It’s my first mother’s day!
On 4/29/15, Adam and I had a beautiful boy.
Henry Rhys Majka was born at 5:25 p.m., weighing 6 lbs. 12.1 oz, measuring 20″ in length.
He was delivered by c-section because, despite all of my best efforts, the kiddo had gotten awful comfortable in breech position and wasn’t gonna turn. He was sitting inside of me like he was meditating — legs crossed, butt down, hands up by his face. Since I also have hypertension, MS, and seizures, my OB decided that delivering by c-section at week 39 was the safest thing to do for everyone involved.
We got to the hospital just before 9 a.m. and checked in at labor and delivery. I was scheduled for surgery at 11:00 a.m., but because there were so many emergencies at the hospital that day, the surgery was delayed by 6 hours. By the time that I was taken in to be prepped and given anesthesia, I hadn’t eaten or had anything to drink for 20 hours. They had me take an antacid that had the most foul aftertaste imaginable, but I was so grateful to have any liquid in my mouth and throat that I was actually cheerful about taking it.
The thing that boggled my mind is that during the scariest and most painful parts of the surgery (during the time they put in the spinal anesthesia and epidural), Adam was not allowed in the room. Fortunately, he was there for the important parts. He brought in my cell phone, so I could listen to music, and that helped me an awful lot with nerves. To say that being mostly numb from the tits down is unnerving is an understatement.
Anyway, I had made a playlist for the surgery, but Adam had pushed “shuffle play” on it, so it wasn’t in the order I was expecting… and yet, it was perfect. No joke, I think God was picking the song order. Right before Henry was born, the song “Relax” by Frankie Goes To Hollywood was playing. It made me smile and joke that if he was born to that song, I’d forever associate Zoolander with his birth. Instead, he was born to “Three Little Birds” by Bob Marley… the song that says, “Don’t worry about a thing — because every little thing is gonna be alright.” It was playing when he was taken out of me, brought to me in all of his goopy, mostly-blue glory, and then taken to be weighed, measured, and cleaned. “Don’t worry about a thing — because every little thing is gonna be alright,” was the exact message I needed to hear at the time… and one that I’ve needed to hear many times since.
One of the things that no one tells you about, while they’re opining over the miracle of birth is the misery, difficulty, and fear that accompanies that miracle in the form of learning to breastfeed. The pervasive myth is that it’s the most natural thing in all the world, and that if you put your baby on his tummy, against your chest, he’ll find your breast, start to suckle, and be sufficiently fed. I’m sure, for some women, this myth is an accurate representation of their experience — and good for them. But it wasn’t for me. I had no idea what I was doing, and everyone at the hospital acted like I should already know how to make the magic happen.
Unfortunately, when you give birth by c-section, your body doesn’t really have the opportunity to catch up with the rest of you and start producing milk. Sure, you already have your colostrum, but it takes a while for milk to come in afterward. It takes a while to learn how to get a good latch. (Thank goodness for Deb, the lactation consultant that taught us the teacup hold – because my breasts are too big for most regular holds.) It takes even longer to realize that there are confounding factors inhibiting your child’s proper nutrition – things like tongue ties and insufficient milk supply.
I wasn’t bothered by having a c-section. I know there are mothers out there who make a big deal about natural childbirth or vaginal delivery, but I’ve never been one of them. I’d be lying, however, if I didn’t admit to having a hard time accepting that I wouldn’t be able to exclusively breastfeed. At first, the irrational voices in my brain were telling me that it was happening because I am insufficient as a mother… but that’s a load of bullcrap. I’d been through major surgery and my body was struggling to catch up to Henry’s needs. And Henry’s needs come first. Now that we’ve started to supplement with formula, his health is much improved. His jaundice is almost gone, and it’s been incredibly helpful for Adam to be able to feed him — especially in the kinds of moments that no one ever talks about (like when you’ve been breastfeeding for over a half hour and suddenly, you really have to use the bathroom… or when your nipples are cracked and they start to hurt so badly that it makes you cry, not from hormones or emotions, but from genuine pain)
Truth be told, I didn’t immediately love my son. I was too busy thinking, “This is what birth is? Is this even real?” and “Holy shit, it hurts to move.” But within a couple of days, I definitely did. How could you not love this face?
I’d write more, but the kiddo needs my chest… and he comes first. ❤