This is a first draft and I'm trying to polish it up, maybe lengthen it. I'd welcome any opinions, what do you think I need to change? How could I improve it? Do you like it the way it is?
by Kelly Gorski 8/05
Nestled in the burnt orange easy chair, I rock. Moving my body slightly forward, then back, enough to gently jostle the baby attached to my breast. He sleeps with his mouth slightly open, milk pooling in the corners. Content to remain joined with the chair, allowing my head to loll backwards in nursing mamas’ bliss. Mother and child settle into the background, like a forgotten painting.
When he rouses, we walk the floor. It’s amazing how heavy an eight pound infant feels when he never leaves your arms. Breathlessly, I reclaim my spot in the chair beside the table with a stack of books and empty teacups littering its surface.
Family has gathered around to look at the baby. I gladly hand him over, shaking out my tingling arms and stretching my back.
Making my way to the kitchen, having to walk slowly because of the incision, I apply warm compresses of Goldenseal to the wound.
Surgical births are so prevalent now that they are thought of in many circles as the norm, but I wonder; how would my mothering life have been different had I had a natural birth with my first baby?
The Rite of Passage refers to an ordeal endured in order to surface as something different; in this case from a woman to a mother, both mother and child giving a part of themselves.
Many babies come forth through the canal of birth, dancing in conjunction with mother and her body, riding the surges of energy to this side.
In natural birth, you are so completely in the moment, at one with your body as it rolls through each contraction. The body is allowed to flower on its own, organic processes are trusted. The Rite lies between the beginning of labor and the mystical moment when the baby latches onto the breast.
Surgical birth however, happens so quickly, the body is not given the chance to open on its own. Baby doesn’t have to work along with mother to see the glaring light of this world. Pain associated with this initiation, for me, happened after my baby was born.
Weylin was taken straight from my belly. They cut through many layers to reach him. He cried when they brought him out. It certainly wasn’t the warm, nurturing experience I wanted to give him, but “Hey, at least you have a healthy baby…that is all that matters”
I think surgical birth needs to be taken more seriously and realistically. While sometimes necessary, most often they are not. They rob not only the mother of a potent birth into motherhood, but also the baby of a fully realized mother, not to mention the physical contact the baby loses with the squeezing uterus and hugging birth canal. The process of descending transitions the baby from the floating Eden, just below the rapidly beating heart to the outer warmth of the mothers’ body.
Knowing that I missed something important, I softly cried while changing channels of the TV.
Thrust into this role, in the ten minutes it took them to take him from me, I gazed at his perfect face, my womb empty, yet still full.
Knowing that the cesarean birth was necessary didn’t change the reality that a part of me still wasn’t ready to emerge. As I brought Weylin to my breast for the first time, I felt an imposter in a world I knew nothing about. The process felt so incomplete, I didn’t earn my way into motherhood. My experience was surgical, not the planned homebirth we so longed for. The first view I had of Weylin was of his head, shown to me by a nurse with a plastic glove, over a surgical drape. His tiny face was scrunched up in a threatened cry. My arms deadened, fused to the bed, I was unable to reach for him. They took him from me, It didn’t matter anyway, they wheeled me in one direction, him another …I never saw his whole body until later.
When at last I lay propped up, Weylin in my arms, I nursed him, coached by my midwife, not my instinct.
Sobbing in the privacy of my own room, I finally released the birth cry, Weylin asleep by my side. Me, writhing in the pain of imagined failure. I began my process of initiation. It was just as painful as birth would be. Something in me fell into place. Feeling like a mother for the first time, I realized this would be a process. This journey will be my lifetime.
Whatever will be, already is...