In late December 2009, the month my oldest son was born, I was scrolling through the photos in my phone and kept going back to two key pictures.
The first was taken in the early morning hours on the day of my son’s birth, with me standing in the hospital parking lot with my hand on my big belly, smiling big. You can almost feel my nervousness and excitement in that picture.
The second picture is the first photo I took of my son, sometime late that night. He was swaddled and sleeping on my lap in my hospital bed. In between those two pictures, I became a mum and my life was changed forever.
But instead of feeling like it was a magical transformation that occurred, looking at those two pictures left me feeling angry.
I remembered the 18 or so hours between those two pictures. There were only two or three photos of me with my son on the day he was born, and I looked like someone who was hospitalised for a serious illness, not a woman who has just given birth to a miracle.
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I had checked into the hospital for a scheduled induction, and 12 long, painful hours later I consented to a Cesarean section. I was neither prepared for the Pitocin-induced contractions nor for a C-section, my first ever experience with surgery. I was a physical and emotional mess after my son was born—swollen, exhausted and sore.
Holding my baby many hours later—because he had been whisked away to be observed in the NICU after swallowing some meconium—I wanted to feel the joy of new motherhood. I wanted to be able to claim that this day, the day my first child was born, was the most magical day of my life. That was the way I was supposed to feel, right? That’s what nearly every mum I know had said.