Tension Between Anger And Gratitude
By Keisha Graziadei-Shup
Photo by Jon Shup Photography, edited
Disclaimer: This personal birth narrative was written by Keisha Graziadei-Shup. Opinions expressed here are hers and do not necessarily represent New Life Birth Center.
After the c-section they rolled me into another room and, an hour later, they brought my baby to me. An hour after birth, I finally got to hold my daughter against my chest and really look at her face.
It’s hard when dozens of people get to see and hold your baby first — dozens of strangers who know nothing about you or the child you just carried and toiled over for nine months straight. She knew my voice, my heartbeat — not theirs.
They didn’t know her name was Jael, or why she had that name, or that she was made primarily of all the honeydew and pineapple I ate while pregnant.
They didn’t know about the hymns she heard at church each Sunday, or the scripture we read through my tummy. They didn’t know about the trips we all took together to pacific and atlantic beaches, and up mountains. They hadn’t seen her dancing on the earliest ultrasound, or heard her little heartbeat. They didn’t know the 20 hours I had just labored, intermittently feeling like I wouldn’t make it.
As a woman who had trouble with the prospect of motherhood and struggled to connect with the child she was carrying, it was important for me to find out the gender right away, then name her, hear her heartbeat as often as possible, and to imagine the moment I would get to see what she looked like, right when she came out.
Now, a whole crew of strangers had seen and handled her as simply a routine task, before me. Her umbilical cord was already gone. I didn’t know who clipped it or when. No more vernix. It felt unjust, like robbery.
That hour mattered.
A year and half later I’m crying again as I write about it and I’m thinking about how moms get separated from their newborns sometimes for much longer, and the toll it must take on them both.
In the end, there she was, and there I was. She was on this side, we were alive, and I was thankful for that. I nursed her for the first time. It was weird, foreign, otherworldly.
“In the old days,” Veronika told me, “they’d have broken your hip, gone up in there and pulled her out.” In the old days, I thought, one or both of us might not have made it.
Thank God there’s the option for an epidural and a caesarean when you actually need one.