A surge of anxiety, fear, and nervousness consumed me all at once.
I couldn’t breathe.
I couldn’t focus.
I couldn’t make sense of what was happening.
My child’s heart beat keeps stopping? What kind of sick joke are these doctors playing? This can’t be true.
“I really don’t want to have this emergency c-section you are trying to make me have,” I frantically stated to the doctor out of sheer panic. Just the image in my mind alone of a doctor cutting me open was enough to send me into shock. I’ve never even had stitches before let alone surgery!
I looked at my mom for support and backup. She had a background in nursing. Surely she would suggest another way to get baby Santana here safely.
“Please mom. Don’t allow them to do this… I’m scared. There has to be a way that we can get Santana to calm down and wait a little longer. Mom, please. Tell them there’s another way,” I pleaded with trails of tears staining my cheeks.
I’m sure you have felt every bit of my stress for these last nine months baby Santana. I swear I’m sorry for it. You know that I love you, right? It’s all been a lot but I’m ready to meet you. Please calm down for a safe delivery… C’mon God, haven’t my child and I been through enough already with this pregnancy? I’m not challenging you but you have to hear me out on this one. You know like I know that none of this pregnancy has been easy. Despite it all, I have independently pushed through for the sake of my child and you mean to tell me that we are almost at the end and now I could lose him? I can’t breathe…
“Look Ms. Frontis I know you are scared, but we must act immediately. The reason why baby Santana’s heart keeps stopping is because he’s fighting hard to make his entrance now and you’re just not dilated enough yet to push out a baby. He’s wearing his little body out. Without this c-section, you will be putting both of your lives in jeopardy. We are on your side. We want the same thing you want -- to deliver a healthy baby. I know you didn’t prepare for this but we need your consent to go forward. It is an emergency. For your child’s sake, just take a listen,” the doctor said with a soft voice, insistent voice.
The doctor allowed me to take a listen at baby Santana’s heart beat for myself. It only took hearing his heart beat stop once for me to realize that this was serious. This was not a ploy by the doctors to encourage a c-section for their own liability. My child’s life was REALLY on the line and I had a decision to make -- being spliced open or gambling my unborn child’s chance at life.
In this moment, I felt more like a mother than ever before. It’s not that I didn’t have love for my unborn son before this moment. However something was peculiar about this particular moment. This was my first real experience (of many more to come) of being confronted with my welfare versus my child’s welfare: Whose welfare mattered most?
This feeling was unfamiliar. It was the first time in my life that I cared so much about another human being to the point of saying, “to hell with my own well-being.” This has to be what real unconditional, motherly feels like.
You see, I could lie and say that I was selfless from the moment I found out I was pregnant -- as if my entire mindset changed that very day. Who would I be kidding, though? The fact is I was still 17 and self-centered when I first found out I was expecting. Instead of an automatic awakening, there was initial confusion. Following were days where I told myself, “this is what you should be feeling because this is how moms are supposed to feel.” I beat myself up for not naturally switching to “mommy mode” at first and felt like the most terrible, undeserving mom-to-be. Most teenagers have no earthly idea of what it’s like to think beyond them or know what it feels like to love someone so unconditionally to the point you would give your life for them. I, too, still thought like a teenager at the beginning.
“Ms. Frontis, do you want to sign the papers for the procedure,” the doctor asked once more.
“Yes. Please just get my baby here safely to me”
“We will take care of you both. Let me get the papers and then we are going to have to get the needles in you for ….”
My mind trailed off as the doctor rambled. Of course I feared what was about to happen next but it was really kicking in that I was a REAL mom. I no longer had such a teenager mindset. Instead, I had really come to making every one of my decisions with baby Santana in mind. Through the pregnancy, I had changed. I truly loved this little human being more than life and was willing to do anything for him.
“Oh and Ms. Frontis, only one person can be in the room with you during this procedure.”
I snapped back into reality.
Who would it be? Santana’s father deserved to see his child being born regardless of our history. However, my mom had been by my side every day of the last nine months and I needed her comfort for this surgery….