Tuesday, August 4, 2015

A Different Kind of Mom

I was induced. I had an epidural. I had a c-section. And I didn't breastfeed. 

There, I said it. 

Only one of those things was intentional. Of those 4 statements, the only one I knew about beforehand was the epidural. Everything else was a surprise. 

And, you know what? I was okay with all of it. 

I've felt lead to write this for quite some time but I just get nervous every time I start to write these words. However, after a lot of thought and prayer and discussing it with other friends, I knew that somewhere out there is a mama like me. A mama who, for a long time, wondered if something was wrong with her. And I'm here to tell you that there isn't anything wrong with you.

In its most basic form, I thought I was weird because I had no expectations going into childbirth. I really, really didn't. I didn't take classes. I didn't read books. I didn't have an idea of what I wanted the delivery of my child to look like. Even throughout my pregnancy, I would touch my belly and feel her kicks, and I would fantasize about holding her and I ached to look at her sweet face. I yearned for her. But never, not once did I think about the birth. 

I just didn't. 

I would read things on my pregnancy apps about birth plans and hospital tours. I never did those tours. I didn't make a birth plan. I guess you could say my birth plan was:

1. Drive to Hospital
2. See what happens from there

I just had no expectations. 

I knew that God knew when my child would be born and how my child would be born. And that was kind of all I cared about. I knew I had no control over these things so I wasn't going to even try to grasp it. The whole thing overwhelmed me and I knew that women have been having babies for a very long time and nurses and doctors would be there to coach me through it and people in the 1800's weren't going on hospital tours or taking childbirth classes. So, I chose to forego.

Plus, sometimes it seems that the more information I have, the more I tend to panic. So I chose to not get a lot of information.

Also, during pregnancy, I didn't ever think about breastfeeding. Again, I had no negative feelings about it, but it just wasn't something I thought about or longed to do. The only thing I ever thought about was holding my baby. Everything else was just non-existent in my mind. 

I should go ahead and admit the fact that I always knew that a c-section was a likely outcome for me. Women in my family have been having c-sections for a loooong time. My mom had c-sections. Both of my sisters had c-sections. None of them planned. We're tiny people and things happen. It wasn't out of the ordinary for me and I had no negative opinions about a surgery. I was definitely going into the whole thing expecting to deliver vaginally, but when I knew things were going wrong, I didn't feel let down or disappointed that she was going to come out of me a different way.

After I had a c-section, someone said to me, "I'm so sorry." I found that statement to be odd. I didn't feel like I had experienced anything bad. Then, I spoke to a girlfriend who in a moment of encouragement shared with me her grief at the fact that she was also unable to deliver vaginally and the heartbreak she felt because of this. 

It was then that I realized that I was different. 

Was something wrong with me? Clearly, all these other women have this innate desire to have a specific kind of birth. Is it weird that I kinda didn't have a preference one way or the other? Am I not maternal? These women felt that, while their c-sections were necessary, that they had missed out. They felt like something had been taken from them. They genuinely believed that. Why didn't I feel that?

Upon talking to another girlfriend who brought up the "skin to skin" experience... I asked myself if I was sad that I didn't get to experience that. And the answer was no. I really didn't feel like I missed out on something. I continued to question why I wasn't like other moms. Why didn't I care? 

Was I not bonded with my baby? 

After a few weeks, when I realized breastfeeding was not going to be an option, I again wondered what was wrong with me that I wasn't upset about that. I started out breastfeeding, spoke with lactation consultants, and tried for several weeks. After she had formula for the first time, I knew instantly that this was the best choice for us. She ate so fast, she slept for hours, she didn't cry for the first time in days, and I was sane. The day she had formula was the first day I didn't cry. I was totally fine switching to formula. But wasn't I supposed to be upset about this? Wasn't I supposed to feel like I was losing a special time with my newborn? Wasn't I supposed to grieve this? 

Ellie is now three years old. She has been a champion sleeper since she was a newborn. We have been well bonded from the get go and I could not be happier with her development. As I prepare to deliver my second child in a few months, I am 100% content with my decision to have another c-section. I am also choosing to start with formula right out the gate, as I have what I like to call "faulty equipment" and I don't desire to experience that drama or excruciating pain again. 

"Aren't you worried you won't be bonded with your son?"

No, I'm not. 

I am his mother and he is my son. We are bonded. And, even if I can't do skin to skin or breastfeed, I really believe that God is bigger than any ideal situation and can bridge any "distance" between us. I know women whose children were in NICU for months and months and they were unable to hold their babies. I don't think they are not well bonded to their children. 

I spoke with someone the other day who got married recently and explained that she had never dreamed of her wedding day. She never thought about what her dress would look like or what it would be like to be walked down the aisle. She never envisioned her first dance with her husband or throwing a bouquet to her girlfriends. It was foreign to her and she had a very simple wedding because she kinda didn't care how it happened. She just wanted to be married, and she was willing to go through the necessary hoopla but really didn't care if her bridesmaids wore purple or blue. I was different than that. I wanted every detail planned, every program tied with the right shade of gold ribbon, every cake stand carefully selected. My friend and I were different in what we wanted our weddings to be like. 

I am writing this to say, there are some moms who place great importance on the day they give birth and how they want that to happen. They want to experience childbirth. I validate them and I understand that this is incredibly important to them. If you are pregnant, and you have a birth plan, I certainly hope that you get everything you have envisioned for the day your child is born.  If you already had a baby and it didn't go according to plan, I'm so sorry that you were disappointed for something you had dreamed of for so long. However, I also want to say to you, dear reader, if you are like me and you kinda don't care either way and you have no expectation and you just want to hold your baby even if they have to pull him out of your knee, that is okay too. 

It is okay if you're a different kind of mom. 

You're still a really, really good mom. 

1 comment: