This is not about food.
This is about life and about luck.
I had a beautiful baby boy named James on May 4th. He is incredible. And strong. And lucky.
Weeks before his birth, I was busy reading up on labor. I had had two babies already and knew that my experience with them in the hospital was anything but ideal. Both times were fine. Uneventful. But I had heard other women describe their experience as beautiful. “Beautiful” was just never a word I would have used.
This time would be different. I had decided that, being that this was my last baby, I wanted a beautiful birth. A birth free of fear and unnecessary interventions, if possible.
I chose a group of midwives.
I dug up my old books, like Ina May’s Spiritual Midwifery and made sure to watch her new documentary when it came out the week before my son’s birth.
Then, on a Friday night, the contractions began.
We went to the hospital around 8 at night. I labored, what I would call “beautifully” all through the night. As things became more intense in the early hours of the morning, it was suggested I get into the birthing tub. And it was there where I spent the last ten minutes of my natural birthing experience.
My midwife checked the baby’s heart rate.
She couldn’t find it.
I had to get out of the birthing tub.
From that point forward things changed. My baby’s heart rate was down in the 50’s. More people entered the room. Suddenly a nurse was trying to locate a vein for an IV. Up until that point I had no epidural and no IV. They took several minutes to see if they could get his heart rate up, but nothing was working.
I had to go to the OR.
My baby needed to come out. He could not continue with his heart rate that low. And because I had no epidural and there was not enough time to give me one, I would have to go under general anesthesia. There was no time to call the OB who worked with the midwife group. There was not even time to get my husband into scrubs.
My husband wasn’t in the room. I wasn’t awake. My baby was born.
Afterward, I found out that I had had a placental abruption. I had never heard of this happening before. My placenta detached during labor and therefore, my baby was not getting what he needed. I understand now that time was of the essence. I understand that my midwife made the right choice at the right time. I understand why my husband could not be there to watch the birth of his new baby and that I could not be awake to see him when he was born.
I understand all that now.
If the right decisions were not made at the right time, James may not have made it. Because I had lost half of my blood in the process, if I had been birthing at home, there is a chance I would not have made it either.
I’m saying all this because I feel incredibly lucky. There is not a day that has gone by where I’m not thankful for James’ presence. That he is healthy. That despite a few days in the NICU, my little boy left the hospital with no concerns.
I know there are others who have not been as lucky.
I’m saying all of this because there was a time where I would watch home births and think how beautiful they must be. And part of me still feels that way. I still feel as though we have terrible c-section rates in this country. I still hate being in the hospital.
But everyday I’m thankful I was there. I was in a place where my baby could be saved in a time where every minute counted.
I don’t say all of this to scare you. Though, if you are pregnant, perhaps I have. I say all of this because I feel that I need to. I want people to think very long and hard about their decisions.
If I have learned anything from this experience, it is this:
Your birth experience lasts, at most, a couple of days. Your experience with your child last the rest of your lifetime.
When I weigh those two experiences, I know that the most important outcome is a healthy baby. People may feel upset or put off by what I have said, but I’m simply sharing my story of birth. I know that things like this don’t normally happen. But for some reason, for me this time around, they did. And I’m glad I made the right choice.
James will be three months next weekend and we will celebrate how far he has come. But everyday I celebrate his birthday when I look into his eyes and he smiles at me and I know how lucky we both are to have each other.
And I know that it is the most beautiful thing I could ask for.