Monday, June 10, 2013
Letter to a Baby Not Yet Conceived - Anonymous Post
The following piece was submitted anonymously as my family and friends do not know that my husband and I would like to try for another child. More controversially, they do not know that we intend to deliver said baby in our home with a midwife. I’m not sure how this will go over with my family and do not want to find out just yet.
Dear Baby #4:
Last night, Daddy and I watched “The Business of Being Born” and our minds were blown away. We had heard of people having homebirths or water births or using midwives instead of OBs but honestly, it all seemed like hippy stuff to us.
I’m almost ashamed to admit it but I often looked at women who did these things as crazy for risking their baby’s life. For all I could tell it was just for a power trip. But last night it clicked. The realization of just how broken our maternity system is was shocking to me. I sat nearly in tears as I thought over my births in a new light. Our experiences would have been exponentially different if we would have been one of these freaks.
#4, I never thought we’d have you. With three big sisters, (and really only planning on two of them) you’d think we were done. And we thought we were. We really did. But you are in our hearts so deeply right now, no matter how crazy it would be. You are the hope we still hang on to. We have to make sure life works out to fit you into it. Finances and space are two big factors. Your sisters are still too young for us to even think of expanding yet. But this gives us time; important time to research everything we want for you.
I’m sorry I didn’t know more when I was pregnant with #1. I took a few basic classes. I wanted to try delivering naturally but it wasn't an overwhelming passion. I had no idea what the body was capable of and I didn't give mine a chance. I made it to 7 cm (which was further than I really thought I’d make on my own but I progressed quickly and reached this point after only a couple hours of labor.) For whatever reason, I gave up; thinking I still had hours to go. The epidural was placed but within minutes your sister was ready to come out. The nurse insisted I hold her in as the doctor wasn’t near. I hadn’t even seen a doctor yet. Heck, I was just getting settled. A few minutes later, an on-call doctor rushed into the room and out came your sister. She was delivered by the hands of a stranger. I tore even though there was no real reason for it. Looking back, I see it was resisting pushing that caused the extra strain.
I had an epiphany this morning as I dreamed of you becoming a real part of our lives. The doctors treated #1 as preterm. I had an early ultrasound with your sister that dated her as being younger than we thought. I had regular cycles and knew when the exact date of conception. The due date shouldn’t have really been negotiable by that much. But for whatever reason, the ultrasound tech moved the due date back by five days. It was no surprise that I measured ahead the entire pregnancy. And when your sister arrived late in the 36th week, she was treated as a preemie even though she very much came on her own time.
She was healthy but the doctors were scared. I should have stuck up for her but I didn't know I could. I didn't know that as a mom, her rights were up to me before she was even born. I wasn't given the chance to nurse her right away nor do kangaroo care. Her apgars were in healthy range. She had good color though and was breathing just fine. But that’s not how they treated us. With no nourishment, they stripped her down and took her from me for several hours. It was no wonder that she then showed low glucose levels and colder than average temps. Without even giving me a chance to help her, she was whisked away to the NICU.
The experience wasn't what we planned but we got home a few days later and settled into a very comfortable routine. I was lucky that after the separation, she still learned to nurse like a champ. I wore her often. The natural side of me came through and I soon forgot about the emotional pain and what if’s from her delivery. The time came a few years later that we decided to try again. The second time around, I knew I wanted things differently. I had it all planned out.
And then the egg split.
I know now that this shouldn't have ruined my plans. I had more options but I didn't take them. I didn't know then that I even could take them. Instead I laid in a hospital bed for months on bedrest, was cut open without so much as a try for a vaginal birth. I was ripped away from my family and faced with a threat of endangering my babies at my weakest moment. I was limited in my interactions with my tiny newborns born too early.
In those moments I failed your sisters. Yes, they were born early and I am grateful to the NICU for giving them the extra assistance they needed. Yes, I needed to be off my feet and resting to keep my uterus calm but the constant monitoring just lead to more scares, more internal checks, more irritability, more contractions; it was a vicious and stressful cycle. The c-section was possibly preventable. I know this now. Sister #2 was head down and ready to go. My body could have done it. My doctor didn't trust my body. Since Sister #3 was breech, there’s no way to know what would have happened. I’d like to think she would have happily changed positions and come out head first like nature intended but I know maybe that wouldn't have been the case.
I wish I would have thought ahead and consulted a doctor who was willing to do a breech extraction. Mine was not. I think I have a good doctor but she likes to play it safe. And while I always leaned towards safe equaling better now I realize there’s a wide variety of “safe.” I was afraid of the idea of having a split delivery with my twins but I never considered the emotional aspect of what would happen after the c-section and after not getting a chance to try.
So baby #4, if there is a you at all, I’m going to do it right this time. I want to know all my options and face all my fears. It won’t be easy. Daddy supports me as well as a wide community of online supporters but the ones closest to us don’t seem to understand. They see you as a risk they don’t think I should take. They think the things I want are kooky. I wish they could read my mind, feel my pain and my emotions, and understand the excitement that you bring to Daddy and I even as just a plan or a thought and not even as a conceived baby yet.
I often think of you as a rainbow baby. Rainbow babies are created after a loss and most often referred to as a baby after an infant is loss, a stillborn or a late miscarriage of a little one. I didn't lose your sisters. I don’t intend for my pain to take away from that type of pain because I do not know it but I lost part of me during their births, part of me that I’ll physically heal from but emotionally will always be with me. So even though we never thought of having another baby, you were put in our minds and hearts as our rainbow baby.
Midwives like to say that homebirths are 90% excitement and 10% fear. So this is me facing that 10%, going outside of the normal.
Mommy is an upper twenty something freelance writer and parenting blogger that stays home with her girls in their Midwest home. Her passions are breastfeeding, babywearing, cloth diapering and holistic medicine. She has three beautiful daughters age 4 years and 18 months x 2.