Today I did something I haven't been able to bring myself to do for months. I opened the book of notes from Ruby’s birth & the days after. It was one of the most confronting things I’ve ever read, working through medical jargon to understand the enormity of what happened that day.
We came very close to not having Ruby be with us and as strange as it sounds for me this is the easiest part of the whole thing to accept. The way I’ve come to terms with it in my head is that someone or something out there knew just how much this little girl needed to stay with us. A series of amazing coincidences and right choices lead to her safely arriving.
The fact our midwife Michele broke protocol and let us labor in hospital earlier than was usually allowed because she just felt it was “right”. The need to attach a monitor internally to her head which made the medical staff examine me at the right moment to discover the cord prolapsing before it cut of her oxygen supply completely. The surgeons who knew we only had mere minutes to get Ruby out alive. A series of very fortunate events.
The hardest part for me to understand is the loss of control. I have felt like my body has failed me and my daughter. I felt like I had been robbed of the loving peaceful birth experience I had been longing for. I felt like although I made the right & only choices to save Ruby that they weren't mine. They were given to me by fate and for a while that made me really angry.
I read my old birth plan I had so nicely typed up and given a copy to my midwife and everyone involved. It covered everything, I was surprised by how thorough I was. I wanted to have the room dimly lit, move around as much as I could, touch Rubys head as I birthed it, for Arie to cut the umbilical cord after it had stopped pulsing and to delay monitoring and checks on her for as long as possible so that we could soak each other in. Sounds beautiful doesn't it? The only thing I was missing from this spa like experience was the whale music in the background and candles all around the room.
None of this happened. Which is not uncommon. A lot of mothers have their births go differently to what they expected but on the most part the major details stay the same. For us it was all different. The operating room was bright and cold, I lay on the table in a crucifix position shaking uncontrollably as they furiously worked to get Ruby out, I didn’t get to touch or even look properly at her for the first 10 minutes of her life. I touched her head with my index finger and managed a kiss on her forehead when Arie brought her close. I couldn't see what she looked like properly as I was lying down and a little in and out of consciousness. Close to an hour after I was wheeled into theatre (once they had stopped my bleeding due to the rip in my uterus) I was taken to recovery. An hour after she was born I was finally well and able enough to hold my baby. Still not properly as she was tucked under my arm, I had lost lots of blood and was very doped up on medication so didn't have much strength. The pictures of me at this time show me looking pale and sad, trying to turn and maneuver myself to look at her as much as I could. Ruby on the other hand looks calm, at peace and not at all like she had been so close to dying.
So how does all of this fit in to our pregnancy with George?
We have been talking about how we want this birth to go differently. I’ve made the choice to have an elective c-section. It was my choice, fate didn't push it on me, neither did my body as I’ve been told I could have a successful vaginal birth this time around. I want it to go my way this time, I want to feel prepared and in control. This is our safest option to getting him here.
Arie and I have spent nights crying, talking, looking through pictures, learning new ways to cope with what we experienced. It wasn't just me who had to go through it, we all did. That means finding peace with the situation needs to be something we all find. And we have.
I’ll most likely have a snazzy new scar (hopefully a little straighter than the crooked one I have now), elective c-sections are done in the general surgery theatres of our local hospital so it won't be the same room, I’ll have a different kind of epidural for the procedure & I’ve heard if you get a good surgeon they’ll let you play some music while the whole thing is happening. I’ll know to expect the bright lights, the cold, the shakes, the suction noises and medical talk. I’m hoping to have the screens lowered as they pull him out so I can see him being born. Both Arie and my midwife will have a camera and will capture as much as they can.
So lets hope this time around is a little different, for all the right reasons.