The first hour after my son's birth was one of the most intense, most magical hours of my life. I wanted to hold him close and savor the snuggles, but I was also exhausted, sore, and weepy. Honestly, I really just wanted to be left the hell alone. Once I knew he was OK, though, I was able to relax and the golden hour was just what I needed to welcome my son to the world. In my conversations with other parents, I have heard similar stories about the golden hour and why it's so special, so clearly I'm not alone.
The stories these mothers chose to share were so personal and different. Some described the golden hour being exactly what they hoped for, while others didn't experience an hour that went as planned. Some chose to formula-feed while others breastfed, and some had emergency C-sections while others delivered vaginally. Some of the golden hours described were chill, but others were intensely emotional. Some mothers were able to take their time and enjoy their first hour as parents, and some didn't really get a golden hour at all, but more like a few "golden" minutes to get to know their babies before they required medical care.
While unique, all of their stories seem to share a few common elements — awe, amazement, and pure, unadulterated love. While it's clear that different people had different needs and desires during the golden hour, it's also apparent that it's a pretty special time, no matter how you choose and/or are able to spend it. The following stories were so sweet they almost made me want to have another baby, just so I could meet one of my children for the first time. (Well, not really, but they definitely made my ovaries ache from the sweetness.) Read on for some moments that might make you say "aww" or make you think back to your baby's birth day. Better grab some tissues, just in case.
"So, [my second baby] was a planned C-section, and he came out three days early because he stopped moving. We rushed to the hospital and my OB-GYN was adamant that taking him out a little early was a lot better than worrying about his decreased movement for three days. When he was born, we all gasped, because he had his cord wrapped around his neck and a tight 'true knot' in his cord. Thank God they took him out when they did.
The delivery room was a blur, but when he and I got to the recovery room and did some skin-to-skin, I felt this very strange and peaceful feeling come over me. This baby was conceived on or around the day I would have been due with the baby [my partner and I] lost the previous winter. The pain I felt from miscarrying definitely contributed to my decision to go to the hospital in the middle of the night when I felt the kicks decrease. As I was lying there snuggling him and listening to his little baby chirps, I strongly felt like there was something bigger than any of us present in the room. I just laid there feeling so thankful for all the good things in our lives."
"The first hour after my daughter was born was incredible. First, I felt a little euphoric, because I was no longer experiencing labor pain. I was also thrilled to finally meet my baby. My mom and husband were both in the room for her birth, and I don't remember this, but when I first saw her I apparently started crying and said, 'My baby.' Shortly after, my mom left the room so my husband and I could have privacy.
After our daughter was weighed and measured, she was placed on my chest. I wrapped her in my hospital gown so she would be warm, and we just snuggled. She might have cried a little but was mostly quiet. This was such a special time for me, getting to hold this tiny person who I'd felt kicking and moving for the last several months. I chose not to breastfeed, so that wasn't part of our experience, and I don't feel like I missed out on anything. My bond with my daughter has everything to do with how much I've loved her since I saw the faint line on a pregnancy test, and nothing to do with when and what I first fed her."
"I had a long, complicated labor, followed by a C-section. I didn't get to do a golden hour, but my husband did. I was actually happy that my son and his father got to spend some beautiful time together and that my son wasn't left alone. I would have loved to have held him sooner, but I know he was just as loved with his father. Sadly, the hospital did not even consider that a father would want to do golden hour or skin-to-skin. They were about to put my son under a heat lamp when my husband — who came prepared wearing a zippered hoodie and no shirt underneath — requested that he hold my son instead. I held him and latched him on around 1.5 hours after he was born."
"I remember, after having my daughter, I was in absolute awe. After spending two hours pushing and feeling like I was going to faint, the moment she finally made her appearance was amazing. There's nothing like hearing your baby cry for the first time, and you experience that 'mom instinct' kick-in that everyone has told you about. She was so little and had a ton of hair. It was very surreal. I spent the whole first hour just smelling her natural scent and memorizing her face."
"Both of my babies were planned C-sections. The first time, the nurses messed up with what medications I could and couldn't have. Once I had the right medication, I felt better in minutes. With [my youngest], I made sure the right meds were listed, and the golden hour in recovery with her and my husband was amazing. My first picture with [my oldest], I was in so much pain, and my face shows it. My first picture with Molly was so different."
"I had a C-section. I was waiting in recovery with the nurse, and they brought me the placenta so I could poke it (my request) and check it out. Then they brought me my baby, and I latched her on almost immediately with success, and we bonded. They kept her with me, while they administered all the shots, and then we went to the room to sleep.
"With my first, the golden hour was magical. He was so alert, despite a very long labor. I was enthralled with this little person. They placed him on my belly, and then he nursed. We had them wait to do the heel stick and vitamin K until he was falling asleep, and I cherished that time.
With my second, I had an emergency C-section and he needed oxygen for a bit after he was born. Before he went to the NICU for observation, the nurses laid him next to me for a few minutes so my husband and I could see him. I wanted so badly to hold him, but it was three hours before they brought him in."
"During the first hour after my son's birth, I was completely taken aback by the smell of him — his little baby smell. I'll never forget it. I remember looking at this tiny creature and feeling shitty, because I didn't think he was the most beautiful thing ever. I didn't feel that rush. I was holding a tiny stranger, I was in so much pain, and I was so tired. I just didn't know what to think or feel.
I remember trying to nurse him for the first time. Everyone told me he had the most perfect nose, and that he'd nurse like a champ. They told me he had intelligent, old-soul eyes, and they said he was beautiful. He looked just like me. But I didn't take pride in any of that. He was his own little person — a little stranger — and I don't tend to fall instantly in love with strangers, so I had to work at that. But damn it, I knew how a mother should act, so I acted through it until it became reality. Fake it till you make it.
Rationally, I knew I loved this kid, and I knew I wanted the best for him. I knew I would do anything for him. But that knowledge hadn't hit my heart in the first hour."
"One of the biggest differences between my two C-sections was that with the first, they didn't even show me my son until they handed him to my husband and told him to hold the baby so I could see him. I was having panic attacks and it was really horrible. Whereas the second time they immediately put her on my chest so that I could see her before they even did all of the weighing and cleaning. It made such a difference to actually be able to touch her. That moment was everything."
"My golden hour didn't happen until my fourth baby. It really was magical. After a surreal, calm vaginal birth after a C-section, [my daughter] nursed right away, and then just snuggled right in like, 'Oh hey mom, I thought that was you.' She had to be taken to the NICU after that hour, but I finally got it."
"Looking back, I think my golden hour was my only ‘normal’ thing about giving birth. [My baby was born] three weeks earlier than we had expected, and had to stay in the NICU afterwards. I’m thankful I took the memories in, and we had that time to just be with each other. I can go back there in my mind. I have a few mental photographs I’ve really tried to hold on to through the years, and I knew this was going to be one of them. Watching my peanut on my belly inch her way up to me was magical. The light was dim, the room was quiet. The nurses did their jobs but in a calm relaxed manner. She laid on my chest with my arms around her, both of us wrapped up in my husband’s arms.
I remember the vernix was so interesting — slippery, but not slimy. Her eyes were dark, and she had long lashes. We stared into her eyes for what seemed like years. She was rooting, and I felt the urge to nurse her. As she latched on for the first time, I made eye contact with my own mom, as she walked in the room. I’m tearing up thinking back to the moment when I felt a new meaning to the circle of life. I’ve never been a part of something that was so anew with life, yet so relaxed and calm. I truly loved the calm and quiet of it, but what I never realized was that it was something my partner really needed. He’s the slower introvert and giving this time to just be was a gift for him to come back to center after the rush of the delivery."
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