Out the other way

Our first and second children were born “naturally” (if you can call it that, given all the gas, needles and hands involved). Our third was born by Caesarean section.

Coming out “the other way” was more different than I expected. Although, as I saw so little of it, I’m not speaking from any position of authority. A bloke on our ward told me beforehand that he chose to stand shoulder to shoulder with the surgeon throughout. Apparently he showed some clinical interest; so the surgeon pulled out the bladder with a word of explanation and then popped it back in again. Why would anyone, ever, for one moment want to see his wife’s bladder in the palm of another man’s hand? Not me. Instead my answer was straightforward for all the questions I was asked:

Do you want to watch the procedure from the other side of the curtain? No
Do you want to personally remove the baby when the time comes? No
Do you want to hold the baby when it is first removed? No
Do you want to see the baby when it is first removed? No
Would you like to cut the cord yourself? No (someone trained a very long time to be able to cope with the sensation of cutting through human flesh. I didn’t)
Would you like to clean the baby yourself? No (because if someone else is offering, why would I choose to do that?)

No-one asked “So, in summary, you want to play no real role in this highly emotive process, and instead you want to be handed a clean child, as if it’s just been produced by a hermetically sealed, engineered process?” I suspect that they thought it.

And so it happened.

I stood with the anaesthetist. She was lovely. We got chatting. She had chosen to have her baby on a Tuesday so that she could have our surgeon, Austin, operating. I had no idea that some Doctors had groupies. I wonder what happens on Wednesdays?

There seemed to be enough for at least a competitive football team stood around. A midwife. A tool person. A nurse to help the tool person. A nurse to help the Anaesthetist. And another bloke who wrote on the whiteboard. (I’d have his job if I had to choose)

Then Austin came out, at the last moment. Like a King arriving fashionably late to the party. He sailed in with a swish of his surgical gown. All big, clean and in charge. Reassuring. He shook my hand. (Now I think about it, he must have shaken my hand before he put on his glove, or something sterile like that.)
This was Austin.

He would be carrying out the C-Section today.
He was told that everyone was ready.
So he started.

I’m not going to reveal all that happened. I just hid behind the curtain holding Mary’s hand. I struggled to stay composed and I wasn’t the one with a stranger rummaging around inside my stomach. Mary and I were able to have a conversation. I decided that humour was our only way forward. I don’t remember Mary laughing much. I don’t really remember me laughing. I just remember not knowing what conversation was appropriate when half of the conversational pair is being operated on.

One contrast from the previous two births was the suddenness of the arrival of the baby. One moment Mary was pregnant and chatting. The next, Austin was presenting my child to his excellent assistant. But what was a shock to me was no shock to my son’s creator.
“My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.” Psalm 139: 15-16

I’m still grateful to Austin. Just as he had swept in, he swept out. Never to be seen again (unless you go in on Tuesdays). I’m more grateful to The One who has every day of my son’s life mapped out.