My brother's wife had a baby last Wednesday. Now, this would be a point of fascination for any aunt, but of course, Morgan's arrival was of particular interest to me. When I was finishing the manuscript for my book, Birth the Surprising History of How We Are Born, the final words I wrote were about my sister-in-law, Annmarie. She had just witnessed her own sister's delivery of a baby girl by cesarean (the baby was breech.) And Annmarie was transfixed by the idea of scheduling a date, waddling in to the OR, and having a newborn pulled from the zipper compartment. I wrote about her story in the context of the cesarean generation. (One out of every three babies in the US is born by c-section today, certainly not all out of necessity.)
Last fall, however, after Annmarie had read my book, she found out she was pregnant. Suddenly she seemed to have had a change of heart. She wanted a vaginal birth -- perhaps even with an element of surprise! So we were all excited when last week, she checked in to the hospital and contracted for several hours on her own. But her doctor thought her progress was slow compared with others on the maternity floor. Then came the Pitocin. Then the pain. Then the epidural. Then nothing...for three hours. No more dilation. So she had a c-section. The baby was in zero distress, by the way.
When the OB started cutting, Annmarie screamed. She could feel the scalpel scraping across her taut belly. They upped the juice and tried again. Again she screamed. They then put her under general anesthesia. When she woke up, she saw her gorgeous baby girl, with dark hair and big eyes, blinking at her.
Annmarie, like most new mothers I know, had little time or energy to question what had just happened. Fumbling with nursing, nursing a scar, she just valiantly got on with things, the many many things, involved with being a mother: loving her perfect baby, and being grateful for it. It's an anesthesia more powerful than the one they pumped into her in the OR.