When I was pregnant I wanted a natural home birth. I dreamed of it, studied it, talked to people about it, and planned for it. I looked forward to that first moment after birth when I would hold my baby, still covered in vernix and attached to the umbilical cord, and feel the rush of hormones drown me in a pool of undying love. I wanted to savor every first moment with my baby.
Then my water broke five weeks early and triggered labor. I made the decision to go to the hospital.
I was in labor for 40 hours, and I’m proud to say that I did 36 of them naturally despite the baby being positioned on my back (major ouch!). At that point a minor complication started to arise, so I agreed to being given Pitocin, which made the contractions considerably stronger than I was able to deal with and I asked for an epidural. Bye-bye natural birth. Bye-bye.
When my baby finally came out, they put her on my stomach long enough for them to clamp and cut the umbilical cord, then they rushed her away to the NICU. I told my partner to go with her, and minutes later I found myself alone in the room, paralyzed from the waist down, and wondering if I should summon someone to turn off that beeping monitor. That was not what I had wanted, and the pain of it hit me hard. The first moments of my baby’s life were happening somewhere else, and I couldn’t be there.
A couple hours later a nurse wheeled me up to my baby’s bed, and I got my first real look at her. She was tiny, with a CPAP strapped to her head, an IV in her little hand, and wires attached to her rapidly moving chest. The NICU nurse told me to be careful with touching her because it could easily overstimulate her, and worried about causing my baby discomfort I briefly put my finger in her hand and left it at that. Unfortunately I couldn’t stay for long, and I was taken to my room for my postpartum care then finally sleep.
I didn’t get to hold my baby until she was about 24 hours old. At first I was worried that this unfortunate turn of events would ruin my ability to bond with her — that those initial love hormones were wasted. But as I held my baby against my stomach, I recognized the way that she squirmed and fidgeted, and I knew that she was MY baby. I fell head over heels madly in love with her, and all of my fears about bonding were washed away.
These days Baby and I are inseparable. Despite the fact that the events surrounding my daughter’s birth were all “wrong,” we fell in love with each other anyway with no harm done.