Monday, December 2, 2013
Guest Post: Baby N's Birth from His Father's Point of View
Today's special guest post is from my husband! He wants to tell our kids' birth stories from his point of view. Often the man's role in and feelings about birth are underplayed or downplayed, and in a series of articles, my husband will explore his own impressions and experiences during the births of our sons. So, to celebrate 100 likes on the Facebook page, here is his perspective on N's birth!
(Notice his challenge at the end. To continue the series and hear about S's birth, let's keep pushing forward to 200 likes! Share the blog with your friends, and if you haven't done so, please like the Facebook page!)
I've been wanting to tell the birth stories of our 4 kids from my perspective, the husband’s. I've had this idea for a while, but it’s hard to find the time to write it. You read many stories from women about their birth experience, but I can’t say I read many from the father’s point of view. So, I’m not expecting many men to read mine. But who knows? Maybe I am the strange one.
Each one of my kids' births was very different, an amazing experience by itself. Some were more exciting for me, others not as much. This is simply meant to put down in writing what I experienced and how I felt during those times. Take it as you will.
First child! I was an exemplary husband, or so I thought. I went to all the birthing classes, went to the tour of the hospital. I don’t think I missed a single OB/GYN appointment. I knew a lot about what was going to happen; well, I thought I knew. I mean, reality… well, I think most of us know how that is.
When the day came and we went to the hospital, we figured we would take along my wife’s mother. It would be a great experience and be helpful. I am very thankful for my mother-in-law for all her help, but this made for some awkward moments and made it difficult to talk to my wife in private. I was very nervous, but I thought I knew it all. We were joking about not taking an epidural, about why you would suffer pain when you do not have to. I was very casual about it; hell, at some point we ordered pizza to the delivery room. She pushed for a long time. It was nice for me at that time, I got really involved. The nurse had me help. I felt it was great. I got to hold a leg up, and look at the entrance to see if someone is coming out. I don’t think I thought too much about her pain and how she was feeling in all of this. At the time I thought I was great; today, I realize I was rather inconsiderate.
When the doctors “finally” offered a c-section, I was happy. Great, they will take him out, he won’t have a squishy head, and my wife parts will remain intact. Yes, men think about that. Well, some of them. Got all scrubbed up, the nurse asked me if I had a camera. I thought that was funny. I went in to the OR to find my wife lying in a crucified position (thankfully, my mother-in-law was not invited to this occasion). It was still all cool. I sat by her head, trying to make my usual silly jokes. I was in a huge adrenaline rush. Everything was happening pretty quickly. Pretty soon I got to hold the baby. I got to hold him first. Well, she couldn’t, being that she was crucified to an operating table and half numb. Looking at him, hearing his cry… the newborn cry is great. It hits me in a soft place every time. But the first one, it was amazing.
Then they took him away to the nursery and took us to another room to recover. Apparently she lost a lot of blood. I did not realize it then, not even when they sent a specialized trauma nurse to see her. I think it is a good thing I was high on adrenaline, or I would have freaked out. That one took a long time to settle.
At the stay at the hospital, for the next five days, I was also being great. I came by, fed the baby, and changed him. I was rather happy she did not breast feed. I got to play with my new baby a lot. This continued after she got home. They sent us home with a bili light machine, to treat his jaundice. Still, I was being cool, letting her sleep and rest while I took care of him. Every day I would change him, feed him, and wash him. All she needed to do was rest. I was supportive of her attempt to breast feed, but when she couldn’t, I was not upset. I get to keep playing with him, feeding, feeling so helpful. What a great husband I was being. This continued for about 3 months, until we moved to California, where I suddenly had to work more, and leave her alone with him.
Only much later, as she was getting ready to have Baby S, did I realize how bad I was at the time. I distanced her from her baby. I felt I was being helpful. She felt I was being helpful. But, that was not the right way to do things. I pushed what I wanted, and at the same time thought to myself, “Why is so distant from him?” There are ways to be helpful, but I do not think this was the right one. Now, I know I was being selfish. I did not see how she was unhappy, how this had made her feel.
It took me a while to change my way of thinking, and see how important it is to her. I can’t say I quite understand it yet. But, with Baby S, things were different.
That’s the first story. I think this post has gone long enough, so I challenge you to help the Facebook page get 200 likes to hear so I can tell you what comes next!
I will say this to any men out there who are about to have a baby: It is indeed a lot about her, and not because she carries all the burden of the pain, pregnancy, delivery, etc. It is because, in the end, I do think the outcome will affect her a lot more. So, get involved, but also remember that the best help you can give is to push her to achieve what she wants. To quote Coupling, “Ask her three times” if she’s sure. But when you do ask her, make sure you mean it.