When I began posting our birth story, I only planned to share the four parts already shared. I received countless emails and messages asking for more, wondering what happened when I woke up.
Here is the next excerpt from my book. If you want to read more, know more, and travel the road of grief crashing into joy with me, you're just going to have to buy my book which comes out this fall. Sign up for my bi-monthly newsletter to know when preorders begin - upon doing so, you will download my two ebooks and many other goodies.
One more note: the heaviest group of mamas weighing on my heart this week is mamas who have been forced to grieve the loss of their birth experience and their babies. I remember after our miscarriage, a mama told me her birth trauma story and I wanted to punch her. I went to my cabin and sobbed. How could she complain and be sad about a birth of a living baby? I wondered, angrily. And here I am.
I reached out to a dear friend who lost her son at birth. I told her she had all the permission to be angry with me. She was gracious and said this birth story has given her "comfort in knowing I am not alone in grieving my own birth story. I hate that you have the trauma, but am so thankful for women like you who share their stories to let women like me know that 'hey, we are not alone after all.' I'm glad you've shared your story."
(June 2, 2016 9:00 pm)
Agony engulfs my entire existence.
Nothing matters. I’m sure I am in Hell. Hell on Earth, or just Hell.
Screaming at the top of my lungs, I don’t realize other people exist. It feels like I’m being slaughtered from my midsection, slowly but surely tortured.
The nurse tries to calm me as another presses my raw uterus, pushing leftover blood out of my body. My last blood thinning injection was over three days ago; pushing on my newly sewn body is the protocol to prevent clotting. Damn blotting disorder, I think through agony.
Dizziness makes everything blurry; all I feel is physical torture.
The pain. The torment. The misery. Every part of me wants to die. Eight layers of sliced-through body, eight layers of freshly sewn stitches, eight layers of wound, forcefully pressed to remove old blood.
My body metabolized the numbing medication earlier attempted - I never numbed during labor or for surgery; the memories begin flooding back.
The combination of a body metabolizing medication and having blood clotting disorders is not a combination I wish for any cesarean mama.
Every part of me feels stabbing, burning pain.
“Can you be done with that?” I yell through angry, sorrow-filled tears. I am so confused, hazy.
Her eyes are kind as she says, “No, honey. I have to do it every 15 minutes. We can't let your blood sit.”
“WHY? FOR HOW LONG?” I am sobbing, unsure I will make it through the next round of pushing on my raw mid-section.
Loren approaches, holding our newest little man, his eyes tender. He holds him out to me: “Here.”
“NO!” I wave him off, tears gushing, afraid to meet our son in this state. This is not how a mama meets her son: sobbing and wailing in pain, wishing she could die.
I don’t even have strength to hold him with this giant hole in my belly, this all-consuming agony. Most mamas find relief finally meeting the child they just birthed; I want to be put back to sleep.
Julia asks if she can help nurse him. He is hungry.
I lay there paralyzed, staring at the ceiling.
Tears seep out the corners of my eyes and into the hospital sheets. Julia attaches our miracle baby to my breast for his first feed.
Someone mentions how Ira needed resuscitated. Another person mentions they've never seen caput so intense. Another apologizes as she presses down on my raw midsection again.
I want to be put to sleep again. I don’t want this to be my reality. But the anguish keeps me awake.
Somehow my child nurses for the first time, my mere existence feels torturous.
How is this our birth story? I find myself telling him I am sorry, so sorry, as I drift in and out of consciousness.
I worked so hard to hold this birth experience in an open hand: I acknowledged we might transfer. Even as we faced the cesarean, the last thing I excitedly anticipated was the meeting moment: having my son placed on my chest, feeling relief, hearing his cry.
Instead it was stolen from me. I wasn’t present. Last I knew, his heart rate was dangerously high.
I missed both of my son’s births.
Pain consumes me. Every bump along the way to our new room feels like pulsing electricity. I wish for lightning to strike - maybe then I can be put out of my misery. I don't get a good look at him until we are in our new room, upstairs.
I lay in my hospital bed, holding our new son, missing our other son, unsure of how I will cope.
How am I going to care for two tiny infants with this much pain? Loren used all of his time off when Sage was born just four months ago. He took the upcoming weekend off, but then what?
We can’t afford more time off. We can’t afford to pay anyone to help me with our babies. All my family has jobs or children or school. Loren’s family lives out of state.
My mind is tired and broken, my body brutally hurting. I find myself again craving to escape my own skin.
I don’t want this to be my story.
I fear what people will say when they hear our birth story. I don’t want anyone to know, not yet. I want to be the one telling only a few select people.
I hate the stigmas surrounding cesareans; I don't want people to assume I'm sad because "I feel less a mom or woman." I was a mom before I had the chance to give birth. This has nothing to do with my sorrow or sense of loss.
No one can understand the depth. Never in my darkest dreams did I expect to feel such loss surrounding the birth of a living child.
We are smooshed into a tiny room.
The circular clock on the wall reads 2:30 am when I decide to look at my phone for the first time in days. A world of hurt awaits me in that tiny device: How do those little things hold so much power?
I sob reading texts between family members in group texts, about me, demanding I tell them what is happening. They’re telling each other I better be begging for a c-section. I feel manipulated and unloved when texts read, “She must not care about us because she’s not keeping us informed about her labor progress.” I read through texts, tears soaking my face and neck. I want to scream. But I hurt too much. I want to exile them out of my life: How can they make this event about them?
I type up a curt text with a picture of our little Ira. I explain how no one knew what was happening, we weren’t ignoring them or trying to keep them out of the loop. I tell them to not text me back. “My birth experience wasn’t for or about you, I am sorry you felt entitled to it. Goodnight."
I attempt to click my phone off, but my heart races. I hate disappointing people. Even my beating heart made my body ache.
My husband sleeps on the hard bench across the room. Our new baby lays in my arms. I wince at the pressure he puts on my freshly-sewn body.
I want to disappear. I want to hide. I want to protect my birth story from people who have no compassion, from people who don’t understand the depths of pain and loss, from people who diminish suffering. I want to never see or talk to anyone who is unsafe for my fragile heart. I want to disappear.
Rawer than the eight-layered wound cut into me, my heart is broken. My soul is broken into bits, and I resist the urge to pummel it further, knowing I am lucky to have a live baby to hold. Guilt and shame take hold, telling me I should be grateful for the two sons I have, telling me I am a horrible person for experiencing sorrow.
I close my eyes and attempt to rest.
Silently, the tears lead me to sleep.
Below are a few images that mean so much to me.
The first three are of when LB met Ira; I was still in surgery. He is clearly smitten. Do you see him showing Ira a picture of his older brother Sage? It's all too much.
The next few images are from Friday, June 3rd when Sage + Ira met flesh to flesh. The sweetest brothers, both immense gifts I can hardly handle.
And then just a few images I tried to capture with my camera when I was sore and depressed in the hospital. The nurse told me I needed to get out of bed, so I did and tried to take some pictures and document the sweet gift of our second born son.
I guess I also threw in an image of LB and Sage napping together, because in those moments I missed Sage so much and was so jealous of their nap. But I knew it was the sweetest kind of nap.