Cutting the umbilical cord is a time-honored tradition historically bestowed upon new fathers. Honestly, it's all a bit patriarchal for me. After all, we know it's not always dads who do the honors. Practitioners, mothers, and birth coaches cut the cord, too. Hell, my grandma did it for my single mom. However, I am fascinated by a medical procedure that we allow laypeople to do, so I thought I'd ask dads to describe what cutting the cord is actually like.
My husband had some pretty specific expectations about the birth of our first child. For months, he threatened to stay in the waiting room smoking cigars, à la Don Draper. I prevailed in having him by my side, but he insisted on staying at my shoulder and on cutting the umbilical cord. I was good with both. One of my midwives had the forethought to document the event with my cell phone, so we have some pretty incredible pictures. He said it was surprisingly easy.
The umbilical cord is the lifeline between mother and baby. It's how baby received nutrients and oxygen-rich blood and got rid of waste and carbon dioxide. It's connected to the miraculous placenta. Severing that link is a pretty big deal. So, based on what these dads have to say, I think I'll be the one to cut that cord next time.
"The whole laboring experience was long and stressful and at times boring. We had waited for what seemed like forever for our little miracle and for me, it wasn't going to really set in until I got to see him and hold him. I was unsure of how to help because I was hung up on the literal 'cutting the cord' and what it felt like, which I compare to an octopus at a Chinese buffet. But it meant so much more than just cutting that ridiculously tough octopus tentacle. I was able to hold my son and hear him cry and see the miracle we made together. It was a humbling and relaxing feeling."
"The moment was so powerful that I didn't concentrate on cutting the cord. I was just staring at my wife and child."
"Very vivid. Stainless steel sharp scissors. Could lop off a finger or snip through a garden hose. I expected the flesh to express some resistance with the industrial size of the scissors. I squeezed with both hands, but the cut was immediate. I didn't feel it any more than my kids did. The only evidence of trauma was a smear of blood on the blade."
"There are other aspects of both deliveries that are still so vivid for me, but the cord thing is just not one of them. It was one of those things that I never cared about. I do remember thinking it was an unnecessary tradition and thinking I'm no less their father if I don't cut the cord."
"I just trimmed the cord after it had been cut. Hopefully I can do it in the future."
"I did it for many of my patients during my training. There is this feeling of cutting cartilage tissue but a little softer."
"All three kids via c-section. Although giving up cable TV was very difficult."
"I know I got to cut the cord for one of my twins, but I don't remember it because I was too worried about her not breathing."
"As a southpaw, I don't know if I was more excited about cutting the cord or the fact the scissors actually cut cleanly."
'I remember a big difference between our first daughter and our second daughter. During our first child's birth, everything was very emotional. I was amazed at the whole process and very worried about my wife who gave birth without an epidural.
So when it came time to cut the cord, I didn't want to be the one to mess anything up. I probably took a full minute asking if I was cutting at the right place and other silly questions since the medical staff had marked the cord with clamps. They also had to remind me to do it because I was more or less overwhelmed by all the events. Plus, here was my child, crying softly, pink and gooey, and wonderful. I couldn't wait to hold her.
With our second, the situation was similar but I felt confident in what was going on. When it was time to cut the cord, I was excited rather than a bit nervous, because I knew this predicated my being able to follow her through the necessary tests and hold her with my wife while welcoming her to our family. The idea of cutting the cord was less about severing a bond and more about starting a new role in which I had even more direct responsibility for the wellbeing and upbringing of our little beauties."