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Empowering Motherhood

Please note: This post is not meant to be a value judgement or a response to any person or idea. It’s just something that has been stirring in me since the days after Josiah was born…

On June 13th 2009 I was all set and determined to have a natural birth.  Little did I know, that by the end of the day, I would have experienced everything but that.  At Noon, I was in my kitchen making cookies.  By four o’clock, I was under anethesia, having a lifeless baby boy cut from my body.  The interventions necessary to bring him back to life made all those birthing interventions, that I was so afraid of and apalled by, seem like a walk in the park. 

The days that followed were full of guilt… “Did I do something to cause this?”  “I should have done such and such differently.”  “I feel so detached.”  “I’m not producing enough milk.”  I could go on and on.  Guilt then turned into grief… “I wasn’t there when he was born.”  I didn’t get to hold him for four days.”  “I will never experience natural child birth.”   Guilt and grief walked with me every moment of the time that we spent in the NICU.

Finally, we got to take him home.  Being the new mom that I was, I read a lot, looking for anwers to all my new mom questions.  I read books, articles, blogs and comments.  In all of those, I read a lot about how empowering natural childbirth is, how important it is to hold your baby those first moments, and how “breast is best.”   More guilt, more grief… Then there were the comments… “formula is SOOOOOOOOO nasty”  “how could someone feed that to their baby”  “You don’t know what is in that stuff”  “It’s full of toxic chemicals”  More guilt, more grief, and now fear…

Then there was the expectation that everything would just be “normal” after we brought him home.  Nothing was “normal.”  I read sleep training books but couldn’t follow them because of the complications with breastfeeding. I watched him anxiously to see if he would smile, laugh, roll over etc… We had been told that he could be severely developmentally handicapped.  Despite all the experts advice I held him all the time and let him nurse whenever he wanted because I wanted to make up for lost time. According to many experts I was letting him manipulate me.  More guilt, more grief…

Looking back, I realize that all of that made me feel like I was somehow “less than” the mothers who had a natural childbirth and who could breastfeed normally.  I felt like I had missed out and that my relationship with Josiah would never be right because I didn’t bond with him immediately after birth. I felt like I was giving him poison by feeding him formula.  I experienced so much unnecessary guilt and grief.

The reality is that I did my very best.  I sacrificed a lot physically, emotionally and materially to be a mother.  I was stronger than I every could have imagined.  I should have felt empowered by THAT!  The birthing experience is important but it is a very small part of motherhood .   Breastfeeding is wonderful!  So is the fact that we live in a time where babies can thrive despite their mothers inability to produce enough milk.  I thank God every day for formula!

I’m telling you all this because now I honestly believe that every single journey into motherhood is “empowering.”  Regardless of how that baby gets out of your body, YOU grew a HUMAN in your body! That is truly amazing.  If you did not grow that little human in your body, and you adopted him/her instead, YOU labored in a way that most of us will never know. You labored in time, heartache, finances, and grief. You had to be stronger and more determined than I can even imagine.  That is truly amazing!

We have all seen what we are made of in our journey to motherhood.  We all have made sacrifices.  We have all made mistakes. Most importantly, we have all been stronger than we ever thought possible and we should ALL feel empowered by that!


Josiah’s Birth Story

The day Josiah was born was the scariest day of my life…

June 13th 2009 started out as just an average Saturday. We had no idea it would be one of the hardest, best and most significant days of our lives.

Jaison got up early and went to the park to play Cricket with a group of Indian guys. I had a headache so I took some Tylenol and slept in. At this point in my pregnancy, I was 9 days away from my due date, so I was very uncomfortable and not sleeping well at night. After Jaison came home, I got up, we got ready and went out for a late breakfast as we do every Saturday. After breakfast, we drove around and casually looked at garage sales, not looking for anything specific just passing time.

We came home around noon to bake cookies for a picnic that we were supposed to attend at Mahoney State Park that afternoon. Before starting baking, I was talking to a friend on the phone, making plans for the evening. We all wanted to hang out one last time before the baby was born. Just after talking to her, I noticed something that felt like I had wet my pants a little bit. The possibility that my water had broken crossed my mind, but I dismissed it, thinking that it was too early. Then, I went to the bathroom to check what was going on and I noticed a very small amount of blood. At this point, this was exciting because it meant that I was getting closer to going into labor! Now, I was wondering if my water had broken and was leaking just a bit. I called my mom. She said to call the doctor’s office, so I did and left a message. A few minutes later as I was baking cookies (still intending to go to the picnic) a nurse called me back. After a series of questions, she suggested going to the hospital to get checked for amniotic fluid.

We knew that if my water had broken, it was going to be a LONG day and night. So, we took our time getting ready to go. We slowly packed our bags. I cleaned up the kitchen and put the cookies away. We called people to let them know we wouldn’t be making it to the picnic.  On our way to the hospital, we even stopped to take a movie back.  When we reached the hospital, we parked the car instead of using the valet parking.  We even took the steps up to Labor and Delivery instead of the elevator! I was doing everything I could to avoid spending any more time than necessary in a hospital bed. I was planning a natural delivery.  At that point, I had no idea how grateful I would be for being in a hospital bed…

The nurse had called the hospital, so they were expecting us.  They took us to a delivery room, I put on a gown and they hooked me up to the monitors. The monitors let us know that Josiah’s heart was beating normally and that I was having very irregular and insignificant contractions.  In other words, I was not in labor.  We still did not even know if my water had broken.  There was some delay before they could do the test.  So, we waited nearly and hour before the nurse finally took a sample.  The results came back quickly and it was confirmed that my water had broken!  We were excited so we began to call family and friends to let them know we were having a baby soon…we had no idea how soon it would actually be!  At the same time, the nurse called my doctor to find out how they should proceed since I was not in labor yet.  I was laying there hoping that they would let me get up soon and walk around.  I had been laying there for nearly 1.5 hours at that point.  I am so happy that I did not get my way…

Suddenly alarms started to go off in my room and about five nurses came running in!  We had no idea what was happening but they started to move me around and adjust the monitors.  Josiah’s heart rate had dropped significantly and they did not know why, so they were taking measures to bring it back up.  Thankfully, at the same time this was happening, they were still on the phone with my doctor.  He left and came straight to the hospital. The nurses were not able consistently get Josiah’s heart rate back up.  My doctor arrived quickly and told me that I would need to have a C-Section because they did not know what was causing his heart rate to drop and they did not think he could make it through labor. T he anesthesiologist was on her way to give me an epidural…

All of a sudden I felt a gush of A LOT of fluid. Since this was my first baby, I had no idea what was normal, when I looked and saw that it was blood I was very concerned. I lifted my gown and asked my doctor “is this normal?”  I don’t remember him answering me.  Within moments my bed and I were on our way to the Operating Room!  The anesthesiologist was following me asking lots of questions and I quickly realized that I was not getting an epidural but I was being put under a general anesthetic.  I was having an emergency  C-Section.  I was scared. I remember having the thought that I may not wake up.  I prayed and surrendered myself to the Lord.  The last thing I remember was hearing my doctor say “tell me when we are ready” and thinking “wait, I can still hear you!”

I honestly was not concerned for Josiah because I somehow still thought that they were just being overly cautious.  I was wrong!

I woke up less than 2 hours later… I was in a lot of pain and disoriented.  The squirming baby boy that had been part of me for so long was gone.  I had no idea where he was.

I could see Jaison talking to a doctor off in the corner of the recovery room.  I heard the doctor say things like “he is very sick” and  “you are very lucky.”

Soon, they came and told me that Josiah was very sick and would need to go to Children’s hospital.  I had a sudden and severe placental abruption.  My placenta prematurely tore away from the wall of my uterus.  This caused Josiah to be completely deprived of oxygen. It also caused me to bleed heavily into the uterus.  Josiah breathed a lot of blood and clots into his lungs.  Placental abruption is one of the leading causes of both maternal death and babies born “sleeping.”

We were both “lucky” to be alive…