Over four months ago, a friend of mine had a planned c-section because her baby was butt down and the butt was thoroughly lodged between the pelvis bone where the baby’s head was supposed to be. This friend is only twenty years old, and I’ve known her since she was twelve.
She’s had a bit of a hard and, unfortunately, a bit too-typical-for-these-rural-parts, kind of life. Yet, her enthusiasm for life impressed me the first day we met; the way she sought out adults from whom to get nurturing when she needed it showed her savvy and resilience. We used to talk a lot about nothing and everything; boys, relationships, drinking and drugs, those big parts of the life that was around her. I told her stories of how pretty much everything stupid I ever did was a result of drinking or being drunk.
When she was younger, this friend used to talk about her dreams – they’d change often – she was going to go to Alaska to visit a cousin and get out of our small town; she was going to be a marine scientist and go to Florida to ply the cool blue and warm waters; she was going to get a degree from school. Sometimes she showed me poems she’d written – they were often quite insightful, and yet, also mixed with clichés, the places she didn’t quite know how to get to in her own consciousness. Over the years, I listened to her talk a lot about, but not achieve, her dreams.
I also watched her turn from a hopeful teen kid into a jaded young adult in a matter of years, all the while doing my best to share any experience of mine that might be helpful. In the last few years, once she dropped out from high school and got a job working the fishing docks near our home in some sort of distorted version of her marine science dream, she met a young man who was rough around the edges but did take care of her.
After about a year of living together, the new boyfriend and she had a baby. I know this friend has no idea what she’s getting into; yet the truth is, while I may have had more information about raising a kid, I didn’t really know what I was getting into myself. But I’m still sad for her about the c-section. She wasn’t thrilled either, but there really isn’t much anyone, even in the most progressive towns, would do with a baby presenting butt down like that. I told her to swim in the pool and turn summersaults underwater, told her to massage her belly, but if she did do what I suggested (which was rare), that baby never did move. So, she got the c-section, and the baby was okay.
I’ve visited with her and the baby several times, mostly to check in on the baby, but I know this friend is resourceful and is pretty well connected with a few nurse practitioners in our area. We’ve talked a lot about breastfeeding, which she is trying and struggling to do, and I give her credit for her effort because most of the mothers her age I know are too shy and self-conscious to keep trying. That’s one thing about being an older mom; I never cared about showing my boobs in public.
I told this friend about the exercises I did with my daughter when she was six months old, after finally realizing that my baby was always pushing herself against the bumper on her crib, smooshing her head against the railings, her head constantly banging against something hard, her neck turned at an awkward angle. My daughter hated going to sleep always, but in her early days, with her head craned upward and backward, she most often fell asleep. I was concerned about this behavior, and also about the fact that though my daughter turned over from back to front at only three months, by six months, she still was stuck there and couldn’t push herself up.
On a recommendation from another midwife, I saw a woman who does cranial-sacral work with babies and she told me to allow my daughter the chance to break through in the way she didn’t get to since she got pulled out of my body. On our bed, I put a v-shaped barrier of pillows down and I hid behind them, telling my daughter to come on through. She’d scoot and scoot her little army crawl, pushing her head against the pillows and breaking through the opening. We did this for about two weeks, usually once a day, as a way of play and exercise. I found other things she could break through, like blankets or even once, I held her upside-down by her ankles behind my legs and let her drop through like she was supposed to have all along. These exercises really seemed to help and after the two weeks was over, she never pushed her head against her crib again.
When I told my younger friend about all this, she said she knew all about it – those twenty-year-olds know everything. But her nurse practitioner, to her credit, told her similar information about babies who’ve been born by c-section – that since they don’t get to feel the experience of fitting through the pelvic bone, they need to experience the breaking through for their psychic development. My young friend even told me about these tube things that people use for their babies; a manufactured way of going down the birth canal. When she said that, I remembered another friend who talked about going through some kind of healing in a similar fashion as an adult, in front of a lot of people at a retreat, crawling through a tube, and re-enacting their birth. I say: do whatever it takes to feel comfortable entering into this world.
I wish for my young new mother friend that she breaks through, too. I have seen her in her motherhood, doe-eyed and overwhelmed, her body a little slumped as she tries to get her little newborn to latch on to her breast. She’s alone in her motherhood a lot, since her partner is a gone-fishing kind of guy and often is at sea for weeks. What a load to carry. I wish for her that she gets to have some of her dreams realized, that motherhood at an early age for her allows her to grow up, and helps her deal in a healthy way with any difficulties of her past and allows her to feel her feelings about the hardships and joys of mothering. As always, I wish to be of service to her, by just letting her know I can help if she needs and I can always listen and not make too many suggestions that she’d ignore anyhow. But, really, I wish for all of us to realize our dreams, for all of us to feel the thrill of breaking through into this world.