Really, it doesn’t matter. Except it does, and it keeps coming back, won’t stay away. It just keeps coming back.
It was a couple of months ago. M was having a really tough time getting to sleep. Unusually so, Restless in the ring sling, a guaranteed sure-fire sleep inducer – he cried out, so suddenly, so extremely that I ripped him from the ring sling. In those split seconds between that ‘something’s wrong’ cry that pierced my soul and looking him up and down as I held him up to my eyes, I felt my world collapse. Stomach sank, my heartbeat stopped. Vomit rose. My baby. MK Effendi. There was nothing visible wrong, and I’m convinced – because if dogs and cats can, why can’t he! – I’m convinced M could predict the earthquake that would rock us gently into insecurity a few minutes later. That evening, the combination of the pained, pitiful cry that I could not cure and mother nature showing her wrath, so gently as to be almost unnoticeable yet, still; it kind of shook me up.
It’s almost six months since you were born, and every day it becomes harder and harder to remember that you came from inside me. That you grew from this bean to the boy who rolls, who is rolls! I wouldn’t change a thing, not a thing, except the way you came in. The way you joined our world.
Last night G and I were browsing through photos from M’s first weeks. There was a picture of his first bath. All limbs, long, gangly, no real body shape..not even any nipples yet! his face unsure and unclear. I don’t remember the exact words, but G said something to the effect of “M looks like he’s been thrown into this world and he doesn’t have a clue.” What I heard was ripped out into the world.
If there was ever a sign needed that God exists, the miracle of birth is it, surely? I never say “we made you”, when looking at or talking to M; he was given to us by the Angels (yes, I believe in angels.); gifted to us from Allah swt and was entrusted to our care in my womb: We didn’t make him – audacious! The process of creation, of fetus evolving from two cells, growing bones and a skeletal shell; of the multiplication of billion, trillions of particles to create the brain, the process of thought, a beating heart. And embodying the body, a soul! No, I didn’t ‘make’ him, and yet..
When G said M looked like he’d just appeared – he had. My baby didn’t have time to ease himself in, didn’t experience the transition like he should. Instead of my body working with his, of us pushing together and us seeing him be born, he was cut from me, sterile and clean. I didn’t feel the moment he came out, couldn’t tell you just when. Until I saw him, surgical gloves holding him to me, I didn’t know he was out. Didn’t feel him disconnect. Didn’t know he’d arrived.
The process of labour, of the mother’s body letting go slowly of the child with which she’s been charged, of the child acknowledging its time to leave and evolve…mother and child working together in unison…the birth passage opens, baby’s body descends. The bonding of the one letting go and the one coming out. Labour stimulates the baby into living in the world, renders them alert, teaches novice lungs to breathe and fragile eyes to move. It’s the way they were meant to meet the world.
Not M. M met the world clasped inside my doctors gloves. And I’m glad of that, thankful every second of every day that he did, that he is. But still.
It was my fault. The cord may have been short, the labour may have been tough on him, but if I’d only have insisted we went at my body’s pace. If I’d refused the induction, had listened to my womb. His heart wouldn’t have stopped as it did. From Allah swt it started again, and the cord, short or not did its job; but I didn’t do mine.
As we lay on the bed, M feeding at my breast, we whole room shook. Lightly, ever so. M reached out his hand and placed it on my chest, just over my heart, and I pulled him to me. I can’t imagine any outcome other than this. Whenever his feet catch my scar and the pins and needles start-up, I’m reminded of the miracle that is birth – any birth. Yet at the same time, I’m reminded of my failings, as a Mum, as a woman, as a body. It was my job to protect him and I failed, my job to deliver him and I failed. Most of all it was my job to do the research first, to find the stats that would have told me that over 50% of labours induced by Pitocin end in c-sections. But I didn’t, was blissfully convinced my earth-mama, hypnobirthing, yoga balling vibes would prevail. Never again.
I’m so sorry, M.