I’ve never been good with blood—or pain for that matter. I’ve fainted while ripping off a Band-Aid, getting a flu shot, and reading the vampire birth scene from the third Twilight book. I was even wary of reading ahead in What to Expect When You’re Expecting during my first pregnancy because I didn’t want to pass out in public or change my mind about this whole giving birth thing.
So while I knew a “natural” birth experience wasn’t for me, I didn’t know my water would break five weeks early, drenching the passenger seat in our car as my husband and I drove home from our first parenting class.
A quick U-turn back to the hospital and it wasn’t long before I was being wheeled through an eerily empty corridor towards a green-lit OR. It was near midnight and I literally watched one of the doctors about to cut me open yawn as I passed. Thankfully, another doctor held my hands maternally as the anesthesiologist stuck a needle in my spine. She assured me the baby would be fine before she disappeared to the other side of the blue curtain.
The first sight of my daughter was a peach blur wrapped in a white blanket whisked off to the NICU, my husband with her. I wouldn’t meet her until eight hours later, a tiny fragile thing hooked up to tubes.
I started to settle into what would become a long process mourning the loss of those good things I was supposed to experience: immediate skin-to-skin, the first latch, that new baby smell.
But as I stood over her, afraid to use more than a feathered touch to stroke her cheek, our eyes met. I said either out loud or in my head, “OK you’ve got me”.
Three years later, a scheduled C-section for baby #2 is days away. I assumed I’d go early again, so making it to full term was beautiful torture. I told my other mom friends I wanted to go into “real” labor this time—to feel something primal I never had time to experience with baby #1. So when contractions started two days before plan, I was excited.
Hours later, a text to those same mom friends said, “I’m an idiot. SPINAL ME NOW!”
As I’m on the OR table again, it looks lighter and feels calmer this time. My husband is holding my hand. He’s able to look over the blue curtain, take pictures (which I may or may not ever look at), and we hear that first cry. Soon, I can see my new baby in her red, naked, screaming glory. She’s placed on my chest and I don’t feel anything after that except this tiny warm body against mine. It’s magical and it’s real and it’s true what they say about your heart growing with every child.
My two C-sections were so different, but I learned the same thing: you don’t need to feel a baby come out of your hoo-hoo to realize what’s primal about parenthood.
You just need to look at your kid.
And they’ve got you.