For as long as I can remember, my mom has been one of my closest friends. When I was a teenager, we fought occasionally, and I knew I was expected to follow her rules growing up. But since my dad wasn’t around much, she was the go-to parent for just about anything my three siblings and I needed. She stayed home full-time and homeschooled us. She taught me how to drive and helped me shop for my first car. And when I broke up with my first boyfriend, I sat on the couch next to her and cried until I felt better.
I shared so much of my childhood and teen years with my mom. When I got married at 20 and got pregnant two years later, she was still my first phone call anytime I needed advice. It didn’t matter if I had questions about pregnancy, cooking or the best way to clean my oven, my mom was the person I called. As I adjusted to adulthood and the idea of becoming a parent, knowing I could trust her to be there when I needed her and to listen to me was incredibly comforting.
Still, as close as I was to my mom, when the time came to talk about my birth plan, I knew without a doubt that I didn’t want her in the delivery room when I gave birth. A five-minute conversation with my husband was all it took to decide that we would be the only ones who welcomed our first child into the world. The second time around, we didn’t even talk about changing our plan. My mom sat in the waiting room with the rest of my family and then joined us a few minutes after my child was born.
When I got pregnant with my third child, I assumed we would stick with the same plan. But at the last minute, I asked my mom to stay with me while I gave birth to my third child, and I’ll never regret my decision.
At first, I didn't want my mom in the delivery room because I felt like there were certain things between my husband and myself that should be kept sacred. It’s the reason I don’t really publicly discuss our sex life. It’s the reason I tend to keep our disagreements to myself and I try to avoiding complaining about him to others. I know that not all couples function that way, or care about keeping their relationship private, but this is what works for us.
When I got pregnant with our first child, I added "meeting our children for the first time" to the list of things I wanted to keep between us. So I asked everyone, including my mom, to give us some time alone so we could get to know our baby, and when I had my second child we did the same thing.
Even though I planned for the same thing when my third child was born, my plan changed at the last minute. It was a split-second decision, because my mom had been with me during early labor. She drove two and a half hours in the middle of the night to sleep in an armchair while I worked through contractions so my husband could have a break here and there to get something to eat, or to get a few hours of sleep.
I asked my mom to stand with my husband and cheer me on while I pushed. I asked her to stand beside me while I met my son for the very first time. And I asked her to be there when they placed my child on my chest and I smelled his newborn smell for the very first time.
When we got to the delivery room, the nurses prepped me to begin to push. At that point, it crossed my mind that my third child might very well be my last. I realized this might be my mom’s only opportunity to be there when one of my children was born. I thought about how much she and I had been through together: how she had helped me care for my newborns while my husband was at work, when I was running on no sleep. I thought about how she'd help me struggle through my breastfeeding difficulties, while I was drowning in the responsibilities of working motherhood. I thought about how much I'd relied on her while I dealt with postpartum depression.
At that moment, I realized that my mom probably wanted to be there, to see one of her grandchildren enter the world. But she respected the boundaries I had set too much to ask.
As I considered the possibility of having my mom there while I delivered, I realized that having my mom there was something I wanted, too. She had been such a huge part of my experience as a mother, and she'd inspired so many of my own parenting goals. Plus, after this baby was born, I knew she wasn't going to be around my family as often. I knew she was going to return to her job a few hours away instead of living with us for awhile, just as she had after my first and second were born. I was overwhelmed with the idea of becoming a mom of three, and it was tough for me to confront the reality that my mother wouldn't be by my side this time around.
So I broke my own rule. I asked my mom to stand with my husband and cheer me on while I pushed. I asked her to stand beside me while I met my son for the very first time. And I asked her to be there when they placed my child on my chest and I smelled his newborn smell for the very first time.
My husband and I have shared many special moments together, and I'm grateful that meeting my first two children are on that list. But this was a moment I’m happy to have shared with my mother, too, and I’ll never regret my choice.