This picture is EVERYTHING. I don't know where to begin or how to share but I am just going to take my own advice and start somewhere and revel in the beauty and truth that I create amid the mess of my own thoughts.
I have wanted to articulate my experience for so long. 3 months of Ryan's existence to be exact. But words do not seem big enough to describe all that it was and is. The surrender. The beauty. The sacredness.
Even still, as I am writing this, I know that I cannot do the experience justice--- but I want to at least start the unpacking.
It is International Breastfeeding Week, and this picture came to my mind in honor of this week. I am so grateful to the sweet nurse (I think her name was Kristin and I know she was from the Cape because in my groggy post surgery state, I remember we bonded about that) for taking this picture. For capturing a moment that I was too present in to even think about capturing. This was moments after my sweet baby Ryan was born.
This picture brings about a little sadness that I do not have one like this to capture Mikayla's birth. In fact, sadly, I do not even have any hospital pictures with her, holding my first special baby.
Part of me wonders why everything has to be a comparison--like why should I care? Why can't I let an experience just be an experience without having to connect deeper meaning to it--sometimes overanalyzing can be exhausting.
And another part of me feels that this has been symbolic to the experience.
When I had Mikayla I was so naive---thinking that everything was going to go according to this perfectly crafted plan. If I could just envision a smooth labor and delivery--if I could just breath her down as I had learned in Hypnobirthing, everything would be fine.
After 32 hours of labor from start to finish, back labor, and being transported out of the beautiful birth center that I had planned to have my baby in and into my first ever hospital visit, the magic and enthusiasm had definitely worn off.
I still cannot describe the magic of how I felt when my midwife put her on me after she was born--and yet I did not get any pictures at all with her. But I am deciding in this moment to release that. Let it go--not having a picture with her in the hospital does not diminish the beauty of that experience and all the gifts that it brought me, most notably the most amazing daughter I could have ever asked for who pushes me daily to be a better version of myself.
But as always, I digress.
This birth was different for so many different reasons. It was a planned c-section and even though that was certainly not the delivery I was hoping for (round 2 of surrendering to the birth that was meant to be instead of the one that I had envisioned), I had somehow made peace with it. The making peace was a process in and off itself but one that I look back on fondly.
Perhaps because I was in a space of going through the motions with Mikayla and not processing energy. Perhaps because so much had happened between the two births and I had done so much self work and learned so much about energetics. Either way--I felt the need to truly work through my sadness and shock of the c section verdict.
I went to see a magical new acquaintance turned friend and gem stone connoisseur to buy myself some surrender gifts and while there I shared with her my news of needing a c section despite my best intentions. She gifted me a photo jasper stone that held so much power and healing and was just sort of the right gift at the right time. I held it during bouts of anxiety leading up to the my hospital stay and brought it with me the day of.
Then another amazing soul and energy healer offered to do a reading for me where she would connect with the baby---and it was even more special because she was able to tell me things about my soul baby who I lost in miscarriage a year prior. That experience brought me so much comfort and gave me a way to "reactivate" that calm energy during the process.
I remember feeling anxious as we were leading up to surgery. In fact minutes before they took me in I had a full blown sinus infection--sinus infections are my trigger. They are where I hold blocks and let me know that I have some clearing to do emotionally. I held my stone and used the tools given to me in the reading to help clear some of the funk and then was wheeled away from Mike to a very sterile operating room.
While in there I was anxious, but again went back to my tools, and was immediately reassured by those and the kindness and humor of the anesthesiologists. They were so wonderful--I do not have enough good things to say about them (April and Dr. Fredderico--probably butchering his last name but he rocks and I wrote a review about him). And by the time they brought Mike in, I was so much more calm.
There were so many things that were amazing to me about the process. How I could be cut open on one side of a curtain while not feeling anything. How it seemed so routine to the doctors and staff--a regular Tuesday at the office--while it was so monumentally life changing for me. How with what seemed like million people in the room at times it was so intimate and special between Mike and I as we awaited the birth of our son.
And then despite my preconceived notions of c sections, how holistic the whole thing was. As this picture captures, within moments of his birth Ryan was put on me and was nursing. My organs still out (maybe?), me being sewn up and worked on, and simultaneously bonding with and nurturing the new life that I had created.
The whole thing was beautiful. And as I said before, words will never do this justice.
Before I went into the hospital I shared with a friend, the very one who turned me onto the birth center idea in the first place, how I had to have a c section. She told me that I was going to be the most mindful c section mama ever and that was a comforting thought and one that I wanted to live up to. I also bonded with another friend who was about to have her 2nd c section who told me ways she brought intentionality to the experience by meditation, oils, and pre surgery massage. This type of thinking about a typically mundane and sterile hospital experience was revoluationary to me.
And so I was determined to make my post surgery hospital room a sort of sanctuary. I journaled. And played meditation music. And diffused around the clock. Every nurse that came in commented on how zen it felt and I can honestly look back on that experience with such a positive reflection. In fact, sometimes, I long to go back. To the sacredness and the tranquility of it all.
I am not sure how to close this because it doesn't really feel done. The magnitude of this experience will continue to process through me for days, months, years, and possibly lifetimes to come.
But for today I am grateful that I created the space to begin the unfolding and to honor myself, my baby, and the magical miracle workers who helped make all of this happen along the way.