Our daughter was born on December 12th 2011 at 13:47. As I write this I have forgotten her weight and feel a pang of guilt about that. Perhaps I am overthinking it, but now there always seems to be something else to feel guilty about. We visited the hospital upon first feeling contractions. Unfortunately our daughter was only vaguely interested about coming out and, without going into details, was somewhat induced; persuaded; cajoled even. Regardless, we tentatively left the hospital and, within a few hours, were back within the
beeping depths of the maternity unit. At this point the entire world stopped turning. Either it stopped or started spinning at a speed at which the outside world ceased to exist.
List of things to consider and remember as a father when your partner is in labour:
1. You will need patience – lots of it. I sat beside my wife for nearly 24 hours. During the time at her side I was constantly battling my emotions. Time loses all meaning, and you need to be aware of that. Your thoughts get darkly creative at times and you need to keep them to yourself – for her benefit as much as yours.
2. Remember, if you want to leave the room you can. And you should. If you start to hear a voice inside your head saying “You’re really not dealing with this very well are you?” then it’s time to leave the room. Always make sure your partner knows where you’re going and how long you’ll be.
3. Keep an eye on the midwives. Ask questions. Try and understand everything that is happening. Your partner’s mental faculties are vulnerable at best. You need to be a prophet. She needs you more than she perhaps will ever need you.
4. Don’t ever think the worst but be prepared to be brave. Courage is what you need, and what you will always need, as a father and as a parent.
5. Smile at her when she wakes up. Don’t be afraid to touch her. Make eye contact.
6. Remember that you will never understand what she is going through.
This last one is of particular importance. She is about to show you a side of her she has preserved since the day she told you she was pregnant. She most likely has no real comprehension of how much physical, emotional and psychological pain she is about to go through. She’ll be terrified. You’ll be terrified. But you aren’t about to eject a living being out of your body. A living being you’ve been keeping alive inside you for almost a year. That’s the difference. It sounds obvious but it’s easy to forget as we are, as a race, naturally selfish.
Be assured that she is about to amaze, delight and terrify you in equal measures. She will look into your eyes in a way you will never, if ever, see again.
Believe in her. That’s all she needs from you.