“Say his name, honey.”
It felt so strange to hold him—to see this person who’d been inside of my body for almost 10 months wrapped up all burrito-like in the crook of my arm.
“How is it possible for someone to look tiny and enormous at the same time?” I thought. “I love this person, but I don’t know anything about him.”
As I’ve shared here before, my son’s entry into this world wasn’t without its challenges: an induction, heart rate scares, cord issues, almost 24 hours of back labor ending in the C-section delivery an over-10-pound OP baby. We came out on the other side perfectly safe and healthy, but the whole experience required some processing.
I spent the majority of my pregnancy prepping for birth. I read everything I was supposed to read. I took the classes. I read everything I was supposed to read again. I picked the brain of everyone I knew who had given birth. I read everything again. I wrote a birth plan. And then read everything yet again. I was ready to get that baby out.
Through all that it was like no part of my brain—at least not that I recall—would take me past the moment of giving birth. I knew there was going to be a baby. I knew my husband and I would love that baby and work really hard to take care of him or her. But as far as who that baby was? I have to admit that I just didn’t give it much thought.
So when he was here—after arriving by means that forced me to throw my plans out the window, essentially rocking me to my core—I wasn’t sure what to do with him.
It was just the two of us in the room. My husband had gone to walk the grandparents out and grab something to eat. My son and I were both stable post-surgery, so the nurses left us alone in our original L&D room—lights dimmed and a Do Not Disturb sign on the door—to do our thing.
The panic welling up in me was so intense I could taste it. Our first one-on-one, mother-son hangout, and I had no clue what to do or what to say. What kind of mother was I?
I ended up staring at him a lot. And crying even more. I couldn’t even pinpoint why I was crying. Joy? Hormones? Relief? Post-scary-situation-adrenaline-rush? Yes to all of those, probably.
A few minutes later Linda, my nurse who’d been with me for the majority of my labor and assisted with our C-section, tapped on the door and tiptoed in. She wanted to let me know they’d be moving me to my recovery room in about 30 minutes.
“Do you need anything?” she asked, turning to leave.
I shook my head and tried to swallow back a sob. It came out as a very pathetic gurgle—one I’m sure Linda, in all her L&D wisdom, was quite familiar with.
She pulled up a chair next to our bed and looked me at me with such tenderness that I completely broke.
“I’m not sure what to say to him,” I said, choking on my words. “What do I say to this little guy who I don’t really know?”
“Say his name, honey. Just say his name.”
I took a deep, shaky breath and nodded. She patted my hand and quietly left the room.
“Jackson,” I whispered.
I traced the outline of his perfect nose.
I nuzzled his impossibly chubby cheeks.
I took off his pink and blue beanie and laughed at his full head of hair.
I turned him to face me and loosened his blanket to get a look at his chubby arms and wrinkly legs.
Free from his swaddle, he cracked open his eyes and thrust his arms out to his side, just like a starfish. Just like I’d seen him do during ultrasounds. Just like I’d felt him do a thousand times when he was in my belly.
“Jackson. I know you,” I sighed. “It was you the whole time.”
Photo by Maura Wilson Schneider