Sunday, May 12, 2002

Postpartum Postscript

I wrote that birth story soon after Ni's birth, and it is the one he will see while he is young, if he even asks about it.

The jarring discongruity of how smoothly this birth actually would have happened, with how much of an emergency the nurses treated it sent me into a sort of shock. I felt as if something had been forcibly stolen from me. Those 15 minutes were so traumatic that I allowed them to take N from me after just a few minutes, and I didn't ask for him again for two hours. Pushing as hard as I could, not to deliver my son but to get them OFF me, resulted in jagged tear down my episiotomy scar that took months to heal. They kept me pumped full of electrolytes I didn't need, and this resulted in an alarming swelling, clearly visible to anyone who knew me, but which did not seem to bother the nursing staff. My baby was also shocked, and craved only to be held by his mother. He didn't want to nurse, just to rest in the crook of my neck, and he would cry for me whenever they tried to take him. Thankfully, my mother bear kicked back in and I reclaimed full rights to my baby (No you may not take him, without asking, to the nursery because the pediatrician might get here within the hour) within 24 hours.

I went into a seven-month, undiagnosed postpartum depression that impacted our entire family, and I swore never to return to the hospital setting for a routine birth. The disconnect I felt from him would be defeated when I thought of him as a "poor baby who needs a mother." I didn't feel like I was his mother, but I knew he needed one and I would do. PPD is very strange.

Before delivering N, I had researched unassisted births as a matter of course. My obstetrician knew that this baby would be fast, and had advised me not to worry about it, just be ready in case I didn't make it to the hospital in time. N was very nearly a homebirth by choice, and our last minute decision to go to the hospital is one I regret to this day. When you know better, you do better; in this case I knew what they were doing to me was wrong, but they didn't stop when I said no.

Our lives would have been very different had we delivered that sweet baby in the safety and privacy of our home. I am happy with my bubbly, funny son. His sweet cherubic face with those bright blue eyes lights my life. I only wish his welcome had been the peaceful one he deserved.

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