Tuesday, August 10, 2010


A conversation with a friend last night led me to consider my first minutes of motherhood: My son was born through an incision in my abdomen. I didn't hear any crying (there was meconium in his amni otic fluid, so he was immediately taken to the radiant warmer and the neonatologist intubated and suctioned his throat). Instead of crying, I heard gasps: "WOW, what a BIG baby!" "Sigrid- you birthed a toddler!" The room was bright and sterile. I felt like I couldn't breathe because the anesthesiologist was too busy playing on his iPhone to realize that the oxygen mask was clamped too tightly and pinched my nose shut. My arms were shaking violently and I was hyperventilating. I couldn't see a thing- the blue surgical curtain was blocking my view of my baby. I felt very distant and removed. Finally, after what seemed to be an eternity- I heard a loud lusty cry from my son. A nurse showed me a card with his footprint on it- the first visual proof of my baby. My husband asked if I wanted to see a picture of him on the camera. No. I was too broken in that moment- too upset. It was nearly two hours after his birth that I finally got to hold him. I was the 9th person to do so. I am quiet and subdued.

the first time I get to see Judah! on the OR table getting put back together.

In recovery... unable to move or feel my legs. Can't sit up... arms are still shaking and I am physically unable to hold my newborn son.

I'm a mess.

22 months later:
Lilee is born after a completely spontaneous and natural labor. The room is dim, quiet, and relaxing. My midwife catches her and immediately places her on my belly. The feel of her wet skin is something I will never forget. She is crying loudly and is soft and pink. I am overwhelmed with joy and start proclaiming my love for everyone in the room. My baby never leaves my arms. I just cradle and kiss her over and over as Daddy gets to cut the cord. I am the first person to hold her. I am so alive and in the moment, proud of our achievement. I start talking a mile a minute- I'm just so excited. Everything is right in the world and life is beautiful. I am amazed at the beauty of God's design.

seconds after birth!

Daddy cuts the cord as I hold my baby.

My awesome midwife. I feel great!

Someone once told me "it doesn't so much matter what kind of birth you have-- the babe's the thing!" And, yes, I totally agree with that last part. If I get too caught up in the birth story, I miss out on the point-- the Babe Is The Thing! However... the birth does matter. It matters a lot. For me, my cesarean led to months of physical and emotional pain. Feeling robbed and violated. My VBAC led to feeling reborn and victorious. I praise God for both experiences and know that both are integral parts to my story. I just get so angry, though, when the medical community forgets how much birth does matter to a woman and just pushes her through the system and she gets lost in the shuffle. I see it every day at work. It makes me so sad.

Birth trauma is a real thing and needs to be acknowledged. My dream is for surgical birth rates to plummet and for more and more women to come out feeling victorious and powerful. We are the crown of creation. We were designed to be strong and powerful. God's way is always best. My prayer is that the medical establishment can respect that and stop living in fear of law suits and start honoring women and their ability to birth. Until then... I will purpose to listen to my patients' stories, help shoulder their burdens, and share in their joy. I will encourage and lift up and offer hope. Birth is beautiful. And the babies we birth are beautiful. And it all matters.

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