What I wished I had known I would want to say...
Written by Sandy McGivern-Butler
This is it. This is what gets written at 4 o'clock in the morning, lying in bed, typed with one finger on an electronic device, with the lighting set to its dimmest.... tears drying on my cheeks.... desperately trying to capture the clarity only 4am can bring.... because for some reason tonight it has popped into my head, over 4 years later, like the smart answer or funny retort you wished you had thought of and used at the time, not realised later... only this is neither funny nor smart. This is serious stuff, at least it is to me. This is what I wish I had said to the surgeon before my daughter's birth. So here goes:
Before you do this, I want to ask you some things.
I find myself in this place that I never wanted to be, in fact that I wanted to never be in. And I mean "place" physically as well as situationally, as well as emotionally.
But since now that we ARE here together, I want to trust you.
In fact, I need to trust you.
I need to feel reassured by you.
So what I want to hear from you, now, is how you plan, with your team, to help me give birth to my baby, and not just perform another surgery.
Every pregnant mother alive has hopes and dreams for the birth of their child. Every mother knows that the moment their child enters the world is significant and means something.
No matter where and under what circumstances.
We want them alive and with minimal damage, sure. Of course. But that is not enough for us, and that should not be enough for you. That should not be the end goal for you. And this should not be the end of hopes and dreams for me.
Afterwards, I don't want the birth certificate form to make me cry when I read the words "given birth" and think "but I didn't...."
During the procedure, I don't want to be part of a procedure. And I definitely don't want a procedure done TO me, as I lie on my back, feeling so little that I even feel like it is happening to someone else.
And I don't want my memories of my first moments meeting my child outside my body to be tainted by this experience.
Such a little thing to you, on the surface, but a mother remembers for the rest of her life the moment she first meets her child... good or bad.... and I don't want my memories of my first thoughts to be "I can't breathe, she's choking me" because I can't feel my arms, I can't use them to hold her, and I can't move her when she is placed too high on my neck. I don't want, when comparing stories with other women of the moment we first meet our babies, for that to be mine.
I wonder if it's ever occurred to you the precious position you are in, doing something that, for whatever reason, WE hoped to be doing and now can not. Bringing our babies into the world. I wonder if it has ever occurred to you how many women's hearts are breaking while they lie on your table, taking it and more, paying any price we have to, to make sure our babies come into the world with the best start we can give them. Even if that means we can't actually give them that best start ourselves, like we have dreamed about for so long.
I wonder if it's ever occurred to you how this might be done as a partnership... I wonder if you have ever thought about how much of this event you can gift back to us, us who feel like we have just had so much taken from us. It wouldn't cost you much, but it would mean the world to us.... what could that look like? What could that be like, to be partnering with a woman and helping her and her baby be born, rather than extracting a baby from her body....
I do want to be able to trust you.
I do want to feel reassured by you.
So I want to hear from you, now, how you plan, with your team, to help me give birth to my baby, and not just perform another surgery.
Tell me how you are going to do that.
By Sandy McGivern-Butler