I don’t have a beautiful birth story. I have three beautiful sons, but not once has the birth been what I hoped for. I’m okay with that. I’m okay with it most of the time.
My first son was born, quite dramatically, at 24 weeks gestation. I thought I had about 4 months left in the pregnancy, but (SURPRISE!) I delivered a 1 lb 5 oz baby. Isen was born by emergency c-section. I was put under general anesthesia to deliver him as quickly as possible. I awoke, confused and scared, in a recovery room with the question “Is the baby okay?” on my lips. When a baby is born at 24 weeks gestation, there is no simple answer for that question.
My second son, Bowen, was born about two years later via scheduled c-section. (My first son was delivered through a vertical uterine incision due to his size which meant that all future deliveries would need to be c-sections). Bowen was born on the early end of “term,” something for which I am forever grateful. However, Isen’s birth left me traumatized. We had spent almost 6 months “living” at this hospital while Isen fought for his life. When I walked in the door for my second c-section, my heart pounded and my chest tightened at the familiar smell of the hospital’s soap.
While prepping for my c-section, a well-meaning nurse overreacted to a dip in the baby’s heart rate. By the time the doctor sauntered in to tell me everything was okay, I was completely distraught. I’m so thankful for that routine c-section, but I was terrified during the whole procedure, fighting panic. Part of me didn’t believe that Bowen would make it here safely (but he did!).
My third son entered the world at 35 weeks gestation via another emergency c-section. The doctor suspected I was having a placental abruption. Corbin was in distress and needed to be delivered quickly. The spinal anesthesia wasn’t fully working, so I was put under general anesthesia. Once again, I awoke in a room without my baby. From the sleepy haze of anesthesia, I mustered all my energy to form the words, “How is the baby?” Corbin came home from the hospital, happy and healthy, after a short NICU stay. But his birth was, once again, not what I’d hoped for.
None of Their Births Were Beautiful
I have been conscious for only one of my three sons’ births. When I hear women tell their birth stories, or I see a picture of a tired, happy mom holding her newborn baby, I often feel a pang of sadness and jealousy. (For the record, I believe c-sections can be beautiful. I know many women who’ve had amazing, positive cesarean births). I’m sad that I didn’t get to hold two of my sons after they were born. I’m sad that all three births were marked more by fear and grief than by joy and awe.
I was under the impression that the births of my children were supposed to be joyful experiences and mine . . . just . . . weren’t.
And yet, I’ve felt more and more peace about the births of my sons over time. I’ve grieved the loss of the births I pictured, the way I wanted it to go. I’m okay with it, and here is why:
I Got What I Wanted
When I got pregnant, I wasn’t hoping for a great birth story, I was hoping for a child. Three times, I got just that. I got the perfect child for our family. The birth of a child is one short moment, one day, in a lifetime of memories together. While I might have preferred to deliver my sons naturally while a subtle (but ladylike) glow of sweat illuminated my face, I still got the exact outcome I wanted: my three precious sons. I got to bring them all home. For years to come, I get to bandage boo-boos and rock them to sleep. I get to kiss their sweet cheeks and pull their covers around their shoulders each night. I got what I wanted.
I’ve Got Perspective
After delivering our first son at 24 weeks, I desperately asked each doctor that walked into my hospital room, “What happened?” In those days of uncertainly, two pressing questions were screaming through my brain: “Will my son live?” and “Will I ever deliver a big, healthy baby into this world?” If you had told me then that Isen would live AND I would go on to deliver my future babies at 37 and 35 weeks, I would have collapsed to the ground and cried tears of relief and joy. I was given the gift of perspective.
I’ve Got Faith
I’ve had a lot of challenges in my pregnancies and in my sons’ births. Sometimes, it doesn’t feel fair. But deep down, I believe that this is the path God had for me. Life isn’t fair (#youhearditherefirst). I believe that we must seek to accept our stories, our trials, and allow God to make them beautiful. We can’t feel sorry for ourselves (at least not forever).
This story is the story of my family. It wasn’t written the way I would have written it. But that’s okay because it was written by God.