Thursday, March 26, 2009

Bittersweet Anniversary

Some may think it completely odd that I get emotional and sentimental over the anniversary of Noah's delivery, and my cesarean. And some years are more difficult than others, for whatever reason. My husband even will tell me to knock it off, because I admit that it's a self-led walk down memory lane, remembering this day each year.

Five years ago today, at this very moment, I was in the hospital for pre-op stuff. I had been told to come in by my new OB, to have another ultrasound done to check for Noah's maturity. Apparently they were looking for the "practice breathing", and for vernix floating in the water. Knowing what I know now, I look back at myself and fully realize how naive and gullible I was. In the time that I was there, I also had an NST. It was during the NST that my OB noticed regular contractions. He checked me, and found me to be a stretchy 4cm. He announced that apparently my son was not waiting for the scheduled cesarean tomorrow, and that I would undergo surgery as soon as everything was prepped. I was so nervous.

It was supposed to be totally uneventful. A simple procedure to deliver the son that was too big to be safely birthed by me. He was supposed to be big and healthy. After the doctor announced that Noah was out, I waited for the cries. And waited. My husband explained that they were working on him on the warming table. I heard some gurgles, and then finally those cries. But they were different than what I remember Kaitlyn's being. The hardest part was, I was struggling to stay awake. The anesthesiologist gave me something in my IV to help with anxiety. Apparently some women don't care about seeing the instruments that were to be used on their body, or cry when they sit on the OR table for the first time.

They announced that he needed a bit more help, held him to me for a quick few seconds to kiss ( I have a picture of this - he was quite gray )...and then took him out. I went in and out of sleep as the OB sutured and closed me. The only thing that I remember from recovery is something that has haunted me for five years. The neonatologist that was taking care of Noah that day, came in and explained to me that he had had two seizures after delivery. They didn't know why. He wanted me to sign a consent form for them to do a spinal tap on my newborn son.

But that's not what haunted me. As drugged up as I was, I vividly remember signing it, thinking that it was no big deal. Thinking that they would handle everything, and that I would see Noah soon. I was too drugged up to be worried about my son. Most people think that this is very silly. But, in reality, the favorite passtime of a mom is to worry about her children. It's our job in life. We're supposed to make sure that they're safe, and when they're not, be worrying and praying and waiting on bated breath to hear word. I wasn't. I was too drugged. My son was laying in the NICU, with strangers rushing around him, bright lights, beeping machines, gloved hands, and his body under assault...and I was falling asleep. This has been one of the more guilt-induced memories of my cesarean. I didn't know any better when it came down to choosing a totally unnecessary c-section. I didn't know that it was unnecessary. I thought that I was doing the best I could for him. But *every* mom worries about a sick child. And I couldn't even do that.

My Noah is now mostly healthy ( he's the first one to get sick, and it lasts the longest for him...I truly believe this is residual from his problems at delivery and the 9 day NICU stay ), kind, happy, humorous, outgoing, and adventurous. Many people have said "At least he's healthy now!". Yes, I agree. I'm grateful that he is healthy now, and didn't suffer any permanent damage from my stupid choice that day five years ago. But it doesn't change what happened, and it doesn't change my feelings about it.

The situation with my c-section, and Noah ending up in the NICU, was a catalyst in my life. It caused me to research like crazy in my next pregnancy. Ultimately, it is what led me to my own home birth, and then to my path as a Midwife. I know that without Noah ending up in the NICU, I would have happily signed up for a repeat cesarean for Megan. Had everything been fine, I would have thought nothing of it. My cesarean recovery was as uneventful as a surgical recovery can be. At the point when I got pregnant with Megan, my lasting problems hadn't been as severe as they are now ( PCOS, adhesions, etc ). So this is why I firmly believe that everything happens for a reason. However, sometimes it sucks to go through that life-changing events. Not all catalysts are exciting and happy.

Each time I hear of a story where a woman undergoes an unnecessary c-section, my heart aches. Because I know that unless something even slightly dramatic happens with her or baby, she's likely to choose a repeat cesarean the next time around, rather than research, learn to do things differently than the first time, and *give birth* the way her body was designed for...and give her next baby a healthier birth.

Happy Birthday Noah. While words will never be able to fully express my sorrow over my choices that led to you being so sick, I want to thank you for being my son. Thank you for the change that you have caused in my life, and in turn, being able to help other women give their babies a healthier start in life.

Love you buddy.


Sarah A.T.J. said...

I'm a new reader to your blog. Sorry to hear how Noah's birth was but just to make you feel something else good came out of it, you are helping people like me! We're planning on having kids soon and you (and others) have really helped me see: DUH, you don't have to buy in to what the doctors and the majority of women say! I never knew that before! I'm so glad I am learning this now, from women who are strong enough to share it with me. My thanks to you and Noah!! Happy birthday to him!!

Gombojav Tribe said...

Happy Birthday, Noah!

Emilie said...

I have a hard time with my c-section anniversary, too! Although I'm sad that you are sad, I'm also relieved to know that it's not just me.
Happy Birthday, Noah!

Kayce Pearson said...

If only you knew how true this post it..

My daughter was breech, and we did a version (that did not end well...) and I had to have a cesarean because they tore the placenta off.

Everyday I wish I had been smarter and knew what I know now. This one thing could ruin my body from getting pregnant again and also having the birth I want.

When I think that 1/3 of our country has this same thing, it makes me so sad. Unnecessary surgery is so completely stupid!!

Happy birthday to Noah and thank you for sharing!