January 7, 2014


I read an article on cesarean sections as I lay forever awake in the hospital - roused by endless beeping, wails from the nursery, checkers of my vital-signs, the whir of the IV pump, the tubes coming and going in and out of me. It stated that cesarean section mothers are less responsive to their newborns than mothers who give birth vaginally - because of the lack of oxytocin experienced in labor and delivery. I was fascinated - not offended. I remembered the rush of love that swamped me when Colette was born. I was literally overcome. I couldn't read news articles or talk to people for about three weeks without crying about it. So, here I was 24 hours after a cesarean wondering how this little Romy lady and I were going to fare without that oxytocin.

I had just been through a science fiction birth. I walked into a blinding room - metal and sharp edges and cold instruments and eyes peering out of blue bands (the only human part was Xavier's big brown eyes and eyelashes hovering over my head, every blink a salve for my increasing disquiet) - and 10 minutes later a baby was wailing like a tiger and my midsection was being pulled and rolled over by a bulldozer (without any pain) and suddenly a charming woman in glasses came over looking for a formal introduction (a pediatrician, I guess) and then Xavier was allowed to present small baby to me and I could gaze at her sideways while wanting to scream: "stop tugging!" Romy: I apologize, our initial introduction was not up to the occasion.

No, a cesarean is not something I will ever understand, having provided both passages out.

That time that I threw up violently at work about a month ago - that was when Romy flipped head up in my belly. Or so we think. Had we been more thorough in checking baby's position, we most certainly could have "turned" her at 36 weeks, but by 39 weeks, impossible. Perhaps I was leaking amniotic fluid - there was close to none left. No chance to turn her and no chance to get her out any other way than the sci fi version. Alas, I had wanted a simplified birth version to uproot the other one in my mind and body, but instead I got the non-birth, the tech version of the tale - leaving me feeling raw and resentful. At least it was a clean incision.

Back to Romy. When she drinks I can see dimples in her cheeks like her papa and her little furry head makes me think I am sleeping with a woodland creature on my chest - who whimpers and purrs and charms through her endless dream routine. She is divine. Now that we are about a week into the whole thing, I must disagree with the findings of that article. I am totally in love. I am only less responsive because it takes me so long to sit up or do anything really. Plenty of oxytocin running through these veins.

My mom has swooped in and has taken Colette in her arms to bestow all the "holdings", story-book readings, piggy back rides, baths and full on love I wanted to pour all over her while I was in the hospital and since I've been a bit bed focused at home. And with Marguerite, my mom has encircled her in every element of getting to know baby Romy and the games and fun she has with Colette. This is something she has always done for this little French girl. The care my mom gives is incredible because she considers what you need, not what she thinks you need and she fulfills it that way. And Stephen, my dream of a brother, is here almost every day bringing treats and Uncle John and endless rounds of hide and seek for the girls. I feel sorry for myself for a few minutes and then decide against it understanding that this is an ideal recovery situation.

Colette. When she walked into the hospital to visit and meet Romy for the first time I just sobbed. She had transformed into a toddler girl - there was no trace of baby left. I was bowled over and so sad that my baby Colette had disappeared and I hadn't properly said goodbye, thinking she would still be there on the other side. It was like the passing of a love affair - I had so forcefully loved that baby. The Colette who stood on that hospital bed, wholeheartedly ignoring baby Romy, was an independent girl. Independent girl + the entrance of baby + a debilitated mom = a thousand times more "no" (although she has been saying a very tight and firm, "no thanks" - a funny and amiable version) and much more generally unrecognizable other forms of bad behavior. This is not Colette. Or it is a very new, very oafish version of my little love. A transition was inevitable. Just tricker when you can't pick up the monster for a little "hold-you".


Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing this. You're absolutely right about the immediate change in how we see the first born. When my oldest arrived to check out his new brother (2 yrs apart), he was no longer my baby. He was HUGE. Big feet, big hands, a vocabulary - oh my!
Your Mom is a gem. Mine was too :)

D1Warbler said...

Collette -- to those of us who only see her in your photos, has been a toddler/little lady for quite a while; so it's not surprising that you discovered this after a rather traumatic separation.

I'm so glad your Mom is there to help and to cuddle. She has the best heart in the world -- as you know. It's so lovely that your three little girls, as well as Xavier, get to share it with you!

Jill said...

This was beautiful Emilie. Thanks for writing about it and sharing it. I'm sorry it wasn't how you wanted, but I had no doubt you would bond with your beautiful baby just as much as you did with Colette.

I had two horrible deliveries and with both births postpartum from hell, and I adore my three children more than words can express. Somehow that bonding happens through it all.

I'm so happy for you and your sweet family! Glad you're getting pampered and taken care of.

Marnie said...

I had caesarian deliveries against my hopes and efforts for natural births and people were strangely always willing to fill me in on such details regarding the 'back-foot' c-sections put babies and mothers on - as if I actually had some kind of choice to deliver another way. And for a long, long time, despite the overwhelming love for my first daughter, I mourned, feeling I was somehow less of a mother - or a woman - for not being able to bring my daughter into the world the "right" way.
I was okay with it by the time my other daughters arrived (well, my last was a physical breeze as she was adopted. Emotionally tough though) and marvelled at the perfect shape of each of their unsquished heads afterwards :D

Now, my oldest is 18 and I am happy to report that none of those grim predictions have been remotely true. I am grateful to live in an age where our babies could be delivered safely - albeit in a sci-fi theatre - as many in your position, or mine, would have not only lost their child in bygone eras but may not have lived through the ordeal themselves.

However they come, they are here, safely. And while recovery is longer and more difficult after a c-section, what matters is the "from hereon out" and it sounds like your support network is top shelf. I wish you all the very, very best.

Xtreme English said...

still holding you in the light, though you have plenty it seems right there. thanks for sharing!

PeregrineBlue said...

i am so glad to be taking the time to go through all the missed posts. you write so so well. three little girls now and each so unique and beautiful. i think i'll re-read this one many times.

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