Tuesday, December 2

and now I hold her

When the Wildflower was born, it was from a c-section that was scheduled two days earlier. She had dropped at 27 weeks and I had spent the rest of my pregnancy on bed-rest and taking medication to halt contractions. She was in a rush to be born but we were at risk of losing her. I had planned on a natural birth in the hospital. I fantasised about holding my new baby on my chest and greeting the life that I had known only within.

Domestic stresses had caused me cramps. Finally, my body was failing the task again. My pelvis was opening and my small-boned frame wasn't taking much more. I would have put up with the discomfort and occasional pain, but the doctor wasn't having any of it. So a c-section it was, as long as I witnessed her arrival and she was taken to daddy as soon as possible, then I would accept this.

Miscommunication (foreign language after all), mismanagement, or downright refusal to follow my wishes, ended up in me being completely put under. I missed it all. DIY Dad saw her from behind glass for only a few minutes and then he was ordered home.

Intense pain, hormonal havoc, a million tears, many unanswered enquiries to the nurses, the knowledge that I had almost died on the table due to a reaction to the anaesthetic, and SEVEN hours later, I finally saw my baby. When they wheeled her in, my first thought was, this could be anyone's baby. I had no connection to her.

I was devastated.

And yet, I soon discovered that I had intense feelings of protection towards her. Some primal instinct was awakened. The nurses were constantly taking her out of my room without explaining why. I appreciate they knew I didn't speak the language but it isn't difficult to mime, food, nappy change, and so on. I had my husband on the phone translating and trying to get him to understand he had to be assertive with them, to demand that they ask for my permission every single time they wanted her. And that NO, I did not want her sleeping away from me, no I would NOT rest better for it. It was so exhausting trying to deal with the upset as well as trying to sort it out.

And due to the surgery, I was trussed up with a heart monitor and a drip, and was barely able to move from the pain. She was placed on the opposite side to the machine so I was unable to properly reach into the glass bassinette to touch her. I risked injury finally to give her the barest stroke against her tiny feather-soft cheek. The tears flowed freely.

I had been refused holding her at birth, I had had to wait to see her, I had to wait to bond, I had to wait to properly touch her.

I couldn't hold my baby, and it was killing me.

Last night, when I was awake for the zillionth time with her and she was only comforted with holding, I recalled those memories, and I thought,

...perhaps this is my time, these moments in my arms are for every moment we lost those 5 days in the hospital...


And in this way, my perception of wakeful nights continues to take on a profound meaning in the larger web of life, and thereby changes.

I'm grateful for my lack of sleep, there is a gift within it.


  1. Mon, that must have been such a harrowing (and well, pretty nightmarish) beginning to your life with your beautiful Wildflower. I can only imagine how much more difficult your experience would have been with the language barrier involved.

    Although I didn't have a caesar, I had a tricky pregnancy and a highly interventionist birth, (with a very painful aftermath too) instead of the natural birth I had dreamed of having. I felt very disempowered. I think as a result of it all I had trouble letting my baby out of my sight at all for the first year of my life without going into a blind panic.

    You're so right about those middle of the night moments and thinking back to those early days and not being able to hold her and be near her. It certainly alters the perspective somewhat, and we draw them in closer in response.

  2. Your story is heart wrenching, how difficult this must have been for you. But what a silver lining ... when my second child was born I thought I was super mom and could do it all but honestly I just missed a lot - so I have long since gone back to the attitude that I hold my children's needs first and if that means lack of sleep, maybe not as a productive day or whatever -- so be it, they grow so fast I want to cherish every moment.

  3. Oh Doc, I can totally understand being 'over-protective' after that.
    I do have an intensely close bond with her, I just gotta make sure I don't smother with that lol.

    Amy, as a mother of 5-soon-to-6, I'll take your tips any day! :)
    But seriously, I'm totally anti-supermom too.

  4. Mon, how horrible that sounds. I'm sorry it went that way.

    My firstborn came into the world by c-section as well, after a very long labor and him "sunny side up". It was not how I planned it, but it was okay.

    The worst was when he was a day old and it was discovered he had a slight fever. Well, they take newborn fevers very seriously, which is great but it meant he had to be taken by ambulance to the nearest NICU, an hour away. I couldn't leave b/c I was still recovering from the surgery. It was miserable!

    I did recover enough in 24 hours to go, however, and meet my husband and baby at the other hospital. I'll never forget holding him in my arms the first time in the NICU, as soon as I got there. I vowed he would never be taken from me again and I'd always be there for him. And then that night, sleeping with him next to me is probably THE best memory of my life.

    It does make a mother appreciate the times together with her baby.

    I will admit to being a bit over-protective of this son, probably having a lot to do with that hospital experience. I work at getting over that all the time because I don't feel it helps to be over-protective. But it does take effort.

    With my daughter I had a VBAC and it worked out very well. She's a good strong girl!

  5. Lisa I can only imagne the heartache orhaving your son in a totally different place to you.

    Of course, what matters is the child's wellbeing, but that distance is just not something Nature accepts.

  6. Thank you for sharing this story. I also had a nightmare time in hospital following an emergency c-section and still feel sad when thinking about it and how it was the opposite of everything I'd planned. Because some evil hospital nurses tried deliberately to interfere with my bonding with my newborn, I've been an overly devoted mother ever since. If nothing else, it does make you grateful for and appreciating the beauty in every single moment spent with your child.

    Wildflower is so lovely.

  7. I had a similar experience--emergency c-section, had to stay in the hospital for three days' recovery while my son was in another hospital altogether struggling to live, didn't get to hold him (or even touch him much) for several weeks. I remember not feeling bonded at all, until one day -- and this was even before the worst of the worst -- he cracked open an eye there in the NICU. Somehow my heart opened right up and the love flowed in! One of my favorite pictures of us, though he's still covered in tubes and such, was of the first day I was allowed to hold him, after he was on the mend.

    Your thought about your time now with Wildflower was really beautiful. It's a good reminder of gratitude.

  8. Thank you everyone for sharing your touching stories. I think it important for mums-to-be to hear of terrible birth stories that have attached to them hope and love.

    That having the perfect homebirth with incense and music and the father catching the baby, isn't the only way to bond. The connection between mother and child is already there.

  9. I found this post really touching, speaking as one who has a crying baby who doesn't much fancy sleeping despite having woken up for most of last night (teeth? growth spurt? who knows!).

    I did have a natural birth, but it took place in hospital when we'd been within spitting distance, had we but known it, of the homebirth we really wanted - the midwives thought we had hours left to go, and then of course the witchling arrived forty minutes after we transferred to hospital.

    I'm learning to see the night wakings as just part of the process - every time I think about that first night, lying there with the witchling in a funny little glass-sided cot, I just want to scoop her up and never put her down.

  10. This brought tears to my eyes. I plan on publishing Michael's birth story on my blog soon. I can definitely relate to what you went through. Not a c-section, but he was taken away to the ICU.


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