I’m curious—did you (or your partner, husband, baby’s father, baby’s other mother, etc.) cut the umbilical cord after you delivered the baby? It seems to be this momentous things that fathers (or one of the aforementioned others) are supposed to do. With all three of our children’s births, James was handed the scissors at the appropriate time and instructed to cut. The thing is, he didn’t really want to.
James cut August’s cord a few minutes after birth, after the cord had stopped pulsing. It was our first baby and we knew this was a thing that fathers are supposed to do, but afterward he admitted to feeling ambiguous about it. I think the ambiguity came from two things: 1) the physical act of cutting the cord is not a very big deal, especially compared to the physical act of pushing a baby out of a vagina, as I had just done; and 2) the symbolic act of cutting the baby’s primarily physical connection with his/her mother just didn’t resonate with him. I don’t want to put words into James’s mouth, but the symbolism of this outsider, this third party to the primary relationship with mama and baby, severing the physical connection in the primary relationship and being proud of that role, just felt weird and misguided.
When Bing-Bong was born (yes, yes, we have to name her soon!), the cord had to be cut fairly quickly (though after it stopped pulsing) so the midwife could attend to my bleeding. The midwife’s assistant offered James the scissors, and he said, “No, that’s okay, I don’t really want to.” She insisted he take the scissors, and he declined again. Then she asked if he had cut the cords of the other two, and when he said yes, she essentially said, “Well, then you have to do this one too,” at which point he relented and cut the cord. We were a bit surprised at how firmly she pressured him to do it after he repeated that he didn’t want to.
What’s the deal with that? Why is it so important that the father (or other parent) cut the cord? My only hunch on this is because it’s essentially the only thing the non-laboring parent can actually physically do when a child is born; mama does the laboring and pushing, the OB or midwife does the catching—what’s left for papa? Here, take these scissors and tear asunder these two!
I’m very curious to know if anyone else has strong feelings on this. Did you/your partner cut the cord? Was it a powerful part of the experience for you? Please share!
Photo of August as a newborn by me or James.