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Friday, October 05, 2007

Aliza's birth story

Okay, okay. I promise someday I will write about something else. For now, I can't help myself! New love.

There is a very large internet community made up mostly of mamas who are way crunchier than I am. I am a somewhat active member of this community and have learned many valuable mothering tips and tricks and philosophies and practices in the nearly two years since I joined. Something unfortunate, however, I have learned there is to sorta keep my mouth closed about the way my daughters have come into the world. Both are Cesarean births . . . and in that particular community, that is The Birth We Do Not Speak Of.

Oh, I understand the stance they take. Their mission is to support and promote lifestyle choices and parenting practices that are natural. I understand that there is nothing natural about my daughters being delivered through a discreet, surgeon-made incision in my uterus. I also understand it is not in the best interests of this particular online community for me (or any of their members) to go around celebrating birth via Cesarean section. Celebrate a "successful" VBAC? Absolutely! You have redeemed yourself, mama! Celebrate a "failed" VBAC? Well, sure. At least you tried, mama. But there is a definite unspoken rule that if you don't even try for a natural birth . . . well, mama, why don't you just keep that to yourself . . .

I actually harbor no bitterness or hard feelings toward this community; on the contrary, it has spurned much growth for me as a woman and a mother. I have just come to the place in my life where I can say I will no longer apologize for my first failed attempt at a natural birth, nor will I apologize for my elective decision to schedule a second Cesarean birth. I'm really not interested in debating or advocating any aspect of the birth of my daughters. I just want to be able to celebrate like any other mama would want to celebrate the most miraculous moments in life.

(Ha! I bet when you read the title for this post you wouldn't have guessed you were pulling up a seat right in front of my soapbox! Enough with the baggage background, on with the story!)

On the morning of September 5th, I woke up with what I had feared would be the case. I was STARVING! And according to doctor's orders, I was to have had nothing to eat or drink after midnight. And we wouldn't get started with the delivery until 1:30. And I like to eat. A lot.

I managed to stave off the hunger by munching on some ice chips and somehow the rest of that morning is kind of blurry to me. I think I got online a bit, re-checked what I had packed in my bags, played with D, and before I knew it, The Coach and I were in the car on the way to meet Little Sister.

Ongoing name negotiations kept me preoccupied through the check-in and pre-op procedures. Hubby and I talked and laughed while we waited for the team to assemble. We had one particularly flaky nurse who provided lots of fodder for jokes which mostly managed to distract me from how impossibly hungry I was getting. I mean, the kind of hungry where your tummy starts to hurt and you feel woozy. Finally, my OB came in for last minute instructions and a pep talk and the time had finally arrived!

It wasn't until they were wheeling me through the halls to the OR that I started to feel scared. Actually, at that point, I began to really panic. In the days before, I had (stupidly) read an article about the number of women in the US who are dying after giving birth, and for some reason, I could not shake the thought of my sweet D never seeing Mommy again and I just kept thinking "I don't want to do this . . ." By the time they transferred me to the operating table, I could barely breathe. But by then it was time for the spinal to be administered and I had to get it together. The nurse who was assisting in the spinal administration was strong and kind and funny and told me to lean my head on his chest while they put the spinal in. He put his arms around me as the spinal went in and almost immediately I began to feel much more calm. I kind of think they gave me a little sedative along the way because a few minutes after the spinal was in, I was happy and excited and ready to meet my daughter!

The first part of a Cesarean birth is the easiest. The OR team was light-hearted and funny and we talked about life with toddlers in general, life with Dacey in specifics. Just a few minutes after we got started, Aliza Joy came screaming from my womb.

Those lusty newborn cries didn't last terribly long, and I was beginning to get a little concerned. Then hubby told me they had swaddled her up nice and tight and that she was laying there taking in this big, cold, bright world with eyes wide open. After a few minutes, they took her up to the nursery with Daddy right beside her, going over to himself my strict instructions:

"No pacifier! No bottle! And NO HEP B SHOT! And don't forget to take pictures, okay, love?"

And then the tedious part of a Cesarean birth - getting put back together. But the time went by quickly as we talked sports in general and college football in specific. The place where time dragged by the most slowly was in the recovery room. Unlike after D's birth, I was alert and awake and just wanted to get upstairs to meet my daughter!

Finally, eons later, I was taken up to my room and they brought Aliza in immediately. Daddy reported that the amount of finger-sucking going on indicated she was hungry and ready to meet Mommy, too. That girl latched on right away (almost as if she had been coached up on breastfeeding while in the womb) and as I gazed on her sweet, fair skin and startling bright eyes, I was just. so. smitten.

My hospital stay was wonderful and short and marked by friendly and helpful nurses, visits from friends and family, and just the right amount of alone time with AJ. Happy, happy days.

One month ago. Today. Thanks for letting me celebrate.