Most births have a “plan” and mine was fairly simple: Give me the drugs and we’ll go from there.
What I never expected was my husband and I driving home from our first birthing class, imagining what lay ahead of us, and having my water suddenly break all over the passenger seat. I remember looking at him with an unspoken “holy sh*t,” neither of us grasping the parenting lesson we’d just been slapped with – we were not in charge anymore. We u-turned back to the hospital and a whirlwind two hours later I was lying in the OR – arms outstretched and a spinal numbing my lower half – while my first baby was cut out of me five weeks too early.
Fast-forward nearly five years and it’s the Friday before that same baby is off to kindergarten. A trip to her favorite park and school shoe shopping is on the docket for later, but right now I’m finishing up what the mom blogs would call my “self-care” (aka a morning yoga class). As I lay down in the savasana “resting” pose, I feel a little tug in my lower abdomen. It’s the familiar, yet still unnatural, pull of whatever is stitched together under my skin at my C-section scar adjusting as I stretch out my legs and lay my arms at my side, hands open. My eyes close as I sink into post-workout, mellow bliss. I can hear muffled giggles from the childcare room through the adjacent wall and recognize the sweet sound of my daughter’s among them.
Then, not one, but multiple tears start streaming down my cheeks. OMG! I’m supposed to be doing my self-care and stuff, not crying! Oh no, here come more. I do a quick mental calculation. Nope. My period is weeks away. What is bringing this on?
I’m trying to breathe through what I sense could become a full-blown bawl as we come out of the pose. I wipe my eyes on my sweatshirt as we namaste. I am probably a little too abrupt with another mom as she tries to strike up a conversation. I gather my crew. We start driving home, and the tears come again.
Memory transports me back to the OR and I’m in essentially the same savasana position: flat on my back, arms outstretched, hands open. I get only a brief glimpse of my brand new baby before she’s whisked away to the NICU, my husband with her.
There is beeping and shuffling and muffled conversation on the other side of the blue curtain. Suddenly I feel my chest tighten painfully and I think I might get sick. Am I having a heart attack? The anesthesiologist is the only person I can see so I call out to him, “my chest is so tight I feel like I might throw up.”
He looks down at me, not at all concerned, peeks over the curtain, and nonchalantly says back to me, “Don’t worry, they’re sewing up your uterus right now. There’s a direct line from your uterus to your heart.”
A call for crackers from the backseat snaps me out of the moment, but I’ve just made sense of my meltdown.
Babies grow into kids and get whisked off to school and farther and farther away from us.
But that direct line to our heart? It’s nice to be reminded that’s not going anywhere.