She’s the baby that made me feel whole again. My previous two surrogacies had ended in c-sections – the first one, a set of twins, were born by what’s called “the double whammy” where the first baby is born vaginally and the second baby is born via c-section. The double whammy – that’s no joke - I assure you.
My second surrogacy was also a set of twins, also born by c-section. At full term both of them were laying transverse with no room to turn. As c-sections go, it was pleasant enough.
But vaginal births after c-sections are increasingly rare, just as they were eight years ago when I carried her. I never really went into labor, after a perfectly healthy full-term pregnancy, my water broke during the night. I’d taken kickboxing earlier that evening and even jogged a few laps around the track.
I stayed home a full day after my water broke hoping the contractions would start on their own. If they didn’t, I’d need an induction, which doubled my problems.
The first problem is that inductions are painful. What your body naturally does over the course of time is thrust upon you with the help of an evil IV drip of pitocin, bringing on monstrous contractions that hurt like hell. So all that pain, ummm, yeah, there’s that.
Then there’s the issue that very few doctors will do an induction on a woman with a previous c-section, let alone two of them. They say there’s just too much risk of the uterus rupturing from the force of drug-induced, artificial contractions.
So I really was between a rock and a hard place.
When I checked into the hospital on my due date (which was a day and a half after my water broke) the resident did all the initial assessments and said they’d get the operating room ready for my c-section.
Screeeeeeeech. “That plan is grinding to a halt right now, Buster Resident” I think I said (or maybe something else to that effect).
“Get my OB right now, please” I more likely said. “I’m not consenting to a c-section that isn’t medically necessary.”
He went on to read me the proverbial riot act about how risky a vaginal birth was after not one, but two c-sections, let alone the fact we were staring down an induction on top of it. The odds were definitely stacked up against me.
“Get my OB right now, please” I repeated. “I’m not consenting to a c-section that isn’t medically necessary.”
My OB came in shortly. When I fearfully asked if I had to have a c-section, he laughed. Honestly, he really did laugh.
“Why would we give you a c-section m’am? That’s crazy” he said in his heavy Guianan accent. I can barely understand a word he says but I don’t care, he’s the man in my book.
“We know you can deliver this baby m’am, you’ve done it before. Let’s get this induction started and you’ll have this baby by dinner time.”
God I love that man.
The pitocin dripped for hours, it hurt like hell (as I knew it would) and finally the blessed epidural was in place. I relaxed and dilated in peace.
The parents watched and waited and doted on me at my side. When I winced in pain, they’d wince in pain. We were all one with this baby.
It finally came time to push and she descended down beautifully. My OB asked “Do you want to feel the baby’s head?” and never having done that before, I of course said yes. There, soft, wet and warm, between my open legs, was the top of her head. I will never, ever forget what that felt like. It was magical. Time seemed to stand still while I felt her warmth, her whole body still inside me, but her energy radiating out into my hand. It was a divine circle of love.
The lull in contractions over, it was time to push her out. My OB asked “M’am, do you want to catch this baby?” and what could I say but yes? Given that chance, how could I say no? And why would I ever want to?
So after her head was out and I was preparing to push again to deliver her shoulders, he placed one of my hands around her neck and my other hand under her chest. I took a deep breath, beared down, and with one big push her body slid out into my own two hands and I lifted her up all by myself onto my chest as I grinned from ear to ear.
It feels like it was yesterday, not eight years ago. She’s the only baby of the 12 that I’ve caught myself.
And my body knows it, too. When I revisit her birth in my head I feel an actual physical connection with her, one that started that very day at that moment. I love all my surrogate babies fiercely and feel a different connection with each of them. Hers is deeply physical.
A few years ago I had the pleasure of having breakfast with her and her parents. She asked me about how she was born and I told her that same story. Then I put my hand on the back of her beautiful blonde head, right there in the restaurant, to show her how we first touched, both of us reliving that sacred moment. That magnetic energy was still there.
As I suppose it always will be.
Happy eighth birthday sweet Rachel Jane, much love to you today and always.