a story about skin to skin

I got to share some words over at Lisa-Jo Baker’s space yesterday– words about mothering, words about what I had expected from my first pregnancy and how everything and nothing changed when Jack made his grand entrance into the world. It’s a day late to be posting but of course, the real work of mothering involves convincing a 14-month-old that it really is raining outside (getting into coats and boots and going outside, then crying, then coming inside…).

It’s a story about the wondrous hard work of mothering. It’s a story that you have all helped me write, as you ponder with me this walk into being someone’s mom. It’s a story you’ve taught me to see, in all your comments and prayers and well wishes. I know it’s been quiet around these parts, but the semester is ending and there is new space carved into my week to write and reflect.

I can’t wait to walk through it with you.

I spent a year and 20 days grieving an empty five minutes. They were the first minutes of my son’s life, minutes of quick, quiet NICU intervention hidden from me where I lay, bleeding profusely onto the delivery room floor, the doctor remembering three stitches in that she hadn’t in fact given me an anesthetic before starting to sew me back together. They were the five minutes I had once imagined as the moments of transformation, the moments I thought I would become a mother, the moments when I would begin, if there is such a thing as beginning after nine months of pregnancy…

Keep reading over at Lisa-Jo’s?



One thought on “a story about skin to skin

  1. Wow. It’s two months after you wrote this, but I’m so glad I found it. I thought I was the only one who felt that way–cheated out of those first five minutes, and grieving it forever afterwards.

    My son was born after three days of labor. I stood for the first 24 hours, determined to do this thing naturally. After that, an epidural was strongly recommended so that I could rest and perhaps avoid a C-section. I would do anything to avoid a C-section because I wanted those first few minutes of skin-to-skin. I wanted to hold him wet and new, cord still attached, heart to my heart. Two days and three epidurals later, he was finally born. And they wouldn’t let me have him. His cord was in a true knot, besides being wrapped around his neck, and he was covered in meconium. They said they had to check him over, wash him off, make sure his lungs were clear, and so forth. He started to cry and it was the sweetest sound I ever heard–calling for his mother–but I couldn’t get to him. I asked; I begged; I began to sob. I had labored for this moment for three days straight. No one understood. When I was finally able to hold him, for about 30 seconds before he was whisked away for more tests, he was all swaddled up, no skin but his tiny face. I was too weak to pull off the wrappings. And then he was gone, and I was soon in a demerol-induced nightmare.

    I actively grieved that for over a year. Every time he cried, I had to make up for the fact that I couldn’t hold him at his first cry.

    I’ve read the story of Jackson, and I can imagine how important those minutes were to you, too. But you are giving me permission to retell my story. It doesn’t need a do-over. It is “perfect in our shadowy, veiled, incomplete seeing of it…”

    There is much for me to contemplate. Thank you for this perspective.

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