Sunday, January 30, 2011

Baby Steps

 Sometimes when life doesn't go as planned, it is hard to know why.  During the past year, my life went in directions that I still don't entirely understand.  It's hard when things out of my control happen for no discernable reason.  I wonder why a lot.

 Yesterday I was at a birth.  The mama did amazingly well.  She was a super-star, naturally finding a rhythm and ritual for each contraction.  She had a great support team composed of a midwife, a doula(me), her best friend and her husband.  But labor didn't progress normally.  She laboured without drugs or augmentation for a very long.  We switched positions, kept her rested and hydrated, but still labour stalled out.  Even after augmentation, that baby wasn't coming down.  Finally, the OB made the call for a c-section.

 We cried, the best friend, husband and I.  Tears rolled down our faces as we tried to support this dear woman through her last couple of contractions.  It was such a huge disappointment for us all.  During those moments of grief, it was easy to start the blame game.  If we would have stayed at home, this wouldn't have happened.  She was labouring fine there.  This is the midwife's fault for making her stay on the monitor so much.  If we could have walked the halls, she would have been fine.  I'm sure we could have come up with many more blame statements if we tried. But to be honest, even in those intense moments of grief and disappointment, we knew they weren't true.  So we kept our mouths shut,  wiped away our tears and then came back in to meet this precious new little one.

 He was gorgeous!  All little, wrinkly and blue with an extremely conical head, we couldn't stop exclaiming over him.  His father was so proud of this little miracle, so crazily in love with him.  It was beautiful. In between oooing and awwwing over the baby, we asked the father if they knew why the labour hadn't been progressing.  He did.  The cord had been wrapped around the baby numerous times, not just around his neck, but also around his torso. There was absolutely no way he could have been born vaginally.

 With that news, our disappointment and grief disappeared.  What appeared as a failure wasn't.  Instead it was now a miracle.  Although it will take some processing, we all feel much more positive about the c-section.  The midwives, nurses, anesthesiologist, and obstetricians were amazing in their gentle support and helpful decision making.  As I talked to the mother today, she expressed her pleasure with all those involved and her joy in her newborn son.

 Now as I ponder over the events of yesterday, I wonder how many of the changes I have experienced were necessary.  Like the c-section, they have rendered me disappointed and grieving.  But perhaps, just maybe, without those interventions, I might have ended up in a much worse place.  Unfortunately, it will take much longer than half an hour for the why to be revealed.  For now I will have to wait and trust, as hard as that is for me.  But maybe I'm starting to learn, one baby step at a time.


  1. Wow. Powerful -- that last paragraph especially. I am in this learning process. Thank you for sharing not just this experience but your reflections on it as well.

  2. thanks for sharing... it reminded me of a birth story i read the other day and a particular passage i found to be very wise and true (i had to go searching)


    I want you to know that by hook or by crook, however your child comes in to this world is the way they needed to be born. You may have a water birth, an induction, a caesarean, an orgasmic birth, an assisted delivery, an active birth, a vaginal birth, an episiotomy, an epidural, an ecstatic birth. And they are all equal dearest, because they are all still the act of birth. Your babe’s birth will be an initiation, and you will emerge the warrior mama goddess they need. You will find strength, courage, grace and faith deep inside you, hidden in mountains and trees. You can do it, my dearest daughter. I believe in you, and know you are supported and surrounded by thousands of angels.