I am having some troubles this week and I thought I might post here, if only to get this out of my head.
I interviewed a local doula for a podcast this last weekend. She was/is wonderful, has attended births for nearly 30 years and runs a charity organization that pairs volunteer doulas with low-income women and teen moms.
I told her that I'd had a planned homebirth end in a c. She nodded and said that had happened to her. Twice. It was nice to find someone who understood. We also watched a new film, called Doulas. It was 20 minutes and it talks about the role of doulas in birth. It was lovely and I appreciated that there was a c-section family who talked about processing that outcome when you expect something different.
But this film and this conversation keep sticking in my head. The doula I interviewed talked about a mom's wishes, and making sure that during the birth, mom can cut the cord if she wants, she gets the pictures she wants, etc. At the end of the film Doulas, there was a beautiful at home waterbirth set to soaring, gorgeous music. It just happened to be MY doula from my birth, bearing her own baby boy.
I keep thinking about these images and these conversations about what mama wants, her preferences for birth. Because I didn't plan on being in a hospital, I had no birth plan. I didn't even think about what I would want in a hospital setting. Because I thought if I thought too much about it, I might cause it to happen.
And now that I'm nearly a year from the experience, I am suddenly heartbroken, in the wake of seeing the beautiful birth I myself didn't get to have, with the little things I wanted badly and didn't get. Mostly because after laboring for nearly 3 days and being exhausted, frightened, and broken, I just couldn't speak up or think straight.
Here is what I am fixating on that I cannot let go of.
1. I wanted so badly to hold my baby to me right when he came out and to smell him. I wanted to smell what he smelled like with all the birth fluids on him. I had dreams about that smell. And I had nightmares, when pregnant, that I ended up in a hospital, and that the staff washed my baby. And then they led me to a nursery with hundreds of babies and said, "pick yours out. go get your baby." And I couldn't identify my child because I couldn't smell it, the smell was gone. And I kept saying "I can't smell him! I don't know!" And they just said, disgustedly, "You don't know your own baby?"
2. I wanted to see the vernix on my baby. I read something once. A baby girl described as "covered in vernix like a cupcake in icing." And I loved that image. I wanted to see my little baby as he had been in my womb. I wanted to see how much vernix was on him, where the biggest patches of it were, and all that kind of thing. I wanted to see the cord connected to him to know, really know, that yes, this was the creature I grew inside me. I did not get that. He was wiped up and in a blanket by the time I got to see him, and he didn't really seem like he had much relationship to the creature that kicked me for so many months.
3. I wanted my midwife's name to be on our birth certificate for our baby. Instead, there was this total a**hole's name on it. This terrible man who treated me and my family with borderline contempt during our birth, and who I never wanted to see again as long as I lived. I hate that his name was there as the delivery person. He did not know my family for nearly a year. He did not stay up all night with me for three days. My midwife did that. I wanted to take a black marker and blot his name out. I sobbed everytime I looked at it.
4. I wanted pictures. I had a camera at home all ready to go. But at the hospital, things just I don't know. Fell apart or something. One of our midwives thought fast enough to get some phone photos. They are better than nothing, but they aren't what I really wanted, and there is no photo of my baby and me during his first day.
But right now, the thing that's on a repeating loop in my head is the first look, the look of the baby covered in the birth fluid, with the cord. I felt so long after my birth like he wasn't mine. I think if at least one of my senses had gotten to take that in, I would've known it for sure. I feel like there is an empty hole, a blank space, where part of my experience in birthing him will never be recovered.