The first time I vividly remember experiencing humidity of heat was stepping into Bucharest airport, weary from an early morning flight and unprepared for the taking of my breathe. Standing at the carousel waiting for luggage to drift through, my companions and I began to drip, and as soon as bags were in hands we rushed en mass to escape through the airports closed doors. Seconds later, frozen by the heat overwhelming us, our legs couldn’t decide where to take us for outside the doors of the airports stifling heat waited the humidity air conditioning couldn’t beat.
My husband and my baby are fast asleep. I slipped from the room once I’d watched them drift off, and sit now watching steam rose from this mug of coffee blending with the haze the days humidity adds to the air within this room. Every year in Istanbul, humidity reaches high peaks and humidity itself is stifling. People can deal with high temperature or rainfall or snow, but humidity seems to bring out our worst when as soon as we’ve showered feel dirty again. Yet humidity comes every summer and knowing this means we can do our best to prepare. We add humidifiers to the bedrooms, set the fans at the perfectly poised angle, wash out our linens and fill the freezer with box full of ice. Humidity is easier when we’re prepared for it before: Everything is easier when you face it head on.
I’m really not sure that preparedness is a word, in fact I’m kinda sure it isn’t, but it should be because preparedness is different to being prepared; it’s almost preparing to become prepared; allowing for constants to shift. At 35 weeks pregnant, I’m starting to realise that our child currently cradled in my womb will likely join our world in the way of his brother, for though instinct hates the idea, practicality and emotional wellbeing suggest a c-section is the way we should meet. Being an avid supporter of natural birth, a true believer in the power of a womans body to handle the journey of childbirth and having already experienced one c-section which left me reeling with sadness and guilt, the notion of opting for an elective c-section I would actively fight against the suggestion of leaves me saddened, feeling hypocritical yet realistic in what is likely our path.
Since we were blessed with this pregnancy, we’ve had to fight off many unwanted comments from within a society where little sits within the sphere of decisional autonomy. The number of people who have said “You had an accident, huh?”, or “You’ve done wrong – M’s too little”, has been lost count of because were I to recall them, all of these comments, I might slowly combust – especially seeing as most were made by mere acquaintances or strangers I’ve met around town. Here in Turkey, it seems the decision if and when to have a second child should follow a convention of sorts and apparently, 16months apart is not quite the convention in the general mind. We chose to have our children so very close together for reasons that are ours and ours alone. We stand firmly by those reasons and are so very thankful for this new life swimming inside me, growing stronger with every minute passing each subsequent day. Yet as this pregnancy progresses the past few weeks or so, it’s a little clearer now we could have done more preparedness. While pregnant with M, I experienced few complications alhamduillah. migraines were the worst of my problems and as I wasn’t working, these were an inconvenience rather than detrimental to the functioning of daily life. Nievely we didn’t give much thought to my pregnancy health this time round; the past few weeks as blood pressure has plummeted and risen drastically are suggesting we should have. Though we have family near-by, none of them are in the position to be able to offer support. We don’t have a nanny, or housekeeper, or whatever other term you could use to define such a person as is common to employ. When everything runs smoothly, this is exactly how we like it; now we’re realising that spanners hit the works when health starts to bump along the road.
Since M was born he’s been apart from us once, for an hour and was left with his Uncle and Aunt. Though we could have dropped him off with a friends nanny or perhaps found a paying babysitter for the night, we’ve never felt we wanted to take these options, nice though a night alone would sometimes have been. We don’t want to leave our baby with someone we wouldn’t, or haven’t, drunk coffee with, as a friend so succinctly put it recently. Against western notions of child independence and parental freedom as it might be, we feel our child enhances not hinders our world and are delighted to swap fancy restaurants for a child friendly place or earlier meal. When Bump turns into baby we will continue this way with two, but right now, not having acquired frequent babysitters or paid help whom we trust with our son, we’re left a bit stranded with childcare for M when this baby is born or when my BP does silly things.
Idealist me loves the idea of M being present for an uncomplicated unassisted birth taking place in our home, touching his brother while the cord’s still connected to me. Realist me says the doctor and hospital nurses – necessary as a homebirth is off the cards – probably wouldn’t appreciate the extra pair of hands nor the added pressure of a toddler in the room. The perfect solution to get around this tricky spot would be to labour in the middle of the night… We could drive to the hospital a troi, lay M right down to sleep in the room adjoining mine (benefits of Turkish hospital labour), birth his brother and eat breakfast all together. Natural labour though gives no guarantee labour would be as easy or as quick to pass. We could well arrive with a sleeping toddler, labour through the night and as labour progressed into transition, M would no doubt wake demanding Baba or I. The stress of keeping a toddler pacified and contained in an adjoining hospital room is not what a labouring parent needs, I wouldn’t think and if we did this, there’s no guarantee G could be present with me anyhow. Labouring without my husband in a language not my native tongue is not the labour I envisage and truth be told, terrifies me. If we’re going for a natural birth he’s not getting off that easily!
If we schedule a caesarean, we can time it to fit to M’s needs. We can arrive together at the hospital, father and son can eat breakfast and within minutes of Bump being born, we’d be together inshallah and there’d be no stress on M or for us. In a way it would be a UK-esque birth – we could be together in the day, I’d be alone with baby at night; better than the UK though, M could be there with us too, and there’d be no limits on visiting times. It’s not the way we’d envisioned it, or the experience we had with M where G was with us from transferring back from surgery until two days later when we left to all come home, but it would work for our family as we stand now and that’s what’s important ultimately.
Considering a caesarean as a valid birthing option for me is not something I’ve ever done before. I wanted to trust nature, my child and my body to do the job they were intended to do. Altering the natural order of things, predicting our baby’s birth day and scheduling his entry to this world seems against so many principles we believe in altogether. We strove so hard to find a doctor willing to give me a natural birth first time with M given the risk status of the pregnancy on paper, are so lucky to have her support for VBAC should we continue to go down that route. Now though, as I try to come to terms with this new option we’re creating, I wonder how I’d feel had we never found this doctor in the first place. I cannot imagine finding another doctor in this city – at least not in our price range! – who would be willing to assist in a vaginal birth for this baby so close to the c-section; they class me too high risk and we’d have simply no option. So looking at it that way, from a very real point of view, at least we’d have a doctor we trust completely, who approaches childbirth with the same mentality as us performing the surgery. At least we know from experience that not just the doctor but staff too believe that caessarean’s shouldn’t be allowed to intefere with a mother-child bonding immediately after birth and we know within minutes of leaving my womb, all health being in Allah’s hands, our son will be suckling for the first time at my breast. If we have to consider elective c-section to benefit our already born son, then there’s no other place I’d rather have it and in no other hands have it performed.
So now I’m not preparing for a c-section, I’m simply getting my mind to the stage of preparedness, allowing caesarean section to be a valid labour option and one I could embrace as a birth. And I guess in a weird way, there’s a nice aspect to it, the excitement could be highlighted knowing exactly when, to the time and the date, that our son will come and meet us.
At the end of the day, our path’s already written. Our son’s route is already drawn to decide the way he’s meant to come meet us and his path, God has planned out – a far better plan than we could hope to entertain. Prepared or unprepared, someday soon..really, really soon.. our little family is going to grow bigger and though we may feel stressed and unnerved a little now at the hows and the wheres, these will evaporate, be insignificant once we hold our children both together in our arms, sweaty as they’ll be come August and the summer’s highest heat!