One of the things that pulled me out of the mommy wars was all of the stories. This week I’m sharing the stories of other moms that have touched me through their experiences. If you have an experience you would like to share, please email me at email@example.com and I’ll publish it here this week. (All names will be changed to initials to keep them anonymous unless you give me permission to use your name.)
My daughter was born after a lengthy labor and, ultimately, a c-section. I was induced with cervadil which, for some reason, caused me to have something my midwife referred to as “rolling contractions”… meaning that one rolled right into the other, nonstop, no breaks. I had two shots of a narcotic to try and ease the pain, but they did nothing. I labored without pause for 14 hours before finally giving in to an epidural. After the epidural there were 7 more hours with no progress. My midwife suggested it was time for a c-section. The medicine for the c-section made me nauseous, the heat of the room and the proximity of people close to me made me claustrophobic, and the fact that I hadn’t slept in almost 48 hours was helping absolutely nothing. All excuses, I suppose, to make me feel better about the fact that when the doctor said he was going to put my daughter on my chest so I could see her I told him not to. I looked at her for the few seconds he held her in front of me but I didn’t really see her. I couldn’t see past my own misery.
They took her away and sent me to the recovery room. It was after 8 pm. I was told to keep trying to move, to stay awake and keep trying to move my arms and legs. The sooner I could move, the sooner I could go upstairs to see my new baby. But I didn’t want to move. I didn’t want to force myself to function. I just wanted to sleep. I could never remember being so sick or so tired. I knew that somewhere there was a baby waiting for me, that suddenly I was a mother and I needed to get to my baby… I knew those things but couldn’t bring myself to care. I thought about telling them to give my baby a bottle. I wondered if people would think less of me if I asked them to keep my baby in the nursery overnight and I would start being a mom in the morning, after some sleep. Just thinking those thoughts made me feel terrible – this was my first moment as a mom and I was too selfish to do it. It was a terrible feeling.
Finally I was taken upstairs, still pretty immobile from the waist down, and this brand new baby was put into my arms. I stared at her and knew that everyone was watching me stare at her. My sisters, my mom, my husband. I nursed her for the first time. Everyone watched and waited. I said the right things, I suppose, made the right faces. But I wasn’t feeling it. I thought she was cute. Mostly I just wanted to sleep.
One by one people left. My husband fell asleep on the bed next to mine. The meds wore off and I could move. The hospital was dark and quiet (for a hospital), and it was just me and this baby. This perfect, tiny, amazing baby. Suddenly the rush that everyone talks about was there. I didn’t sleep that night either, I stayed awake almost the entire night staring at this baby and learning how to nurse and watching her sleep.
Someday though, my daughter is going to wonder what it was like the first time I laid eyes on her. I wish I had a better story to tell her.