Birthing a human, pt. 3: Learning to love

Around 7:00am on July 29th, 2016, the nurses started setting up my room for delivery. I don’t remember the details, but I remember the rush of emotion when they told me it was time. When I had gone to sleep around 1:30am, I was 2-3 centimeters dilated after being in the hospital for almost twelve hours. I didn’t expect the nurse to tell me I was fully dilated and ready to go. I remember lying on my left side (my epidural only worked on my right side, so the nurse was having me lie on my left to let gravity help), holding my husband’s hand. I started to tear up just because of the sheer overwhelming-ness of it all. The most fundamental shift in anyone’s life—the moment you become a parent—was about to happen.

My OB was in to check on me around the time the nurses started getting the room ready for delivery. Sometimes pushing can take hours for first time moms, but for some reason, she decided to wait to see how pushing went for me. I think I start pushing around 7:15am, but honestly my memory of the timeline is a bit blurry. I have very vivid memories of a few select moments though. My OB asking if I wanted a mirror. What I saw in the mirror. My OB asking for soap (was it soap? I think so…) when A started crowning (apparently, they wash the baby’s head a bit. Not sure if it’s to make them smell nice or lubricant, lol). My OB strettchinnggg me. The sensation that my urethra was about to explode as he came out. Yelling “FUCK” when I thought my urethra was ripping (btw, I’m assuming that’s the ‘ring of fire’ people talk about). My OB saying “7:33am”.

When my OB placed him on my chest, I started crying right away. But honestly—and this is the main point I want to make today—not because I felt that wave of love that everyone talks about. I don’t even know why I started crying, probably just an overwhelming combination of hormones, relief, and excitement. In so many movies or from older women, you hear about this rush of intense love you get the first time you hold your baby. “It’s like nothing you’ve ever felt,” they say. In that moment, though, sure I loved A, but just because I knew I was now responsible for him. If you asked me later that day if I loved A or our dogs more, I probably would have said I love them about the same.

And that’s ok.

It’s ok that I didn’t have the “right” emotions at the time. It’s ok that the intense, maternal love that makes you want to scream, punch anyone who would hurt him, dance, laugh, and cry all in one moment took a while to develop. There is no “right” way to bond with your newborn. If you feel that rush of scream-sobbing love as soon as your baby is placed on your chest, that’s awesome. If it takes you a few hours, days, or weeks, that’s awesome, too. It will come though! And, man, it is the best.


P.S. In previous posts (here and here), I’ve touched on how I cultivate a positive outlook on childbirth and how race & class privilege have shaped that positive outlook.

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