What Exactly Goes on During Labor?

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Thoughts from a First Time, “Geriatric” Dad-to-be

by Joe Campagna

At 43, I’m the last of most of my friends to have babies. I glided through life not thinking of the actual mechanics of what happens when the baby, or in our case twin girls, arrive. But with the impending due date in December, some may say my imagination has run wild with possibilities of what could happen during labor and delivery. Personally, I think I’m asking all the right questions.

I’ve had only two direct experiences with birth. The first is a video I saw in high school of a midwife birth. I remember thinking after the baby was delivered, “what the ?!? [insert dry heave].  The second came when I helped copy edit a friend’s midwife final paper on episiotomies…I don’t need to explain that one.

My wife finds all my thoughts and fears, well…utterly irrational! I’m sure she’s right but I don’t want to be in the room, ever, when my wife poops especially during labor.  Does it smell? Will I know at that moment what JUST HAPPENED? And then there’s the ripping.  If she tears…down there – does that make a sound? When you cut things there’s noise! And what if I’m thrown into active duty?  I’m not an employee of the hospital!  I have no desire to catch or watch a baby crowning. I want to imagine my wife whole and without the possible bloody gore of a B-film horror flick.

You laugh and you should be – but last week a female friend who had a child recently described when the nurse held up her poop up for all in the room to see – WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT? What if we get that nurse? Who wants or even needs to have a mirror setup and additional lights?

I want to be NORTH of the protective, cloth shield wall – WINTER IS HERE! What rule says I can’t personally listen to music, softly, while helping my wife through her labor intensive screams. Maybe they should allow some sort of Vicks rub under your nose. And why do I have to be the one to sever the cord between mother and daughters? It seems a bit maniacal to be the one with the scissors, destroying the aura of bonding between mother and daughters.

Women have had their mothers, sisters, aunts, cousins, grandmothers all there to chat and explain and go over what happens. My fellow men, brothers in arms-my ass, are no help. They’re vague recollections make me wonder what they’re hiding or if they were asleep during the whole thing.

It dawned on me, as a specie, men have been involved and allowed as non-medical participants in the labor room for the past what, 30 years, maybe? Humans have been around for thousands of years. I have no past generation to provide any insight. Those early men were like Columbus and at this point I’m perhaps Magellan. When he sailed around the world, maps had “hear ye be monsters” written on them. Where is my guidance?

I’m all signed up and ready to make sure everyone is healthy and safe for the rest of their lives. But is there someone who can sign my hall pass to miss the labor and delivery part?

Joe Campagna is a soon-to-be dad of twin girls. While he still has spare time, he is training for his second and final marathon and hoping to watch as much sports as he can. Joe is a former chef and general manager who has strong opinions on food. Although he knows his way around a kitchen, he is still learning how to navigate this whole dad thing. He resides in Chicago with his wife Jen. You can follow his musings: @chifoodsnob on Twitter and Instagram.