By Sadia Shariff
I was 33 weeks into carrying my first baby, and all was going swimmingly. It was a very easy pregnancy for the most part, and we were very excited.
I had been reading about natural birth, and I had scheduled a birth class for the following week that focused on breathing techniques and hypnosis methods to deal with pain during childbirth. Even though the baby was breech and I was at risk for premature labor due to a fibroid, I was confident he would arrive on time and change position. My mom had a completely natural, at-home delivery when I was born, and my sister had given birth to two beautiful babies without any pain medications. I simply assumed it would be the same for me.
It was 6:45 a.m. and my husband and I were up planning the weekend when I got out of bed and realized that I had water running down my legs. I thought my bladder had simply given up on me, but when I rushed to the bathroom, I discovered my water had broken. We looked at each other in disbelief.
I took a quick shower while my husband got dressed and asked me what he should pack on the way to the hospital. I said no need to pack anything yet. I don’t quite know why. Somehow I still thought that the doctor would take one look at me, say it was nothing, and send me back home. I guess I wasn’t quite ready for the baby to be born yet, so my mind couldn’t get around the fact that he was coming.
The ride to the hospital was a quiet one. We held hands, our lips moving as we both prayed silently.
It was a warm, sunny Friday morning, and we walked hand in hand from the parking lot to the hospital. We still didn’t say much to each other. We were both so overwhelmed with feelings. Even if we had talked, I don’t think there are words on this earth that could have encompassed all we felt.
We walked to the maternity ward. The doctor did a check-up and determined that our son was on his way. The doctor decided that since I was two days shy of 34 weeks, we would wait for two days before delivering while monitoring the baby closely to see if anything changed. Since he was still breech, the delivery would have to be a C-section, and I would get steroids to ensure his lungs were mature enough to breathe.
Eight months of careful planning how I wanted the birth to be didn’t matter. All that we wanted was for our son to be okay.
The two days spent in the hospital were tough. I stayed in bed and worked on keeping the baby snug in my belly. I passed the time between praying for his safe arrival, reading up on C-sections and about babies who arrive before their due date, and watching the World Cup games that were going on at that time to distract me a little.
The morning of the surgery, I took a nice long shower and was ready 2 hours before the scheduled 10 o’clock surgery. We were excited, nervous, and scared at the same time.
When I was in the operating room, I felt cold and apprehensive; it just seemed like it was happening so fast, and I wasn’t sure if I was ready for my son yet. Once they gave me the anesthesia and I felt numb, I felt more calm. Then my husband came in and sat down next to me, and I did not feel nervous anymore.
We held hands tightly, and we both kept praying the whole time. I prayed for my son’s health and his safe arrival into this world. I prayed for him to be a righteous person. I prayed for forgiveness. I prayed to be a good mother. I prayed for my family and their well-being. And I prayed for the end of suffering of the needy in this world and softening of the hearts of all the people in the world: I wanted this world to be a beautiful, kind place for my son.
I turned over and looked at my husband and I saw him praying too, and I knew we were both praying for the same things.
Then there was a moment when the room went quiet and there was the sound of shuffled feet and quick hands, and then we heard a wail. The sound filled the room, yet it still was dainty and small. Tears sprung to my eyes, and I squeezed my husband’s hand, and we smiled while we cried.
A few minutes later my husband, who was holding our son, brought him close to me, and I got to see his face, his eyes closed and his skin pink. I couldn’t believe he belonged to me. It was a brief minute before they whisked him away to the special care nursery. But it was enough to know that he would be okay.
I have heard a lot of bad stories about C-sections, but I was very blessed that everything went so well, both during the surgery and during my recovery. I was on such a euphoric high after the delivery; either because of my own body releasing endorphins, or the stuff they had put in my IV. I was so glad that he had come into this world. I felt fantastic. If I could, I would have hopped off the operating table and jumped for joy.
While I was wheeled in to the recovery room, I called my parents, who were oceans away, and told them all had gone well. My husband went into the nursery to check on him and came back to tell me everything was fine.
A bit later I was wheeled into the nursery, and I got to hold him for the first time. He was absolutely perfect, and there are few moments when I have felt as happy as I did then.
I kept reminding myself of that euphoria and just how lucky we were to have a healthy baby during the trying two weeks after his birth that he spent in the Special Care Nursery. He was in an incubator the first week since he wasn’t able to maintain his temperature. I learned to change his first diaper through the little openings in his incubator.
I could only hold and nurse the little one for less than an hour at a time. And even when I did hold him, it was a challenge to make sure the leads monitoring his heart and lungs didn’t slip because then it made an awful beep that would send the nurses rushing. However, despite the difficulties, I could see my son growing stronger and bigger with each passing day. The encouraging responses by the doctors and the nurses had me heartened that he would be home soon. And I felt truly blessed because I met some amazing mothers who had been sitting in the nursery for over a month with their babies, waiting to take them home.
I grew fond of the routine of coming to the hospital in the morning, scrubbing my hands raw before entering the room, feeding him and then pumping milk behind a small screen while he slept. And the smell of newborns and sounds of monitor beeps became familiar and comforting.
Two long weeks later, he was home, and we fell head-on into the responsibilities of new parents. Those two weeks seemed but a distant memory in a few short days.
The birth of my son was not how I had imagined it to be. I had expected an on time, a natural delivery, and to be able to hold and nurse him in my arms as soon as he was born. I had expected to have him in my room and feed him instead of spending the night pumping breast milk. I had expected to take him home with me when we left the hospital instead of visiting him in the Special Care Nursery for two weeks. But none of that mattered.
Things don’t always happen the way you plan, but everything happens for a reason. And now, one year later, I don’t think I would have wanted it to happen any other way. It was all perfect.
Sadia Shariff is a working mom in New Jersey with a beautiful 1 year old boy who has just recently started to crawl and walk but doesn’t understand the meaning of the word ‘No’ yet, and an amazing husband who does not take it personally that she trusts WebMD more than him, even though he’s the doctor and she is merely a financial analyst. They are working hard in making their lifestyle 100% organic and raising a healthy baby who grows up to be, above all things, kind. Sadia shares her journey on her blog, LilZBear.
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