That Time I Was Cut Open

Ten years ago today, I found I was pregnant. It would be a few more weeks before finding out it was twins. My husband and I had similar reactions to the news: feeling both dismay and elation. We were beyond excited to be having our, not one, but two rainbow babies!

The pregnancy was touch and go for a lot of the time. We were managing a newly purchased comic book shop, finding out the depth my oldest son’s mental health issues, dealing with the lingering sadness of the loss of our previous baby, and now a high-risk pregnancy. It was a lot. Through all of this, I had a feeling about this birth. This one was going to be different. I planned a home birth with two local midwives but had a sense that wasn’t going to happen. I had a backup obstetrician. I went to the hospital and spoke with the anesthesiologist group there. I planned for what a gentle cesarean would look like for this pregnancy. The OB was taken aback by some of my requests, and a couple couldn’t be accommodated (since they didn’t have a clear drape, and couldn’t get the mirror into the OR), but when all was said and done, I had the gentle cesarean I’d felt I would, but hoped I wouldn’t need.

There was music playing, no lights on except over my belly, my arms weren’t tied down, I had my doula in the room, the room was warmed a touch, and they dropped the drape so I could see my babies emerge from my belly. Subsequent births in that facility have been accommodated with the clear drape, and a year later, when a nurse needed a cesarean, she was able to actually pull her own baby from her belly. It started with one person requesting some changes. Now the policies have changed. The hospital accommodates things it never did in the past. It’s not “all thanks to me,” or “thanks to an understanding OB,” but it was thanks to research. The birther did research on what options are available in other hospitals, in other countries, in other communities, and what the statistics were with these decisions. The obstetrician too did research on whether these were safe practices, and what things were available for the birth. When others asked for a birthing experience similar to this one, policies were changed to make room for OBs to offer these things.

This birth wasn’t ideal. It hurt my ego to not have been able to birth my babies the way I’d dreamed of doing. But I had a feeling, so I trusted my intuition and prepared myself for a cesarean birth. And because we had a team of people who trusted in one another and trusted in the birther, this birth was as beautiful as the circumstances allowed.

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