A friend of a friend had a baby last week, […]
A friend of a friend had a baby last week, and social media being what it is, I was privy to all the details. From going to the hospital to a mid-labor update (“She’s doing great!”) to pictures of the proud, exhausted new mom, exuberant father and squinchy little new baby, it was pretty much like being there.
Our baby is almost 4 months, and–wait for it–time sure flies. I smiled at those pictures of that burrito’d little baby with her striped newborn hat and the thrilled new dad, but it was the look on the face of that newly-christened member of the mom club that really captivated me. She looked proud and amazed and relieved and shaken to the core, and I doubt that feeling varies much from one mother to the next no matter how individual the experience.
Four babies, four deliveries, four stories. I remember them each in so much detail, but it’s like it all happened to someone else. Already, their memories have gone soft around the edges, with only a few particulars standing out here and there. And I get it–if we were able to actually relive every gory moment, no one would ever, ever do it again. So we share the highlights, laugh about the pretty much guaranteed pooping-on-the-delivery-table scenario (oh, don’t even try to lie!), condense those hours of labor into a sound bite and one-up one another with our tales of Pitocin and failed epidurals and emergency C-sections.
I remember asking my mother after my oldest son was born, “Why didn’t you tell me?” And she was at a total loss. But really, what could she have said? How could she have prepared me? Well, she couldn’t have. No one could have. No one can prepare someone else for labor, and it’s not because they’re all unique. You can walk someone through the logistics, explain pain levels on a scale of happy faces to bawling faces, talk through the mechanics and expectations and personal experiences. But until you’re in the thick of it, you just have no idea. This stuff is instinctual, and you’re just along for the ride.
Having a baby is just the most insane experience, it’s as simple as that. It changes you, and I don’t mean physically.