Congratulations! You are pregnant! Whether it’s your first, second, third or – bless your heart – fourth or onward, you have many beautiful and challenging moments ahead. These memories will include the birth of your little ones, which from my experience, you will reminisce at every birth day, tantrum and those rare perfect moments of bliss. Giving birth is truly a miraculous blessing. It’s a personal experience, and each birth is a unique experience that bonds every parent. It begins at your first contraction and culminates with a beautiful little person that will bring you unimaginable joy and fear while defining the true meaning of love.
My husband and I are slowly catching up with the television series “Mad Men.” Season 3 included Betty lying on a stretcher and pushed down a sterile corridor to deliver their third child, ALONE. What a frightening experience – being sent away down a corridor without a familiar face, much less a hand to grab onto for strength as you endure the most emotional, physical and awing experience in your life. However, it was a common occurrence in the 60s to deliver children under a “fog” of medication, remembering little about the experience and awaking to a baby in your arms. Fast forward to today’s conventional delivery procedures and it’s almost a party, or perhaps I have watched a few too many episodes of “One Born Every Minute.” Relatives and guests, including long lost cousins, can visit you during labor and keep you company as you experience every contraction while they share their latest meal, joke and sit around waiting for your bundle of joy.
Why My Husband Was the Sole Source of Support During Labor
From the moment I knew we were expecting our first, I was adamant that my husband would be my support system and by my side, holding my hand, during every contraction. He had a right and a responsibility to experience it alongside me and for us to share this precious experience without the on looking eyes and ears of relatives and friends. The unknown, the possibility of medical intervention, unforeseen complications, hurting others feelings, privacy and ultimately wanting to share that experience with only him were the reasons that led me to my decision. Even the possibility of having family and friends sitting in the waiting room gave me anxiety anticipating the redundant question “Is the baby here yet?”
Having gone through this experience twice, I recommend making a decision early during your pregnancy and conveying your wishes sooner rather than later. A family meeting is an opportunity to voice your thoughts and clarify your wishes while everyone is present, avoiding unspoken assumptions and multiple conversations that may hurt the feelings of loved others. It is also an opportunity to review plans for child care of an older sibling and responsibilities that will be passed along during your absence. Making a decision the day of could lead to additional stress, especially for an event that is not only physically draining but also very emotional. Being uncomfortable and stressed will affect your labor and delivery negatively.
Words could never convey the sentiments and passions of holding your baby for the first time much less the roller coaster ride of each contraction and comments and concerns expressed by medical professionals on hand. Giving birth is an overwhelming experience, and even though I shared my two natural child births, there were details left out for our privacy and moments of uncertainty that I am glad I did not have to share with other relatives and friends at that moment because it would have caused more stress during an already emotional experience. Of course, future grandparents want to be a part of that precious experience, but allowing their children to have their moment as new parents, to experience what they did on their own, and on their terms within their conditions and space is the greatest gift of unconditional and unselfish love one parent can give to another. Whether you choose to have your partner, mother, mother-in-law, doula or friend as your support system, it is your decision and it should be respected. Express your plans with your physician and attending nurse, as they are your advocates.
I also recommend discussing how you plan to communicate with relatives and friends during your labor and delivery. As expected, once news spread about our first’s impending arrival, our phones were quickly flooded with calls and text messages. Of course, they were out of excitement and concern, but at the same time responding was separating my husband and I as a unit and distracting us from the labor and delivery experience. There will be plenty of time to announce to the world his/her arrival, answer questions about their birth and schedule visits.
Cherish the experience of your child’s birth and surround yourself with the support system you need and desire. Trust me, it will be unforgettable!