Caesarean births are often criticized as births of convenience. There is a subtext in our culture that underscores c-sections as the weak woman’s birth. In 2001, I went into labor with our first child. Let me just tell you, a woman who braves abdominal surgery is anything but weak. My pregnancy was completely amazing, healthy, and beautiful. I gained a whopping ninety pounds and rollie pollied my way around, happy as a clam. Our son was going to be big, no doubt. The day before I went into labor, my doctor said, “Yes, I think he is going to be about ten pounds.” I said nothing. I thought nothing. I was too excited. I was in my sweet little bubble.
I went into labor at 11 p.m. one night, and labored for about twenty-four hours. The first eight were just fine. I sat in a tub of warm water and felt him creeping down my body with every contraction. I listened to Tori Amos’s cover of Led Zeppelin’s Thank You. I spoke to him with my mind, telling him to come on, it’s ok, I love you. I know he heard me.
Then they broke my water. The ache and contractions got much worse. Then came the pitocin. My contractions then became totally irregular, some peaking for twelve and thirteen minutes at a time. It was excruciating. I had an epidural. That did not hurt one bit. I pushed for two hours but he would not come down any more. My husband could see his hair, but he was just not coming through. I was pumped so full of pitocin I could feel horrendous pain right through the epidural. I became exhausted to the point of passing out. The doctor said it was c-section time. I was relieved and scared.
After quickly prepping me, the nurses rolled me into the surgery room. My husband was with me. The pain was so intense I began to panic. I tried to sit up, anything to get away from the stabbing pain and ache in my back. They informed me that I could not sit up, that was not a good idea given that cesareans are usually given with the patient lying down! I could feel the incision and quickly protested, alas I was knocked out. When I woke, I was shaking all over, my teeth chattering. I was in the elevator, blinded by the fluorescent lights. We were going to my room. The nurse said everything went great and not to worry, that the shakes were from the anesthesia and epidurals.
We arrived to my room, and I was yearning to hold my baby. He was rolled in seconds after I was. I can still see his little body coming my way as I euphorically looked for him. He was crying and I began saying, “Oh my God, oh my God, give him to me …” My voice was shaky and strangely lush. He was handed to me and immediately, I stopped shaking, completely, and he stopped crying, completely. His eyes met me—he SAW me, he knew me, into me, around me, and he was home. He stared at me intensely and curiously, his blue eyes beaming right into mine. We knew each other. I recognized him, he was so familiar and yet so new. He was beautiful, breathtaking. I cried and felt this buzzing in my chest, heart, and tummy. I felt a vibration. Then a release, like a waterfall inside of me, washing through my whole body from my head to my toes.
Holding him, I was sobbing with joy and awe. He was so pink and soft. I held him all night, he never went to the nursery. I refused to put him down, even in the crib. I held him in the crook of my arm at night. I awoke that first night and looked down, this glowing golden light was all around him. He was sleeping deeply, making sweet noises. It was magical. That magic has never left me, I don’t think it ever will. Does it matter that he traveled through my belly to get to me? Not at all if we are measuring my primal love for him, yes indeed if we are thanking the heavens for modern medicine. I am grateful for both, but more than anything, for the fact that he exists in my life.