I had a thought today… I realized that I labored Claire without preparation or even so much as a clue to what was going to happen. At only 23 weeks I was months away from reading about birthing classes, pain management, breathing techniques, dilation, contractions, a birth plan– the list goes on and on.
I had a rough outline in my head of what my labor would be like and it went something like this, “Around week 26-27 call the hospital to schedule a birthing class. Oh, an epidural seems like a good thing. I’m kind of a wuss.” As I entered my 22nd week, I had no idea that I would go into preterm labor and deliver my daughter less than a week later.
As I look back I’m amazed at how I handled the process of laboring and delivering Claire with as little guidance and preparation as I had. I had to work through contractions without an ounce of foresight into how to handle them. I had to suffer through the traumatic sensation of my water breaking without knowing what was happening. I was told I was going to deliver a breech baby with very minor knowledge of what that entailed (I actually had no idea that our OB would have to manually reach in and pull Claire through one arm and leg at a time until it was actually happening). I learned more lessons in birth planning by actually birthing Claire than I could possibly have learned while reading a book.
Even though the end result was truly heartbreaking and watching Claire die was and will always be the worst experience of my entire life, the act of conceiving, carrying and ultimately, delivering her is the best experience of my life. The moment that she was wrestled free from my body, I felt the deepest connection to my daughter. There are no words to describe the magnitude of that sensation.
In a way, it’s similar to my inability to describe the tremendous pain that I feel because she died. My love for her and my hurt over losing her fall on opposite sides of an emotional spectrum but both represent the pinnacle of two very different emotions: love and loss.
Having an incompetent cervix and living with infertility make me question my femininity regularly. In moments of doubt, I only have to remember that I have a beautiful daughter and recall the fact that my very feminine body was able to deliver a healthy child save only for her young age.