My Wife: A Strong Woman, Not A Vessel
I’ve named this Hashmask “Not a Vessel” to honour my wife and all the women who fight to preserve their identity through pregnancy. The following is our story.
The Hashmasks is a fine art collection of 16,384 unique pieces. It allows the owner of a piece to name it, with the name stored in the Ethereum blockchain. Some contain hidden traits like my wife’s Hashmask with her glyph of a pregnant woman (top left).
We knew nothing when my wife was pregnant with our first child. We had no idea about pregnancy, birth or being parents. We were both excited and terrified, same as all first time parents-to-be. My wife, though, had been doing her research. She was doing everything to stay as healthy as possible and was looking forward to giving birth even though she knew it would be grueling.
She’s a strong woman.
Then, towards the end, and after being told twice that our son wasn’t growing, we got a scan. Our son was growing alright but his head was pointing up with the umbilical cord around his neck.
Now, this sounds scary, but as long as he remained in the womb he’d be absolutely fine. The issue would be coming out as the baby could suffer brain damage if the head got stuck for too long. We discussed the possibility of still having a natural birth at length with the director of the maternity unit in one of the world’s best hospitals, to be certain of the risks.
Although a natural birth was certainly possible the risk of harming our son was too high. The recommendation was to have a planned C-section instead. It was the best choice considering the odds.
On the appointed day we went to the hospital and proceeded into an operating room. Then our son was extracted from my wife’s womb. The amazement of having a child hid the experience’s awfulness. We didn’t know any of the people in the operating room.
My wife still is obsessed with the fact that she didn’t even take her shoes off.
The post-partum was even worse. A C-section is major surgery. My wife couldn’t even stand to help her crying baby. She kept being told to “rest” while also getting people into her room every couple of hours for needless consultations, cleaning, food delivery, even to be offered photography services. The noise from the corridor was unbearable. She was supposed to stay three days. We left after two so that she could actually rest.
Now, don’t get me wrong. It was an excellent medical facility. The staff members were impeccable professionals. The issue is that a hospital, as exceptional as it may be, is still a hospital. It will never be a comfortable place.
When my wife got pregnant the second time she saw an opportunity to have a natural birth (with her shoes off!). She wanted to have as little medical intervention as possible without incurring any unreasonable risks for her or our baby.
After a lot of careful research she decided that she wanted to have our daughter at home. I was skeptical at first. Wasn’t that dangerous? What if something went wrong? What were the risks?
As it turns out home births aren’t that risky. Medically trained midwives come to your home with enough diagnostic equipment to monitor the situation, knowledge to assess it and there’s a plan B of how and when to fall back to the hospital if there are complications.
I can see the raising eyebrows; I raised mine. That cannot be zero-risk. There’s a risk to the baby and to the mother. This could end in disaster!
Well, yes, like anything in life reducing any risk to the absolute zero usually involves huge sacrifices. I’m risk averse when it’s reasonable to do so. My wife researched home births thoroughly and convinced me that the risks were comparable to giving birth in a hospital.
[Still not convinced? Please read about the cascade of intervention and come back.]
My wife came home crying after disclosing her home birth intention to the lead obstetrician. I started to fear for her mental health because I knew she was gearing up for a fight against the medical establishment and the chances of victory were slim.
During her first pregnancy she went into the operating room because it seemed the best thing to do. My concern this time was that she’d fight for months only to be forced somehow back into the operating room.
She’s strong. She doesn’t give up a fight. She would be badly hurt if defeated again.
I didn’t want her to take on this struggle. I begged her to concede but to no avail. I had to side with her. We’re married, you know. For better or worse, we’re a team.
Through several months of consultations at the birth clinic she surreptitiously assembled her own adept birth team. There would be two hardened midwives specialized in home births to take care of the baby on her flanks, one doula centered on her care plus me taking up the rear guard to speak in her name if she couldn’t.
The medical establishment would not go gentle into that good night. There was a salvo of warnings: advanced age for childbearing, her iron was low, her amniotic fluid was low. More frequent consultations were suggested. The baby was growing slowly. We slid from 25th percentile to 17th percentile… “if it drops under the 10th percentile she should be induced,” they casually sniped.
There were trust issues too. The birth clinic got paid per consultation. Was that the reason they wanted to engage more by stacking on added consultations? Measuring a baby in the womb has an enormous margin of error. Could we trust that; should we? Who could we trust?
My wife would cry after each consultation. There was nothing wrong with the baby or was there? Was she doing the right thing? Did she have to capitulate and accept a hospital birth? Why, exactly?
Eventually our trust in the birth clinic evaporated. Our confidence had coalesced on the midwives.
My wife went AWOL on the last consultation. What was the point of being told that our baby was small and we should go to the hospital? We knew what the in utero test said and weren’t convinced that the medical etablishment was right.
My wife went into labor a couple of weeks later. The doula came to support us when the labor gathered pace. We called the midwives a couple of hours later. The birth team was assembled and at the ready.
Our daughter’s birth wasn’t painless but it was flawless. My wife gave birth in our bedroom with the help of her birth team, myself and even my five year old son. Everything went fine, better than the last time.
My daughter went from my wife’s womb into our bedroom where she spent the first few days as if in a larger womb. Then she started discovering the world one room at a time followed by one face and one street at a time.
We were relaxed and comfortable. My wife recovered easily. Our daughter came into this world healthy and beautiful. We were never close to danger at any point.
My wife fought hard to preserve her identity and agency despite being pregnant. She shouldn’t have had to do it but she fought tooth and nail to be treated as her own person, her own person who was pregnant with a child that she cared about as only a mother can. She fought to not be a faceless vessel for a child.
For that reason, I’m naming this Hashmask in her honour and in the honour of the women who fight to preserve their identity during pregnancy.
Not a Vessel.
Obligatory Legal Disclaimer: Nothing in the personal story should be interpreted as medical advice nor should it be relied on as a substitute for a licensed medical professional’s opinion. The reader is advised to consult all medical resources available before making any decisions that could impact one’s well being.