Hello and welcome to a strange new world. You have traveled far through the desert, only to be met time and again by one empty oasis after another. You are lost and alone, wandering, wondering if someone, anyone, knows how you feel. And just when you think you can't go on, and no one could possibly understand your struggle, a hand reaches out to you, lifts you to your feet, and carries you to the promised land. He feeds you knowledge, shelters you from the self-righteous (and the ridiculous), and provides you with the tools you need to survive in this brave new world. You are a stranger in a strange land, but you are not alone. Let him be your guide. Follow closely as you travel together on this adventure of a lifetime. For now, you are a foreigner to "Fatherhood" but soon YOU will be the master of this realm.

"No Man is Expendable!"

This is Fodder 4 Fathers...

Oil Up Your Catcher's Mitt- Its Go Time!: Childbirth for Dummies (or Daddies, if you prefer)

Over night bag? Check! Pillow? Check! Car Keys? Check! Wife? Oh, crap... Well, you better drive back and get her, because it's go time people. You're about to witness the wonder of life: childbirth. Don't know how to feel about it? Let me give you a clue: panic's a good start. Depending on how far apart the contractions are, you're either in for a short delivery that ends with you delivering your baby on the side of the road or a long delivery that ends with a nurse saying "congratulations, you've been awake for 72 hours... and you better get used to it." And that's if everything goes well. So hold onto your hat- you're in for the emotional roller coaster ride of your life.

No matter how we get to the final outcome (natural childbirth, c-section, induction), the end result is always the same: your life is about to change, big time. And barring emergency situations, the process is pretty much the same. Here's a rundown of what you should come to expect with a healthy hospital delivery:

Scenario: You're sitting at home watching a game seven play-off between your two favorite teams, in the fifth period of overtime.Your pregnant wife walks into the room with the beer and nachos you asked for, only to drop them to the ground as she hunches over and announces "I think my water broke." You make her wait another half hour, but the game is still undecided so you pack her up and drive her to the hospital, complaining the whole time that you can't hear the radio over her moaning...

And... "ACTION":

#1. Get to the Hospital: Spend a half-hour looking for the cheapest parking. Don't worry if your wife has to walk a few blocks- her hatred for you will move those contractions along nicely...

#2. Check-in: Wait half an hour to see an Intake Nurse who doesn't get your sense of humor, gives her condolences to your wife for having such a tool for a husband, and misspells your last name on all the forms... 

# 3.Check in again: Follow your wife as she is wheeled to the Labor and Delivery Unit of the hospital, where you'll have to go through the entire process again... and this time the Intake Nurse won't be as subtle about her hatred for you, and your bad jokes. 

 #4. Sit in the Waiting Room: Quickly learn from other couples that have been waiting there for 12 hours that there are no available delivery rooms because of a record number of births, including 5 sets of twins, and two sets of triplets. Learn to hate the general population and their incessant questions about how far along your wife is and if this is your first? Find a competitive streak in you that will do everything and anything to get a delivery room before anyone else- no matter how long they have been waiting ahead of you and how many centimeters their wife is dilated... (Estimated time: 2 hours)

#5. Wait some more: Pissing off every nurse on the floor as your wife prods you to get up every five minutes and ask the same question every other guy is asking... "Um, how long for a room?" (Estimated time: 2 hours)

#6. Get a Delivery Room: Try to crawl on to the comfortable bed with your wife only to be kicked off by both her and the doctor. Learn quickly that hospital chairs are uncomfortable, and no one cares about your complaining.

#7. Have a party: Watch in quick succession as your wife is visited by an obstetrics nurse, followed by an intern, then an anestisiologist, and then possibly your OB- if you're lucky and he (or she's) not out of town. Wonder why your wife has no problem with everyone else in the world looking at her vagina but she has told you you'll be standing at her shoulder during the birth... much to your relief. 

#8. Wait: Follow the cool video monitor that measures your wife's contractions thinking about how much better it would be if it also let you play video games. 

# 9. Watch Movies:  Move in and out of consciousness as your wife makes you watch "Sleepless in Seattle" on a small portable DVD player on her stomach. Try not to throw up as the motion of your wife's breathing moves the screen and makes you feel more like you're watching the Blair Witch Project.

#10. Fall asleep: Have nightmares about the Chestburster scene from Alien.

#11. Wake up to your wife screaming: ... Apparently, it's normal for  the Anesthesiologist to need a few tries to hit the right spot during an Epidural...

#12. Get your wife some ice chips: Take longer than you said you would as you visit the waiting room again to see what's on T.V.

#13. Get the Nurse: Ask her for a second chair... and to up your wife's meds to knock her out long enough so you can get yourself a coffee and a scone. 

#14. Fall asleep again: This time follow your wife's lead so she doesn't yell at you for falling asleep when she's in "so much pain!" (Nag!)
#15. Wake up Screaming:  Nope, not the Chestburster dream again... This time you wake up to see how close your wife's contractions are... and you're about 2 minutes from being a Dad. The Doctor confirms it... contractions have reached "MAXIMUM THRUST!" 

#16. Get fitted for a gown:

#17. Make some calls: Call the one person in the world with the ability to spread the word without making it about herself, and tell her that her daughter is only giving her twenty minutes to get down to the hospital if she wants to be present for the birth. 

#18. Comfort your wife: No jokes here. She'll hurt you! And, if you're squeamish, feel faint on your own time...

# 19. Wait for your Mother-in-law: She's never on time, so why should your child be? "Just tell your wife not to push until she gets there"... her exact words.

# 20. When the Doctor says "push": Grab a leg - your wife's, not the hot nurse's- even though it feels like a waterlogged tree trunk. Tell your wife what a good job she is doing, and look far off into the distance... at both your wife's and your future sex life's request. 

# 21. Listen for it: Tune out the pain of your wife crushing your fingers and instead tune into the soothing sounds of your rapid heart beat, and the melodic voice of the doctor when he says: "It's a girl!," even if it's really a boy, just so he can win the office pool and get you to pass out.  

# 22. Remember: Breathe. Follow the baby wherever it goes. And count all appendages again to be sure (if you know what I mean?) Remember the feeling too: It's like no other rush. 

# 23. Find your wife... (still in the stirrups) with your eyes closed, and tell her what a trooper she was. You won't get to say that again until the birth of your next child. Also, try not to get any afterbirth on your shoes...

# 24. Collect your child: Take your baby out of your Mother-in-law's tenacious talons, kick everyone out of the room, and enjoy a quiet moment with your new "family."

# 25. Sneak away and grab a moment to yourself: It will be your last for a long, long time. And, if you're the crying, sensitive type, (which I am not) get it it out of your system. No one wants to see the ugly cry from a grown man... (Except a maybe a murder trial jury?).

Finally, resolve yourself to be the best father that you can be. Love your kid. Love your wife. Love your life... as much as you can now that you'll be changing a lot of diapers. A lot of dirty, disgusting, putrid smelling, stomach curdling diapers...

And, there you have it. Birth 101. An overview of what you can expect on the big day, if all goes right and the stars, and your wife's hips, align.

For more on birthing buy yourself a copy of What to Expect When You're Expecting and educate yourself as best you can. 

Good luck!

1 comment:

  1. Step 1a, Get some practice driving in a demolition derby and know every possible route to the hospital. No kidding, the lovely Illinois Department of Transportation scheduled a "temporary" unannounced shutdown of every southbound lane of the local tollway the very night my wife went into labor. We started down the exit ramp only to see a sea of break lights. 40 in reverse back up the ramp and jogged over to an entirely empty secondary highway.