Sunday, March 23, 2014

NICU babies - Giving Birth Without Birthing

I have two children.  Almost a decade apart.

I have been pregnant a lot, have had a few miscarriages.   I have felt the pain of being pregnant without seeing my sweet childs eyes look into mine.

I have read a lot of blogs about the story of being a mom.  We all have stories and there is a slight difference in each one but the thread of similarity is constant, we have all had pain in becoming a mother.  In one way or another: loss of a child, loss of a feeling, loss of something.   One thing that keeps popping up time and again when I think of my story is the large desire I had to actually give birth.  I wanted to feel the joy of using the physical strength of giving birth.  I wanted to be able to do the same thing so many woman have done forever and ever.   But I wasn't able to do that.  Both my children were "birthed" using technology.  Both children spent their own time after being birthed in a hospital, a space of beeping and dinging and clicking.  The smells of that soap the parents use to be "safe" while they hold and stroke their dear little ones in the NICU.  I remember it all.

When I meet someone new and the topic of children comes up it ineviables goes to something like "oh you must know what it is like to give birth?"  Well, actually I don't.  I know what it is like to be pregnant until about 31- 34 weeks.   I know what it is like to feel him kick and squirm in there.  I know what it is like to see their image on the screen for the first time.  I know all that.  I don't know how it feels to be so big that you feel like you don't want to be pregnant anymore.  I don't know how it feels to have contractions so strong that the baby comes out.

I don't know what it feels like to recover simply from giving birth.  I don't know what it is like to go home with your child, to sleep apart from them for the first time when they are far away from you.  To have been with them for what feels like so long and then to be so very far from them, sleeping alone in your bed at home while someone else is caring for them.  I do know what it feels like to endere the hormonal changes without having the benefit from the birthing process.

We are all moms, we are all parenting.  We all do everything as we know how, all differently.  My birthing story is different from most of my friends, my birthing story is unique, it is my own.  My birthing story is very much a like so many other mom's who had a c-section and the child was in the NICU.  I have a similiar story.  But.... society has one story that they expect all mom's to have.  The "positive/best case" story that is in the magazines, that is on the documentation that they give to you when you go to your first pre-natal appointment, the story that is on the website you use to track your weeks.  That society story isn't my story, and that is the point of my post.  Societies stories are narrow and isolating.  Society should learn to use its power to incorporate all humans, societies should learn to be whole and giving, not negative and taking.  Society has a lot to learn.

(UPDATE:  I recently heard this episode of Radiolab:  http://www.radiolab.org/story/288733-23-weeks-6-days/  -  it is a good one about the experience of having a child in the NICU)