I Didn’t Get to Hold My Babies When They Were Born


I remember preparing for motherhood like it was yesterday, or more specifically, planning our hospital stays with each of our three children. As a first time mom, you have no schema for what the experience will be like unless you happen to have older siblings who have gone through labor and delivery before you.

I did not have that example, so I was on my own. 

I read everything I could get my hands on and asked friends about their experience with childbirth, but it couldn’t and wouldn’t sink in until I was in the moment. The studies I read and the stories I heard prepared me to expect those first precious moments of skin-to-skin, bonding time with my child! That was what I was most looking forward to! On April 28th, 2013, that moment came. I was induced into labor with my first. And I couldn’t wait to meet him, kiss him, and hold him! 

newborn, NICU, fatherhood, childbirth, labor, delivery,
My husband, and mom, in the NICU changing a diaper for the first time

I labored for 23 hours and delivered my sweet boy in the evening on April 29th. I was so exhausted and excited at the same time! What we had waited 9 long months for had finally come! Then I realized he wasn’t crying. And I heard someone say “Take him downstairs.” I hadn’t even held him, save the 20 seconds he was laid on me to wipe him off. “Mollie, we are taking the baby downstairs to the NICU. He is having trouble breathing.” I never wanted to hear those words again.

But I did.


With my daughter two years later, my labor and delivery time was much shorter, and she came so quickly that my doctor wasn’t even in the room for my first two out of only four pushes! Again, I heard “We need to take her downstairs.” And, again, I was completely beside myself. She was wheeled off, and I didn’t even get to kiss her little cheeks. This time I cried angry tears rather than scared ones. Fortunately, her stay in the NICU was much shorter, and she was returned to my side before I was discharged. 

Just 11 months later we were back on the Labor and Delivery floor, and I felt like a celebrity because everyone already knew who I was. For the record, I’m not saying that’s necessarily a good thing! If you have two kids in one year, people talk. And the question, “You know how this happens right?” still bothers me almost three years later. But I digress. 

With our last child, and yes he’s our last – but that’s another story for another post, I pushed just twice at only 8.5 centimeters because of our sweet boy’s heart rate. It dropped into the low 50s, and it was a “push now or have a c-section” situation. His cord had been wrapped around his neck. For the final time, I watched my baby roll out of the room for observation and a little TLC. 

I don’t share all of this to scare or sway anyone toward a certain birthing center or method. I’m grateful that I delivered in a hospital with all three of my children. They had the care they needed right when they needed it, and I received the same. My story is one that I hope encourages moms who didn’t get to share the first moments of their child’s life with them. You’ll get your snuggles in. And before you know it, you’ll be hearing “Mom! Let go of me!”

It’s fine. I’m fine. Just please let me get one more hug. 

Happy, healthy, spunky kids, photo by Caitlin Boswell

How did you spend those first moments with your new little one? 



  1. Thank you for sharing this story! Defiantly hit close to home for me. My son was a premie and I was unable to hold him very long due to sending him to the NICU for 9 days. I’m prepared with our next one due to complications already but know it will be hard. Thank you!

    • You’re strong, mama! You can do hard things! Sending good thoughts to you and for your little one’s safe and healthy arrival!

  2. Thank you for this. My son was taken immediately and was almost admitted to the NICU. But they said he could come back up to my room. We were not allowed to change his diapers or even unwrap him. He was swaddled in 3 blankets and frequently taken to the nursery to be put under the warmer.

    My daughter was induced at 34 weeks so I knew she would go to the NICU. But I wasn’t prepared to not be able to hold her for the first 8 days of her life due to her umbilical line. Then I was also torn between the guilt of being away from my son so much and not being at the NICU all the time.


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