How I Became A Dad: A Birthing Story
How I Became A Dad: A Birthing Story
This year’s Father’s Day post is a special treat. Since I’ve already written a letter to Mr. S this year, I badgered him to FINALLY write his version of Sesame’s birth. Four years later, here’s his side of the story:
This is late. I know. My wife bugged me to write this 4 years ago, as she keeps reminding me, but I didn’t see why I needed to write a birthing story. I mean, I hadn’t given birth to the kid. I just witnessed it. But after the many retellings of that gloriously frightening 38 hours of labor I realized that my vantage point was an important one. Most guys my age came into this world with their fathers safely in a hospital waiting room, so we end up getting about the same preparation for our children being born as we got for that first STD test:
“There will be pain.”
“Try not to pass out or cry too much.”
Needless to say, we men are scared shitless going into that L&D room. However, my wife was none the wiser. I am also a great actor.
From the moment we found out that we were expecting, my then main squeeze and I knew that good research and planning was the key to a happy, healthy baby. From delivery to diapering, we had a plan. We moved into a quaint 3-bedroom apartment and were married in the first few months after conception.
We curbed our urges to curse each other out as we learned to live together for the first time so that the baby’s development would be unmarred by high levels of stress felt by the mother. I learned how to shame my wife in front of her OB, and to her MIL, about her lack of eating critical meals, like breakfast, so that my namesake growing inside of her would have the proper nutrients to be a NFL star. And we had a birthing plan.
The birthing plan called for a natural birth, in water if possible. The Wife made a playlist for her to listen to during labor and we requested a birthing ball to be in our room for her to relax on during the contractions. An epidural was not in our plans because we had learned in our research that the drugs in the epidural blocked natural chemicals that are released during labor which help to form a bond between mother and child. Actually, it was really taken off the table by me after watching The Business of Being Born and some random TV show where a woman retells her near-death experience after having an epidural go horribly wrong. So we were set, our plan was solid. Until it all went to shit.
Week 37 of a textbook pregnancy is when the monkey wrench came flying in. The ultrasound detected a calcified placenta, which meant that The Wife would not be able to go full term with this baby. As a matter of fact, she needed to be induced within the next few days or we would be in jeopardy of losing this beautiful boy before he took his first breath. With our plan seemingly shot to hell, we did what any educated couple would do; we called our family for a second opinion. In this case, the first call was to one of my sisters who just happens to be an OB/GYN. After debating infant mortality rates in the US and abroad, and being hung up on her final word of advice was this:
“Listen to your doctor.”
Well, of course, she would say that. Siding with her doctor buddies. She had never been preggers. What did she know with her Ivy League medical school education?!? We had a plan and we were gonna stick with it even if it killed us…but that wasn’t just a euphemism in this case. Our unborn child’s life was at stake. We would learn one of the most valuable lessons in parenting then: be flexible. So we modified our plan. We did everything we had learned could speed up labor. Walking. Sex. More walking. A little more sex. Nothing. So we conceded to the fact that we would not have the type of labor that we had planned for months in advance.
We arrived at the hospital that Thursday evening with our birthing plan limping along, as unsure of what we were about to embark on then as we had been 8 months ago. It started with a drug to induce labor called Pitocin. They say the contractions brought on by Pitocin are more painful than natural ones. Then came monkey wrench #2. On Friday morning we got news that the Pitocin was affecting our baby’s heart rate. A C-section might be needed if it did not stabilize. A brief moment of hysteria followed by a NEW plan of action: get the baby’s heart rate down by any means necessary. Then the grandmothers arrived. This put both of our frayed nerves at ease and helped us focus on calmly weathering the storm. Then my sister, The Doctor, arrives to let the staff know that there will be no malarkey on this delivery here! Thanks, sis!
The following morning (Saturday), The Wife had dilated well but we still had a few centimeters to go and the pain was intensifying. All I could see was my tiny wife, at 5’2”, toughing out this woman’s work; proving that strength is not about size. In the hours that followed, I would rub her back, tell her how great she was doing, get her water, and try to bring back as much of our plan as I could. We had the birthing ball in the room for her. Her playlist was bumping through her headphones and every so often, when I could tell that the pain was getting intense, I would ask her what stage in the Hunger Games arena she was in. I had no idea what I was talking about. I hadn’t read those books. And the look she gave me let me know that she knew I didn’t know what I was talking about. But she appreciated that I was there and that I was trying. They started her on a painkiller that essentially put her to sleep in-between contractions. Imagine Sleeping Beauty one minute and then a screaming Medusa the next. You get the visual.
“It feels like something is coming out of me!!!!”
Words from my wife that let everyone know that it was time for this baby to be born. Per our plan, her and I were to be the only ones in the delivery room at this point. Just me and her. The way this whole thing started. As she vice-gripped my hand tightly I looked down towards where the business was happening and thought that the delivery doctor was a bit overdressed, sporting what might be appropriate for a welder. But as my wife started to push and a fire hose stream of pee hit that visor, I reconsidered. She’s done this before. As I stood there, forehead-to-forehead with my wife something happened. We became a unit, working together to create our family. It was the most beautifully intense moment of my life. As she gave the final push and I glanced down to see my first-born son come into the world, immense joy flooded my entire body. I watched as he and the placenta that caused all this hoopla exited my wife. I cut the umbilical cord and delighted to see he and his mother finally meet face-to-face. It was the best day of my life.
This post is in honor of all the fathers, no matter what your involvement was in your children’s birth. Your story has value. Share it with someone.
Did yall enjoy reading his side of the story? Should I bug him to post more often? Sound off in the comments…