When That Feeling Hits

Henry has Cerebal Palsy and Right Sided Hemiparesis due to an in-utero strokeA blog came across my Facebook feed this morning, forwarded by the local natural baby product store in our area. It’s totally appropriate for them to post it, as the blog was one mother’s story of the trauma of an emergency C-section when she had planned for a birth at home, and how she had to find peace with the reality of her birth experience and how it differed from her expectation. And for her, she’s become a speaker, touring to talk about navigating those waters.

And that feeling hits. Like when you’re half asleep headed for the coffee and you step on a lego, the surprise, the pain, the anger. Totally unwanted, unwarranted, unwelcome. Jealousy? Not exactly… Envy? Probably more apt. Just a feeling like I was robbed of something I can never get back. And that’s the thing, if someone told me I could go back and have a “normal” kid, I know I wouldn’t sacrifice the experiences, relationships and personal growth I’ve had in the three and a half years of adventure with Henry. At least, looking back I wouldn’t. I’ve become connected to the world in an entirely different way, dependent on therapists and doctors who have become family, an “expert” on acronyms of Henry’s world. (CIMT, AFO, PT, OT, SLP, IEP…) I’m happy, I really am. I love my son and am deeply proud of his achievements.

But that moment, the moment where the most traumatic thing in a woman’s birth experience is that she couldn’t have the home birth she hoped for and had to have a C-Section… that’s totally foreign to me. What about the moment when your newborn starts having seizures? And they wake you up and tell you what’s going on, and you thank god that he was in the nursery on a monitor and not next to you asleep when he stopped breathing and they revived him…five times. Or the moment when you get discharged, 8 hours after having given birth, and transferred to a larger hospital with a bigger NICU and you get to spend 5 nights sleeping on a couch and walk down a hallway to get a community shower? Or how about the moment when you’re new baby boy is 17 hours hold and they tell you he had a stroke, a massive stroke, 2 days before he was born and lost 85% of his left brain that houses his language center and controls motor skills for his right side. What about that moment? That’s the reality of our birth story. And I don’t have a scar and a public speaking career to show for it. I have daily therapy, ongoing PT, OT, pediatric neurologists, cerebral palsy clinics and regular visits to the children’s hospital for Botox treatments. Botox for my Toddler. That’s my reality. And let me be clear, I know it could be worse. Henry can walk, talk and is more or less a typically developing 3 year old. But that’s how I describe him, as “typically developing”, which never entered my vocabulary when talking about my 7 year old.

Henry is fine. He will be fine. He’ll be better than fine, he’ll be amazing. I know that…. I do. But my birth experience, and parenting experience, will never be that of my peers. And perhaps that’s something worth grieving over, momentarily, and then getting over yourself and being your own form of amazing. Because your girlfriends will never know the joy of watching your Hemi-Kid give a high five with their affected hand. They’ll not grasp the importance of placing the car seat on the correct side of the car so that his affected side is nearest his sister. They won’t get the free clothes from Old Navy because they don’t have thousands in health care every year that they put on their O.N. credit card until the deductible is met. Those successes aren’t transferable to someone with a disappointing birth experience. They have to be earned, the hard way, and are your reward for a job well done.

Good work.

By Beth. Beth is a mom of two, Charlotte (7) and Henry (3) in a small town in rural America. Henry had a stroke in utero and as a result has Cerebral Palsy and Right sided hemiplegia. Beth still regularly Googles how to correctly spell Cerebral Palsy. She would describe her parenting style as somewhere in between desperately hopeful and cautiously optimistic, and is tremendously excited to blog about her parenting adventure on CHASA.