There was a thread on one of my online haunts today (the mysteriously named "Bargain Board") with posters sharing photographs of their newborns in the first moments of life. So I went through my digital photo library and took a little trip down memory lane.
Those moments were amazing, breathtaking, exhilarating and terrifying. There were particular romantic details attached to each of their births.
With our firstborn there were minor complications at the end of my pregnancy and the doctor predicted the baby would be born within 48 hours. My husband was at sea and I called to let him know, he caught the next helo in and the following morning we were admitted to the hospital in early labour. It was an unusual situation; it's very rare in the Navy to be able to come home from sea for any reason, even the birth of your child.
The next one came along after almost four years of struggle with infertility and loss. She was born three weeks shy of a year after I delivered her stillborn baby brother. It was exactly two hours before the New Year and snowflakes were falling softly outside. When her father announced "it's a girl!", he tells me I sat bolt upright and exclaimed "What????!!!!" I was almost sure the baby would be a boy. I lay awake all that first night, watching her, hardly believing she was real.
Number 3 was stressful. My birth partner (read: husband) was back on a ship and their underway schedule was not predictable. My mother-in-law came out to stay to help me and watch the older kids while I was in labour. Nothing was happening and we were down to three days before I'd be totally on my own, so the doctor agreed to induce. 17 and a half hours of hard, unmedicated labour, with my birth partner rubbing the small of my back for at least half that time (at one point he even put on an elbow brace!), culminated in the entrance of our younger daughter. I don't know how happy she was being induced. This is her the next day:
And our youngest. I was determined to have a natural birth experience. I wanted to go into labour on my own, to experience the natural progression of things. And I did that. It was fast and furious and I was totally "in the moment" the whole time. It hurt intensely and was absolutely empowering.
So now we are finished with that part of our lives. I remind myself that eventually, and with luck, I'll be able to experience the joy of childbirth again when my children have babies. And then I'll be able to go home and sleep all night.