I’d heard some women say their scheduled c-section was like “a walk in the park” after experiencing their first unscheduled c-section. “A piece of cake,” one even noted. So I was… dare I say looking forward to my scheduled c-section? Yes, I dare say. Of course, I was still very nervous about it, but also excited. I love walks in the park! And I love cake! This was going to be great.
I think it was around hour eight of vomiting after my c-section when I thought to myself, what in the hell kind of parks were those women walking in? And was it a piece of shit cake they were eating? Because what I was experiencing, and had been all day since giving birth, was awful. Periodically, I’d wake up in a haze in between drug infused naps and nausea waves to glance over at Chris. He sat by the large window in our hospital room that overlooked the beautiful Columbia River Gorge and I’d think, WHERE AM I? And whose baby is Chris holding? And then I’d remember, oh yeah, we live here now because we moved from Colorado to the Pacific Northwest on a whim last month and that is my baby. Our baby! We just had a baby. And by “we” I mean “I” because let’s be honest, I was the one lying naked in a hospital bed with my middle section cut open and Chris was the one holding our beautiful new baby girl.
There was a time when I told Chris to take more videos in the hospital post-birth because I wanted those precious post-birth videos we all see those precious influencers share on Instagram. But the one time he attempted to turn his phone on me, (a Facetime with my sister I later apologized for,) I shouted, “STOP RECORDING! GET THAT PHONE OUT OF MY FACE.” And then I immediately threw up the crackers I had tried to eat.
“We might have to call you back tomorrow,” Chris said politely to my sister. “Tay’s just not feeling great right now.”
A walk in the park, my ass.
And cue Family Stone intro music.
Thus, I present to you: Anxious Until The Very End- A Birth Story!
Throughout my pregnancy, I was constantly asked, “are you going to do another c-section or try for a VBAC?” Asked mostly by Internet folk, I might add. I love you, Internet folk, I honestly do. (I’m thankful you’re reading this now!) But I won’t deny it always struck me as odd the amount of curiosity around which hole my unborn child would be exiting my body. Would it be the organic one or man-made?!
But I digress.
Due to a saggy placenta (or “low-lying” as the medical people say, I think) it was decided rather early that a c-section would be the best option for me. As much as I enjoyed my induction with my first born, Birdie, the “induction” that lasted four days and every cervix softening trick in the book yet still resulting in zero dilation, I felt a c-section was a good option, too. Thanks, saggy placenta! Turns out there are some perks to being a geriatric pregnant gal, after all.
The night before my c-section I washed thoroughly with the medical grade soap and plastic gloves I’d been instructed to pick up at the hospital earlier in the day. The instructions on the soap bottle were simple, yet somehow made me feel as if I’d never properly washed myself before. Am I dirty? I wondered more than once. Was I dirty for my first c-section when I didn’t get the chance to wash with special soap and special gloves? The night before giving birth your mind starts to wonder a lot of things about your body and where people will be looking the following day.
After I showered for what felt like an hour, I snapped one final photo of my belly, put on my most comfortable pjs, and fell right asleep.
I actually laid in bed and prayed for baby kicks. And when I say prayed, I mean begged. Baby’s movement had changed over the past few weeks and she went from being very active at night, to a lot more chill. And in turn, I got a lot less chill. The previous night I nearly went to the ER at 1 a.m. because I hadn’t felt movement in a while and I was certain something wrong. My anxiety tends to veil itself in certainty at the very worst times and I always fall for it.
I had hoped I’d be a little more relaxed with this pregnancy but alas, I was wrong. So many people close to us had experienced losses while our pregnancy continued and they were always on my mind, and always left me wondering why… why didn’t they get to meet their baby but we’d get to meet ours?
Please let me get to meet our baby… Please, please , please. I prayed that over and over for nine months and the night before my c-section it didn’t stop.
By 1 a.m. I hadn’t felt any kicks and once again, my mind raced with what-ifs. Could I just go in early? Like five hours early? Was I being crazy? Did it matter? The baby doesn’t know there’s a c-section in five hours, what if something is really wrong. What if, what if, what if! And then she kicked. And the relief washed over in me in the same way it always did when I was teetering on the edge just begging for one movement to let me know everything was OK. Baby was fine! I was fine. We were all fine.
So naturally, I started to worry about Birdie. What if something went wrong tomorrow? The fear before going into surgery suddenly felt a lot heavier with a child at home. And what if she didn’t like being a big sister? What if all this change we put on her was too much? What if…
I glanced at the clock and it was almost 2 a.m. and I couldn’t help but shake my head and think, you’re really going to be anxious until the very fucking end, aren’t you?
Yes, I sure am, my anxiety answered back.
The next morning (or three hours later) I put the final items in my hospital bag and told my mom, who was sleeping downstairs, that it was go-time. I kissed Birdie good-bye as she slept in our bed and the tight feeling in my chest grew tighter. I’d somehow become the mom who hadn’t spent more than a night away from my child, (a woman I swore I’d never be,) and was about to spend at least three nights away. Then again, since becoming a mom the list of things I swore I’d never do or become was only becoming increasingly longer, so now wasn’t the time to dwell.
As we pulled out of our driveway I was too anxious to speak or look back. I was just so scared. No other way to put it. I needed a sign to know everything would be OK. Please Har, send me a sign. If you’re wondering why I prayed to my dead dog for a sign before giving birth, I guess it’s because it’s just become a habit now. I always ask Har for a sign when I’m anxious or scared, perhaps because he’s the one who always calmed me down when he was alive and constantly by my side. Anything Har, just give me something.
And then as we crossed the bridge over the Columbia River Gorge, I saw it. A rainbow that literally glowed from the ground straight up to the sky.
It was Har. It was the rainbow babies. It was all the things I needed to see right then. And I suddenly felt so calm and at ease.
Maybe today was really going to be a walk in the park like I’d heard it could be. A piece of cake, even. Maybe!