“The baby’s heart rate has spiked to over 200 beats per minute and you have a fever. You have done an amazing job, Jessica – but we have to take you in for an emergency Cesarean. You and the baby are at risk.”
My doctor placed an oxygen mask over my face as she communicated this to me. It wasn’t a question. The look of urgency on her face told me that we had exhausted every option. I was heading to surgery. 36 hours into active labor, 28 hours with no pain medication, and 90 minutes of pushing and feeling baby in birth canal along with the added luxury of forceps to try and get my little guy out, were resulting in the dreaded words I was hearing.
“Will I be able to hold my baby and breastfeed right after the birth?” I asked.
“No, I am afraid not. That is not our policy here. You will be able to see him, and then you will be taken to recovery for 2 hours before you can hold him.”
My heart sank. That was the lowest of the low throughout the entire journey of labor. My eyes filled with tears as I looked around at the delivery team, my husband, doula and mother. All eyes were on me, everyone knowing that I had tried. I had tried so hard to deliver my baby naturally and everyone had wanted it so badly for me.
“We have to do what is best for the baby and what is best for me,” I managed to choke out and I just turned my head and let the tears fall.
I dove into my pregnancy journey, reading and watching everything I could on natural childbirth. I wrote a five-page birth plan, hired a doula, made plans to have my placenta encapsulated and was determined, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I would have a natural labor because I am a woman and that is what my body was made to do. As I lay there, being prepared to be wheeled into surgery, I saw all of my plans for a magical, natural birth fall by the wayside one by one by one.
I clearly saw two paths I could take in that moment. The first would be to hold onto this story of what I thought this birth would be like. I could see resentment and suffering in my future if I chose this way. The second would be to completely surrender to the reality that was unfolding around me. Surrender to the disappointment but also to the path that was laid out before me long before I typed up any birth plan or watched The Business of Being Born a dozen times.
Surrendering through those moments helped me to stay completely present and find a haven in accepting the life that was before me – and I continued to unfold to it.
20 minutes later, my beautiful, healthy 8lb baby boy was born. As I gazed into his eyes, as the nurse held him so I could see him, I felt all of the love that a new mother should feel as they look upon their newborn baby. I could see and feel the tears of joy in my husband’s eyes and I could feel the active release on my part of wanting it to be any different than it was. My journey was just as it should be. I had not detoured somewhere from the intended path. This was the path. The work to be done was right here — in this moment — surrendering to the beauty and the grace of it all.