My sister-in-law had an easy, graceful labour and delivery of her son yesterday afternoon. She went into the hospital the night before when her water broke, prior to any contractions, and took the epidural before feeling any pain. She slept through hours of labour, and only pushed for 2 hours and said that it wasn’t all that bad. When the family was invited in to see the baby (just 20 minutes after he was born), the mother looked beautiful and calm, like she had just picked her baby up at the market, not like she had just endured labour and delivery. It was amazing, and beautiful, and serene.
And I started to feel nauseous, and like I couldn’t get enough air. I had to step out of the room to compose myself. I had so many emotions and I needed (and still need) time to process them. In addition to the overwhelming happiness I felt for my sister-in-law for her brand new family all together in that room, I also felt alone, confused, and actually a bit in shock. This is going to be a narcissistic blog – something amazing and wonderful happened to someone I care about, and I am going to use this anonymous platform to make it all about me for a minute. I have to get these feelings out or they will continue to clutter up my brain.
I felt alone because I was a 10th wheel, along with the one other non-blood-relative in the room. People congratulated my wife on becoming an aunt, but I didn’t feel the same sense of belonging in the child’s life, although I desperately wanted to. I felt like a friend of the family. I felt like I shouldn’t hold him for too long because I was taking baby-time away from actual family. This is my own cross to bear, and not one that comes from my wife’s family. They have all welcomed me and made me feel loved and wanted. But my wife told me not to come to the hospital yet a few hours before the baby was born because it was just immediate family at that time and there wasn’t room in the waiting room. That struck me in the gut. I heard “you’re not family”. Again, I recognize that this is my own insecurity shining through made 10x worse by the pregnancy hormones I have surging through me.
I also feel lonely because I just got my wife back from 2 weeks away on business, and we only had a day to reconnect before she became emotionally otherwise-engaged. She will be staying with her sister for a few days and I got home this morning. I would have stayed, but she didn’t know what her sister would want in terms of company. When the new family gets settled and into a routine, I really, really need a getaway with my wife where we can reconnect and get a reprieve from all of life’s big distractions.
I felt confused about my own wishes for labour and delivery. If my sister-in-law had such an amazing birth experience, was it all because she opted for an epidural early on? As everyone was praising her for how amazing she was and how she made it look so easy, I was imagining how, when it’s my turn, everyone who has been telling me I can’t do it naturally will be telling me “I told you so” and “wow, you made that look really traumatic”. Am I just trying to prove that I can do something because others have doubt that I can? Is that the main reason I am so determined to put myself through the most painful route? My sister-in-law’s experience with a medicated hospital birth made me question why I have the convictions I have. And because I make everything into a competition, I started worrying that others would judge me if I have a more difficult birth than hers. I worry that they will say I put myself and the baby at risk because I had something to prove.
I felt in shock because this was the closest I’ve been to a birth. I watched my sister-in-law through her pregnancy, and then BAM, there was a tiny human laying on her chest, crying and cooing and taking in the world. Although I’ve spent my four months of pregnancy (and beyond) imagining the day that my wife and I hold our baby and become a family of three, I still felt stunned by the reality of it all.
I was also in shock about the gender of her baby, which she had kept secret. Although I didn’t have any inkling of a guess as to its sex, I guess I was subconsciously assuming it was a girl. I have some issues with men, and have trouble imagining what it would feel like to love a man (besides my dad, whom I don’t classify as a “man”). Because I have never loved a man, never wanted to touch or hug a man (even in a friendship way, not only sexual), and never felt emotionally connected to a man, I have a lot of deep seated fears about having a child who is a boy. I am afraid that my issues with men will make me unable to love the child as much as I would love a girl. And those fears for my own child and mothering were brought to the fore the moment I saw the blue hat on my new nephew.
I spent the entire two hour drive home at 6:30 this morning crying. It was probably dangerous… I really hope that I can get these emotions sorted soon so I can fully enjoy having a nephew. I will be seeing him again on Sunday for Easter and I am excited to hold him again when the pressure of the moment is off.