This is probably one of my favorite photos ever.
Of course, it’s my sister.
But it’s so much more than that.
At that very moment, they’d unstrapped everything.
There were no alarms going off for finished fluids.
No heartbeat monitors, oxygen monitors.
The computer screen went black.
They started washing her down in a sponge bath.
Prepping her for her baby.
I think one of the scariest things about C-sections is the loss of control.
In your mind, you’ll control all of it.
Push when you’re ready.
Stop when you need to.
But in a C-section, you hand all of that over.
To your doctor, of course.
But also to a staff, people you don’t even know and won’t ever meet.
You’ll leave your dim and cozy room for one lit up, brighter than the makeup aisles in Target.
It’s freezing here.
Your body is center stage.
But you can’t see a thing.
And while you’re laying there, terrified. . .
They’ll talk about their days.
They’ll play their own music.
As if you’re not even there.
This is just another day.
Another surgery quickly added on a schedule somewhere.
And while you lay there, with your arms stretched out beside you, they’ll tell your spouse where they can sit and how far they’re allowed to move.
It’s a procedure now and the rules are much stricter in here.
The nurse anesthetist checked her own Facebook on her phone while simultaneously watching your vitals. . . . all the while, rubbing her own very pregnant belly.
Often, they’ll allow someone else to hold your baby before you do.
Another major difference.
A surgery means checked vitals, length, weight, the first swaddle, and a quick diaper before you’ll get him.
But then, finally . . .
The pass-off to you.
Though you can’t hold him, as your arms are secured.
It’s this wonderful, amazing, yet tragic moment . . . all at once.
It’s less about you and more about a process.
It’s less a birth and more a procedure.
And I hate that.
I really, really hate that, for those of us who’ve longed to birth babies since we were little kids.
And though I hated it when it happened to me 12 years ago . . . I hated that even more for her.
This isn’t to bash C-sections or hospitals or physicians or staff.
They can be life-saving procedures.
Life-changing people just doing their jobs.
And I get it.
C-sections are welcome medical advances to so many . . . for so many.
The advantages, “they” say, are outstanding.
Those are the moms, the medical professionals, who quiet us. . .
Who tell us we’re lucky.
And so are our babies.
To get over it.
That it doesn’t matter.
But this isn’t to those people.
This is to us.
Who instead feel so defeated in what should be a moment of triumph.
It’s all over her face.
A small loss, but a very personal one.
A war, to us, all its own.
You’re defeated by your own body.
By your doctor.
By the staff.
Everyone and everything.
You want a baby so badly.
That’s why you’re here, after all.
And they’ll get you one, they say.
But not without taking from you first, an experience.
The birthing experience.
And the only one that you’d ever had in mind.
You didn’t see it going this way.
And most don’t.
But you’re told in those last few minutes it’s the end of the road for what “you” can do here.
They know better than you do.
They’re well trained and they’ve all seen it all.
“Just be happy with a healthy baby.”
It feels as if they’re shouting in their quiet, yet over-assuring voices.
You don’t want to believe them.
But what can you do?!?!
And that is, without a doubt, the worst part of it all.
So you lay back as you hand all of that control over to everyone else.
And it’s hard.
It is so very hard.
And it takes a tough kind of momma to lay there and hand that kind of responsibility over.
But, as promised, once he’s here it’s less about the process.
The music choices.
And it’s back to how it should be.
How it should have been all along.
It’s all about the baby.
The story ends so much happier, thankfully.
But there is still a story, in the struggle.
And I won’t be silenced by those, who can’t understand it.
It’s OK if you don’t feel this way, but we are allowed to.
Every part of me wants to reach back into this photo . . . in that dark moment . . .
and wipe her eyes.
I’ve been there, I whisper to myself, hoping her heart hears it.
But as I watch the tears fall down her cheeks onto her soiled bed, where she’d labored the entire day through . . .
I know nothing in this world could change the way she’s feeling . . .
Though every part of me, deep down, knows that finally, thankfully, all really is OK.
It’s all going to be OK.
And now that he’s safely here, she knows that, too.
All C-section mommas do.
Cheers to those warriors, to those mommas who’ve done or will do the very same.
This photo, moments before she turned into a (first-time)
What a great one she will be.
So proud of you, baby sis.
This post originally appeared on Jordan Burch Photography