m 39-weeks pregnant and scheduled for a C-section because our son is breech with a cord wrapped around his neck. A nurse’s assistant takes Michael and me to our room, where there is a sink, a bed, a cot, a monitor, and a round bath with jets I will not use.

I ask Michael to grab the birth plan from the hospital bag. The fold is uneven and my punctuation is sketchy. Not as glamorous as I had envisioned, and I’m embarrassed about its lack of professionalism. I give it to the nurse when she comes in with a surgical robe for me to put on, and she reads it.

“Skin to skin?” she asks, looking over the paper. “You’re having surgery. Your abdominal cavity will be completely exposed.” 

“Will my chest be covered?” I ask.

“Yes,” she says. “Your entire body will be covered.” 

“How long will it take for them to finish the surgery after he’s born?” 

“Not long,” she says. “It shouldn’t be more than an hour and a half.” 

For the hours I spent looking up C-sections, I missed the detail that I would be in the operating room for an hour and a half, and I’m disappointed.

I need my body for that hour after birth, the so-called golden hour of skin-to-skin. And not just for my baby. I need it for me, too.

RELATED: Having a C-Section Wasn’t In My Plan

The nurse starts an IV on the back of my hand but it blows out, a dark balloon of puffy skin, and she restarts it on the other side. 

My OB comes in wearing green scrubs. At our last visit, he said, “We’ll have a birthday party.” He looks at the birth plan and says it looks great. The nurse asks about skin to skin, and he says, “We usually do cheek to cheek.” Not what I had in mind, but it’s something. 

The anesthesiologist comes in. He’s friendly, calm. He tells me what I will feel at each step as he is working: it will feel like cold water here, like I’m pressing your back here. I assume he’s washing my skin with iodine, but he soon says the spinal is done. 

I start to feel nauseated, and I tell him, almost choking. He says he can fix that, and I close my eyes and wait.

This is what I have done for so much of pregnancy: closed eyes, waiting, trying to stay still while my body tells me to puke.

More voices. Another doctor comes in. 

They put a giant paper pillow inflated with warm air over me in the cold room. After a few minutes, it occurs to me I don’t feel nauseated anymore. I tell the doctor I feel better, and he says, “I thought so.” Everything seems a little hazy and disjointed. I am about to have my abdomen cut open, about to give birth. A body is about to come out of my body. 

RELATED: To all My Fellow C-Section Mamas

The production starts, faster than I expect. I tell Michael, who sits by my head, that he isn’t allowed to look at the surgery. I check out again, like I have been doing all morning. On the operating table, I don’t even try to eavesdrop on the doctors performing my surgery right in front of me, though they are talking the whole time in a light, casual tone.

I catch one of the doctors saying, “Definitely a boy,” followed soon after by a baby’s cry, the harbinger of all good things in a delivery. Someone explains to me that the room must be very cold for the operation, so they are going to take my baby out and put him in a warmer.

I no longer need to check out. I hear the doctors clearly, surprised they are mostly talking to me. I am able to pay attention, granted the lucidity of joy.

My son is carried in, swaddled in receiving blankets, and wearing a hat, his eyes open. I kiss him as many times as I can, his cheek held by mine for a minute or so.

They take him back to the other room, and Michael follows.

RELATED: Yes My C-Section Is Birth

A pediatrician tells me they will need to take my son to a transitionary NICU to recruit excess liquid from his lungs. But they aren’t quite ready: he is being weighed or bathed or something. I am quiet and jittery with surprise, the terrific reality of it all, the actuality of the baby I could never quite believe in when I was pregnant. But somehow, here he is. Even in the other room, I hear him. I hear Michael, suddenly and fervently a father, calling him by name. 

Previously published on the author’s blog

Alizabeth Worley

Alizabeth Worley recently graduated from BYU’s MFA program in Utah, where she lives with her husband and two kids. She was a 2017 winner of the AWP Intro Journals Award for her poem “Kid” and she has published poems, essays, and graphic nonfiction in journals Sweet: A Literary ConfectionHobartJukedReliefSegullah and Waccamaw. Her husband, Michael, is an attorney with spastic quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy. You can find her at alizabethworley.wordpress.com and on twitter at @EarfulLizzie

What I Wish Someone Would’ve Told Me About Gender Disappointment

In: Baby, Motherhood
Pregnant couple holding boy or girl sign

I was in the corner of my closet hiding behind my wedding dress and every formal I’ve ever owned. It was dark, stuffy, and felt like a good place to hide. I’d just found out I was having a boy, and I was devastated in ways I didn’t think possible and was trying to hide what I was feeling from the world around me.  What kind of mother isn’t completely enamored with her baby-to-be? Did this make me a monster? I should have been happy. After all, I was having a healthy baby. That’s like winning the lottery. Instead, I...

Keep Reading

The Conversation We’re Forgetting To Have About Birth

In: Baby, Marriage, Motherhood
Woman having a baby man holding her hand

My husband lay sleeping, his head resting on a fluffy, down-stuffed pillow in our hotel room. His bag was packed neatly, ESPN was playing quietly in the background, and he had unopened snacks at his disposal on the end table. Our hotel phone rang, and my husband groggily answered, ”Yes? Oh, sorry. Yeah, we’ll keep it down. Sorry.” He hung up and found me miserable and shaky in the shower, the thin shower curtain clinging to my legs.  “Steph, we got a noise complaint. You have to keep it down!” he whispered. This is not how I expected labor to...

Keep Reading

Bathtime Washes Away the Struggles of the Day

In: Baby, Motherhood, Toddler

It’s 7 p.m., which means bathtime at our house. I close the drain and fill the tub with warm water. I pump Johnson’s baby soap—the water and soap swirl together and form bubbles. The bubbles dance on top of the water, just waiting to cleanse my baby boy. I toss in your foam alphabet letters, Mr. Shark, and Mr. Penguin.  I place you in the bath and lather baby soap in my hands and give you a soapy mohawk. You are barely one and still my baby, but your four fat teeth make you look older. You chew on the...

Keep Reading

This May Be the Last Time I See Those Two Pink Lines

In: Baby, Motherhood

My little caboose, I’ve just finished staring at the two pink lines. It’s not the first time. In fact, I’ve done this twice before, and each time, I am filled with the same disbelief, gratitude, and pure joy. But something is a little different this time. Unless God has different plans for us, this may be the last time I see those pink lines. And that realization makes me want to hold onto all of the last firsts we will experience together with all my might. The two pink lines. The first time we hear your precious heartbeat. RELATED: Dear...

Keep Reading

Nothing Prepared Me To Be a Medical Mom

In: Baby, Motherhood
Baby boy sitting in mom's lap

I never saw it coming. The hours spent at doctor appointments, the coordination between specialists, the adding and subtracting of prescriptions—I never saw any of it coming.  I had a healthy pregnancy. Baby had a strong heartbeat at every appointment, and the anatomy scan showed an energetic, growing babe. There were no indicators that my water would break prematurely, that we would experience time in the NICU. Nothing hinted toward a hidden genetic condition or brain malformation that would complicate our child’s care. Nothing prepared me to be a medical mom. It was something that came fast and furious. Something...

Keep Reading

To My Firstborn: A New Baby May Divide My Attention But Not My Love

In: Baby, Kids, Motherhood

Sweet babe, have you heard the news? You’re going to be a big sibling! Our family is growing, and there will be a new, squishy baby to love on and to welcome home.  This baby will be a little different from your baby doll. This baby won’t need you to feed them toy carrots or make them beds of blankets. But, they will definitely need your sweet kisses and lullabies. It’s made my heart melt watching how loving and attentive you are, and I know you’ll be ready for this new role as a big sibling.  It will be beautiful,...

Keep Reading

Everything Feels Wrong During Pregnancy After Loss

In: Baby, Grief, Loss, Motherhood
Woman with baby sitting outside on blanket, color photo

To the woman who is pregnant after a loss, I see you. I know this should be such an exciting time in your life, but you have been cheated of being able to feel that way again. It is so unfair. I see you trying so hard to not get ahead of yourself after you receive that positive test result. You want to feel happiness and excitement, but you force yourself to be cautious just in case. I know you are trying to protect your heart. I recognize that you are over-analyzing every cramp, pull, and tug you feel. You...

Keep Reading

The Newborn Nights Feel As Endless As My Love For You

In: Baby, Motherhood
Mother sleeping next to infant, black-and-white photo

In the dark, the moments stretch too long between sleep. All night we listen for your calls: puckering cherub lips, chirps, whines, and wails. Three weeks, now, without a full night’s rest. Three weeks since this whole ordeal began. At first, we tried trading shifts in the night. In the orange and teal baby room, dim and quiet, three hours long and lonely—I thought of birth. How invincible I felt. I tried to make the strength translate. I can get through this sleepless night, I told myself. I can bear your endless feeding and howls. I can. Later, we were...

Keep Reading

I Will Forever Carry Both Life and Death

In: Baby, Grief, Loss, Motherhood
Infant lying in bed next to matching empty bed, color photo

I have experienced the miracle of feeling life move within me. I have felt the pain and devastation of carrying a life I’d never have the chance to meet. Nothing prepared me for the bittersweet feeling of experiencing both at the same time. Celebrating the beating heart of one baby while mourning the stillness of the other. Wishing to not see a reminder of what you’ve lost but knowing that would be detrimental to what you still have. RELATED: Twin Loss Splits a Mother’s Heart in Two Catching glimpses as your ultrasound tech tries to quickly zoom past to not cause...

Keep Reading

How Do You Know If You’re Meant to Have Another Baby?

In: Baby, Motherhood

“I think I want just one more baby.” I stood at my infant’s changing table peering into his sweet eyes. Another set of eyes turned up to me from the diaper pail, wide and knowing. “I just don’t know about that,” my husband sent up as he held his breath tying off the bag full of dirty diapers. “I just feel like I have a lot of love left to give,” I responded, and he just looked at me, but I knew what he was thinking because I was thinking it too. I know I have a lot of love...

Keep Reading
Mother Holding Baby

5 Truths Every New Mom Needs to Hear

FREE EMAIL BONUS

Encouragement for the early days

 5 Secrets to Connect with Your Kids

FREE EMAIL BONUS

Proven techniques to build REAL connections