one of each, or not
I’m not talking about one child that was adopted and one that is biological. Though we certainly get a lot of questions about that.
I’m referring to the difference of experience.
Here we are, less than two weeks before this baby is to be born. With the late discovery and early delivery, we’ve really only had two solid months of warning. My doctor and her nurse call this the “shortest pregnancy ever.”
We had more time to “prepare” for the birth of our daughter Jaye, while dealing with a whole other kind of uncertainty as potential parents.
I think about how Kaye, our daughter’s birthmom, shared many aspects of her pregnancy with us. She wanted to include us, she wanted us to feel involved and connected. But I think she also appreciated the support. She only had a couple of supportive family members at the time, and her friends just couldn’t relate. Of course we made it clear at every step that this was her pregnancy, her baby, her decisions. She knew she was free to change her mind about anything at any time, from whether she wanted us at appointments or the birth, to whether she wanted to breastfeed or parent.
Every thing about Kaye’s pregnancy and birth was alternative by today’s standards. She had zero risk, no testing, no ultrasounds. She heard the heartbeat just once, through a non-electronic contraption, until a doppler was used during the birth. She didn’t even have an internal exam until about 38 weeks. She had a natural home birth in the comfort of her bedroom, guided by the force of life passing through her and three warm wise midwives. She gave birth just after sunrise on her due date with no complications, a few months shy of 21 years old.
My experience is the complete opposite. Highly medicalized and interventionist. High risk due to dangerous past and present conditions. Repeat ultrasounds and cervix checks. Weekly monitoring to check heartbeat, fetal movement, amniotic fluid. Planned c-section, six weeks early, in a sterile operating room, where I’ll be lucky to even hold our baby before they remove my womb for good, stitch me up and take our baby to the NICU. A few months on the other side of 42 years old.
Even the moments afterward will be worlds apart. When Jaye was born, we were fortunate enough to witness her entry to the world firsthand. I was the first person to hold her before passing her to Kaye, before her cord was even cut (by Mac). While Kaye had some time alone with her baby, we also shared some beautiful moments together, in the warmth of the morning sun, the four of us basking in the beauty of the new life she had created.
I always told Kaye and the midwives that experiencing her home birth, welcoming the child who became our daughter, was a dream for me. I knew that if I had ever gotten pregnant again and gone to term, that I would be high-risk. I didn’t know how high-risk at the time, since the placenta issues are worse than I could have imagined. Yet I knew I was so lucky to share an experience that would have been so different from my own.
This time, well, this time the baby will be passed straight to the NICU team, with no time for more than just a quick glance. This time there will there will be a team of doctors ready to knock me out and quickly go to work, to prevent me from bleeding out while they operate. This time I’ll be incoherent for hours and lucky to hold our baby by nightfall.
But in the end, both of these experiences will result in the birth of our children.
Each child will have the most incredible story of how they came to be with us.
As we considered names for this baby, we knew we had to honor this child’s story. Just as we wanted to honor Jaye’s story and Kaye’s role in her life when we chose her name. This baby’s story began and existed before we even knew it was possible. While this child is truly miraculous, certainly Jaye is a miracle too, just as any child is. Although I did consider “Journey” as a middle name (Mac would never agree, I assure you), we realized this was not about our journey anymore. It was about this baby’s journey. More than a name that I adore, we needed a name to honor this child. A strong name, something to honor her persistent lifeforce.
And yes, I did say “she” and “her.” Jaye is going to have a little sister.