They gave me something called Cervidil, which was supposed to “ripen my cervix” like so many bananas before I’d hopefully go into labor. I had contractions for a full two days, but they petered out into nothing. After that, doctors gave me the dreaded Pitocin, which was supposed to kick me into labor. But that also resulted in zilch. My OB-GYN came in and suggested I have a C-section immediately.
My sweet husband was by my side the entire nerve-wracking time. The doctor suggested I’d feel some tugging. It actually felt like all of my insides were pulled out and then pushed back in place. I heard the baby scream when he was removed from his cozy bed in my womb.
He was born at 4.20 pm. They placed the baby directly near my face; daddy, son and I all laughed and cried together while they stitched me back up. Within the hour, in my recovery bed, I breastfed my new baby for the first time. It was an absolutely incredible experience that I’m glad I decided to pursue, even though it was also the scariest thing I’ve ever been through.
I crashed very hard after the baby’s birth. I’d been so happy when I was pregnant, but as a new mother I was depressed, devastated, anxious, fearful and traumatized.
The joy and peace I’d felt on my 40th birthday packed its bags and left, hawk-diving into an avalanche of uncertainty and fear. For months, I cried onto my baby’s head and desperately tried to find a therapist who both specialized in postpartum depression and accepted my insurance.
I got stuck with an emotional coach working out of his fourth-floor walk-up apartment who asked me if I had tried Googling my symptoms. Still, slowly, the months unfolded and my anxiety mellowed out. Somehow, I made it through the first year of motherhood.
My mother, who had six daughters of her own, once told me, “You should have kids when you’re too young to know better.” I now understand what she meant.
The highs and lows of motherhood are extreme for any mum at any age, but I believe I had some additional challenges as an older mum. My mother, who had six daughters of her own, once told me, “You should have kids when you’re too young to know better.” I now understand what she meant.
To have a baby is to relinquish so much of who you are or were. In some ways, it is to die and become reborn yourself. For me, it happened on a major milestone birthday ― becoming a mum at 40 was a double doozy.
But now I know a little bit more about the world than I did in my 20s, and in many ways, I’m very glad I waited so long to have a baby.
I am more financially stable. I’m wiser and hopefully more able to answer the hard questions and deal with the challenges that are sure to come. I am less selfish. I have accomplished more and am more ready to put my career goals and dreams on temporary hiatus so I could fully dedicate myself to the growth of someone else.
Still, I wonder if it might have been better to have had children younger. I imagine I might not have been so tired all the time. Would I have had a natural childbirth? (My mum says natural birth is no picnic, either.)
My baby would have been closer to me in age, and we would have grown up together, the way my mum and I had. Maybe I could have had two or three kids instead of just one. Sure, I could possibly have another child now ― if I get to it, like, today ― but my hands and heart are currently overflowing. I can always adopt, I tell myself, if I decide I truly need to care for another person.
I had a party for my son’s first birthday. It was camp-themed. I played traditional songs on my guitar and sang with a friend. I looked out over the group of about 35 people who had gathered to celebrate. I thanked them for coming and I cried, in front of them all, like a big, happy dope.
With those tears, the childless me was set free. I was finally able to accept the me that had filled her place: a formerly childless woman who had skated in just before the gate closed and locked forever, a new mother looking out over her fourth decade of life.
Originally published on Huffington Post.
Jessica Delfino is a comedian, musician, writer and creative weirdo living in downtown Manhattan with her husband, baby and cat. She used to rock and roll all night and now she walks and strolls all day and then around 10 PM, falls asleep standing up. She has recently written for High Times, VH1.com, Mommyish.com, MommyNearest.com and more. Follow along with her chronicles as the mother of one and only one baby at her blog, Medium.com/@OneAndDoneMom or catch her on Twitter @JessicaDelfino.com.