366 days ago I spent the last night alone with my baby
A year ago today I was on the eve of my due date. My parents had flown in from overseas. My best mate was here, armed with the camera and snacks and lots of encouragement. And my husband and I were packed and ready to go.
It was a hot and humid day with sporadic rain showers. Emma and I swam and walked back and forth across the length of the near-by pool while my parents looked on from underneath the shelter and Ryan worked nervously at the office, waiting for a call at any time.
Baby was engaged.
Mama was feeling brave, excited, and at peace.
We were ready to go.
That night I went to bed with excitement, thinking (perhaps hoping) that I’d go into labor that night.
Then, around 2:00am–just hours after Levi’s official due date began–my waters broke and the contractions started hard and strong.
I was going to have a baby. My life was about to be turned upside-down.
It wasn’t until twelve hours later that I went to the birthing centre. By that time my contractions were consistently three minutes apart and we decided it was time to be in the care of our dear midwife.
Soon after arriving I had an internal examination (well, several of them actually), and then four or five different ultrasounds), only to find out that Levi was breech.
It was against hospital policy to birth breech babies in the birthing centre so I was transferred to the maternity ward and robed up for an unplanned c-section.
Although it wasn’t the natural water birth I had desired, I was glad that I was already in labor and things were progressing smoothly. Baby wasn’t in distress and neither was I. My body went into labor naturally, so I knew we were both ready. And my contractions were hard and strong and fast… but not so fast that they had to rush me through with urgency.
I can’t say that lying in an operating surgery and having someone cut you open to deliver your baby is ideal. I felt passive. I felt a little bit ripped off. I felt an element of sadness.
But mostly I felt relieved. And I felt glad.
I was so fortunate to have my child in a nation where the health care is amazing. Where doctors and nurses and my midwife took incredible care of me. The fact that my child was able to be delivered safely by cesarean was a great comfort, even despite the whirlwind of emotions.
I also felt excitement. I knew that in moments I would be meeting my beautiful boy for the first time.
If I could turn back the clock I would have requested a late term ultra-sound. I’ll never know if we would have been able to turn the baby if we’d caught it in time.
If I could turn back time to 5:46pm on Friday, January 26, 2010 I would have insisted that I got to hold Levi straight away while still on the operating table… rather than an hour and fifteen minutes later after they had sewn me up and done God-knows-what-else in the meantime.
But I can’t. And I’ve made peace with that.
Because when you are at peace, you are free to be grateful.
And grateful I am.
I refuse to let these things define the most life-changing moment of my existence. And I am grateful–beyond grateful–that I could even give birth at all.
I still cry when I hear stories of other mothers having their babies placed on their chest moments after that last push. I cry for what I wasn’t able to experience. I cry for my lost hour and fifteen minutes.
And yet my tears are small compared to the tears of so many mothers… and so many would-be, wanna-be mothers. So many mothers that didn’t even get an hour and fifteen minutes with their babies.
I was warned that a child’s first birthday is an emotional time for moms… And here I am, the day before Levi’s birthday and I’m an absolute hurricane of emotions. I believe it’s possible to be warned and caught off guard at the same time.
So what do I do? I finalize party plans. I wrap presents. I bake cupcakes. I imagine photos I want to capture on Levi’s big day. I think about how my husband and I want to celebrate our own milestone along with Levi’s. I pray. I give thanks. I write a lovesong for my boy. I look back through hundreds of photos and video clips and bawl my eyes out. Not because my baby is growing–I’m glad he’s growing and developing and progressing–but because life is short and I’m thinking I want to squeeze it a little bit more.
I’ve tried to relish, enjoy, savor, record, and live in the moment as much as I was able this last year. I wish I had done that more. There will always be more. But I also realize that I did my best. I gave it my all. I could not have done better.
In twenty-four hours time I will commemorate that moment… the moment I shared my first-born with the world:
5:46pm, Friday, January 29, 2010.
|just arrived at the birthing centre after 12 hours of labor at home…
receiving the news that levi is breech.
|this is me with my brave face while being prepared for the operating theatre.
although i was a little teary and disappointed, i was genuinely at peace… and very excited.
he was the most beautiful thing i had ever beheld.
my heart still aches a little looking at this photo.
if a hand could convey longing, love…
i’m grateful at least, that ryan got to hold him straight away.
at last he was mine. my heart exploded a thousand times as he nursed and nuzzled. it was magic.
beaming with pride and joy as i looked at my husband
and midwife with levi snuggled up to my chest.
|being wheeled into the maternity ward to introduce levi to my parents and emma.|
|emma, my mom, and my dad were all there from the beginning until the end….
they were so happy to welcome our miracle when we finally came out from surgery.
although plans changed, we couldn’t have shared this time with anyone more special.
|my precious angel just hours old. the most beautiful and perfect newborn i’ve ever seen.|
|although i was dog tired, i didn’t want to go to bed that night. i didn’t want it to end.|
|our extremely happy family – healthy and head-over-heels in love.|
|room 50. our room 50. i’m so glad for this place.|
Dear friends, I didn’t really mean for this to turn into a birth story, but I suppose in a sense it’s turned into a version of one… minus the detail. Writing about it again now, a year later, is comforting… almost therapeutic. I have so much to remember, so much to celebrate. I knew I’d be a mushy mess this week, but I’m surprised at how I’m enjoying the mush. It’s all part of the process, isn’t it? It’s all part of the process of growing, moving on, moving forward…
P.S. Thank you if you read my post yesterday and prayed for Levi to get well. He’s doing sooo much better today and we should be in the clear for his party tomorrow!! *bigsighofrelief*