Tori’s Story

Dear Gordy,

“I wanted you more than you ever will know, so I sent love to follow wherever you go…”

These opening words of Nancy Tillman’s Wherever You Are, My Love Will Find You perfectly encapsulate your mom’s enormous love for you. Before you were born, she was fighting for you. Before she had seen your face or held your hands or counted your tiny toes, she was loving you with her every waking thought, with each decision she made, and with all of her energy.

Her love was a force to be reckoned with when she found out you were in a breech position late in her pregnancy.  Your sweet mama did everything in her power, tried every recommendation she heard, to get you to flip so that you could have what she thought at the time was the healthiest birth for you. No matter the cost or the time needed or the pain it caused her, she wanted only what would be best for her baby.

Her love followed you as you led her to chiropractic adjustments; to moxibustion burning sessions; to acupuncture appointments; to hours spent in inverted positions over her final weeks of pregnancy; to the health-food store for homeopathic remedies; to conversations with you through her low belly; to the pool to do handstands; and to an appointment for an external cephalic version.

Nothing worked.

Sometimes parenting turns out to be as much for parents’ benefit as for their kids’. Your parents wrestled with tough decisions, and ultimately that process changed them for the better as they loved you through your journey out of the womb and into the world, as their combined, powerful love for you led them to the most difficult decision of all.

When I first met with your parents, they were so excited to prepare for another amazing natural birth. They had hired me as their doula, and the three of us talked enthusiastically about birth plans, practiced comfort techniques, and picked out birth affirmations to read to your mom in labor. As the weeks went by and you were breech, and then you were still breech, and then footling breech, the process of letting go of their intended way of birthing you was not easy for them. It was painful at first, but then they discovered within themselves that they could give birth by cesarean with just as much ownership as with any natural delivery. Instead of letting themselves feel boxed into a surgical birth, they chose to choose birth by cesarean. They chose to prepare for the best birth they could, no matter what it would look like. They chose to believe they could have a satisfying birth experience even if it wasn’t what they had expected. They chose to focus on you and what you were clearly telling everyone you needed: A safe way out of your warm home of nine months.

They assembled their team: Dr. Mas, the surgeon, put them at ease during their first meeting together, and your mom called me sounding the most relaxed she had up to that point about the decision to schedule surgery. Sharon, her midwife, agreed to come in and accompany your parents throughout the process even though it was her day off. They wouldn’t know who their nurse or assisting physician would be until the day of, but having their surgeon and midwife full of encouragement and advocating for them gave your parents such peace as they prepared for your arrival.

The morning of your birthday, your mom was a combination of feelings that only moms can embody all at once: excitement, anxiety, relaxation, fear, trust, confidence, joy. Your dad was her anchor, calm and steady, at her side every moment until she was taken to the OR. Your grandma was there as well, taking pictures and providing celebratory beers for after your birth.

When the nurse came to escort your mom to the OR, a series of minutes began that felt like eternity to your mom while she was temporarily separated from her support team. Your dad had to wait until just before surgery to be permitted into the OR. Thankfully, your mom had Jill, one of her nurses, to support her. She recognized your mom’s fear and defended her when she cried upon entering the OR. Her protective presence and reassuring words comforted your mom as she waited for your dad’s and Sharon’s arrival. Your mom leaned her head onto Jill’s shoulder as anesthesia was administered into her back, and Jill gently massaged your mom’s shoulders.

A moment of confusion arose when Dr. Mas called out, “Alright everybody, are we ready?” and nearly began the surgery without your Daddy present! “Wait!” your mom cried, “My husband isn’t here yet!” It was a close one. But the snafu was corrected, your dad was ushered in, and the process of meeting you began. 

“I sent love to follow wherever you go…” Love led them there.
imageTo the operating room. A place they had never expected to be until very recently. But they entered wholeheartedly when the time came, because you would be there.

“It was bizarre,” your mom recalled later. “Everyone was talking about how big he was and I couldn’t see anything and asked ‘What’s happening?’ They weighed him and brought him over to me, and Sharon helped get him on my chest.” And then the relief came of having her baby with her; reality set in that she was meeting her son. Once you were there, things weren’t so bizarre anymore. She held you and fed you, and the bonding process that began nine months before unfolded more of its layers for your parents to explore.

Your mom and dad swooned in their love for you as they spent their “golden hour” with you, alone other than medical staff in imagetheir recovery room, snuggling and kissing and admiring you, filled with wonder at the sight and smell and feel of you. Their sense of time took a hiatus as their world temporarily shrank to what was enclosed in those four walls.

When I walked in to witness this happy union of you and your parents, the first thing I noticed was your mom’s glow. People often say a woman has a certain happy glow after giving birth to her baby. People often make jokes about dads who tell their recently-laboring wives that they’re beautiful. How could a woman who just went through something so physically taxing, whether labor or major surgery, possibly look beautiful? Your mom had exactly that glow. That glow, that beauty—it isn’t about the method of delivery, the endorphins, the sweat and tears it took to get to that moment of holding you. It’s about that moment. It’s about meeting her baby. Your mom gave birth to you that day in the way that you needed, with all her might and strength and heart, and she positively glowed as she held you, caressed you, and fed you your first drops of colostrum. The peace was palpable in that room as your dad hugged you to his chest and swayed, eyes closed, with a look of pure satisfaction at holding his brand new son.

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image“There’s no place, not one, that my love can’t find you.” Even if the place you choose is upside-down compared to their expectations, even if you stubbornly refuse to budge, your parents’ love will be there.

“You’ll never outgrow it… it stretches itself!” Your welcome to the world has made one thing more than evident: your mom and dad will always go to whatever lengths are necessary in order to hold you close, hug you to their chests, and let their words and actions tell you again and again, “‘You are loved. You are loved. You are loved,’ they all say.”

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Story and photos shared with permission

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