The birth of my first child was an absolute party. Basically, I invited everyone I knew to join us in the delivery room -- and bring a friend or "plus one," if they felt so inclined. Originally, I pictured all the women I loved to get together, bring their wit and experience and knowledge, and help me get through the scary process of actually delivering a baby from my body -- and then maybe they'd pour me a glass of bubbly afterward. So yeah, I thought birth should be a scene from Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood. I don't even think I wanted my husband there because he doesn't have a vagina and, therefore, what could he offer?
And then the day came. And my mother and mother-in-law and husband were all there to offer support and encouragement. And I will never, ever have that many people present in the delivery room ever again.
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Let me first say that my mom and mother-in-law are the best people on earth. They are women with strong personalities who always offer outstanding advice and would give their limbs to help us. So it makes sense that I would ask them to be there in the delivery room because, honestly, I was terrified and thought the more, the merrier.
And it started off okay. Both moms jumped if I so much as suggested something on me hurt -- an IV needle or whatnot. I can be passive, but these female warriors had three nurses in my room in under five seconds if I felt any discomfort. It was even a bit embarrassing.
But I was in labor for 18 hours. You'd be surprised at what you can learn about others after spending 18 straight hours in their company. My mother, who is normally a rock, began to unravel when I experienced the first of several horrifyingly painful contractions. I wanted her to tell me it was totally normal -- that it was all part of childbirth. But she was looking at me with her own mom eyes and she couldn't mask her concern in order to make me feel better.
Lesson number one: moms and mother-in-laws aren't objective observers of the birth of your baby. They are deeply invested in it and can easily freak out. It is beyond unreasonable to expect more.
Lesson number two: if you ask others to join you in the birthing room, you are unwittingly asking them to help you. Part of helping you includes allowing them to do things that they think might help soothe you. In my case with my mom, she is Catholic and a true believer. I am agnostic and my husband is an atheist. When she taped a photo of Jesus on the wall in front of me and told me to breathe and focus on it in order to feel better, I nearly flipped out. But is labor the time and place to get into a deep discussion with mom about not pressing her beliefs on others? Uh, no way. So I let that one slide. But I didn't forget it.
Lesson number three: you may want to spend a lot of private time just snuggling your new baby after his or her arrival. That isn't going to happen when several others are present in the room.
All in all, having others in the labor room was an interesting experience for us and not all bad. How many grandmothers get to say they saw their grandchild the second she was born? Pretty cool. But with that said, when we have our second baby in March, we're planning on flying solo in the delivery room this time.
Have you or would you invite others to help you in the delivery room?
Image via George Ruiz/Flickr