Accepting what can’t be changed

Everything about my pregnancy, labor, and the birth of my daughter went exactly as it needed to. Had she not been right side, it’s likely she would have delivered early (possibly significantly early). Had I not labored at home for 18 hours and made it to 7 cm before transferring to the hospital, it’s likely the hospital staff would have said “you’re not progressing and you’re exhausted, we should do ac-section”. As it was, showing up at 8 cm (I dilated another centimeter on the car ride), the assumption was that I would deliver vaginally. That very painful, exhausting 18 hours was worth it to me. Had I chosen not to transfer when I did, is very likely I would have ended up with an emergency transfer, either as a result of dehydration or when Darwin started throwing late decels when I was pushing. Such a transfer would have been traumatic for me. She was placed in my chest immediately. MamaLee got to catch her. She was nursing in minutes. All in all, I feel incredibly lucky that things progressed the way they did, on all counts. I have a happy (as in, I didn’t know babies came this happy), healthy baby, born vaginally. All listed on my ‘most important’ list for my birth plan.

There’s always a ‘but’ after a list like that though. My ‘but’ comes from all the tears that have welled up when I have found things the midwives placed in preparation for the baby being born in our home. A measuring tape by my bed. Towels. A cookie sheet. Snacks that we had bought for my labor (hello vomiting). I’ve come to realize I am sad about and need to mourn the things I gave up by not being at home. Some things were inevitable, some were the result of the stupid way things are done in the hospital. I’m going to go through these things because I think for every birth that doesn’t go as planned, women need to be allowed to mourn without being told ‘at least you have a healthy baby!’

I was not able to snuggle into bed with my wife and new baby, something I greatly looked forward to, especially during my labor.

I was not there when she was weighed and measured. To be fair, I didn’t know I wanted to be, or that it was something I would be sad to miss later. If I had known I would have insisted on waiting to go to the bathroom. It is also possible I was in the room and missed it. I was pretty fuzzy.

Having a meal with my birth team after we settled in together. Food releases oxytocin – a hormone that helps build bonds. My birth team was stellar. I wanted to be able to share that with them.

Not being on my back while I pushed. This couldn’t be helped, as I’d had an epidural. The epidural was worth it. I’m just sad that I had to be in the worst position possible.

Sitting in the hospital for 30 hours waiting to be allowed to go home. I appreciated to ice packs that were available at the push of a button. I also appreciated the morning and evening light that provided some great first pictures of our little Bug. But it was still a hospital and I didn’t want to be there.

Having to state that I wanted to nurse Darwin while the nurse pricked her heal for the metabolic screen. The nurse was ready to whisk my baby away and stick a needle in her foot! It should be suggested that mamas at the very least be there with their newborns.

I’m sure I’ll write more about this as things come to mind. I encourage others who feel the need to debrief after birth to do so, especially if things didn’t go according to plan. But even if they did, I suspect it would be helpful for many new mom’s to talk about what was hard for them.

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3 thoughts on “Accepting what can’t be changed

  1. Jan Wetherell says:

    Honor every bit of what happened – the joys and the sorrows. It’s all part of the birth of Darwin and the becoming a mama, all worthy of attention. Bring it all forward, sew it all together, cherish it all. Some day Dar will want to hear the story of her birth. Actually, she’ll grow into more and more layers of the story as she matures. Hold it in your memory to share with her bit by bit. Bless you, Rachel.

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  2. I love this. Such a lovely way to commemorate the whole of the story. We learned a few things with each birth that we take with us to the next birth to keep creating a more complete birthing experience: when to be more demanding, when to back off, when to call for help, when to do it ourselves, when to push a little harder, when to give in and let it go. It’s always different and we always learn something new. Thank you for sharing your stories and encouraging others to do the same.

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  3. I too was hoping for a home birth, and that didn’t happen…not even close. I knew for long time that I likely wouldn’t get the birth I had envisioned, but it was still hard and I’m still mourning it. Instead, I had a pretty traumatic bed rest and c-section birth followed by a 4 day hospital stay. I cried every day for a few weeks after our son was born (mostly because of those crazy hormones). When I was upset about it everyone just said “At least he’s healthy” which doesn’t help at all. Of course I’m glad modern medicine is around and that we both didn’t die like we probably would have even just 30 years ago, it doesn’t make it any easier to let go of that ideal birth. Sometimes I think I want another so that I can experience labor and birth and a low risk pregnancy, but then I think that’s silly and a big risk to take. I’m sorry that you have to mourn what you lost as well.

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