I will never forget the first glimpse I had of my daughter. A flash of a tiny face with us on the outside, then gone from sight. My baby wasn’t breathing after being delivered via c-section, so she was transferred to a table outside my vision. I was lying on my back under the curtain, still gaping open. "Why isn't she crying?' I asked my husband, tuning my ears, searching for a newborn cry. My husband, who had stood by my side during the c-section, could see our daughter on a table in the opposite corner of the operating room being worked on. I tried to look around, "Isn't she supposed to cry?"
My doctor explained that she might need "a little help" breathing at first, as she could have been stunned when she was pulled back out of my vaginal canal to be removed by c-section.
A little help.
In the slightly surreal and unexpected setting I had found myself in after 30 hours of labor and an overly high heart rate (of mine and my baby’s) during attempted pushing, I was too tired and emotionally a bit numb to be panicked. But the lack of noise from my daughter quaked in my ears. What my husband did next made all the difference for me, and continues to be a source of comfort on this parenting journey.
Instead of rushing over to be with our beautiful new daughter — something that would have been completely understandable — he waited, choosing not to leave me there on my own, unable to see anything.
This gorgeous child that we made together was finally here and struggling in her first moments, but he wanted to first make sure I was alright.
“Do you want me to stay?” he asked as he held my hand. Of course, my answer was to go and see her as I couldn’t. But it was later that I realized how special that moment was: it was a gesture that so tenderly demonstrated his commitment to me. This gorgeous child that we made together was finally here and struggling in her first moments, but he wanted to first make sure I was alright, having watched everything that had happened to me leading up to that moment.
The balance of his attentiveness to both me and his new daughter in such a critical moment, I realized afterward, helped me feel at ease amid a drawn-out and traumatic experience that would later include a transfer to the NICU for two days before we could go home.
It was less than two minutes of having fluid suctioned out of our newborn’s lungs for her to start breathing and crying normally. Less than two minutes that for me have defined our family.
My husband’s mindfulness that day is a part of a philosophy we’ve adopted in our parenting style as well. His promise to our kid to be the best dad he can be doesn’t suddenly override his pledge to me to be the best husband he can be. And vice versa. Of course he doesn’t get it right 100 percent of the time, and neither do I, but I’ll forever be grateful for how he displayed his love and value for me the day our daughter was born.
It took less than two minutes of having fluid suctioned out of our newborn’s lungs for her to start breathing and crying normally. Less than two minutes that for me have defined our family. I remember the nurses bringing her to me as my husband returned to my side as well. My first cuddles with her were limited since I needed to be sowed up after the incision, but that first moment as a new family of three is forever etched in my heart.
My husband followed the medical team with our daughter back to the hospital room to begin all the newborn procedures, and I was left to focus on the task my doctor still had to finish. I remember a slight fear of the anesthesia wearing off before he was done stitching me together looming in my mind, but my thoughts were with my new baby and husband upstairs. It wouldn't be long, I told myself, before I could rejoin them.
Check out Romper's new video series, Romper's Doula Diaries:
Watch full episodes of Romper's Doula Diaries on Facebook Watch.