As a lady who is into more crunch than most, I tried to read Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth when I was pregnant. Ina May Gaskin is (as I understand it) the queen of midwifery and runs a birthing center in Tennessee (of all places!) called The Farm. This book is a bible for natural childbirth fans and it starts with a whole bunch of birth stories. Crunchy, earthy, tender birth stories. Pretty much every story (naked pregnant woman takes walk through the woods to deal with contractions, returns to cabin to be massaged tenderly by 5 midwives, etc) ends with a lovely description of the tender moment when life changed, when the baby looked up into mama’s eyes after being born, when the baby immediately found mama’s boob and began suckling. And of course all of the Ina May Gaskin babies immediately latch on.
I say I tried to read it when I was pregnant because I started it and it freaked me out so much that I didn’t get very far. But I just finished devouring the first part with all the birth stories. Since finally giving birth I’ve also been watching reruns of TLC’s Baby’s First Day. Labor was a pretty traumatic experience for me (27 hour induction, long story) so now that it’s long over and done, I find such stories oddly comforting. I usually set the DVR to record episodes that feature first-time moms, or episodes about inductions. If the doctors on the show bring up medical interventions like the contraction-causing drug Pitocin, I yell encouraging things at the TV: “Don’t do it!” “Be careful- your epidural might wear off!” “Listen to your instincts!” “You can do this!” “Tell that doctor you will not consent to that!”
Anyway, one common thread in the Ina May book and the TV show and just about everything you read about giving birth is The Tender Moment. I don’t really remember having this, not when I pushed him out and not when I finally got to hold him 3 hours later. The cord was wrapped around his neck so they didn’t put his little just-born, naked, squirmy, slimy body on my stomach for The Tender Moment. Then I had to sit in recovery for 2 hours while they gave him formula because his glucose was so low.
When I finally got into my room after recovery, I got to hold him. I waited for the epiphany, but I was too exhausted and in too much pain. It was surreal. There he was. He looked exactly like the sonogram pictures I had so many of that I had to put them in an album.
I think I had something resembling the required Tender Moment during sonograms. I cried a bit at my first. I cried at quite a few of them. But I don’t remember having that one special moment you keep hearing about. I am missing a compulsory anecdote.