This is part four to a FIVE part series.
These four parts are [unedited] excerpts from my book being published this fall.
Our birth experience is one of my greatest losses and I am learning how to give it space in my life. It is sacred, it is vulnerable, it is hidden. I experience triggers and PTSD. It isn't fun, but I am not going to pretend it is something it isn't: I'm not going to pretend like I am okay with how our birth unfolded.
Until today, this story has been kept quiet and hidden; it's raw. It has been one year since the arrival of my secondborn son. My book is overflowing with vulnerable stories and raw emotion...so I figured sharing this raw story would continue to prepare me for the launch of my book.
I write + share to give myself a voice, but also to give others a voice. Loss has a way of making us lonely; I hope to create spaces for connection and community. You are not alone.
I lay on the operating table, cold and naked, stripped bare of not only clothes but confidence. Dignity.
It isn’t the first time I find myself in an operating room.
Bright lights blind me. My eyes squint to see Loren and Julia scrubbing down. They throw their robes, masks, and hair nets on.
Loren sits at my head, his hands on my shoulders. We stare into each other’s eyes.
I mostly come to peace in those quick fifteen minutes that this is our birth story.
The sacred moment of meeting is still going happen.
I will cherish the sweet moments to come, forever. I fought hard, for three days. It will still be victorious as they cut me open, remove my son, and place him on my chest.
Tears will still stream. There will still be a level of miraculous magic.
Unknown hands begin to push and prod at me without real permission or explanation. Hands on my belly, hands grabbing for more veins, hands in my vagina.
I’m anxious no one talks to me, scared they’ll cut me wide open before I’m fully numb.
I do not feel like a person, more just like a cavity to get a baby out of.
It's cold, everything feels violent, I try to keep the picture of meeting Ira in the forefront of my mind. It's this image that has brought me this far, three days of gruesome labor.
The anesthesiologist explains how the numbing medication works. They will distribute it through my epidural catheter. “If by some crazy reason, it doesn’t work, which I doubt, then we will do a spinal. Only 5% of cesareans need spinals, though.”
“What if the spinal doesn’t work?” I ask, wide eyed. I imagine feeling their incisions as they cut into me.
“I don’t foresee that happening, but then we would put you under completely. General anesthesia. Only like 1% of cesareans happen that way, though. You shouldn’t worry.” He pinches me, asking me if I feel it.
Worried, I look into his eyes. Why can I feel his pinch? After a few moments, he seems frustrated and decides to move on to the spinal. “This should work just fine.”
I am cold. There are so many people in the room I don’t know, people who are going to be present for the birth of my baby. I wonder if I can still call this a birth. If I can refer to this as “delivery.” It sure doesn’t feel like either. It feels like an extraction.
“Ow.” Startled, I look at him.
“You can feel that?” His tone annoyed, his eyes cold.
“Yes...can you give me more? Is this medicine getting to my son?”
“You don’t want to feel us cutting into you. You want this numbing medication to work. Can you feel this?” He pinches. The left half of my giant belly is numb. My right half refrains from submitting to the narcotic. “I’m sorry, but we have to put you under.”
I cannot process what he just said to me. I'm sure I'm having a nightmare. “Like...under completely? Like out of consciousness? Like I won't be awake?”
“Correct. Loren and Julia, you two cannot be present. Please wait down the hall.”
I watch panic rise in my husband’s wide eyes and feel it in mine. “What? This is my wife. I am not leaving.”
The anesthesiologist is not budging, “Yes, you are. You cannot be in here.”
“No, no I won’t.” His attempted firmness doesn’t matter. They move him towards the door.
I look around frantically, beginning to panic - they can not steal this moment from me and my husband. This is not the plan, this is not at all our dream, not even a slice of this is magical. None of it.
Tears stream down the sides of my temples and into the anesthesiologists lap.
The room fills with commotion, spinning round and round, I feel unsteady. I hear rustling of sheets, my hands are suddenly strapped to the bed, countless questions run through my mind.
There is no time to process what is unfolding when suddenly a quickened voice says, “His heartbeat is rapidly speeding up, put her under now.”
Tears sting my eyes when all goes black.
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I not ashamed of this scar or my surgery. Mainly, I'm incredibly sad.
Happy One Year Birthday, Ira. You are worth every trauma.
Top image: Ira was about 14 days old.
And no, I don't care that my body is here for the world. This isn't sexy, this is real life. This is beautiful in a painfilled way. Many women have these scars. I'm generally a conservative/modest dresser...but something about my scar demands to be seen without shame or stigma.
Bottom 3 images: June 1, 2017