Permission to Parent: Why I Celebrate My Son’s Homecoming

It’s perhaps unfair to say my birth didn’t go to “plan,” because, aside from a piece of paper with our pediatrician’s name and my husband’s pager number, I didn’t have a plan.

I didn’t view the birth of my child as that cliched “best moment of my life” that so many others before me have prepared for. I failed to see what was “best” about laying naked on a hospital bed, spewing bodily fluids in front of my husband’s colleagues.

But I wasn’t prepared for how difficult those first eight days would be because, even without a “birth plan,” I was more wrapped up in the vision of a “normal” childbirth than I expected, not in terms of avoiding a C-section or delivering without painkillers, but in terms of the basic steps: go into labor, go to the hospital, deliver baby, take baby home.

I wasn’t ready for go to regular checkup, go to triage, get admitted, get induced, deliver baby, go home alone.

Not the mom

When I took my first one-floor elevator trip from the labor floor to the NICU, I dressed in the skinny maternity jeans, green rain boots, and stolen-from-husband sweater I’d worn to my last appointment. What I wasn’t wearing, due to a nursing mixup, was the bracelet that allowed me into the NICU.

I had just peeked into the incubator to see my tiny baby sleeping in a tangle of wires when a nurse came into the room to escort me out of it: “You’re not a parent.” My immediate…

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