This scar seals the place from where my son entered the world and took his first breath. This scar shows the battle I fought to try and bring him into the world on my terms. This scar is painful.
When I lean over his crib to stroke his soft forehead and tell him I love him, the crib hits my scar in just the right place and it hurts. It reminds me.
When my son crawls over my body and places his squishy little hands over the place he came from, with the force that his 23 pound body can muster, it hurts. It reminds me.
When my eyes pass over all the marks my skin created while stretching and forming to meet the needs of his growing body, they ultimately land on the lowest, deepest, reddest one. It reminds me.
But it isn't ugly. It just is. It's a reminder. A reminder to be more gentle with myself. A reminder to believe in the power of my wonderfully made female body. A reminder to relinquish control over what I cannot change. A reminder of the fight I still ultimately have ahead of me when another life grows inside my womb.
A reminder that I am not broken or damaged. I am perfect, just the way I am. The health of our minds and bodies has everything to do with how we feel about them. Part of me has to love this scar because it is the opening that allowed my baby to become my son. I will live in this skin for the rest of my life, and this scar will be part of my body forever. I've begun to realize the power my body has for healing. I no longer envision a fresh wound stitched together where my uterus was cut. I picture the scar underneath my skin as a healed line that has weaved itself back together, smooth and wavy.
I requested all my medical records from my admittance to the hospital over the course of days that my son arrived. Patient #294791. That's me. I cried the whole way through reading the papers. It was like re-living every painful moment piece by piece. It was surreal to see the event through the words of an outsider.
“skin incision was made and carried sharply through…the bladder was bluntly and sharply dissected…vigorous male infant passed to awaiting neonatal attendants….the uterus was returned to its normal anatomic position…the skin was closed with staples… the patient was taken from the operating room to the recovery room in good and stable condition.”
I guess they were talking about my physical state. Because emotionally and mentally, I was a hot mess. I was puking green fluid. I was sobbing. I was sleepy. I didn't have my baby. I was shaking. I couldn't walk, or move, or keep my eyes open. I barely remember the first time I held my son. I wanted to be present, but I just couldn't. They shoved him on my breast as they removed and reinserted a new catheter. There was no skin to skin. I was in so much pain. I cried and shook and eventually fell into a deep, dark, fog. Drugged, tired, and not fully realizing I was depressed. My uterus was stitched back together but it felt like my heart was split wide open.
I felt like my body had failed me, but I realize now it wasn't my body that failed me, it was the system. I know that next time I will remember all the beautiful little details. I will enjoy my newborn, instead of lying in a heap of tears for weeks on end.
It hasn't been an easy journey, even getting to the place I am now. Most of the women around me had natural births and there just was no way they could comprehend the pain. When my best friend's baby was born seven weeks after mine, I sat on the couch gulping back tears as I listened to her husband relay their natural birth story. I was so happy for them and still so sad for myself. It went on like that for months. I finally had to quit reading about others' successes, because I wasn't there yet. I finally had to quit listening to anyone who was anything less than supportive, because I wasn't there yet.
Some tell me it shouldn't be painful. Maybe they don't say it with their words, but they do with their eyes. Maybe they remind me that I have a healthy baby, and that's all that matters. But it's not. Mothers matter, too. The moment when my choice was taken away from me changed my life forever. I have every right to let it be painful. I have every right to open my heart and access the most vulnerable place and to share the words with the hope that it will help bring peace, to myself and to others.
I stopped being angry and started being sad that I missed so many precious moments. That my experience will always be what it is.
But then something happened for me. I started to put some emotions into the box they belong.
I needed to let go. So I did. I let go.
While my caesarean wasn't an emergency and Ben would have been healthy no matter what, I finally understood that I should be a little bit grateful. Thankful. I have my little boy when so many others don't. I had this horribly sad experience, but at the end of it I still have my squishy, beautiful little babe. Some women have gone through loss so unimaginable to me and I have my son. He's here. He's alive. And I would suffer through a million more caesarean surgeries if it meant that was the only way I could bring him into this world.
With that realization, an onslaught of guilt also came. So yeah, I'm putting pieces in their rightful box and moving forward. I understand now that if I am blessed with another baby someday, that birth experience won't heal this one. First, this one has to be put in its rightful place.
This scar on my skin reminds me that I fought. I'm a mother. And a warrior.
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