"Who would you prefer to have in the delivery room: your mother or me?"
My dad's question caught me off guard as I prepared to give birth in a few weeks. Mostly because I knew without a doubt that the only person who would be allowed within 30 feet of me as I labored was my husband (and my doctor and nurses of course).
The thought of my parents actually witnessing the most intimate moment of my adult life feels, well, wrong.
To be fair, my father was only trying to come up with a contingency plan in case my hubby couldn't make it from his office to the hospital in time. My last delivery had happened at lightening speed, so there was a real chance he would miss this one. My parents had pretty much camped out at my house just in case I needed to get to the hospital ASAP. Still, the thought of my parents actually witnessing the most intimate moment of my adult life feels, well, wrong.
I have friends whose parents and siblings were an integral part of their deliveries, all crowded into the room from the first contraction to the last push. It seems family-centered birth, where everyone from grandparents to soon-to-be big brothers and sisters participate, is a growing trend. But for whatever reason, despite the fact that I'm very close to my family, I'm just not feeling it. And the reason is pretty simple. Birth is raw and real. I will be in extreme pain, and I'll be on edge and emotional, and I don't want to have to tailor my reactions to these overwhelming feelings around who is in the room.
I want to be at liberty to concentrate on the sensations and be in the moment, not try to act strong in the face of a body-splitting contraction so as not to scare my older children. Or worry my parents think it's all too much for me. Or attempt not to add support to my sister's theory that childbirth is horrible and she should never attempt it.
The only person I can fully be myself around at a time like this is my husband, who took an oath to love me no matter what. Whether I poop during delivery, scream repeatedly that I can't do this anymore, sob in desperation, or fall on the floor and beg for mercy — I know he's got my back.
Back to my dad asking who I'd prefer to have in the delivery room — him or my mom. "Whatever you want," I answered him, knowing full well I was still going to make sure it was a special moment for just my husband and I. It's my birth. My moment. My way.