by Brittany Oliver
Brittany Oliver has been an Ontario midwife for three years and has recently become a new mother! In fact, she is currently on leave with her beautiful baby girl, born on April 14th, 2020. The shift from midwife to mama has been wonderful, eye-opening, challenging and so fulfilling. Creative writing has been a hobby and outlet of hers since childhood. She lives in Welland, Ontario, with her husband and daughter, their aussie shepherd, and 13-year-old turtle.
I was longingly planning a homebirth in the loving, capable hands of one of my best friends who is also a midwife at my clinic. I did a local hypnobirthing class to prepare myself for labour and every night I visualized that straightforward, normal (but intense!) vaginal birth in my bed surrounded by my amazing husband and mother. Unfortunately, I ended up with prodromal early labour and then dystocia at 4 cm despite artificial rupture of membranes at home. I transferred in for epidural and oxytocin augment but the interventions were unsuccessful and I was still 4 cm. My care team and I decided it was time for a C-section. Although the surgery went smoothly, I really struggled with how my birth ended up. Of course, I was grateful and over the moon to finally meet my healthy girl (who was 11 days past due) but I grieved my home birth and vaginal delivery. I wrote this poem to help process my feelings and the bizarre presence of conflicting sadness in a time of such happiness. I truly hope it serves to normalize any similar feelings for anyone else who reads it.
You were supposed to be born at home
Your perfect head through feminine flora
Into the sheets we anxiously and excitedly prepared
Into the room where we first dreamt of your existence
Into the loving hands of my midwife
How many times had I envisioned that moment?
Nature bringing me to the very edge
but safe, supported and warm in my bed
I cherished that moment in my mind, nurtured it
Your cry, my cry, your wet tiny body being gracefully lifted onto my stomach
Your old home deflated beneath you
My hands providing immediate comfort in your new surroundings
How I longed for it
To feel powerful, primal, out of control even
I craved it
The messiness, the rawness
I wanted to reach for you right away, absent of thought – led only by emotion
A memory to treasure within these familiar walls
But my story, although unique and beautiful…
Left me defeated.
Left me yearning.
Left me with a scar.
Questions reeled through my mind,
irrational, absurd but impossible to silence.
Am I not worthy enough?
Am I not wilful enough?
Am I not woman enough?
Gratefulness and grief teetered within me the day
I brought you home
You had always belonged there
Love instantly swelled within its walls
Hopes, dreams and visions of the future whizzed around corners and through doorways
My baby was home
But my heart still ached
The home birth gear was piled in the corner
of the bedroom
Ready, eager and totally useless.
Sudden loss and emptiness
I swat away the sorrow
It doesn’t feel welcome
I should be elated
And I am confused because I am
But I hadn’t visualized the sterility, bright lights
and smell of cautery
My stomach, once a beautiful temple of life
was numb and disinfected
I never dreamt I would hear your first cry
behind a wall of blue
My hands unable to reach for you, my baby
Yet in that moment I was transformed
I was a mother
And the happiness and bliss I felt was immense
You were here. The journey long and painful
in many ways
But you were here
And you my dear, you are perfect
Just as I suspected
And I would do it all again a thousand times over
So I will wear my scar proudly
Every time I let out a good belly laugh it will dance
Every time I follow my gut it will be my arrow
Every time I pull you close it will be there – the embrace of our inseparable time together
I still ache for a reason things went the way they did
There were no clear answers
Perhaps my heart couldn’t bear to let you distance yourself any further;
my body refusing to accept your impending absence,
my womb gripping it’s greatest creation.
All I know is that we had to create a path for you where none existed
And that in and of itself is kind of poetic
You will always find a way
My pioneer, my trailblazer.