Caring for a Friend After a C-Section

I remember the moment I returned from the hospital following the birth of my firstborn. He had been delivered by C-section a few days earlier.

I remember so clearly the very first time he was placed into my arms. He was a dewy and quivering newborn and I grew weak with love. My breath literally caught. I thought, “oh so this is love."

I convalesced in the hospital for a few days. My initial recovery was well-managed but I was eager to get home.

When we came home from the hospital, we walked through the front door. My husband and I were no longer a couple, but a family. We were now linked by blood.

We took the baby upstairs and laid him down.

My husband then said that he was going to run to the store.

I was seized with a sudden terror. I suddenly understood, in no uncertain terms, that I was actually supposed to take care of this sweet baby.

I was still sore from my C-section. I was bone tired from labor and then surgery. I loved being with my baby but picking him up was hard – especially since I was a new mother and had very little confidence in my unproven instincts. I knew how to take care of a baby, but perhaps not my baby. Anyway, I worried. It was as if everything I knew about baby and childcare flew out of my mind.

As I picked him up gently (so gently) my stomach and my back strained even under his tiny weight.

But my crew rushed in.

I loved my recovery. As I rested with my baby I was taken care of by those women in my inner circle. I have never been so steeped in love. I was fed. I binge watched Dawson’s Creek (dating myself). I literally gazed upon my baby as it snowed outside. My friends made my postpartum idyllic.

I remember being scared about nursing. Would my milk come in? Yes. Would it always hurt to nurse? No. Fears about feeding are nearly universal. Ask for the help you need. (I initially supplemented with formula some to ease my worries and worked with my pediatrician to support nursing as well, the latter of which I ended up doing for years for all my children).

There were worries in those early days, but when I recall this time, I now remember the idyllic aspects far more than I do the things that frightened me.

I owe that fact to the those who offered me their unwavering love and support.

Any reservations I could conceivably have held about a C-section were never allowed to take root.

The lack of judgement, and the total honoring of my passage from woman to mother was the great gift of my life. This week marked the opening of the me – the new us. We paused at the threshold of the mysterious world. And then out we stepped out.

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