This is the story of giving birth from a father’s harebrained outlook. I have two wonderful children, McKinley and Hudson. My wife, Katie, did 99.9% of the birthing work. Here is the story of child-rearing from my point of view:
Imagine if a custodian watched Matt Damon in Goodwill Hunting and thought that they could solve an advanced algebraic graph theory. Or that a future president watched Bill Pullman in Independence Day and thought that they could handle an international crisis because Pullman sent aliens back to outer space (actually Pullman’s character would be a lot more reassuring compared to some of our presidential candidates now). I was the dunce who believed watching the birth scene in Knocked Up would be enough to prepare me for the birth of my first child.
It’s in my DNA to have problems paying attention during classes, unless I’m very interested in the subject matter. I blame it on genetics. I imagined that Lamaze class would be a bunch of breathing drills and a lot more interactive. The first class Katie and I attended, the teacher went straight into lecture mode and I went straight into “zone-out” mode. In my mind that was okay, I had seen Knocked Up several times and that was all I needed to know while in the birthing room.
For those of you that haven’t seen Knocked Up, it’s a 2007 Judd Apatow movie starring Katherine Heigl and Seth Rogen. Rogen impregnates (knocks up) Heigl during a one-night stand and the movie follows her pregnancy. At the end of the film, there are several graphic scenes as Heigl gives birth in her hospital room. Rogen doesn’t handle the birth in a tremendous manner, but he does a good enough job to keep Heigl happy. Jay Baruchel, a co-star in the movie, accidentally goes into the room right when the head is coming out and then freaks out. I was much more of a Jay Baruchel than a Seth Rogen during McKinley’s birthing process.
I finally figured out on the night of August 21, 2010 that I should have paid closer attention during Lamaze class. Unfortunately, that was also the night that Katie went into labor. As Katie started to complain of possible contractions as we lay in bed in our Ardmore house, my eyes jutted wide open and I thought to myself, “what in the hell am I supposed to do now?”
Katie remembered the overnight bag (she packed it too) and we rushed out of the house. I’m somewhat surprised that she didn’t drive too. We drove the half-mile to Forsyth Hospital and even though Katie was the one in labor, she was also the one that did all of the talking during the check-in phase. We went into a room and they checked her cervix and declared she wasn’t quite ready yet, and they actually sent us home. I’m not sure why they wanted to put me through several more anxiety-filled hours of waiting (like we were going to go back to bed) at home, not to mention the pain that Katie was going through. Two hours later we headed back up the road to the hospital and this time they admitted Katie.
I did okay for the first tests, and then the anesthesiologist came in for the epidural and my eyes rolled back in my head for the first time. He pulled out a needle that looked like it should have been administered to a humpback whale not to a human. My first piece of advice for fathers is don’t watch the needle go into your wife. It’s very disturbing.
After the epidural, I settled down a bit as Katie relaxed as the medicine took effect. Katie continued to be the one who talked to the nurses the most as I wobbly stood there in a state of shock. One decision I made that helped me stay upright during the whole process was to stay up high. That means that I decided to stand up at the top of the bed by Katie’s pillow and look down. There was no way that I could have made it through the whole birth process if I went down low and watched all of the stuff that goes on down there.
As McKinley came closer to birth, here are some of the thoughts that ran through my mind:
- Stay High!
- Look at Katie’s face and don’t look down at the nurses and doctor
- She is really squeezing my hand hard (I was smart enough never to verbally complain about anything during birth, I kept it all to myself)
- Just breathe along with Katie, don’t forget to breathe
The one time I made the mistake to look down was when Katie’s water finally broke and discharge came flying out. This was my second near-faint moment.
- Oh man! What the heck was that? I think she just projectile vomited from down there. Is that possible?
I made it through and McKinley made it out. I have a constant tremor in my hands already, and I’m sure they were shaking like a major earthquake as I cut the umbilical cord.
Katie was a true champion during the entire pregnancy, while I was a big wimp. Find out in my next installment about Hudson’s birth if I learned my lesson.