I guess the best place to start is the day of your birth. I wish I remembered more, but somehow I have been left with a hazy memory, a cloudy smear of the day that forever changed my life.
I knew you would be born this day, November 7th 2012. It was a Wednesday, exactly one week before your due date. I don’t think you were ready to come into this world yet, but we did what we had to do to ensure your safe arrival. You were a breech baby, stubborn, with your own plans. How could I expect anything but?! You are a human being, we all have our own ideas, our own plans, our own comfort zones.. Yours was “breech”. Period. The doctor tried to externally turn you. You weren’t having it. I knew you would not simply “turn” for anyone. I knew you would protest. But I had to know we tried everything.
I don’t regret going the route of a cesarean, I don’t regret opting out of the “trial” vaginal delivery that the doctors offered us. But I do grieve for what I missed, that rite of passage into womanhood, the delivery of my baby into this world.
I grieve over the fact that I never experienced contractions or pushing, I never endured the pain that I had spent months mentally and emotionally preparing myself for.
But, I went with my gut. Something I think every mother knows she must listen to. Something many of us feel… gut instinct. And when we trust it and listen to it, things usually turn out.
It was the second most terrifying experience of my life. I can’t lie. I have to face it. I remember going into that operating room and instantly crying. For some reason, the doctor asked my why I was crying. I was appalled at the fact he didn’t know. How could he not know that I was devastated? Afraid. Defeated. Alone in a room full of masked people, all dressed the same, none of whom I knew. Who were all these people?!
The OBGYN came in. My midwife came in. They proceeded to attempt the ECV (turning you). Within a minute, the screen went over my face, Daddy came in, and they started the cesarean.
I was still so scared. Daddy kept telling me to breathe. I remember our midwives kind eyes, full of sympathy and hope. Then suddenly I heard something. I didn’t even know I was open, that you were pulled out of me. It was 2:06 p.m., November 7, when you were born.
They whisked you away to the corner, surrounded by doctors and Daddy. What was going on? Why was this person sitting beside me, asking me if I had had any testing or amniocentesis?? Down syndrome? What were they talking about? I stared blankly at the ceiling. I met you briefly. Once again you were gone.
I am alone in the recovery room. Feeling is coming back to my legs, I’m trying so hard to move my feet. Why is this so difficult? Why am I alone? Where is my Baby? And what is going on?
Your birth was nothing like I had imagined or hoped for. It was nothing like what we planned on. It was everything I feared. It was everything I knew nothing about. I felt alone, blank, confused, sad.
When I finally got a room and got to hold you, it was 5 hours later. You were tiny and sleeping. It’s hard looking back. Because I don’t recall being in all the pictures I see. How did I get in these scenes? When did they happen? I do remember the doctors and nurses coming in to check your oxygen levels. Putting you in some giant, foreign bed, and once again taking you away. This time you would not be coming back.
You were taken to the NICU. They would be hooking you up to monitors. Taking blood from your tiny heels. Tube-feeding you. Supplementing you. I felt so powerless and out of control. I hadn’t felt so terrible in many years. It was a dark place to visit and I never want to go there again.
I remember touching you, looking at your precious face. Does she look like she has Down syndrome? Is it my fault? What does this mean for our future? Is Daddy going to hate me? Is he going to love us?
I now know that all my fears were unnecessary. Your Daddy is amazing. Our future is bright. And although I still have many fears and tears, I love you. Down syndrome and all.
Life has been preparing me for you.
All the work with special needs children. The still birth of my son (your brother in heaven). The love of your father. It has all been the universe readying me for your arrival. Fate, well, this is fate.
You would stay in the NICU for 2.5 weeks. Two-and-a-half scary, exhausting weeks. But we made it. You came home November 25th, 2012.
Written and shared by Brandy Kowal, Ontario, Canada; originally published at autumnthroughtheseasons, where you can read more about baby Autumn and her family’s journey.