I planned for a homebirth. I got a cesarean. Life gives you the experiences you need, in order to grow – not the experiences you ‘want’, right? What often comes to mind, actually, is that if I had had the natural, water birth I had planned… I might now be the unbearable hippy from hell. I have a propensity toward advice-giving. I try to perform some alchemy on it and channel it into blogging nowadays, ‘cos I think it is a nasty habit… but, oh my, my tongue would be bitten raw had I had that perfect Ina-May-esk, enlightening birthing experience.
As it is, what this whole experience of the unexpected brought me was a lot of humility and a lot of perspective. If I had beautifully breathed out a baby while meditating and listening to whale song, what are the chances that I would have come out of this thinking ‘if I did it anybody can do it, if they put their mind to it’ (with hidden corollaries like ‘they didn’t really want it’ or ‘they chickened out’ or ‘they don’t understand how important this is for the health of their kids’ – cripes!). Well, maybe motherhood would have taught me humility in many other ways. Usually my friends and the myriad of experiences they each go through and share with me, (eventually) teach me to see the ‘other’ point of view. This time, though, I don’t need to try and put myself in anybody’s shoes. The life learning was served up fresh, just for me.
And it worked, as I mentioned before, I think this journey from planned homebirth to OR helped me open my heart to mainstream medicine a little more. I really did delight in the miracle of the triumphant arrival of my gorgeous daughter and all else paled into the background. Whoever helped was, in my eyes, an Earth-angel. You see, I am a natural health fan, all the way, this was my first exception, really, apart from dentistry but I found my peace with it, remarkably quickly, considering. Even my parents were surprised. I mean, really, only herbs and food as medicine for me – ever. You have to be or know a hard-core crunchy to really grasp what a big shift this was for me. I had, for example, never taken antibiotics before the cesarean or pain-killers for that matter. And, yet, when the time came, I did what I needed to do to safely bring my child into the world, given the human constraints I was moving within. And it felt divinely ordained that it should be this way, for her, for me.
Obviously I am still processing this on some level, as it is over two years, now, since Nica’s birth and here I am writing about it, again. It came up when we were swapping birth stories among some mama-friends, the other day, and it got me to thinking about how rare and lucky it is to say that I didn’t get the birth I planned, at all, and I am fine with that, even knowing that had it not been New Year’s eve and the fact that the specialists I needed were at NY parties, I most likely would have had that vaginal breech delivery I worked so hard to secure a shot at. I hear all the time how not having the birth you want and in particular not finding acceptance of the birth you did have is strongly correlated with post-partum depression. How lucky am I to have been blessed, early on, with a different outlook on this situation? And how lucky are all my friends that life found a way to make sure I was not too up my own arse over the whole ‘natural birth’ thing to really listen to what is true for them, what they went through, what they were able to accomplish given the circumstances or what they wish could have been… I am lucky and blessed and truly believe we had the perfect birthing experience for us, mother and daughter – if not in the physical sense, at least in the spiritual/life-learning sense. Thank you, Universe.