I don't know if it was the buzz of the surrounding machines, the non-existent cry of our son as the doctors tried to resuscitate him, or the fact that I'd already been through labor and delivery once before, but I knew something was missing after I had my second child. I remember lying in bed, still foggy, waiting to hear my partner say something comforting, loving, or even funny. Instead, nothing. Honestly, there are so many things I wish my partner had said to me in the first hour after giving birth, but there's nothing he, or I, can do to change that now.
I can't blame my husband entirely, though. After all, I have no idea what it's like to watch your wife endure a traumatic birth. Labor was incredibly painful and long (three days) and it took a toll on everyone involved. Our sweet boy was not only stuck in the birth canal, but he had his umbilical cord wrapped around his neck. When he finally came into the world, the umbilical cord snapped. In that moment, and in the absence of a newborn cry, my world went dark.
The doctors and nurses swiftly carried our son away, my partner disappearing along with them. I had passed out from an immense loss of blood, but I do vaguely remember seeing the shape of my partner by my side periodically. One minute he was there, the next minute he was gone. I didn't know what was going on at the time, and, looking back, I wish he had been more engaged. In the end, I truly believe that if he had said some of the following in that first hour after such a terrifying delivery, I wouldn't have felt so scared, unsure, and alone.
"Everything Is Fine"
When labor and delivery was over, the room was so loud. I thought the worst part had passed, but as I drifted in and out of consciousness I realized that wasn't the case. I needed my partner to step up and make sure I heard, and understood, that everything was OK. As doctors and nurses rushed in to help me and my son, everything took a turn toward the chaotic. Maybe my partner said something before he was ushered out of the room, but it wasn't enough.
Every mom who's just given birth deserves to hear that everything is fine.
"Our Baby Will Be OK"
More than anything else, I needed to hear that my son — the being I carried in my body for nine months — was going to be OK. By the way the doctors and nurses swiftly took him away after delivery, and by how quickly and carefully they were working on him, I knew something was wrong and I needed words of comfort.
In the absence of any kind of reassurance, and in the midst of my overwhelming confusion, I remember ripping my oxygen mask off at one point and trying to see what was going on for myself. If my partner had said our son was alright and gave me updates, I would have been able to focus on staying healthy myself, too.
"Take Care Of You"
Once it was clear that my son and I were going to be fine, I would've loved for my partner to make sure I knew not to worry about anything but myself. I needed to hear that the most important thing to do was to rest while the nurses cleaned me up. Instead, I worried about our older 5-year-old daughter, our visiting family members, and my partner. I worried about how long people were waiting, how happy my daughter was, and if my partner was OK.
I needed to focus on myself, and no one around me reminded me of that undeniable fact.
"I'll Handle It"
I wanted my partner to step up and take care of whatever the hell needed to be taken care of. I didn't want to be asked, or consulted, or informed, unless it was dire or in regards to the wellbeing of our new son. I definitely didn't want to decide anything, or think, or weigh options. I just wanted to lie in bed until I was able to get up and go to the bathroom. I wanted to rest after a traumatic labor and delivery. I wanted to sleep and find my center and get back to neutral.
Hearing "I'll handle it" would have given me the freedom to finally, after nine months of pregnancy and a seemingly endless labor and delivery. relax.
"Let Me Help You"
After a long labor, any and all help was greatly appreciated. After childbirth, and definitely within the first hour, I wish my partner had offered to help me more. I needed to know he was my person, without question, and that's he'd help however he could. I wanted to rely on my husband, and not doctors and nurses.
After a labor and delivery that felt like I had literally conquered Mt. Everest, I wanted — needed — validation. Hell, I deserved to hear all the damn compliments in the damn world. I had earned the right to hear about what a great job I did giving birth to our child. At the very least, it would have been great for morale.
"We Can Get Through Anything"
When my son made me a mother for a second time, I was both proud and terrified. I didn't know how to parent two children. Hell, I wasn't sure I was doing a good enough parenting one. And in that first hour after giving birth, my emotions were raw. I was exhausted, I was overwhelmed, I was in pain, and I was completely unsure about the immediate future.
I wish my partner had brought our daughter to my side when I held her new brother and quieted all the doubts flying around in my head. I wish he'd looked at me and said, "You did it, and we'll get through it. I promise." Then again, maybe he didn't have to. When I looked at my family together, I already knew.
Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.