Friday, May 20, 2011

Papa's Perspective, part 2 (I want to see)

Zora arching (and throwing gang signs)
I want to see
Peach, now Zora Gloria Lockman, presented face-first.  Without the back of her head pressing on Melissa's cervix, Melissa simply could not dilate enough for a vaginal delivery.  As a newborn, she often arches backwards, trying to see ahead and above her, while her amazing, wide blue eyes take it all in.  We like to think that she wanted to come into the world seeing where she was going.

Several years ago, Melissa became trained in a therapeutic modality called Somatic Experiencing.  The idea is fairly simple.  Habits lodge in the nervous system.  The way we cope, and the way we react to trauma, is best understood as a pattern that we maintain right now in our nervous systems - not as events in our history.

This framework has made a lot of sense to us in understanding our beloved, eccentric, and otherwise incomprehensible Teacup, a dog who needs soothing and swaddling.  Now, that same framework makes sense in understanding Zora.  Here's what I mean:

Zora's go-to position is arching backwards and looking above and behind her.  Sometimes she goes to this position when she is calm.  When I rock her (and sing Baba Hanuman - now easily into the hundreds of times), she often arches her head backwards and looks straight up at me with those bright blue eyes, eyebrows straining to open her eyes as wide as possible.  When we put her on her stomach at 6 days old, she was able to lift her head and turn it to either side - quite unusual for a newborn.
Perhaps she thinks she's a dog?

Arching is also her go-to position when she is upset.  She pushes away and arches her head and chest backwards.  (Somehow, I think this means we're in for it when she's a teenager.)

Understanding this somatically, it is hard to believe that she just learned these behaviors after she was born.  It seems more likely that she's been learning to arch for a while in utero - the pattern maintained in her nervous system in response to stimulus or stress.

So for us, it makes sense that Zora Gloria Lockman was born via cesarean birth.  The doctors that we talked to engaged in (what seemed like fairly unfounded) speculation about whether Melissa's fibroid (that was not even on her uterus) or the large amount of amniotic fluid kept Zora floating and prevented her from tucking her chin and engaging the back of her head.  While those things may well have an effect, no one could provide us any evidence that this was the case for Zora or that those factors generally prevent chin tucking.

More importantly for the way that I see the world (I don't want to speak for Melissa), that model turns Zora into a passive object tossed about by the peculiarities of Melissa's internal organs.  (Incidentally, the docs framed several other aspects of pregnancy - turning head down, dropping into the pelvis - as events about which we could only be passive even though there is empirical evidence that pregnant mamas can affect those things.)  Of course Zora was affected by Melissa's internal organs, but Zora was also becoming a separate organism.  She was organized separately from Melissa.  Late stage fetuses hear sounds, recognize voices, open their eyes, and respond to movements.  And part of the way Zora's nervous system organized was to arch.

Which brings me back to one of the first ways that I can understand my daughter.  Permit me some poetic license here; I don't actually think that she had conscious intention about her birth process.  Still, it makes for a nice story to help me make meaning about who my daughter is: Zora wanted to come into the world seeing where she was going.

1 comment:

  1. Wow Mark, thank you so much for sharing this. Melissa is such a strong powerful woman. That birth story wow what an strenous experience and she toughed through it. Zora is beautiful and I like to agree with your story of how Zora came into the world. Congratulations I hope things are wonderful and that you are able to take some turns sleeping.