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Comments OffApril 14, 2014

Coral’s HBC Story: I Gave Birth to Our Daughter

IMG_2099I did something important. I gave birth to our daughter.

I always imagined birth had finite boundaries. When someone would say they gave birth I believed it to have a clear beginning and a clear ending. I thought of birth as a singular event that held space in time, as well as a great deal of importance. This proved to be true with the birth of my son. I went into labor, yes it was gradual, but there was certainly a time when I was not giving birth and then a time in which the “giving” of birth had concluded. I never thought that it would be this different with subsequent children.

When my daughter was born it was much different. Her birth does not have a clear beginning and really has had no clear ending. In many respects I feel I will continue to give birth to her as she continues to grow into herself and apart from me.

birth
bərTH/
noun
noun: birth; plural noun: births
1. the emergence of a baby or other young from the body of its mother; the start of life as a physically separate being. IMG_0310

My daughter emerged from my body on July 14th, 2013 at 2:24pm. She was 28 weeks and 4 days gestational age. Her physical capacity to live as a separate being from me was then dependent on the medical interventions of the neonatal intensive care unit. Was this her birth? As a matter of formality, yes, this was her birth.

Before she was born I spent several months on bed rest in hopes of healing a large sub-chorionic hematoma that had nearly caused me to miscarry three times. After this condition seemed to have resolved I slowly began to leak amniotic fluid. My water slowly leaked out and moved us forward toward the day she would be born. In some ways, I see this time as a very long labor. I had to learn to be patient, hopeful and resigned on a level previously unknown to me. When I went into active labor on the day of her birth, it sped along quickly and intensely. In reflection, it felt more like a small segment rather than the main event. Her birth did not feel like a conclusion. Because I was put under anesthesia for a cesarean I do not have any memories of her actual birth. I also do not have any memories of her first few hours of life.

IMG_0423After her birth, my daughter lived in a small room inside an even smaller plastic box with machines and apparatus to take the place of my womb. She was being incubated outside of my body. She would live there for 61 days. During that time several very important moments of personal definition happened for both myself and for her. The first time I held her, the moment I first felt her soft hair on my cheek, the first time she grasped my finger, the first time we looked into each other’s eyes, and the first time she put her mouth to my breast. Each of these, and many other moments, felt like part of her birth. These gestures of emergence from me were her start of life as a physically separate being, yet none of these moments happened on the day she first emerged from my body.

Then, there came the day when we brought her home. The day we disconnected the monitors that had been on her continually during the 61 days she was in the hospital. It felt like cutting an umbilical cord. It felt like she was born from that small room. It felt like she was being born, not from my body, but from that hospital.  The day she came home the air felt crisp and fresh. The sky was clear and the sun shone down with heavenly grace. The country roads we traveled, once we left the city behind, were magnificently beautiful. When we came inside our home and stood together in the living room with her, I felt waves of joy and gratitude. I felt love like I remember feeling during my son’s birth and the moments just after. The day we brought my daughter home felt like I had imagined I would feel when she was born.

She was at home with us for two weeks before she had been due. When her due date arrived I felt like she had emerged into our lives in a new way, yet again. I was able to begin reflecting on our experience and all we had done together, all that we had overcome. Because she was premature, her age is referred to in two ways, her actual age and her adjusted age. This will continue until she is two years old, at which time it is expected that her development will be on target for her age rather than being adjusted for her prematurity. I feel that in some ways I will be holding my breath until then.  Maybe then I will feel like she is finally done being born.

Recently, my son saw me putting some cream on my c-section scar after a shower. He said very thoughtfully, “I am sorry you got hurt at the hospital”. I reflected on this comment for a long time before I could reply. Then I said, “Sometimes a mom has to choose to do things they don’t want to do in order to protect their children. This is what I did to protect your sister.” We both felt satisfied with this answer and deep down I felt a conclusion to it all. 11_11 sweet daughter

In many ways I feel heroic for having faced my biggest fear in order to bring my daughter into this world. Sometimes I want everyone to know just how tough the two of us are. Sometimes I just want to say, “Hey, I am totally amazing”. When it comes down to it though, I think all women are heroic for bringing their children into this world. We all face fears and overcome them in order to birth. It is heroic and yet, it is ordinary. I did something very ordinary to choose to protect my child. Birth is an extraordinary event for the individual, but birth is also ordinary. Fundamentally, my daughter’s birth was no different than any other birth. She was a new life. I was a woman on the journey into parenthood. I faced my fears and overcame obstacles of self to bring her into this world.

BIO: Coral Wedel is a loving wife and mother of two. She is a homebirth mom and a cesarean mom. As a designer and maker of things, Coral owns an artisan lifestyle brand featuring handmade products 
for women, children & the home. www.coralmarie.com