Thursday, 8 April 2010

Contrast and Compare

Rixa posted about contrasting labor/birth pictures, and I thought I would add my own in as they are very very different! Most notably, she linked to a few posts contrasting the difference in the mothers, after a traumatic birth, versus a victorious birth. Here we go!

Laboring with Ray. I want to say this is on pitocin, but before they broke my water. Things are unpleasant, but not killer at this point. Still? Not pleased being induced, and this is already the second day in. Note the distance between us. (Later on I got closer and clutched onto him, but for most of it it was more like this.)

In the pool with Dori, only a few short hours into active labor, and they have all my attention. But in between, I laughed and chatted and had fun.
This is the first time I held Ray, nearly an hour after his birth. He had been bathed, his eyes filled with goop, and wrapped head to toe. Even though we were both healthy with no complications, we were kept apart for that first hour while I shivered and tried to wiggle my toes and chatted with the less than interested corpsman who was hanging around to make sure I didn't die.
The first time I held Dori, before anyone else. Covered in our birth goo, he didn't get a bath for at least a week! He smelled so amazing. My eyes are closed thanks to me blinking from the flash, but I'm pretty sure that's a bit of a smile. :)

I look tired and stunned. Ray is miles from my face.

Honestly, there is no pic in the immediate postpartum with me looking away from him. I know that I glanced away to see Anthony, and Ray, when they met him, but that was it.

Sleeping, a few hours later. Maybe even the next day. The nurses had found him sleeping on me (supported by the boppy) and me dozing as well and apparently that just would not do.

The only place Dori would settle down to sleep.

Obviously I don't love one boy more than the other. But there is no mistaking how the difference in birth affected our first days together and my feelings about myself. When Ray first came out and gave his first cry, it was ear piercing. Heart wrenching. He just kept shrieking and shrieking, the OB and OR techs could barely speak and be heard over him. In the months that followed, with shots, hunger, gas, colds, circumcision (sadly), he NEVER again cried that way. NEVER.

Dori gave a few quiet little squawks and just started looking around. People say I was brave to do it at home, but I can't fathom being in the hospital and enduring that again. If there was no other way, because of health issues for me or the baby, then I would. But when we're both healthy? HELL. NO. I have experienced birth when it is just that, birth. Without a big fuss and to do, without urgency and drama and poking and prodding and fiddling and adjusting and MANAGING. Birth is not perfect, and inherently there is a level of danger. But there is danger everywhere in life, and babies and mommies can die in the hospital too. It is NEVER a sure thing. There are more studies out all the time reiterating what we have found to be true, that in a low-risk, normal birth, being home is at least as safe as the hospital, and in some cases, safer.

It can still be challenging, difficult and overwhelming, without being traumatic. In the hospital, I was actually treated pretty well. There were only one or two nurses I had any issue with, and they were more annoying than anything else. No one mistreated me. It was a normal, average, common hospital birth. And that, to me, is terrifying, because it was long, excruciating, discouraging, harrowing, and yes, traumatic. (No, I thankfully do not have ptsd, but there are many moms that do) While I loved my baby, and bonded well with him, there was a disconnect. My mind and my body had trouble registering that 1. I was no longer pregnant and 2. This was the same baby that had been inside me nearly 10 months. I gotta say, I never felt that way with Dori. To this day, I have trouble connecting Ray Outside with Ray Inside. With Dori, it was not even a first meeting, it was oh, nice to see you today! This was DEFINITELY the same baby I had been lugging around all summer!

So anyway, I ramble. It's been a while since I posted about this stuff. It's still simmering and cooking in the back of my mind. It's not all consuming, not even really distressing, just something I'm still processing and understanding, drawing strength and self-knowledge from.


Rixa said...

Thanks so much for those photos! I'm amazed at how powerfully images show the stark differences between your births.

Aimee said...

Beautifully written, Stassja. Thank you for sharing!! The differences are really stark when you see the photos.

Shanna said...

So beautiful to read :D Raises a lot of questions for me about the deterioration of child/mother relationships today. I'd never thought of it this way before! Thanks for sharing :D

erin.b said...

Thank you so much, Stassja, for being willing to get out there and talk about what you went through. And you've lovely babies!