The birth was long. I pushed for two hours and 15 minutes with just my husband by my side, and a nurse, who might as well have been yawning while sitting in between my legs, that’s how uninvested she seemed in my experience.
I delivered via a vacuum extraction at 7:44 pm and was packed with ice and dressed with bandages, but in the hours and days following, I felt ignored, routinely pushing the nurse button to ask for medication because I didn’t think I’d had any in a long time, to beg to have the IV taken out because three different nurses had noted that it should be taken out and they’d come right back to do it and never did, and to please dear god change my f*cking bedding because it was covered in blood. I’d been completely taken care of from a medical standpoint, and my daughter was also well-cared for, but what I truly needed was an emotional advocate.
Everyone’s delivery experience is different, but I know I’m not alone in having felt somewhat forgotten about. A photographer named Alex Michele was recently in the delivery room with a friend and captured a very honest moment of new mom Tammy Wright, hunched over the side of the bed rail, clearly in tons of emotional and physical pain. The photo has gone viral because Alex focuses on Tammy’s pain, and highlights how frequently a mother’s needs are deprioritized once the baby arrives.
In the hustle of the room I peered over at my friend bent over in pain. Baby had just been born and everyone was surrounding the miracle that happened before our eyes and naturally everyone was in awe of him. But I was especially in awe of her. I saw you, mama. I saw the pain in your eyes and in your face and in your body. Because this is now a new season called postpartum. We tend to forget our mamas when babies are around. We ask how baby is, what does baby need, can we hold the baby, can we buy this for the baby but… what about mama? Let us not forget the hard work she endured to carry this child AND the hard road ahead to mother and heal and feed and rest and parent her other children also. What do mamas really need? Meals dropped off, someone to watch baby so they can shower, solid child care for her other children, house cleaners to stop by and help out. Heating pads and coffee and comfy PJs. Maybe fast food. Or a friend to fold laundry. Maybe a new movie to watch or your Netflix login. Let’s not forget the mamas. It’s just so easy to because women are incredibly strong and seem to have it all together but they need the support and the extra hands more than ever entering into that fourth trimester.