The births of Kohl and Amelia were, simply put, different. We decided early on during my pregnancy to do a planned C-section with Amelia. It was physically possible do a vaginal birth after caesarian (VBAC), but emotionally it was a different story. Everyone felt that a planned section would be safer given the scenario with Kohl. Part of me felt that doing a VBAC would be symbolic of surviving and overcoming. My doctor supported me either way, but everyone was relieved when I went with the planned section. I know myself well enough to realize the level of anxiety that would be felt that day would be high regardless of the method, so I decided to go with the method where we would have the greatest control.
It was incredibly difficult, but we convinced our family to let us go to the hospital by ourselves and not to come until Amelia was born. We decided that it was important to have some private time to prepare, not freak out and to eventually celebrate. We rolled up to Labor and Delivery at 4:30 am looking like idiots trying to figure out where we were. There were unmarked doors and no attendant at the desk at that hour. I tried to blame our confusion on the remodeling job since Kohl’s birth. The truth is I wouldn’t have recognized it if it hadn’t been remodeled. The layout of the hospital wasn’t what stuck in my mind when “the shit hit the fan” as we say in reference to the night after Kohl was born.
Andy made his customarily cheesy – er – witty, jokes with the nurses. We followed directions and waited. Alas, it was game time. I was wheeled away from Andy who would be coming once I was set up. The anxiety came. The sterile nature of the operating room was terrifying. Deep breaths, deep breaths. I am sure I was as white as everything around me while the spinal block was administered. I kept reminding myself this time was different. We were good, and there would be no surprises. Deep breaths, deep breaths.
Andy was called in, and we began. I kept trying to get a good view of what was going on behind the blue sheet. The light above me had a thousand little reflective pieces that I swear were strategically placed so that I could see the doctors or myself – nothing else. Deep breaths, deep breaths.
This is where the anxiety mostly abates. There was talking. Real talking, not hushed whispers. Not silence thickened with fear. Rather than that palpable tension, there now were courtesy laughs and rolled eyes when Andy asked the doctors or nurses if he was supposed to be naked underneath the scrubs. Probably the best part (minus that whole meeting Amelia thing) was when one of the residents commented that I had beautiful insides in a non-creepy/serial killer way. We all laughed. Laughter. That was new this time around. Deep breaths, laugh, deep breaths.
And then there she was: Amelia Ann born at 7:10 a.m., 7lbs 10oz. She immediately cried. I heard her before I saw her. She was good. Everything was good. There wasn’t any fear. I asked about the APGAR scores, and they were excellent. I cried happy tears this time. Andy went with her to the well baby nursery while the doctors closed me up. Rather than feigning calmness at why our child was not responsive or making any noise, there was informal polling of nurses in the delivery room on whether she would be named Amelia or Harper.
The next couple of days were filled with family, friends, lots of nursing and diaper changes, and a little bit of sleep. There was peaceful sleep instead of a wake-up call in the middle of the night by a tear-filled resident informing us that our son was having apnic spells and seizures and needed to be transported to Children’s Hospital for an EEG and MRI. There was a professional photo session by the hospital photographer instead of a conference at a room of neonatologists and neurologists discussing the plan for care at the NICU and the elephant in the room screaming about whether withdrawing care was a viable option.
It wasn’t until I was discharged that I even began to reflect on the two births. It began to hit me being wheeled out of the hospital. One of the most painful memories I have of Kohl’s birth is leaving the hospital to go straight to Children’s to see my son. No one should ever feel the pain of leaving the hospital without their baby. I remember sobbing in the wheelchair feeling that everyone we passed was thinking “oh that’s the family…”. No one should look in the backseat and see an empty baby car seat. This time every person we passed smiled and congratulated us. This time we had our baby in the car seat going home with us.
I struggled with this because I never want Kohl to feel that we associate sadness or negativity with him or his birth. I never want him to feel as if we are disappointed or frustrated with him. I tried to hide it as I lost a few tears and just whispered something about it being so different this time around. Then I took a few deep breaths and pulled myself together.
However different the births of Kohl and Amelia are, there is no difference in our love for them. January 12th and August 19th will always be celebrated as our family and hearts grew on these days. In the end, this was a bit of a healing birth – full of hope and love. Plus I can remind Andy that I really am beautiful on the inside and out.
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