There are things about the last time I gave birth that I remember very, very crisply - the bits that revisit me every now and again, in a dream or suddenly during a conversation or are triggered by something I have read. Mostly it's the emotions I remember, the terror, the pain. The conversation my doctor had with me shortly after I went into labour indicating there was no OR available, no anaesthetist available (therefor no epidural), that there were pediatric appendectomies and I would have to wait (lies!). I remember hoping that labour would progress slowly - that time might be on my side as a first timer. I remember hoping that nothing would go sideways. I remember thinking if I stayed still enough, maybe the child could wait until an OR was free and I could still have the birth I wanted. I remember as I was in great pain, asking my husband if I could sue in whispered tones...and I remember being told I was 10 centimetres and the c-section was not going to happen...I remember breaking down and sobbing at that time knowing I had no choice - or at least I had not been given any choice. I remember them breaking my water. I remember the nurse telling me that "my body was made to do this" and that "direct my screams into pushing." I remember hating my body at that time, despising it, feeling it was responsible for the betrayal, for not taking long enough to labour, for causing me such immense pain. I remember being offered a mirror to watch the birth (why on earth would I want to?) and turning it down. I remember my daughter not crying when she was born, needing to be resuscitated after birth, and again watching hoping that she would be okay. I remember being stitched up, and taken back to my room. I remember showering my bloody self after the birth, and sobbing in the shower.
That is what is crisp. It still overwhelms.
Then there's everything that seems to be absent from my memory.
I don't remember where my husband was during the pushing phase. - He indicates he was at my knees, but I do not recall.
I don't remember the name of the doctor who actually delivered my child.
I don't remember my in-laws coming to the hospital when I was actually in labour.
I don't remember having any conversations with my OB after the first conversation, shortly after labour started.
I don't remember the details...
My recollections are both crisp and absent.
There is still a sadness that this is what is there, that terror and pain are what I can recall when joy is what should be the overwhelming recollection (it is not) - it cannot be changed. I am eternally grateful for every memory of my daughter since - for every smile, for every moment of motherhood that I have been blessed with. At least those memories bring overwheling joy. I am also eternally grateful that my experience was not more negative (I am well aware that it might have been worse). But I am angry still, knowing that the ability to recall my daughter's birth - coherently, without being overwhelmed by such negative emotions, was taken from me.