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There's a new must-have to packing your baby bag for the
hospital, and according to the New York
Times, it's a professional
hairstylist to come to your bedside and style your tresses after you pop a kid out of your
think someone realized, 'Why should I not look good for that great picture that
I'm going to show everybody, the first picture of my child?'" one such hairstylist told the NYT.
no offense to that man or his profession, but excuse me while I say—are you
kidding me right now?
As an OB nurse, I've been right there in the thick of the
action of a mom giving birth—I've been there with amniotic fluid splashed on my
scrubs, with blood-spattered shoes, with days-old breath panting into my face.
I've been there whisking away the poop that is usually inevitable with pushing, and I've been what felt like up to my elbow in another
woman's vagina. I've been there, the second person on earth to touch her
brand-new baby, clutching him to my chest like a football while I step away
from the C-section table.
And yet, without fail, through the muck and the yuck of the
messy business of giving birth, I never failed to pause for the one moment
that always made everything worth it—those first moments
when a mother holds her brand-new baby.
It doesn't matter if her hair is a complete and utter
disaster. It doesn't matter if she has no makeup on or smeared makeup that
was carefully applied and then utterly ruined through her 16-hour labor. It
doesn't matter if she forgot deodorant or hasn't brushed her teeth. It doesn't
matter if her entire gown is soaked in fluid and blood and colostrum.
Because in that moment?
In that moment when she peers down at the tiny little face
on her chest, when love rewrites every feature of her face, when she is
transformed before my very eyes, she is breathtakingly beautiful.
The last thing that matters to you in those moments are your hair or your makeup. It's just you, your baby and your body acting on another level.
There is such raw power in seeing a woman after birth, and it
was always one of my favorite parts of the job. In those
moments of not caring at all (maybe for the first time in her life) what she looks like, what's going on with her hair or not even giving a crap who sees her body, she is somehow even more beautiful.
For me personally, looking at my labors and births, I can
marvel at the complete freedom I had in my body. Going through a natural labor
and birth puts you at the most primal level you can be. I can guarantee you
that the last thing that matters to you in those moments are your hair or your
makeup. It's just you, your baby and your body acting on another level and
it's humbling to witness and to experience.
I understand wanting to look nice in pictures and for
visitors, I really do. I know that I even put on a little makeup when I was
induced with my fourth baby (assuming, of course, that it would be a quick and
easy labor, HA). But I also think it's incredibly sad, really, that as women,
we can't even accept our most basic selves after giving birth—that on some
level some women still feel the need to make themselves as pleasing as possible
to other people who might see a snapshot of them. What's so wrong with just
accepting what we look like after what can be one of the most intense,
exhausting and draining experiences of our lives?
I know that Kate
Middleton maybe set the bar a little high, but a little perspective
here, please. Perhaps if the entire world is going to have pictures of
you after birth, a blowout is totally necessary. And some women have incredibly
short labors and easy births and come out on the other side looking (naturally)
like they just stepped off of a runway. It happens.
But for the rest of us? I say embrace it. Embrace the wild
hair and the exhaustion in your eyes. Embrace the mess. Embrace the next
morning makeup-less face and your first messy mom bun. Embrace it all.
"It seems part of the birth experience is to look a little ravaged
when it's all said and done," explains writer and mom of three Gretchen Bossio.
"I want to look back and know that my tired eyes, wild hair and giant
smile were all a result of hard work and a lovely newborn in my arms."
Yes. And I appreciate
that my husband snapped this picture after our fourth baby, after the
labor that stretched over 14 hours. It's a picture not of our baby or of even me
holding our baby, but just of me while our nurse bundled her up for us. I
love that I have that memory of my mama sacrifice, all sweaty and smudged and exhausted
beyond belief. It's pride and it's relief and it's love, all mixed up into one.
Because I truly believe that there is beauty in that power
of motherhood, in the moment of birth, and in meeting your baby for the first
time that a professional blowout and make-up application can't even come close to touching.
So mamas of the world, please know this: You absolutely 100 percent have the right to get a blowout in your hospital room after you give birth if
that makes you feel empowered and happy and great. You absolutely do.
But I can also guarantee you, with absolute certainty, that
you do not need it.
Because to the world, to your family and to that brand-new,
delicious-smelling baby that you will be holding?