My second child—a gorgeous, brown-eyed boy—was born at Intermountain Medical Center on October 9, 2009. I felt a special, indescribable connection to him from the very beginning. I attribute this to the extraordinary care I received while giving birth at IMED, and to the nurse who bonded with us.
The very first time I cuddled with my Camren was a precious and unique experience. It happened almost immediately after his birth.
My incredible labor and delivery nurse at IMED—a mother and a grandmother, with short, funky hair, pretty teeth, and fine lines framing the outer corners of her eyes—took impeccable care of me through the whole birthing process. She treated me with tenderness and kept me informed of all that was happening. She answered my questions; she calmed my fears. She reassured me that I was strong and capable of bringing my child into the world.
And with her help, I did.
While Camren was being cleaned off, measured, and diapered, my nurse explained to me that newborn babies have a difficult time maintaining their body temperatures. For most hospitals, placing babies in warming bassinets is standard procedure.
"Lately, doctors are preferring the skin-to-skin contact method as a way to obtain the right body temperature in the baby," my nurse said. "We put the baby on the mother's chest so that they are skin-to-skin, and then place a warm blanket over them both. The baby will reach the right body temperature faster that way." She looked at me, smiled kindly, and asked, "Would you like to try it with your baby?"
"Yes, absolutely," I said.
My nurse brought me my red-faced, wailing baby boy. He was wearing only a diaper and a cotton cap. She put him on my chest and proceeded to cover us with blankets. Within moments, Camren's crying stopped.
And the world stopped for me.
I barely noticed the activity going on around me—my husband, James, feeding me pieces of graham cracker so the pain medications I had taken wouldn't upset my stomach, my nurse placing warm blankets on my head as a way to combat the shivers and shakes the epidural had given me, my doctor congratulating me, the quiet “hustle and bustle” of the diligent and compassionate nurses at the foot of my bed. It all fell away, fading into the background like the last slivers of a sunset behind the mountains. I was aware of one thing: the faint rise and fall of Camren's chest against mine. I've never felt closer to heaven.
The care I received while staying at Intermountain Medical Center was unlike any I had ever received before. And it wasn’t just a matter of the nurses being efficient, easy to talk to, and kind. (Which they were!) I believe my experience was so special because they understood and respected the sacredness of birth. New life warrants reverence as much as it warrants joy.
I have thought back on my experience at IMED many, many times through the years following Camren’s birth. The memory of the first bonding moments—of that skin-to-skin contact method of warming my baby—has carried me through many hardships I could not have predicted. Hearing tests, psych evaluations, doctor’s visits, speech therapy, occupational therapy, and an eventual diagnosis: autism spectrum disorder.
When the days are long and the challenges are difficult, I remember that connection I felt with my son on the day of his birth. I remember my nurse telling me, “You can do this.” I remember how much love and support I felt in that room. I remember the feel of my son’s chest against mine.
And then I know he and I can do anything, face anything. We have each other.
*This post was sponsored by Intermountain Healthcare.*
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