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Thoughts on my experience of my recent birth. This was a planned homebirth that was transferred to the hospital in the 43rd week after a four-day home induction failed to progress past 4 centimeters. The hospital staff would not induce me due to supposedly life-threatening conditions, and although I disagreed with their findings my birth team did not, so the end result was an “emergency” cesarean section. We later learned there was actually no medical reason for such a rushed decision.

I had no expectations of what a surgical birth might entail, and was surprised to find it to be such a traumatic experience. I have struggled to process all the emotions that have resulted, and I actually began numbing my emotions so I would feel nothing rather than deal with the pain. Writing out my perspective in the words below has helped with emotional healing. I chose to write in third person to reflect my emotional distance from the experience.

by Rachel

there is a woman who is a mother,
a mother of a precious child.
the child grows inside her,
nurtured and safe inside her
body created to bring her child into the world.

she waits to meet her child.
she wants to welcome her child
into the world gently and peacefully
and warmly and softly
surrounded in love.
welcomed by the water,
welcomed to her arms,
“Welcome to the world, my Little One.”

the time has not yet come
to meet her child, she knows
as she waits for her body
created to bring forth her child
to open.

but they do not believe her.
so she makes her body try
to open and release her child
who is not ready to come
as her body fights to open.
for so long she has protected her child
warm and safe inside her
and is not ready,
for the time has not yet come.

now! now! now! they demand.
as she shivers, naked under the gown
in the cold place they have taken her
to meet her child
who is not ready,
there comes a woman who has a knife.
a knife, sharp and willing.
this cold and empty woman
has come to cut her child,
her precious child,
from her body.
so she begs for poison
to force her body to open
even though it is not time.
I can do it! she cries
exposed and naked on the table
with the knife woman’s hand
inside her body
probing her child
who is not ready to come.

but they will not let her.
she fights, but hopelessly fights
because they are more than she,
louder than she,
stronger than she.
she fights for herself
and she fights for her little one
who is not ready,
and for her body.
they lie and trick and deceive and mislead
and threaten and coerce and intimidate and push
and bully and frighten and demand and judge
and she is all alone
with her little one who lives inside her,
abandoned by all, attacked by all.
she cannot go, but cannot stay.
they are relentless with their battering
words wearing her down
as she shakes,
her tears pouring rivers down her cheeks.

“I consent.”
those awful words from the mother
who cannot make her body
welcome her precious child
in warm, gentle love,
but knows she will do what she must
for her precious child,
even this.
then they tie her down
and feeling she does not feel,
as the knife cuts her body.
and she floats far away
for a long time
as she lies on that cold table.
a baby takes its first breath,
crying for its mama
who is splayed and flayed under bright lights.
and she wants to come down
but can’t so she strains and listens
to that little voice
so weak and frail and
she desperately needs her child
who has been cut from her
broken body which could not open
without a knife.

she waits forever,
an eternity in an hour,
empty for the first time
since she conceived her child,
their connection severed by the cruel hands
of the woman with the knife
who has taken her child away.
as she waits she becomes heavy
and sinks back into her body,
her broken body that would not open,
now butchered and sliced and peeled
and throbbing and burning and aching,
marked and scarred as a forever reminder
of what she could not do.
the searing pain of her body is dulled
by the ache in her heart as she misses her child
who is so close but so far,
nestled in the hands of strangers.
she cannot move, so the tears flow unchecked,
and cannot speak the words she longs to say
to her precious child
off away in unknown arms.

then finally they permit her
that which she never needed permission to have:
they bring the mama her child.
and their skin touches,
and their eyes meet,
their hearts beating close
as they breathe each other in.
although scarred and bleeding
and defeated and shamed,
in their togetherness she is whole for the first time.