Having a Baby

The whole reason any of us are reading this internet is that mammals like to hump

Posted 07 Oct 2018    Edited 07 Oct 2018

159 days ago, I watched my daughter take her first breath of air.

My understanding is that she had been taking practice breaths of amniotic fluid for some months before the air one, but to me it looked like the first breath.

A few minutes leading up to that, though, I was kinda shuffling excitedly back and forth between Susie's face and ass on her right side. When Susie was squeezing our daughter out of her, there was a twenty or thirty second window where the baby's head was out of her, and all the other parts of the baby were inside of her. The baby was kinda face up, with her head cocked left, which meant that she was looking pretty much right at me, even though her eyes were closed tightly. I saw the specific features of her face.

After about another minute, I watched the midwife* take my freshly pushed-out daughter from between my wife's legs and hold her up Rafiki style. This was clearly directed at Susie - the midwife peeked from behind the baby and looked right at her and not at anyone else - unfortunately, it was a futile gesture, seeing that Susie hadn't yet returned from her sojourn in the Vagina Pain Netherworld.

The midwife plopped the floppy baby down on her mom. The baby was still turned with her head left, but was face down. She was still "looking" at me. The baby was unmoving for just a second, or maybe even two seconds. And then she took her first breath, out of nowhere. It was an "in" breath, obviously. But it wasn't preceded by an exhale, which made it the strangest-looking breath I'd ever seen.

And after the first in breath, there wasn't an exhale. There were two more half-duration inhales that happened in rapid succession. After that, I've never seen her take a breath of the kind I'm not used to seeing. By now, I've seen her choke and sneeze and suck wind after crying hard, but I haven't seen her take a breath that violates my mental model of what breathing looks like.

Those three breaths in are seared onto my soul. Watching those three strange breaths was the most amazing and beautiful and life-affirming thing I've ever experienced. Ever. Ever.

* I thought a midwife was an essential-oil sniffer that delivered the baby bare-handed in a barn. Turns out, there's a huge spectrum of midwives, and ours was so close to the traditional OB/GYN side that I couldn't even tell the difference. Susie said she felt a lot more involved in the prenatal and delivery care with the team of midwives than she would have with an obstetrician. She worked with both as a nursing student, and said that certified nurse midwifery is the way to go. If you're having a baby in Idaho Falls, the team of midwives at Rosemark clinic comes highly recommended by us.