Sunday, June 22, 2008


As I get close and closer to the birth of my second child, I'm feeling compelled to reflect on Hana's birth.

It's something I haven't talked about with many people, mostly because many people don't understand. And those who do understand wish that they didn't.

Hana's birth, according to most, was perfect. She was breech through the whole pregnancy and so a cesarean section was scheduled for 39 weeks. I was prepared for the surgery - the IV, the spinal, the incision and what recovery would be like. Aside from being delayed over an hour, everything went according to plan. There was a bit of tearing to my abdominal muscles, and the anesthetic numbed me to my collarbones, but otherwise it was textbook. Recovery was fairly easy - I had no morphine as was able to control the pain with extra strength Tylenol. It was a successful surgery.

And that is exactly what it felt like - a surgery. I had gone in for surgery and came home recovering from surgery, and the by-product of that was this tiny little human that they had taken from my womb. In some ways it felt like I was bringing home my appendix in a glass jar.

Yes, I know, be thankful for medical technology, at least we were both healthy, that's all that mattered, right?

Except it wasn't all that mattered. I suddenly had this child that I was not emotionally, physically or hormonally prepared for. Don't get me wrong, I loved her from the first moment I saw her. I adored her and thought she was beautiful. But I wasn't connected to her.

For the first few days I tried to hide it, ignore it, anxiously awaiting that moment when I'd feel she was mine. As we struggled with nursing it got worse, to the point where she would start crying and I would just hand her to Ben. My inability to feed her just confirmed the feelings that she wasn't my baby.

For weeks I would casually remark to Ben that it felt like at any moment someone would come to the door to pick her up. Like she was just on loan to me and her real mother was somewhere else. Again, I loved her, cared for her, thought she was beautiful and wonderful, but wasn't attached to her.

I missed the first 12 weeks or so of Hana's life. I was present for it, but I don't really feel I was part of it. It wasn't post-pardum depression - it only involved her, and I wasn't really unhappy. we just had attachment issues.

I had used a sling every now and then from the time we got home from the hospital, but as I realized the feelings weren't going away, I started using it more. We also started bringing Hana in bed with us, and I would nap with her during the day. Most days, she spent at least 20 hours either in the wrap or sleeping beside me. I could smell her. She could feel my breath and hear my heart. I got to know every movement, every face, every noise she made.

That's when it happened. That's when it clicked for us. I was her mama, and she was my baby, and everything was finally right in the world. We spent months attached like that - even when she was 6 months old she was still in a carrier for 4-8 hours a day. She took at least one nap either beside me in bed or in the sling until she was 9 months old. Even now, at almost 20 months and 36 wks pregnant I will still lay down with her, hold her, or put her in a carrier when we're feeling disconnected. We have such a strong bond, such a wonderful connection. She's so secure, so independent, but when she needs it she knows she can always go to her mama for a snuggle.

This is probably the biggest reason I am doing things differently this time around. I don't want to miss that precious newborn time. I don't want to feel like a failure from my first moments as a mother with this child. I want to know, to prove, that my body, my heart and my spirit know how to bring a child into this world and connect with it. I want to know for sure that it wasn't because of me - some lack of compassion or whatever on my part - that we had such problems in the beginning, but that we were victims of misinformation and circumstances.


Dena said...

How crazy- I JUST finished watching "The Business of Being Born", and my next click was over to your blog.

I now understand why you wrapped Hana and co-slept so much. Don't get me wrong, it's not like I thought you were doing something wrong, it's just not for me so much. But, you know what, if I had gone through what you went through I may have done the same thing. I hope that this birth goes as natural as you want it to, and you have no bonding/attachment problems this time around. Have you thought about a post-partum doula? I wonder if that could help if you need it this time around.

Thank you for sharing something so raw, important, and not often talked about.

Dena said...

I must clarify, especially since you know I have been getting into wrapping lately. I meant that I didn't wrap for bonding reasons, but mainly for ease of transportation. But again, I may have done exactly what you did/do if I had gone through the same thing. Thanks again for all your wrapping help and for being so open.

Steph said...

My doula will stay with me as long as I need her to. We do plan on having this baby wrapped and to co-sleep, but more for practical reasons - I couldn't imagine chasing after Hana with a newborn in arms! and I don't want to have to get up out of bed to feed the baby at night.

Anonymous said...

Hi Steph,
I came across your blog a long time ago and check in now and then. Congratulations on your pregnancy and best wishes for a positive birth experience. Having failed to breastfeed my firstborn in spite of really wanting to, I understand many of your feelings. With the support and encouragement of my midwife (and painkillers in the early weeks!), I learnt to breastfeed my secondborn. She never had a bottle and neither has my thirdborn. (I am actually tandem feeding them, another story...) I think you would be wise indeed to keep your doula with you for a few weeks after the birth, as you already know, that can be the hardest time. I also recommend "The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding" by La Leche League. It gave me invaluable advice on breastfeeding especially when my daughter went on nursing strike at 10 weeks.
Best wishes, Amanda

Anonymous said...

while I have not birthed by c section I have had two rather eh births, pitocen druged births, horrible breastfeeding issues ect.. which Is why we are doing it totally different this time too.

I totally understand where you are comming from.. That is why I worked so hard to get this little one to turn this time.. all the accupuncture, the websters, the spinning babies (we will know for sure on monday if it all paid off at the ultrasound)

I don't think a lot of people understand but people like us, who truely believe in gentle birth and that natural birth to give you that sudden jolt of maternal instincts, are not ok with C sections for us personally.

I wish you a perfect wonderful birth with this new little one!
Meghan (J&F'smom from tbw)