Cutting the Cord?

This recent article from Deadspin took me right back to the delivery room. In a good way, for a moment, then in a terrible way, then a rather chagrined way, and then I shuddered and came back to the present.
My wife and I had agreed to natural childbirth, one could say. For me, it was more like, “Honey, there’s an actual human in you and if you want to get it out naturally, I’m fine with that.” I preferred it as a method, sure, but I wasn’t about to insist one it. It didn’t really feel like my bailiwick.
We went to Bradley’s classes, which were only passable, mainly due to our teacher. She would bring her kids to class, get distracted by their misbehavior, and have to go take care of them while we waited patiently on the floor, midway through mentally picturing what my wife’s contractions would be like and where on her back I’d rub the sore muscles. Which actually is pretty much what I did for the first 24 hours of labor.
We also enlisted the services of a doula and a midwife team at the local hospital. Both of these were good calls, I felt, as I, the first time father to-be, was no expert in dealing with womb-al trauma and incompetent cervixes. (Just looked it up–cervices. And that’s one to grow on.)
After 24 hours and a trip to the hospital only to be sent home again, we went back to the hospital, this time with doula in tow. Now, all that was left was 16 hours or so, an epidural, tears, vomiting, peeing on professional health givers (that was my wife doing that, not me), and getting a baby.
And then, as the Deadspin article notes, they asked me to cut the cord. Moments before this, I had been sitting bedside, eyes overflowing with tears, and now, I was nervously handling sharp steel next to a tiny wriggling red baby.
Now, in all of our classes and discussions and talking with friends, this had never come up. I think I know why. Because it really isn’t that important. Sure, I cut the cord. But I didn’t know what the hell I was doing. It was as important as cutting a piece of paper. All symbol and not even a very meaningful one. I didn’t feel closer to the boy. I didn’t feel him even notice me. I just worried about cutting the wrong thing. Which, gladly, I didn’t do.
Maybe other people feel differently about the ceremonial cutting. For me, I was more anxious to get him cleaned up, wrapped up, and warm than making a quick snip with surgical scissors and pretending that I’d done something significant. But that’s me.

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