In a few months, the incision from my C-section will be virtually invisible.
Already, I can hardly see it.
And yet it is and will always be the dividing line between my old life and this new one. Between the old me and the me who is Violet's mother.
Of course, I never planned on having a scar, because I never planned on having a C-section. I planned to have a natural birth with a midwife. I planned to labor at home with a doula for as long as possible, then go to the hospital just in time for the main event. I wanted to minimize even the opportunity to consider an epidural, much less get one.
So I read books, and did yoga, and listened to meditations, and prepared a birthing mix on my iPad (with a slideshow of relaxing images). I talked to my friends about their birth experiences. I watched The Business of Being Born, and its sequels. I got not one birthing ball, but two. I bounced. I did squats. I scouted the places in my house to lean on and hang on to when I was deep into labor. I congratulated myself on my foresight in building a bench into my shower when I remodeled the bathroom.
I was READY.
For everything but what actually happened.
What actually happened is that six days after my due date, I hauled my giant, swollen body into my car and drove myself across town to Beverly Hills for an appointment with my midwife. I'd been having lots of Braxton Hicks, and my midwife was planning to check my cervix, which I assumed would be somewhat dilated, indicating imminent(ish) labor.
My appointment began with an ultrasound, which I was excited about as I hadn't had an ultrasound since twenty weeks. I figured if I couldn't see my baby on the outside just yet, at least I could catch a glimpse of her in blurry black and white.
And, indeed, I caught a glimpse.
Of a giant.
Now, ultrasounds are notoriously unreliable at predicting a baby's size. I knew that going in. So when the ultrasound technician said, "She's a good size," I didn't think much of it... until I looked at the bottom of the screen and saw that her weight was estimated to be over ten pounds.
Yikes. Even if the estimate was off by ten percent or more... that's a big baby.
Then the technician asked if I'd been leaking amniotic fluid. Which I hadn't. But apparently my giant child had been drinking it all up or something, because there was barely any in there. Just a little pocket around where the umbilical cord connected to the placenta.
So not a lot of good news there.
Then I went in to my midwife appointment, and the not a lot of good news continued. Because my cervix was not, in fact, dilated. At least, not enough to indicate that I'd be going into labor imminently. Or even imminently(ish).
A realization was dawning.
Big baby. Very little amniotic fluid. I was clearly not going to be pregnant much longer.
As my midwife talked me through the ultrasound results, I felt myself growing numb. This was not at all what I had anticipated. Not at all what I was ready for.
What about labor? What about my birthing balls? My birthing mix? My meditations? What about that moment, after hours of grueling labor, of reaching down for my baby and placing her on my chest? What about bonding? What about the sense of empowerment I was hoping for?
I mean, I built that goddamn bench in the shower!
As I sat there on the table, wrapped in a paper gown, my midwife talked me through my options. There were really only two. Either I was going to have a C-section or I would have to be induced.
"When?" I asked.
"Tonight," came the answer.
At that point, I knew only what I didn't want. Which was an emergency C-section.
I've known too many people who have labored and labored and ended up having a C-section when something goes wrong or when doctors conclude natural birth won't be possible for whatever reason, and then they're exhausted and terrified and traumatized.
I didn't want my birth experience to end that way. I wanted it to end with a healthy baby and a mom who didn't have any regrets or trauma.
But I was having a hard time giving up the idea of being in labor, of delivering my baby the way I had planned to, and prepared for.
Could I, as WP had done, get induced and still manage a natural birth? Even with the more intense pitocin contractions? Would I be foolish to even try? Did my big baby and low amniotic fluid mean that if I tried to give birth vaginally, pain medication aside, I was headed down the exact path I wanted to avoid?
Maybe. But c'mon! I had a plan! I wanted to follow the plan!
I was spinning.
Spinning, that is, until my midwife reviewed the ultrasound report and noted that the circumference of the baby's stomach was significantly larger than the circumference of her head.
Basically, it can mean that once the baby's head is delivered, the rest of her could get stuck. Which quickly becomes a very dangerous emergency situation.
As far as my midwife was concerned, labor was no longer an option. And when your midwife votes for a C-section...
That was that.
I was having a C-section.
And there was no time to waste...
And thus ends Part One of Violet"s birth story!
I can't seem to sit down for more than thirty seconds at a time, but I'll be working on Part Two, which includes fun stuff like lumbar punctures! Unfortunately, not on me. Yes, Violet had to get one. Awful.
But that's a story for another day!
Until then, here's a picture of my little Champ: