The only thing that brought me comfort was this thought: "I never have to do this again." I chanted this mantra to my husband. Announced it to the nurses who breezed in and out. And whispered it to the doctor. "I never have to do this again."
I am a delicate flower, otherwise known as a massive wimp with no tolerance for pain. But there was some part of me -- the same part that stops shaving my legs in the winter -- that really loved the idea of a natural birth.
Five days after the birth of my first daughter, I held her in my arms as my husband held me. My head was bent against his shoulder and I was sobbing so heavily that I shook. I could barely breathe, but I pushed out the words: "I. Just. Want. To. Feed. My. Baby."
I am glad that Johnson renewed the much-needed attention to the dangers of childbirth. But I hope that his piece does not reignite the overly-simplistic midwife vs. doctor debate. What we need is a healthy dialogue between these two groups of experts.
I left my body swollen with childbirth, with milk, with life. I left eyes so tired that they felt like they had sand in them. Most of all, I left behind my certainty. My certainty that I knew what I was doing, that my path was assured, that I was safe.
My husband jokingly applies the baseball term "hitting for the cycle" to the way I delivered our three children: from scheduled surgery to drugged and finally undrugged natural. It wasn't some sport, though I was fanatical.
Just like the millions of parenting choices just around the bend, you can't know beforehand if you're making the right choice. So, what's a parent to do? Open up, get educated, get in tune with yourself and lovingly move forward, knowing you are doing the best you can.
As the birth date grew near, because I had taken all the precautions and checked all the "should-do boxes," it never occured to me that I could have anything other than a "perfect birth story." I was naive. Or maybe optmistic. Positive to a fault.