The other day, as I showered, I realized with a start that I couldn’t remember the last time I felt my scar. Almost two years ago, I had a cesarean birth with my youngest son, Will. The first year was about getting him out of the hospital and surviving our lives together as a family of five. This second year has been about counting my blessings and marveling in the little person he’s becoming.
I think about his birth and cesarean deliveries daily – and not for the reasons one might think. The last time I wrote during Cesarean Awareness Month was last April, when I talked at length about Will’s birth. It was still hard then, and it’s hard now, but in many ways, it’s easier – obviously, the more time that has passed between his birth and who he is now, where we are as people (and not just physically where we are as people, but emotionally as well!).
These days reading about cesarean deliveries are hard for academic reasons. My experience with Will has profoundly changed me as a person. It has impacted all aspects of my life – not just the “Oh wow, you’re a mom of three!” thing that happens, but it extends far beyond that. His birth and our overall experience has triggered a cascade of questions that I want to answer – I want to find out about the community (face to face and online) support structures women who undergo cesareans have. I want to find out about how pregnant women make decisions about birth. I want to find out about the experiences of women of color as they undergo pregnancy and birth.
I want to learn every single thing and I can’t. So for my dissertation topic, I’m narrowing it way down and even in this process I’ve trimmed more stuff out that I want to talk about some day, in another journal article, for another paper, for another presentation. I’m combining my passion for both photography and birth into my dissertation. I am excited about it and once I pass my prospectus (where I present essentially the first three chapters of my dissertation to my committee for their approval before I begin the research phase of the dissertation), I’ll write a bit more about the topic itself. I have learned so much in writing what I have – and I know I have a lot more to come. But I am pumped, I have a (rough!) plan, and am ready to go.
My sweet little baby, who was once declared too small, is about to turn two years old. This is unfathomable to me – wasn’t I just in a car, speeding down the road with Josh to go to Gainesville, Florida, to meet with the high risk obstetrician who looked like one of the Doctors from the old Doctor Who? Didn’t I just get wheeled into the NICU, dazed from the pain medication, to see the baby, who was unbelievably tiny? Was it six months or three hours ago that I sat over that gigantic green pump, attached to me to get all the milk out of me and into his belly?
I can’t remember. I can’t remember when it was that I last pumped, or that I last thought about Will as a preemie. Age 2 is where babies catch up with their peers and he’s getting there. He is a chatterbox and is on the cusp of a huge verbal shift – any day now and he’s going to bust out with sentences, it feels like! He started walking at about 20 months, which had me worried (of course it did) but I think he was biding his time until he could do it right – and by right, I mean by proving that once you put his little body down, he would show you he could walk by running right into a crowd of people with no fear at all.
I can’t remember the last time I felt the numbness around my scar on my lower belly. After he was born, I recall the amazement in my fingers as I rubbed the skin around my scar and marvel how I could feel it with my fingers, but a good section around the scar was totally numb. It’s not numb anymore, and I don’t know when that changed. I like that I have that sensation, but a little part of me is wistful that I can’t feel it. Yet another indication Will is growing up. Not my little three pound baby anymore, but my 26 pound daredevil runner.
Two years ago as I lay in bed, awaiting with trepidation the possibility of a complicated pregnancy (check!), a less than ideal birth (check!), and a NICU stay (check!), this future of mine was what I held onto hope for. It’s more than what I could have hoped for. I didn’t foresee a future where I would be entrenched in researching and writing about cesareans but here I am.
“Scar tissue is stronger than regular tissue. Realize the strength, move on.”
– Henry Rollins
And on we move. Next stop: dissertation. Let’s do this.