The Romantic View of Birth

You're lying in bed in the labor room of the hospital and you're about as exhausted, as utterly worn out, as you'll ever be. Giving birth is this peculiar combination of determination and compulsion. It's you pushing, and you push in a more concentrated, focused way than you've ever done anything, but in another sense you don't decide or try to push or even want to. You are just swept away by the action. It's like a cross between running a marathon and having the most enormous. shattering, irresistible orgasm of your life.

And then suddenly, in the midst of all this excitement and action, agitation and exhaustion, there is a small, warm body lying on your chest and a tranquil, quiet, wide-eyed face looking up at yours. Maybe it's just the natural endorphins flowing through you once the actual pain is gone, but instead of collapsing, as you might expect, you feel a kind of intensified alertness. You're preternaturally awake, and everything is clearer and sharper than usual. And through the next night or two, when the nurses have finally left you alone, and the helpful husband has gone home to get some sleep and tell the relatives, you lie with the baby in your arms and inhale that peculiar, sweet, animal, newborn smell, and you look, and look for an hour at a time, at the small, still somewhat squished face. And the baby, perhaps also under the spell of the endorphins, alert as he won't be for some days to come, looks at you. And then and there—before the sleepless nights and diapers and strollers and snowsuits have kicked in—that gaze seems to signify perfect mutual understanding, complete peace, absolute happiness.

That's the romance of it, anyway. The romance doesn't come, sadly, with every birth, just as the parallel romance of true love doesn't come with every sexual encounter. But, just as with true love, it is one of the great gifts of life and seems more than worth the risk of disappointment and the reality of pain.


A beautiful description of the idealized version of labor and bonding with the newborn.

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 The Scientist in the Crib: What Early Learning Tells Us About the Mind
Books, Brochures, and Chapters>Book:  Gopnik , Meltzoff , Kuhl (2001-01-01), The Scientist in the Crib: What Early Learning Tells Us About the Mind, Harper Paperbacks, Retrieved on 2011-07-06
Folksonomies: education parenting pregnancy babies children infancy