This Saturday Sidebar Question had me thinking about and reliving my birthing experiences.
When my son was born, I had been having contractions for several months. I knew they were Braxton Hicks, but they were so regular for so long, even my doctor was concerned. I had a scheduled date for my c-section (I have a bad back, so was told from the onset that I would have to have a Caesarian), but my son didn’t want to have anything to do with my schedule – much like he has been ever since that amazing November day. So about a week before we were scheduled to go in, my contractions increased, while I was working at home, and on the phone with a client. I remember telling her “ask me whatever else you need to know about, since I am going into labor now and you won’t be talking to me for the next 3 months”. 🙂
I calmly packed my bag, took a shower, and waited for my husband and parents to show up to go to the hospital. When we got there I calmly walked up to the labor unit and was taken into an exam room, and eventually to the operating room (OR).
Throughout the entire time, I was calm…focusing on what I needed to do: change clothes, listen to the baby’s heartbeat, walk into the OR. My mother, on the other hand, was panicking: telling the doctors and nurses how to do their jobs, insisting that her daughter should not wait (forget about the fact that another woman on the ward actually needed an emergency c-section, so as expected, was put ahead of me for the OR). I wasn’t in any huge discomfort, even though I was having contractions every couple of minutes.
I finally made it into the OR and was freezing, literally shivering, during the operation, when all of a sudden I heard this tiny voice crying as he took his first breath and I started crying…bawling really…as so many emotions raced through me. I was sad to see the the end of the pregnancy, since I loved being pregnant, yet excited and nervous for the next phase of motherhood to begin, relieved that he was healthy and overcome with apprehension of what the next phase would bring (as well as all of the crazy hormones that were racing through me).
“Is he out?” I asked, knowing full well the answer already was yes. He was placed on me and I held him for just a minute before they took him away. I was surprised that I didn’t feel that “love at first sight” that mothers talk about. I felt responsible for him, and felt an overwhelming relief that he was healthy, but I didn’t “LOVE” him…not yet anyway.
I went to recovery to allow the anesthesia to wear off, and I didn’t see him again until a few hours after I had been moved to my room! Everything I had read or been told, said to put the baby to your breast right away. What if they didn’t know and gave him formula in the nursery? I made sure to tell every nurse that I planned to breastfeed and that he should not get a bottle. What if he rejected my breast? What if…what if?! I was determined to do this, and asked for him the instant I went to my room to begin the difficult journey of motherhood and breastfeeding with my newborn son.
My daughter’s birth was a much less emotional one…perhaps because I was now an “expert”….after all, I had done this before, right?! As was the case with my son, I had months of contractions. She too is stubborn and strong willed, and decided to come a month before her due date. We were having dinner, and the contractions started coming more frequently, and a little stronger. I called my mother to come over and watch my now 3.5 year old son, so that we could go to the hospital. They examined me and said that since I was only at 36 weeks, “Let’s see if we can keep her for a few more days.” They sent me home and told me to just keep an eye on the contractions. The following day, the contractions got stronger, so my son went to sleep at his grandmother’s and my husband and I went back to the hospital the following night.
I was quite calm listening to the beeping machines and listening to my daughter’s heartbeat. Everything seemed to move in slow motion – as opposed to my son’s birth, which seemed so fast paced and with so much buzzing all around me, as if I was the eye of the hurricane. The nurses didn’t check on me too much, since I had done this before. I was a seasoned professional – right? 😉
When I was taken into the OR, I was freezing, just the same, but didn’t ask as many questions. I patiently waited as I felt the doctors pushing and pulling on the other side of the curtain, and then finally after what seemed like a much longer time, the little cry came. All of a sudden I felt overwhelmed when I heard her and started to cry with her. I realized I was just as nervous this time around…I just knew what to expect.
Since I had my son, the hospital policies had changed for the better to promote healthy bonding between mother and child. This time I would get to hold my newborn longer before she was taken up to the nursery. This time I would get to nurse her straight away in the recovery room, and she wouldn’t have to wait for hours to meet her Maman. She would lay, skin to skin, with me for about a half hour before being taken to go through her litany of tests. It felt right… It felt loving. I felt that I was where I was supposed to be, looking forward to the next leg of this amazing journey into motherhood, with both of my children.
What was/were your birthing experience(s) like? Did it/they live up to your expectations?
This is an original post for World Moms Blog by Maman Aya of New York City, USA.
Photo credit to the great nurse present at the birth of Maman Aya’s daughter.