Wednesday, August 1, 2007


Recently via a blog, I came across the online celebration of a new-born baby. Posted were beautiful photos of the baby shortly after its birth, of the happy parents in their room afterwards, of all the family members gathered around and holding the new baby. Without warning, I felt angry and deeply sad.

You see, the Peanut was born two months early. Unexpectedly, very early on a Sunday morning.
Shortly after her birth, she was surrounded by a team of doctors, nurses and specialists. We held her briefly, and then she was whisked away, taken to the NICU to be poked and prodded and prepared for her time in her incubator. Everything happened so quickly, that now I can barely remember the period when I first started pushing to two hours later when I was in my room and we were calling family with our surprise announcement. It all happened in a surreal haze. Moments after she was born, a nurse asked if we had a camera. We didn't. We weren't planning on giving birth that night.

That is why we have no photos of those first moments. Our first photos were taken 14 hours later, after she had been hooked up to the wires and tubes that she would wear for the next three weeks.

Most of the time I feel grateful - grateful that the Peanut was born relatively healthy, that we managed to avoid a great deal of complications that often accompanies prematurity, that we got to hold her briefly before she was whisked away to the NICU. I am grateful that we had a comparatively short stay in the NICU, despite her early arrival. I know that we were one of the lucky ones, and that so many, too many, have much worse stories than us. But this day, after viewing this innocent, happy family, I felt a profound sadness.

I was sad that we were denied what should be a "normal" part of having a baby. I was sad that, even if I didn't have a chance to commit those first moments to memory as everything happened so quickly (oh, so very quickly - no time to memorize the shape of her face, the feeling of her skin, the delicate bow of her lips), that at least I would have those precious images. And I was angry with myself, at my body for failing me and causing the situation in the first place.

Sometimes I go back through our early photos - photos from those first few days. I'm not sure what I'm hoping to find. I know that the pictures don't exist, but somehow in the back of my mind I think that if I look through these photos enough that they will remind me of those precious first moments. That they will bring back those lost memories.

I know there will be hundreds, no thousands of other moments, of other memories. But those first moments - the look of wonder on her daddy's face, holding her for the first time. Me, holding her tiny little body so very close. Our beginning as a family, tucked tightly together. I try to hold these images of those moments in my mind's eye, but they are so very, very distant. For this, I grieve.


thirtysomething said...

Oh. I can see why this would cause you to have a feeling of loss. But you know what? Those memories are captured forver on your soul, in your heart. Those first touches of tiny baby, those cuddles, and the feelings you have when you remember that is better than any photo--from one Mom to another.:)

kgirl said...

I'm sorry you both had to go through that. I know women who feel this way after having to have emergency c-sections. It's tough when things don't go as planned, but really, it's about healthy babe/healthy mom. Still, it's ok to be sad. There will be so many amazing memories.

kittenpie said...

LIke kgirl, I've often heard people feel robbed of what they imagined after their birth "plan" goes awry. But I think it's true, what you say, that if everyone is healthy in the end, it is only right that we count our blessings. I was sort of a waffler anyhow, I didn't care much how it happened, as long as it all worked, but then I was never a big baby freak, either, so maybe it's easier that way.

b*babbler said...

It's funny, I was always very pragmatic about the actual birth, and didn't even have a birth plan. I figured whatever happened would happen, and I was ok with that. It was only much later that I felt sad about what we had missed.

But the memories since? Incredible!

Haley-O said...

My sister's baby had to stay in the NICU for a couple of nights after he was born. I remember feeling so bad for her that she couldn't spend the night with her baby beside her, and that she had to listen to all the babies on the floor scream and cry, etc., and see the parents walking down the hall with their babies. BUT, she was SO happy to bring him home when she got to. We all felt blessed that he was healthy and that it was OVER! And, look at the pretty picture you have of her in today's post. THAT'S what's important. I hope this helped!

Kate said...

I feel ya on this. I didn't have nearly as long a time to wait it out as you did, but Alice had trouble breathing when she was born and I couldn't hold her for the first four days. And, without sounding incredibly over-dramatic, I think that loss of those early moments will always make me angry. Silly, really, because as you point out you still get to make new memories when the crisis is over. But it's hard to articulate, really, other than say it hurts.

bubandpie said...

I have a photo hanging on my wall, taken the day after the Pie was born. It makes me happy to look at it, because what I see is the radiant happiness I was feeling that day.

What I don't have on my wall is the photo of my bloated, shell-shocked face the day the Bub was born. Because even though I'm smiling weakly, all I could really feel was relief that it was over - a birth experience in which I felt frightened and out of control rather than joyful.

So I know that sense of loss - and I think for me the problematic first experience paved the way for my much happier experience of labour and delivery.

Got My Kids Mississauga said...

I feel you pain.

I had a similar situation. I have no photos of my son till he was about 12 hours old.

I had the emergency C-Section then they wisked him away. I only saw him for a moment.

Then his hospital picture was compromised in some way. They sent us back the money but I don't have that cute little hospital photo that everyone else has.


But really Haley O is is the joy of today that we must hold in our hearts.

ewe are here said...

I suspect there are a lot of women who feel the same way for different reasons... the birth didn't go quite as planned, things weren't as we imagined them to be, as they should be... and feel a touch of sadness, even anger as you say, over what happened.

But, in the end, you got a lovely, lovely healthy girl -- I just came over from HBM and was admiring all her lovely pictures above -- you are so incredibly blessed. :-)

Jennifer said...

I can so relate to your grief. I was committed to having a completely natural childbirth with Allison. I hired a doula and we prepared ONLY for the event to take place in that way. I drew a freaking picture of me reaching down touching Ally's little head between my legs. When she got stuck in the plumbing and I needed a C-section, I was devestated. All those things I missed out on - the head, the "I gave birth to her," having her placed on my belly while her cord was still attached, the list could go on and on. Ally is almost 3 now, and it took me almost all of those months to come to terms with what happened. I wish that people would not peddle the fact that "your body knows what it's doing," and you can have the birth you want. It's not always true. When it isn't, women like me feel like failures. Thank God for meds and a great therapist.

Like you, I'm thankful and blessed for Allison. She's healthy, beautiful, and basically goes about life thinking that she's hot sh*t. I couldn't ask for anything more, except those normal childbirth moments...


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