For me, giving up that dream of a VBAC was hard. If you've never been a part of a birth, or had a child yourself, you may not understand the need that some moms have to deliver naturally. However for me, it was a very real loss, and what felt like another thing taken from me. My daughter was taken, a part of how I see the world was taken, some faith, some trust, and a lot of the confidence I had in my body, and its ability to become a mother, was taken.
I set out on a path to find out how I could make my next Cesarean, as comfortable for me as possible, and for it to resemble my vision of MY birth. My instant train of thought, was photos. I do this for a living, how was I NOT going to have images?
Would they Let my photographer in the OR?
and the questions kept coming.
Would I be able to deliver in the same hospital?
Who would deliver him?
Would I be able to see my baby right away?
Would I be able to hold him right away?
Were they going to keep us together, instead of separating me from him while I'm in recovery?
Would I be able to try and breast feed as soon as he was out?
The answer to most of these (all in thanks to MCMH Staff) was yes.
I began communicating my wishes with the Maine Coast Women Care Staff often and early. I had found beautiful images online, by one of my favorite Birth Photographers, of a clear drape being used in an operating room. This way the Mom could SEE her baby be born. I couldn't thank them enough for going out of their way to, basically, MAKE me a clear drape, when they were unable to order one in time.
The minute my son was born, I saw him. He didn't scream instantly, so those few seconds of knowing he was out, yet not making noise, -I imagine- would have been horrifying for me. Wondering if he was okay, But I could look through this clear Plastic drape and see him kicking, I could see his arms moving, I knew he was okay, and alive. Then I herd the most beautiful noise possible, a just bawled as his screams echoed in the operating room.
Dianne held me up, when they put the spinal in my back, Nichole held my son on my chest when I was getting too week, to have people I knew surrounding me made a world of difference. They weren't just staff, they weren't just medical professionals, they were friends, they were family to my Daughter, and they were routing and advocating for us, every step of the way. The OR has this AWEFUL rule, of only allowing one person in the room with you. I know they have their reasons, but I did everything I could to change that in order to Allow Zelli (Our Photographer) and my Husband in there with me. Having those first moments with all of us together captured was vitally important for me... The OR refused to budge, and which left me extremely upset. It was a deep deep feeling of sadness, and defeat. Again, I know if you have never been in that situation, it may not upset you, but to me that was a staple, and the norm, to have these images to remember just how powerful those moments and emotions were.
So Dianne saved the day, another midwife was scheduled to help deliver my son, so Dianne took my camera into the OR, and after I set up the camera settings the best I could predict, her and Nichole tackled making sure I had what I wanted.
Delivering my son is the biggest accomplishment I have ever completed. Seeing his beautiful face everyday, is something I never thought I would have. It has made me love deeper than I could ever know, and cherish my moments. It has made me selfless, and put him before myself everyday. I have this overwhelming place for him inside of me, in my heart, in my brain, in my bones. He is all of who I am, and in everything I am made of. Losing his sister has shown me how precious moments are, and how fleeting time is, she has taught me to adore the way he smiles when he has a poop explosion, and embrace the way he pukes down my back. To be thankful for the sleepless nights, and all the screams. I would do anything to see what they would look like together, but we will never know. If I can't do that, if I can't see their bond, and relationship grow the way it should, than I will at the very lest, remember all that she was, and all that she is, take that and make myself the best mom I can be. I will learn from all the lessons she left me. Everyday, I will Love the two of them, more than I could ever even love myself. Everyday I will live for him, and for her, and give to him all that I am, and all that I should have been able to be for Leeona.
Motherhood after a loss is a world of its own, there is no manual for it, and it is a confusing road. I can't imagine my life without Mitchell, but I know I wouldn't have him, if I had not lost Leeona. He is here because she is not, and I'm still learning how I feel about that. I am still learning how to be this kind of mom. I am grateful for her to bringing him to me, but I wish there was a way to have them both.
However we got here, and as much as it hurt to lose her, I think we have finally found some kind of new normal, and not that the pain from her loss is gone, but Mitchell has brought us a new sort of happiness that has changed the very concept of who we are.