Cesareans Are Abdominal Births
From conception, I called him my Moon Child. I wrote him poetry, played Coldplay for him. I sang to him daily. I dreamed of the sea constantly. And I ate. I ate a lot. It was glorious, as my first pregnancy had also been.
My second child was born in April of 2004. My first child was born via C-section after 24 hours of labor, and 2 hours of pushing. He was almost 10 pounds and I was fully dilated, we could even see some hair, but he was not coming out any further. I had a good experience having surgery, and woke up to the most gorgeous baby boy. I studied VBACS, and thought long and hard about how I felt in my gut. Yes, with cesareans, the recovery is different from a vaginal birth, and difficult at times. It is after all, major abdominal surgery.
My second time around, after much consideration, we decided to go for the elective cesarean, where I would receive a spinal block and stay awake. I was nervous, but I knew it was the right choice for my body, and for my mind and heart.
I did not sleep the night before, I took a warm bath and communed with my child in my womb. I was processing how I could be a good enough mom to two children. I was praying and hoping that The Great Spirit would infuse me with all I needed to be a profoundly nurturing mom to my new baby and my first born. My husband had no doubts. He is my barometer for everything. My rock, hell, my mountain!
We arrived early, bringing flowers for my doctor. Many needles and gadgets later, I was wheeled in to begin. I saw the table, I felt chilly and scared. My doctor came up and helped me onto the table. My fears waned, she was a comfort for me. Suddenly, I heard music, a familiar song was playing. Dido was crooning softly in the corner,” I can’t breathe, until you’re resting here with me …” I just closed my eyes and felt tears falling, those words were exactly how I felt about my baby. I wanted him so fiercely, so desperately, just as I had with my first child. Oh, to crave ferociously what one already has, what a beautiful blessing.
In those moments before his birth, my baby was the one in my womb and yet I felt completely encompassed by my love for him, as if the mother love we enveloping is both.
The yearning for those children has never left me. It never will. This is why motherhood, for me, is not just an identity, it is a verb, a way of existing that is eternal, unlike identities of the go that come to pass as perennial as flowers.
As the spinal block kicked in, I felt a bit of panic. My body from the neck down was going totally numb. That was normal. Yet, it did not feel normal, it felt freaky and I was not digging it. I felt like a floating head. The lilting voice of Dido caught my ear again and I melted into the experience, into the numbness, into the atmosphere of caring professionals. I was filled with the deep premonition of baby Dylan’s impending entrance. As a sexual abuse survivor, I was fearful I might truly panic, dissociate, or otherwise fall apart. I did not. I even laughed out loud at my NOT going insane on the table.
I just became one with what was happening. I remained in my body, even as my body was numb. I may not have been able to feel my body below my chest, but the spirit, the soul of things, that I could still feel. We are so much more than bodies. My husband held my gaze and I his. He kissed my forehead several times. It was strangely romantic.
The doctors began. They kindly narrated what was happening, and I could feel pressure, pulling, but not pain. Odd. Then, I felt a sudden rush, a whooshing sensation, a sensation of freedom. Freedom in my blood, that, upon empowering my innate intuition in making this choice, I had expanded my perception of my freedom in my own body. I did this, I decided for myself, I did not listen to people who felt negatively about c-sections, including my own mother. I was in charge of my body. I was, in essence, empowering myself in the present moment, and also as the child who was abused. I was giving that child her power back, the power to choose what happened to her body.
Dylan Joaquin was born at 8:54 a.m., he was almost 9 pounds. I had made the correct choice, as had I gone another week, he would have been as big as his brother and history may very well have repeated itself.
The doctor held him up and he let out his first cry. He was as pink as a rosebud. Perfect. His cry made my heart ache with wanting, wanting to hold him, to comfort him, to touch him. He was crying out for me! It was a victorious, almost ecstatic release of his little voice. It reverberated through my body, as an echo or a vibration. I burst into tears, my husband cried out,” He’s a poet!” Our little Dylan Joaquin was here. He was indeed named after poet Dylan Thomas, and Bob Dylan. Dylan also means “of the sea, born of the sea” in Welch.
I was sewn up and soon, Dylan was in my arms. I gazed, mesmerized, enraptured. Lovestruck. He gazed back so intently. His eyes were an indigo color I had never seen, and I could see my face reflected in them. I was shaking profusely from the anesthesia, but I held him steady to my breast. I draped his warm, new body upon mine and was so very sated. He smelled of jasmine and musk, like new garden earth.
As I lay in my room, my newborn baby boy lying on my chest in warm oblivion, Coldplay played,” We live in a beautiful world.” Tom Petty sang,” You belong among the wildflowers, you belong somewhere close to me, you deserve the deepest of cover, you belong somewhere you feel free.” Pink Floyd played softly,” There’s no sensation to compare with this, Suspended animation, a state of bliss, Can’t keep my eyes from the circling skies. “All of these songs formed a glimmering dewdrop in the enormous sea of love I felt for my child. We breathed in unison. He was a dream personified, laid on my chest. I was amazed at the compassion and grace with which the doctors and nurses delivered him. They, as is the procedure, pushed him down, literally pushing him and pulling him out of me. We all birthed him.
I thought to myself, “That was an Abdominal Birth.” I realized that a C-section is every bit as much a birth as a vaginal one, albeit the path of exit may be different. Cesareans are abdominal births, deserving of all of the respect and admiration a vaginal birth warrants. Women should be lauded for making empowered choices in how they give birth. Modern medicine has its place, and I am eternally grateful for the healing power of choosing an elective cesarean in my life.