My Convertible Life

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Birth

The pictures in the International Association of Professional Birth Photographers Image of the Year Competition were disturbing, but not for the reason you might think.

Yes, you can see naked lady parts and babies covered in blood and goop -- but vaginas and body fluids are all part of childbirth, so that wasn't what bothered me. It was seeing all the mothers and fathers working as active partners in labor and delivery.

The couple kissing in the tub and cradling their fresh newborn. The sheer joy and relief and amazement in the mother's face as she holds her baby before anyone else does. The still messy baby burrowing into his mother's chest. The father looking on in awe at the power of the life arriving in front of his eyes.

I didn't get any of those moments.

I know I'm supposed to be grateful that my children were born healthy and beautiful, that we had great medical care, that everything turned out fine. But I'm still sad sometimes about having two c-sections.

And then I saw the photo that stopped me in my tracks. It was so unexpected that I had to turn to my husband. "I need to ask you a really strange question: is that a stomach? Because I don't think it could be a vagina."

It's photo #73. I'll give you a minute to go look, although my squeamish friends might want to glance quickly.

Turns out it's the view that I never saw when I was flat on the operating table -- the cesarean incision pushed apart as the doctor's hands pull and tug and wrestle a baby out into the world. My husband recognized it because (despite instructions to keep his seat next to my head) he had peeked over the screen when we were in the operating room.

Seeing that moment captured on my screen was mesmerizing. A little terrifying to look at, and yet incredible to see that my body could do that. Even when I was flat on my back, staring at the ceiling and numb from the ribs down, I wasn't passive. My body allowed a doctor to pull a baby -- my baby -- into the world to breathe. And then that same body somehow unbelievably healed itself over time (okay, a lot of time) to do it all over again.
I think I'll still get that twinge when I see a Hollywood birth moment that seems so magical and natural. But at least for now, I'm going to hold photo #73 in my head and remember how my husband and I worked together in the birth of our beauties.

18 comments:

  1. Feel the exact same way. Glad you posted this.
    xo

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  2. And, what is more personal for me, the baby in #73 appears to be breach (based on the positioning of drape, doctors and camera.), the reason for my first cesarean.

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    1. Wow. That's cool that you can figure that out.
      xo

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  3. I love love love you for sharing. I've struggled a lot with my two c-sections but this is AWESOME. And I think it's cool that there is a hospital somewhere that allowed this.

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    1. So true! I did wonder where they were and if it was a scheduled C.

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  4. My husband took a picture over the screen, not unlike that #73. It's unworldly looking...but I'm glad to have it.

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    1. Unworldly is exactly right. Wish I'd had the foresight to ask my husband to sneak a photo.

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  5. Somewhere I've got a video that Kyle took of the OB pulling Oliver from my incision; I'll have to look for it. He was not allowed to watch with Tacy (though he peeked), and with CJ he could watch but no video/photos.

    Birth is amazing no matter how it takes place.

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    1. Yes it is. What I love most about this is the realization that a mama's body is amazing and strong and wonderful in however way it carries and brings her baby into this world.

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    2. Can't imagine watching that video, but just glad to know one exists. Thanks to both of you for comments.

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  6. Thank you for this. I had two c/s as well and it tugs at my heartstrings every time I see those euphoric "hollywood" moments between mother and baby--moments I never nor will ever have. This photo was truly amazing and I'm glad to have seen it.

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    1. I'm so glad too. We're more powerful than we knew, right?

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  7. Oh, and if it makes you feel any better about the sweet water births with adoring husbands - just remember what Kevin was doing with that slotted spoon while I was having my water birth with Colin. Not exactly photographic bliss ;)

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  8. Thank you for sharing this. That photo gave me something I never thought I could have. I've never seen a photo of a cesarean and, like you, felt like I wasn't part of the process at that point. But I so was. All of me was. What an awesome sight.

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    1. We really were part of it all. Just have to keep reminding ourselves sometimes.

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  9. Some of those took my breath away, but wow, 144 almost made me pass right out. Amazing.

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