The Manly Art of Childbirth.

This article was originally published in “Birthing Magazine”, for which I am seriously flattered!  WOW!  I had intended to republish it here but not until that edition of Birthing Magazine was no longer available: I also plan, at my wife’s request to write a “Part II” as this is only half the story.  With all humility (and humiliation) on my part, please enjoy:

 

The Manly Art of Childbirth.

Early on during my wife’s pregnancy I began to hear the term “support
person” used.  I didn’t really know what the term meant or whether it
applied to me but I was very interested in what my role as husband and
dad-to-be would be.  I came to understand that I was one of these
magical “support people” so it became important to understand what it
was.  In my particular case it meant that I should head down to the
local sport store and pick up some pom-poms because I was basically a
glorified cheerleader; don’t get me wrong, I had tasks to do, but it
became quickly very clear that my wife was doing all of the heavy
lifting.

My wife’s labour came on very quickly and it’s funny that it took me
completely by surprise.  We were a week past our due date and I’d been
answering my cell phone in a state of panic for three weeks by that
point and yet, when my wife started complaining that her back was
really sore I never once clued in that the blessed event was about to
happen.  I went, blissfully and mannishly unaware, to the store at a
little past ten In the evening to pick up a hot water bottle (I was
determined to be as helpful as I could be in my menial support role).
At this point my wife informed me, with a somewhat quizzical tone,
that we might be having our baby.  Shock and awe was the only way I
could describe my reaction at that point; I had always found it
hilariously exaggerated in television and movies when this moment came
and the father-to-be went from a perfectly capable, intelligent human
being to being a freaked-out nutcase in the blink of an eye.  It was a
lot less funny now that it was happening to me.

We had a plan!  We had a midwife! We had a birth pool!  We even had a
flashlight! (to this day I have no idea what the flashlight was for
but it was in the tool list from our midwives so I had it!).  The next
couple hours I spent boiling water and filling our birth pool; I was
boiling the water because our birth pool had twice the capacity of our
hot water tank and I was thinking ahead!  I might have been a little
frazzled but I was holding it together.  Then the contractions started
and that was the real haymaker that knocked me completely off balance.
I had been prepared to not panic at this point because we had been
told that contractions are not a cause for immediate alarm; “plenty of
women have contractions for hours or days before they go into any kind
of real labour” I said to myself, “it’s nothing to worry about yet”.
The rule we had been given by our midwives was to call them when the
contractions were four minutes apart for one full hour.  My wife had
TWO contractions that were more than four minutes apart and then
settled into a three and a half minute rhythm you could set your watch
by!  It was pretty clear things were happening quickly and I was
really feeling the heat at that point.  After an hour we called our
midwife and she headed to our house.  This was when the wheels came
off at high speed.

In my attempt to do whatever I could to be a good support person I was
filling our birthing tub preparing with great expectation for a
waterbirth at our home. I had just finished filling the tub and was
uncoupling the hose from our bathroom sink at which point I was
distracted by something; I don’t recall what it was that distracted
me, my brain had left for happier shores by that point.  After I left
the bathroom the end of the hose fell out of the sink and onto the
floor, however, the other end was still in the birthing pool; experts
know this as “creating a hydrodynamic flow reversal” but lowly birth
support husbands know it as “OH CRAP!  I just flooded the bathroom!”.
As I watched water draining down the heating vent I quickly extricated
the hose and ran downstairs to grab some towels I could use to soak up
the remaining water; this was when our doorbell rang.  With as much
dignity and grace as I could muster, which is to say none at all, I
opened the door and invited our midwife in.  This was when I heard the
sound of rain coming from behind me; it was raining in my closet!  To
this day it still makes me laugh to think about what our midwife must
have thought, walking through the door to find me freaked out with a
handful of towels and water falling through my ceiling.   I swear to
you that I am not a hopeless idiot, but sometimes I can do a decent
impression.

Being a part of my wife’s pregnancy, labour, and delivery may have
been a little bit daunting but it was also one of the most amazing
experiences of my life.  A birthing woman is one of nature’s greatest
wonders and I was glad to take part in that process, even if my role
was fairly menial.  After it was all over I came to understand that it
was normal to feel useless during the birth.  Filling tubs, drying
towels, fetching things, and being a nervous wreck as the woman I love
most in the world performs a bona fide miracle really should make
everything I’ve ever done look pretty small in comparison.  For a
brief moment in time I was a butterfly in the garden of the gods.  I
know that my wife appreciates everything I did as if it were a big
deal, but for me, I’m just glad I got to be in the garden.

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About crunchydad

First and Foremost I am Husband to Sonya, my lovely better half, and father to Amelia Parvati Benson, my beautiful little girl. I am a "crunchy" dad in the sense that I parent in a fairly non-traditional way in North America. I use cloth diapers, not out of any environmental concern as such but because my daughter is wickedly allergic to disposables. I babywear because I love it and it is the best thing I've ever discovered; I have literally never used a stroller in my life and, unless I decide to use a stroller when I jog, I never will. We cosleep (go ahead and look it up) and it really works well for us. Finally, and these four are just the major points, we practice baby-lead solids, which means our daughter feeds herself (most of the time) and eats all the foods we eat. I have A Bachelor of Religious Studies degree from the University of Calgary; if you are wondering, no, that does not mean I am becoming a priest (seriously, you have no idea how often I get that question). Studying religion is my passion and I have continued with it after my formal education ended. I have two great dogs, Scotty and Baxter, that round out my little family unit and that is the broad strokes on what makes me the very happiest Crunchy Dad that ever did crunch!
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One Response to The Manly Art of Childbirth.

  1. Becky says:

    Great to hear a birth story from a dad’s perspective! I’d love to read the Part 2…what was the actual moment of birth like from your side?

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