If you are parenting with a partner, there's a pretty good chance that, before your baby is born, your partner is the person you love more than anyone in the world. So seeing that person's first reaction to this third, tiny person that you are going to be parenting together? All the feels, as the kids say. (Are the kids still saying that? What about "Wuzzup"? I'm kind of out of the loop.) When I asked a group of mothers what it felt like to see their partner hold their baby for the first time, they certainly had all the feels (whether or not the kids are saying that). Then I had all the feels. Deep and wonderful feelings were had all around, is my point!
As with anything baby or parenting related, there are no universals. Some parents cry happy tears, others pass out (or come close), and some simply sit in quiet contentment as they process thoughts like, "WTF, I'm a parent now." My own partner was happily chill about it. Our son was literally the first infant he'd ever held in his life. There was no crying, no overwhelming crazy emotions and he was the first to hold him because I had a c-section. When asked, "What does it feel like?!" He responded, "Like holding warm laundry." The response was almost disappointing in how hilariously mundane it was. Yet, when I got to hold him a few minutes later, my first thought was, "Actually, warm laundry is the perfect description." Upon the birth of our second child, he got a little more emotional. By then he had a better sense of what being a parent was and how amazing kids are and there was a sense of "everyone is here." Also, he'd had her name picked out for about 12 years, so there was a sweetly prophetic feeling to her being there in his arms.
But what did other moms have to say about seeing their beloved hold their tinier beloveds? Here are just a few responses (and I suggest you have a box of tissues nearby, because they're emotional and heartwarming and wow, here come the feels, again).
"I remember looking at my husband and thinking, 'Wow we made this.'"
"[My partner] 'caught' our son and then cut his cord with the midwife. It was so great for him to have that connection right from the start. He said he felt all the blood leave his head and had to force himself to not pass out, but he did it and [our son] loves the story!"
"I don't have the words ... He helped raise 3 of mine, but this moment solidified all the questions he had that I couldn't answer... really says it all in this one picture."
We had been trying to adopt for about two years, and when we were chosen by a birth mother we didn't have a lot of notice: we found out three weeks before our son was born that we'd been selected. So it's waiting and waiting and waiting and then everything happening faster than you know what's going on. It's a very weird juxtaposition because it's like, 'How can I not feel ready, I've wanted this for what feels like forever.' But no one's really ready, right?
I actually held him first, and then my wife, and it was one of those moments that there's no word for, but we conveyed everything we'd felt over the last two years in one shared look."
"With [our first] I don't remember because I was having such a bad reaction to the c-section. With [our second], I felt complete contentedness. It was and still is that moment when you realize more of your heart sits outside your body than inside it and these other beings control every decision you make from this point forward. And it's amazing."
"My husband already had two children before we met, so when we had our first together it wasn't new for him. What was new was going through miscarriages, complicated, and high risk pregnancies and a c-section delivery. By the time our first arrived, I think we both felt relief. Before we saw him, everyone kept saying how huge our son was. So when my husband was handed our baby he had this huge smile and was laughing at how enormously chunky our boy was."
"For me, it was less about the first time [my partner] held [our daughter], and more about this moment. I knew he would protect her through her whole life. He couldn't wait to get to know her, and didn't want to leave her side. She must've known it, too, because she reached out and grabbed his finger."
"I always knew he would be a good dad; he grew up around a lot of babies. When he held [our first child] for the first time I cried, he never did, and the smile on his face said, 'We made this. This is love.'
With [our second], he coached me so much through both pregnancies/labors that it felt familiar even though it was 4.5 years later. He held him and it was that warm, loving feeling I got again. He truly looked grown up to me. A dad."