I am wondering at my part in all this, too. At my choice, at 41 weeks, to go ahead and get the family centered cesarean set up with the best doctor/midwife team, available on August 26. Isn’t that the same as pushing to wait for little one to make an appearance herself? To want, rather than to feel need? yes and no. Between 41-42 weeks there are real dangers that make the gamble too high stakes--ultimately that’s what made me decide in a way I never have before: on the spot, to take action. For months I’d been practicing centering to guide me in the labor process, to cope with pain, to work through the mental pitfalls I still felt and had no idea how deep these were (at least, until I found myself on the other side of an abdominal cut, struggling with breastfeeding, and feeling as though I had been transported in time to the difficulties of my first birth experience, and all its problems).
What I am seeing now is that I needed this experience to trigger this pain, these memories, and to release them, as I would not let them go. I needed as well the special care the midwives offered me, and the hope, and the trust in the female body to learn to trust my own, even if in the end IT would not let this baby go. It was as if my entire body became overprotective to Charlotte, wanting to be sure she was perfectly formed and ready for the world. Perhaps even wanting me to be sure that all I ever doubted about myself, and what my body could do or has done, would not repeat itself. I would not lose my life. I would not lose this little life. I had to choose right paths, and honor the path and the experience along with it.
Looking back I find the first part of healing with making a choice to be healthy in both body and mind, and consulting with women whose expertise and compassion raised me up. Just that act--not simple, mind you--was enough to make me a different person. Just asking my husband will give you this: he saw a marked difference in my demeanor from the moment go. I sweated blood making that decision, wondering if it would endanger me to shift gears at 32 weeks, if this new group would understand me, if something would get lost in the shuffle. None of these happened; their professionalism and care, their treatment of me not as clinical but as human, was exactly what I needed to make the pregnancy, the journey, both memorable and normal, my new favorite word.
More than this, I found myself thrown into a mental state I needed to confront to move on from my previous experience. I thought I had moved on, and really I had not. Calling Charlotte Isabella by mistake, crying in the middle of the night in my hospital bed, wondering why I couldn’t do things other mothers seemed capable of---these and other psychological trip wires were signs of something deeper. Something healed when my husband, who got caught up in the chaos himself, stepped outside the madness for a moment and said, Liz, talk about it. And that’s what did it for me: that someone I loved and shared the madness with would have the presence of mind to step away and see the value of sharing pain, of compassion that doesn’t come with answers or solutions, just an ear, a heart open to embracing someone else’s pain. It was a providential moment, for me and for him, something which I believe strengthened our marriage again, as had our run-ins with suffering shared before this .
My mind goes back to Fr Tom--his presence in our lives remains after death, as if he were an advocate for us in the beyond, past that door marked “nevermore”--that Tony Bennett song I cannot get out of my head, so simple, about moving onward, but maybe about more than that:
The days of wine and roses
Laugh and run away
Like a child at play
Through the meadowland
Toward a closing door
A door marked never more
That wasn't there before
The lonely night discloses
Just a passing breeze
Filled with memories
Of the golden smile
That introduced me to
The days of wine and roses
We have our doors, the spaces we move in and out of, physical, metaphysical--some doors need shutting, but some should remain open as long as you can manage, before an unseen hand gently closes it. The decisions and epochs of our lives a series of rooms, meadows, spaces we share, in which memories float like fireflies, then are gone.
And then we look back, and think on them fondly, and wonder how we got through.