The bones of my birth story and becoming a mother are like everyone else's: a woman in labor in the hospital; the hum of the equipment monitoring the woman and the baby; the nurses moving in and out; moans as the contractions intensified and soothing words.
The details are different.
I was not the woman in labor although the baby being born was my biological child.
The woman in labor was our gestational carrier. My husband and I sat in chairs against the wall a little removed from the bed. My anxiety was so intense that I thought I would vomit and I couldn't say a word. I wanted to make myself as small as possible. I was terrified.
When we started this journey with F, our gestational carrier in 2008, I never spent much time thinking about what the birth would be like. I knew some information about the stages of labor, pain, etc., but I never thought about what it would be like to sit in that room while she labored.
I was not prepared for the reality. I thought we would have hours to become prepared and accustomed as F’s labor progressed. I pictured us chatting and laughing, enjoying the excitement. In reality, she went into labor suddenly one day before our due date and when we arrived at the hospital an hour after receiving the call from her husband, she was almost fully dilated. It was almost too late for her to receive an epidural.
I wasn’t prepared to see another human in so much pain and agony, pain and agony that technically we caused. I almost felt like we were intruding and shouldn’t be in the room during such a private experience. There were moments in which I couldn’t take it and wanted to run from the room.
Finally F was fully dilated and ready to push and then came fear on top of the anxiety because the doctor commented that she didn’t like the baby’s heart rate and was concerned he wasn’t getting enough oxygen. If F didn’t push him out within a couple of minutes, she was going to have an emergency C-section.
It had been bad enough when we were watching only the birth; would we now be watching the opposite?
F’s husband yelled for us to come to the bed: “It's time!” I didn’t have a chance to process what he meant and next thing I knew, we watched our son emerge from F.
Not many mothers have the opportunity to watch their child being born. It was amazing and beautiful and bloody and gruesome and that moment is burned into my memory forever.
And our son was ok. More than ok -- fine. The doctor cut the cord; the nurses examined him and cleaned him off and suddenly he was in my arms.
After four years of infertility with nothing to show but failure and despair, I finally held my baby in my arms. My husband and I studied him with awe and shock. Three hours before we had been asleep and now we were parents.
I wish I could say that I cried but sometimes in intense moments, I pull my feelings in tightly and clam up. I looked over at F and she was looking at us and smiling. I smiled back, hoping my smile said what I was feeling and how thankful for her I was.
The say it takes a village to raise a child.
Sometimes it takes a village to have one, and it took a village to make me a mother.
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