The golden hour is an important time for babies and mothers alike. The minutes following delivery can prove to be largely beneficial, but only they happen and aren't interrupted. Not everyone is able to spend one-on-one time with their newborn directly after they're born, and then are those of us that do, but end up feeling so exhausted and overwhelmed that the reality of our baby's first hour of life fails to live up to our expectations. I know there are a few things I needed during the golden hour, but was simply too afraid to ask for. Now, when I look back on the moments that directly followed the birth of my daughter, I wish I had spoken up.
In the hour after my daughter was born, the doctor laid her on my chest just long enough for someone in the room to take a couple photos. Then the nurses whisked her away for cleaning and measurements while I started down that long road known as childbirth recovery. I don't know how long they kept my newborn away from me — it felt like a long time — but by the time they returned to place her in my arms, she felt like a tiny little stranger. This little person I'd met for only a moment before she was cleaned up, didn't feel familiar. In the end, I think the doctors and nurses kept her away from me for too long, and I didn't have the opportunity to feel close and connected to my baby after I had endured the trails and tribulations of bringing her into the world.
Eventually we bonded and did the skin-to-skin contact thing, and all that, but I can't help but feel robbed of the experience of the beautiful, serene, emotional first hour of my daughter's life. So with that in mind, here are some things I needed during the precious golden hour, but couldn't muster the strength or courage to ask for myself.
To Spend Time Alone With My Baby
It should go without saying, especially after everything I went through during labor and delivery, but I wanted to snuggle my new baby and have everyone else leave me alone. It's no offense to my partner, the doctor, nurses, or any of my extended family members, but I earned at least a few minutes of skin-to-skin contact with my baby without anyone else interfering.
To Figure Out Breastfeeding On My Own
I swear the second my daughter came out of my body, there were at least two nurses trying to get me to help her latch. I didn't get the breathing room I needed to see if we could figure out nursing all on our own and, as a result of the nurses' unnecessary intervention, our breastfeeding journey had a rough start. I wish I would have told everyone to keep their hands to themselves and leave us alone.
Right after my daughter was born the delivery room was inundated with people who wanted to see her and hold her and hear all about her birth. While I appreciated everyone's presence, I wish I hadn't been so afraid to ask for everyone to leave (at least for awhile) so I could adjust to this new thing called motherhood.
Less Pressure To Bond Right Away
I bought into the postpartum myth that claims all mothers bond with their babies right away. It felt so foreign to hold my daughter in my arms, and I had an immediate sense of guilt wash over me when I didn't have some romanticized "love at first sight" post-birth experience. I should've found a way to be kinder to myself, let myself off the hook, and change the conversations going on around me. Because yes, I loved my baby, but it took me a while to be in love with her, and that is OK.
The Doctors To Back Off
After my baby was born doctors and nurses swarmed over me and the new life I brought into the world. They took her away to clean her up. They pressed on my stomach to help me delivery the afterbirth. They sewed me up. They lingered and they fussed, and while I know there's a medical need for most of what they did post-birth, I know I also needed space. I needed to just hold my baby, and just be and adjust and adapt. I needed them to step back for a second so I could fully see this person who'd been kicking me from the inside for so long.
My Bodily Autonomy Back
The 40 or so weeks it takes to grow a human is by all accounts a long time to feel like your body is no longer your own. When you're not the only one "calling the shots" when it comes to your sense of self, so to speak, it's difficult to feel like you're still you.
So by the time I delivered my daughter, I was ready to have my body back and feel like I was the only one capable of controlling it. Unfortunately, the golden hour was a smack of postpartum reality: you don't get your "body back" the moment your baby leaves it. Everyone wanted something from me. I had to breastfeed, go to the bathroom, visit with others, delivery the afterbirth, do this thing or that thing or whatever other thing that required being poked and prodded and examined. I wish I'd had the courage to create some realistic boundaries so I could start feeling like myself again.
A Moment To Catch Up To What Just Happened
The golden hour is supposed to be a time to enjoy the fruit of your labor. Sure, there's some things that have to happen medically, but with an un-complicated birth those medical necessities shouldn't have impeded on my chance to enjoy the first hour of my daughter's life. I wish I had asked for some of the things my baby and I deserved in our first hour together. Perhaps I would have felt more prepared for everything that was about to follow the golden hour.
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